PORTABLE, SIMPLE LIVING. GOAL ZERO’S ONGOING SERIES FOLLOWS THOSE WHOSE HOMES ARE OFF THE BEATEN PATH.
TINY HOUSE | MEG AND CHARLES
Photographer Meg Haywood-Sullivan and Ecologist/Writer Charles Post spend a lot of their time on the road documenting and sharing stories. After living in tents and out of the back of a truck, they eventually decided that they needed a home base. They settled on a 400 sq. foot tiny house, with an off grid office near the coast in Northern California and have built their own version of paradise.
While their home isn’t completely off grid, they focus on doing what they can to live minimally. Whether that means powering up their workspace with a Yeti 1250 and two Boulder 90 Solar Panels, working in their little garden, or just a mindful consumption of the resources that are available to them.
ALEX JOHNSON & BESSIE THE TRAILER
Professional climber Alex Johnson grew up in the competitive climbing scene. She became the Youth Climbing National Champion at age 12, Adult National Champion at age 13, and won a silver medal at the Youth World Championships at 14. Eventually, after a long successful competitive career, she decided to focus more on outdoor projects. Spending weeks living out of her car to climb in certain areas became less and less ideal. That’s when she went in search of something else.
Alex soon found “Bessie”, the 1962 Red Dale trailer decked out to look like a 1950’s diner. They’ve had a fairly rocky relationship, but overall they have been there for each other. During their time together Bessie has had a few mishaps, she’s has been blown over, stolen, repurchased, and invaded by a squatter, his crack pipe, and a number of other “items” that we won’t mention here.
Alex and Bessie’s time together has been interesting, but that’s what makes life interesting. The trailer has two Boulder 90 Solar Panels mounted to the top with a Yeti 1250 inside to power all of her trips.
TINY HOUSE GIANT JOURNEY
Meet Jenna Spesard and Guillaume Dutilh.
Roughly two years ago they realized they had become bored with their jobs and daily routines. Then they discovered tiny houses. Construction on their tiny home eventually began and they have now been on the road for over a year pursuing Jenna’s dream of writing and Guillaume’s passion for photography.
“There’s something magical about road-tripping without a plan. I enjoy getting lost in nature; it creates just enough vulnerability to truly discover your surroundings, and to fall in love. And I was falling in love with the music and scent of this fresh landscape. While wandering through British Columbia, Guillaume and I created a series of private wilderness retreats by positioning our cabin on wheels in picturesque landscapes. Our ever-changing backyard became a Garden of Eden. We couldn’t wait to explore the mysterious terrain and spent our days hiking the hills, canoeing the ponds, fishing the streams and basking in summer sunsets. Every night I fell asleep gazing through my skylight, admiring a new angle of the Milky Way.
A popular mantra among road-trippers is ‘Home is where you park it.’ Even though our tiny abode has found us many other homes since, I yearn to return to my peaceful, wild home in British Columbia.” – Jenna
Jenna and Guillaume’s tiny home has 125 square feet on the bottom floor with a 60 square foot loft. They began construction in September of 2013 and hit the road exactly one year later. It took more than 1,000 hours to complete and came in under $30,000, which isn’t too bad when you consider the average home in America goes for around $360K.
YURT LIFE | CHADD KONIG
We’ve largely forgotten what community feels like, but there are places that still keep the real meaning of that word alive. These rural places function and are able to survive because people learn to take care of each other. After Chadd finished breakfast and promised to be over to help with a small potato harvest later in the day, he headed home to his yurt and small 3 acre farm.
The farm is one of the main things that compelled him to move from the warm, friend filled beaches of Southern California. After a few years of traveling and being in the surf scene, he started to feel a need to simplify his life and reconnect with the resources we all depend on to sustain life.
“I think with food, water, and energy in general, we as a culture don’t really apreciate it to the fullest extent because we ultimately don’t understand where it’s coming from,” Chadd commented. “Here on this property and in this valley, I’m able to have a closer relationship with my resources.”
After seeking out some land near a few surf breaks, Chadd constructed a Yurt and began planting. The Yurt acts as a catch basin for rainwater, his meals are mostly pulled straight from the earth and his power is harvested from the sun by 2 Boulder 90’s and one Yeti 1250.
Leading a simpler life can be complicated in the beginning. New routines take time to develop, food takes time to grow and skills are often times acquired through trial and error. Eventually things fall into rhythm and the new normal brings different priorities into focus.
THE WHAT, WHY, HOW THEORY: YURT LIFE UNPACKED
This trifecta is the basis of a theory created by our buddy, Chris (also a yurt dweller). He calls it the What, Why, How Theory surrounding alternative living. Essentially, by choosing to stray from the status quo, we encounter three levels of awareness when interacting with the world.
Typically, the first encounter with people (especially Mom and Dad) when we decided to live off-the-grid in a “glorified tent” had a theme of WHAT. What are you doing? What is a yurt? What will you do for a toilet and water and power? What is wrong with the traditional homes? What does something like this cost? To this stage, we say, “Haters gonna hate.” We will always have these people in our life, and sometimes they stay in this stage and never leave. If you truly seek a simpler way of life, push past inquisition and help Mom and Dad move to the next phase…
WHY. Eventually, after we had done our research, and especially after the yurt was physically built, our friends, family and acquaintances started changing their tune. With curiosity piqued by our persistence, they inquire to uncover our motives. Why a yurt? Why off-the-grid? Why move away from traditional structures? Why is it important to be sustainable? Sean and I feel this stage is an incredible opportunity to educate others. Most will appreciate us taking the time to explain, and go on living life. But a few… and I mean, VERY few, will go further into the last sphere…
HOW. How can I do what you’re doing? We are not living in a yurt to convert others to do the same. However, we’ll admit that we get a teensy bit stoked when someone actually asks about the nitty gritty. Presumably, something about the way we live has inspired someone else who–like us–seeks simplicity and is willing to sacrifice creature comforts to attain it. To these guys? We are happy to tell all.
This way of life that we’ve created for ourselves–literally, by building this yurt with our bare hands–has been the most eye opening, team-building adventure of our lives. People told us building a home together would ruin our marriage. People questioned why we would move out of a perfectly good on-the-grid home, to a smaller structure that required more “work.” But through it all, we put aside what others thought, complied with all the rules and laws of the modern world, and ended up with a lifestyle that has a slow, steady pace and keeps us grounded to the Earth and connected to nature.
We can lay in bed and listen to the owls hooting across the canopy. We spend more time on dishes because we don’t have a dishwasher. We carry in wood from the woodshed each day together to keep our heat source alive . This life… yurt life… has shown us that despite the pace of the world today, it is possible to slow down. It is possible to harvest sunshine for power. It is possible to get what you want, communicate why you have it, and tell others how to do it, too.
Once you make peace with yourself and your decision, other people’s whats, whys, and hows fade away, leaving just you, your space, and your greatest question yet. “What’s next?”
THE AIRSTREAM LIFE: JHK & HEATHER IRMIGER
Heather Irmiger and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (also known as JHK), a husband-wife mountain biking duo, had been racing internationally for years. After deciding to change to a North American racing schedule they realized a need for some sort of living situation that would work on the road. After some thought and a quick search online they were the proud owners of a 25 foot Airstream Travel Trailer.
For those who aren’t familiar, the Airstream was born in the 1920s. Wally Byam, the founder, had a vision of freedom and the open road and he built a trailer to suit that dream. Since then, Airstream has grown to become one of the most recognizable recreational vehicles in the world, featuring a design for those who want a home in the outdoors and the freedom to roam.
Heather and Jeremy fit the bill and are loving every minute of it. They now spend the majority of their year living on the road and going from race to race. Their two dogs, Brava and Kobi, both travel with them. When Jeremy and Heather aren’t on the road they reside in Boulder, Colorado.
The Airstream stays powered off-the-grid with Goal Zero Boulder 90 Solar Panels, Yeti 400 and Yeti 1250 Solar Generators.
THE SPRINTER LIFE: JON, GALE & HUCKBERRY
Independent of each other we were both looking for a change. Our jobs were “good”, but no longer what was best for us. I’d grown up dreaming of a van trip rambling across the country and the idea had crept back into my head. After mentioning the idea to Gale after dinner one night, I learned she’d taken a shorter road trip in high school and was totally down to hit the road longer term. We started planning pretty much immediately; saving money, paying down debts, and lots of van research. It took over a year for us to be in the position to resign from our Boston jobs and start to make the trip a reality.
We bought a 2004 Dodge Sprinter that had been a construction van and spent this past summer turning it into an apartment (cabin) on wheels for the two of us. Finally in mid-August we were ready to hit the road. Our Sprinter was now a home that we were excited to move into with a queen size bed, dinette for four-ish people, and power from a Yeti 1250 Solar Generator and Boulder 90 Solar Panels. It’s been nearly two months since we set out from York, ME and we’ve seen a lot: over 4,500 miles of road, 6 National Parks, 17 states, innumerable National Forests, and a few Walmart parking lots.
We get asked what the destination is for the trip a lot. There never has been one, but we’re open to the idea of finding one we’d really like to head back to when the wanderlust begins to burn a little less brightly. But, there was always a goal to change the daily norm and that we’ve definitely done.
THE BOAT LIFE: TYLER BRADT AND THE WIZARD’S EYE
Take a tour of the Wizard’s Eye with Professional Kayaker Tyler Bradt. Those aboard this 42 foot vessel are on a five-year world sailing circumnavigation. “Unlocking the Door to the World” is the premise of the Wizard’s Eye Expedition.
Their goal is to live the most outlandish experiences the world has to offer. With an emphasis on cultural engagement, high adventure, and extreme sport, the sailboat Wizard’s Eye acts as a base and staging point for expeditions ranging from deep sea cave diving to Mountaineering and everything in between.
Tyler grew up in Stevensville, Montana and was introduced to kayaking at age six by his father, Bill Bradt. He learned fast and was paddling class five rapids by age twelve and receiving invitations to travel and paddle all over the world. In 2009, Tyler successfully kayaked Palouse Falls, setting a world record for the highest waterfall kayaked at 186 ft. His appetite for adventure has now turned to the sea.
THE SPRINTER LIFE: JONATHAN THESENGA & BRITTANY GRIFFITH
Brittany Griffith and Jonathan Thesenga are both professional climbers, world travelers and weekend warriors. In this episode of our ‘En Route’ series they take us through the van that they often call home. After purchasing a stripped down Sprinter Van, they proceeded to design their ideal adventuremobile. It has now traveled thousands of miles, hosted two Thanksgiving dinners, yoga sessions and seen many a dance party.
THE VAN LIFE: TRAVIS BURKE
Traveling to remote locations, hiking for hours, hanging from a 500 foot bridge, living in a van for months on end and staying up all night to get a shot are all a regular part of Travis Burke’s life. He is an outdoor and adventure photographer who’s worked with the biggest names in action sports.
He recently embarked on a year long road trip exploring North America in his 1994 Dodge Ram Van. He acquired the van from family and then customized it to be his ultimate adventuremobile.
THE TINY HOUSE LIFE: ZACH AND MOLLY
Professional skiers Zach Giffin, Molly Baker and their Tiny House. A few years back they realized the house of their dreams wasn’t going to be the status quo; they wanted to feel at home while traveling from place to place in search of fresh snow. Those dreams fueled the construction of the 112 square-foot Tiny House they now live in. Thanks to the Tiny House, they’ve traveled thousands of miles, woken up to countless powder days, and been introduced to plenty of new friends.
The handcrafted house on wheels weighs in at a hefty 3.86 tons, is built on a flatbed trailer meant for hauling cars, and has all the amenities of home, minus a bathroom. Some of the features include: his and her closets, a draft system and two beer taps, a kitchen with a fridge and sink, an outdoor shower, wood stove, propane tanks, guest bed, and a wood stove. The house will sleep five comfortably, or six if someone is willing to spoon, and is powered by a Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Solar Generator and two Boulder 90 Solar Panels.
THE VAN LIFE: ALEX HONNOLD
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live in a van? Where do you store things? How do you stay powered? What do you do when you need a bathroom? Professional rock climber Alex Honnold takes us through the van that he calls home. His 2002 Ford Econoline E150 serves as his bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, gym, and storage room. It has racked up over 170,000 miles and still “trucks along quite nicely”, according to Honnold. Watch the video and learn how he turned his van into a home, it might just inspire you to do the same.
. . .
Series produced under project Solarlife by Goalzero.