Silver Bullet Tiny House Tour Dispatch #2

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After sleeping off a storm in the tiny house on Mount Echo I headed through Ohio and stopped at the Newark Earthworks where Don Moder, the executive director, gave me a personal impassioned history of the indigenous people’s who constructed them. These earthworks are huge and amazing to hike around in. I can’t wait to come back and investigate the infamous Serpent Mound in Southern Ohio with some of my tiny house friends!

 

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You never know who you might meet at the next rest or truck stop!

I met some ‘schoolies’ who had incorporated their perfectly level, floating DJ table right into their tiny home on wheels. Austin and Troy of noblesavage_us, please come to the Tiny House Jamboree!

That red truck cab in the left corner was being repaired at the truck stop I slept at that night. Yikes, the cab was as long as my tiny – 18′!

And there is always time to give an impromptu tour to a lovely group of ‘tiny curious’ women. I’m in there somewhere!IMG_3516

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However, that was not the only excitement of the day. I had my first FB tiny house stalker who found me! LOL. She’s a really great gal, a trucker. No wonder she figured out where I was. I wish I had heard here knock at the door. We could have had a slumber party!

 

 

 

I headed for Fairfield, Iowa, the global capital of Transcendental Meditation training. I parked along the side of the town square and had fun looking at all the mini-libraries.

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The Silver Bullet was toured by Maharishi University professors, students, neighbors and the ‘tiny house curious’ as it sat at the Seed Center, in the middle of an idyllic farm field.Met so many lovely folks that really appreciated the net zero, all renewable energy tiny house I designed and built based on bio-mimicry.And everyone seems to enjoy my Tuftex awnings. Who knew?

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The Midwest is mostly flat. I grew up in Minnesota. It’s the beef belt, the dairy belt, the cheese belt, the corn belt and the wheat belt. So I could hardly wait to get to Colorado and the mountains! Because my July workshop venue got cancelled I would now have three weeks of vacation for myself! Yippee! I haven’t had one in five years, it’s about time.
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And my daughter tells me I was featured in the Boston Globe. Woot, woot!

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By the time I got to my parking spot I was so sick I could barely stand. Oh yeah, AMS, an acute case of elevation or mountain sickness. The vertigo and congestion kept me from climbing up to the loft. Thankfully I got over it by resting and drinking tons of water. I spent my 2nd week of vacation in Colorado Springs playing tourista visiting sites I hadn’t seen since the 1980’s!

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I visited a friend in Fort Garland who built his own tiny and have hosted many dinner-tours at the Silver Bullet with other tinyhousers and friends. I am currently completing two books and prepping my booth for the 2016 Tiny House Jamboree! I’ll be in Vendor Booth #13 next to Onduline and Unforgettable Fire (Kimberly stoves) so come on by for some tiny house talk and sustainable lifestyle education! My sustainable lifestyle workshop is being held on Saturday morning 9:30-10:00AM at the workshop area! Hope to see you there.

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A few more interesting tiny house questions (and answers) from this touring/workshop segment:

  1. “What do you mean your house breathes like an animal?” I’ve lived in several parts of the country where my homes suffered from too much moisture and mold (Atlanta,Asheville) and I wanted to design a non-toxic net zero home that would have the ability to dry itself off and maintain decent air quality. I did that by designing an innovative vented roof, baffles, eave vents and rain screen layers based on biomimicry. Read more here.
  2. “What are those adorable little spherical windows?” Derek Diedricksen, my tiny house mentor, turned me onto those 4 years ago, they are available here.
  3. “Why are you already needing a 2nd generation solar system?” My first generation solar system was two 1450Yeti Goal Zero packages. I found both the batteries bulky, because you have to have them inside and plug everything into them. That means cords all over the place and it is unsightly. Also, I found that they could not guarantee their panels would last for more than 825 charges. Plus after 8 months, the batteries had issues. After doing a keynote speech at the Florida Tiny House Festival, I met some fellows from Renogy, a Canadian firm. I watched their demonstration, raised the funds for a robust 2000W system and it works beautifully for me most of the year with only 2-250W/24V panels; in the winter, I use all four panels in New England.

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This segment’s lessons were learned the hard way:

  1. 5D7288C3-1AC2-43BB-95E9-DAF5D3DE27E4Sometimes your back end will need a lift. Timbrens will help Hi Ho Silver (my Ford 250 SuperDuty) haul my 9,280 lb. Silver Bullet and all my solar panels and tools. My anti-sway bars also help.
  2. Make sure you bring leveling blocks with you wherever you park.
  3. Try to suppress your disgust when revisiting pristine state and national parks when you see how they have changed after 40 years.
  4. It never gets old to see the excitement when folks visit and tour your net zero, all renewable tiny house.
  5. Hiking and walking in nature always brings a smile while soothing the soul.

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Silver Bullet Tiny House Tour Dispatch #1

Touring with a tiny house is an adventure! I’ll be giving an official dispatch with pictures and lessons learned. This post is long but informative, I’ll try to make them shorter and more often in the future. I just haven’t had the bandwidth or wifi to do so.

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I fulfilled my five year old dream on June 1st by taking the Silver Bullet Tiny House on its first tour*. Grit and gumption are words I would use to describe the character traits one must possess for a tiny house journey, its build, and a road tour. Attempting a cross-country tiny house sustainable lifestyle education tour at age 67, alone, was described by some friends and colleagues as “plumb crazy”. Well, you know what, I was up for the challenge.

Before May, I had never driven a pick up truck, nor a trailer, nor a 10,000 pound load anywhere, much less on interstate highways.

I have been to 49 of our 50 Unites States of America. Everywhere I go, I am used to meeting so many creative, amazing folks. This tour is not any different.

With this 10,000 pound load and a case of the nerves, I stopped at every rest stop and turnpike plaza. As you can see from the pictures I met an older ford hotrod and another tiny dweller along the way. I passed through four states in lovely sunny weather.

My first night I spent in a ginormous truck stop with 165 spaces. That night was so much fun meeting all the trucker couples carrying the country’s commerce on their backs.Being dyslexic, the thought of going in reverse scares me.Luckily, I have managed to always go forward.

I really was not prepared for all the honking, filming and smartphone camera shots while I was driving and every time I stopped. Now I know what the rest of the tiny house tribe was talking about! I guess I’m going to have to comb my hair a tad more often.

I headed to a location just outside Philadelphia for my first Pop-up Tour at a sponsor’s location; Benjamin Obdyke’s parking lot in Horsham PA. was spacious and well suited to meeting the hundred or so visitors we accommodated the next day from their company, the curious public and the Philadelphia meet-up groups. Hats off to the PB & J food vendor who delivered a lovely, gourmet dinner for me before I packed up.

The Top 5 Tiny House Tour questions asked of me so far:

  1. What is a building envelope and why was rain screen important in your bio-mimicry design?
  2. Can you really project livestreaming video with your projector on a window shade instead of having a TV?
  3. What are those cool awnings?
  4. What mixture and proportions are in your compost toilet?
  5. How come your grill and coffeepot can charge your phone and computer?

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Good questions! And here are my answers:

  1. building envelope is the physical separator between the conditioned and unconditioned environment of a building including the resistance to air, water, heat, light, and noise transfer. Benjamin Obdyke’s rain screen is one important layered element of this design. Read more here.
  2. Yes, you can. When you are near WiFi, download your favorite shows, movies, etc. from Netflix, Xfinity or whomever, on your smartphone (this saves data charges). Project directly from your unit; mine is an HD Brookstone. I do this on my thick smooth bay window shade. I also have done this on the side of a barn! Or use your phone as a hotspot, if you have a good data plan.
  3. Those wicked cool awnings are a polycarbonate material I was introduced to years ago when helping Deek at one of his workshops. It is Tuftex. See me on the road or at the Tiny House Jamboree, August 5-7th in Colorado Springs (Vendor Booth #13- next to Onduline) and I’ll tell you all about it! I chose a clear panel so that weather deflects from my windows and yet I still have the benefit of light. They are very good for saving my windows from damage on the interstates as well.
  4. One part organic cedar chips and one part organic peat moss; mix together and put in a container. I also add my daily Hazelnut coffee grounds. My “bucket” has my own DIY urine diverter.
  5. I have used Biolite products for five years, since their early beginnings. I have their grille, their stove, the teapot, and their lights. And I love plugging in to recharge my tech components.

Luckily I left early before the local festival closed off the streets surrounding me. Heading for the Christian Klay Vineyard for my next Pop-up Tour/Workshop certainly kept me on my toes. Checking my rear view mirror I saw my Tuftex side door flopping in and out. Stuff is going to happen out there, so have your power tools and extra pieces of wood and screws handy. I was back on the road in minutes.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike has several low-clearance bridges and tunnels – that is, in the right lane several are only 13’2″. So keep your eyes open!
Blog1.2For my last stretch, I should have been to my friend’s vineyard in a few hours. The weather was not cooperating in the mountains and so I went turnpike plaza to turnpike plaza waiting for the thunder, lightning and squalls to abate.I just hopped in my tiny, cracked a good book and relaxed.Blog1

The Christian Klay Winery is beautiful upon approach, even in bad weather. The hundreds of acres of mountaintop vineyards, ponds and many barns have histories that only its charming vintner, Sharon Klay, can tell with flare and style as she drives you through her vineyard.

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Sharon and I met many decades ago when I was art professor in Pittsburgh, long before she fell into an award winning career as a vintner. She is also a painter and at one time was my student.

This visit has allowed me to see the vineyard in its maturity and it is lovely. So many kinds of grapes and wines were seen and sampled. In the evenings after visiting Ohiopyle, the local art sanctuaries or the Frank Lloyd Wright house we return in the evening. Blog2.1I cook, she pours and expounds on the botanical infusion process that has produced some of her finest award winning wines. Of course, I’m in heaven.

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We also stopped by at her son’s distillery, Ridge Runner, across the street, where we created the Silver Bullet Tiny cocktail.

Her lovely sister, Dr. McCarthy, has her own restaurant in a town at the bottom of the mountain with food to die for. become a guiltless gourmet and experience one of the finest farm to table destinations.

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My tiny house tours and workshops drew an interesting group: builder’s, junior and high school students, tiny house curious empty nesters and environmentalists. All were fascinated with my off-grid building envelope and customized repurposed/reclaimed storage solutions. Hooray, a success.

You know you have an impact when science students can’t wait to take the samples of your building envelope back to their environmental science teachers and parents!

This segment’s lessons were learned the hard way:

  1. When prepping for your tour, and making your tiny house on wheels road worthy, always have it weighed first and your anti-sway bars and brakes calibrated in several driving conditions. Against my trailer company owner’s advice back in 2013, I bought only a 7500lbGW trailer. For only $500. additional, I could have had a 10,000lbGW trailer. Oops! I should have listened to Ross. I weighed in at 9,280 pounds a few weeks before my trip. That cost me $1,300. to change out my axles, tires and brakes for the appropriate 10,000lbGW system. SBWeighed.1And it added 2″ to my height, which is 13’2″ now. Anti-sway bars, if not calibrated correctly, can cause more damage than their original intended purpose. Make sure wherever you purchased your trailer, they help do this for you. For me, I went with the trailer company owner to see just what is involved in a calibration of them and my new braking system.
  2. Take driving lessons with your load or practice beforehand. I white-knuckled it all the way in my first 500 miles of driving of the tiny house. Yikes, just learning how it feels to move from gear to gear, how to navigate those narrow construction lanes with high cement walls, how to quickly collapse your truck mirror when needed, how to brake effectively, etc. was kind of exciting. Knowing you have a 10,000 lb load behind you down a steep mountain is a new experience. When my first large semi-tractortrailer passed me on the left, I could feel the physics of the pull of my vehicle mass towards his. I call it the semi vortex adjustment. When two of them are simultaneously on either side of me I call that the semi-sandwich vortex adjustment. It feels similar to the feeling you get when an elevator drops ten floors too fast.
  3. Learn to drive forward only until you know how to back up with your tiny house. After my first day of driving I was physically exhausted. My hands and arms and right foot ached. It takes awhile to learn how, when and in what conditions and gears give you the safest, most comfortable and angst-free ride. That first night, I saw a gigantic truck stop with 165 spots to park and a path forward to exit. As one of the nation’s largest truck stops, which is an education in our country’s commerce, I pulled in next to militia shipments, stacked armored vehicles, loads of bicycles, food, building materials, you name it! The management gave me a free shower because I was the first ‘tiny house’ they had ever seen. Or maybe the stench of nervous driving was just a bit too much for them! LOL. I had a few hours of drinking my favorite wine outside on the chair and watched the experts ‘backing in’ to their spot from every conceivable beginning position. I learned a lot! Truckers loved my tiny, and they showed me some of their incredibly elaborate cab living spaces. I had some great conversations with trucker couples and drivers – real salt of the earth folks. Too scared to get stuck backing up, I made sure every place I went I saw the path forward to get out before I entered.
  4. Be diligent about checking bridge and underpass heights; yes, even on interstates. On the Pennsylvania Turnpike there are several old tunnels, bridges and overpasses. They are pretty good about giving you notice about 50 yards in advance. Other times, it is just a 6″x 10″ sign on the bridge. Be prepared to move over into the middle lane every time you see an arched bridge or tunnel. Getting off the interstate to get gas or food can also be tricky. Heights and the space to turn should be something you assess before turning in.
  5. Do not risk driving your precious load in bad weather. I had forgotten how dangerous the mountain road was up to the winery at Chalk Hill. I started up the mountain with no rain, then it began pouring. I could see each turn-off area was occupied by several trucks with no place for me to stop. The last third up to Summit Hill was in dense fog. With no place to turn off and traffic behind me, I white knuckled my way to the top. I DO NOT recommend driving your tiny house in this kind of weather, especially up a dangerous mountain. I’ve been up and down the mountain many times since then. On this mountain it is illegal to go down the mountain going anymore than 10 miles an hour. And that is enforced daily. Oh yeah, I’ll make sure its dry and sunny out when I leave!
  6. Take the time to rest, get out and enjoy the nature and unique places near you along the way. If you know my life story, you know I have had several close calls with death, Life is short, don’t forget to smell the roses, hike the mountains, share lovingly prepared meals with friends, dance and drink great wines.
  7. Being compassionate to others and caring for yourself is not an oxymoron. Giving that extra moment at the end of the day after hordes of tourists see your tiny to a curious wide-eyed child who has so many questions. Inviting a less fortunate ‘tiny house curious’ stranger to share a meal and their story with you inside your tiny. And also remembering to take time for yourself while you serve, educate and empower the public about your tiny house journey and the movement. For me, that means meditating or practicing yoga at sunrise or sunset. Or sharing wine and food with tiny house friends at a long table in the farm fields. Perhaps sketching and letting my imagination run free or just curling up with a good book listening to the rain on steel.

I look forward to every day of this adventure: the experiences, lessons, insights and people that await me on this journey will be one I will never forget!

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*I have always followed my dreams. I have been lucky to have had 3 successful stints in very different right and left hemisphere careers. I’m living my fourth intentional lifestyle design and am having the fun, joy and rewarding experience of facilitating and empowering others to do the same.

I have given sustainable lifestyle design classes and workshops, hands-on tiny house workshops, tiny house journey seminars, facilitated and helped other tiny house leaders in their workshops, spoken locally, regionally and nationally for over four years, and I love it!

Silver Bullet Tiny House Sustainable Lifestyle Tour

SBthowWe are so close to our goal!! We have one day left to raise $827. so I can inspire people on my tour this summer. Will you help us?

Fun video …https://youtu.be/m86HCSq_qXA

IndieGoGo campaign link for donations…https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/tiny-house-hits-the-road-to-teach-sustainability#/

The Silver Bullet Hits the Road to teach Sustainability

Can you help us get out on the road to teach others about living sustainable lifestyles?
We will be leaving Massachusetts on June 1st and travel across the country to many ‘Pop UP’ stops at private and public locations. In order for us to fund this tour, we have started an IndieGoGo campaign. Please consider donating what you can and pick your reward here: http://bit.ly/1TVPrv6.
Fall-1025 - This was presented by tiny house rock star, Andrew Morrison when he spoke in Brazil!

Fall-1025 – This was presented by tiny house rock star, Andrew Morrison when he spoke in Brazil! 

I need just a little more of your help to complete it! Every dollar will help us along our way!
 
We finished The Silver Bullet Tiny House last fall and we are now ready to hit the road. Can you help us? If you are not able to contribute, you pass the word on to those who are interested in sustainable lifestyle education for all Americans.
Thank you.

The Silver Bullet T-Shirts are here!

100% Pre-shrunk luxury Cotton t-shirts in S, M, L, XL.  $25.00 delivered to your door! Tiny house enthusiast’s, tiny owners and even the tiny curious, will delight in these beautiful t-shirts. Our founder, Vera Struck designed, built and dwells in the Silver Bullet Tiny House (logo featured on the bottom two t-shirts). The cover of her e-book, “Living the Sustainable Tiny Life” was the design for her sustainable education tour. Her tiny house was featured in a woodcut print by her daughter, printmaker, Belle Struck.

Help us raise funds for our cross-country sustainable education tour!

T-shirtsflatLeave your shipping address when processing your payment through PayPal!

June Tiny House Tours/Workshops at the Klay Winery

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Come to the beautiful Laurel mountains, 65 miles SE of Pittsburgh, PA. and learn all about tiny houses on wheels. Take a 30 minute tour of the charming Silver Bullet Tiny House, by designer, builder, artist and author, Vera Struck for $15. You will discover repurposed and reclaimed resources, renewable energy systems, a zero waste, off-grid tiny house on wheels made from sustainable non-toxic materials. For the serious tiny house enthusiasts we recommend the 3 hour workshop  $75., where you will learn tiny house building systems, tiny house decisions about trailers, materials, building design, parking, zoning, etc.

30 minute tours for the tiny house curious, $15., $20 at the door. Pre-purchase your tickets here for whichever day you wish to come. Pre-ticket holders get preference over at the door buyers.

The 30 minute tours are limited to 12 attendees per session

June 11th: 30 minute tour (on the hour 1PM, 2PM, 3PM, 4PM)

June 12th: 30 minute tour (on the hour 10AM, 11AM, 1PM, 2PM)

June 18th: 30 minute tour (on the hour 1PM, 2PM, 3PM, 4PM)

June 19th: 30 minute tour (on the hour 10AM, 11AM, 1PM, 2PM)

The 3 hour tiny house workshop gets you:

• entrance to the enchanting grounds of the Christian W. Klay Winery

• 3 hour tour and workshop in and around the Silver Bullet Tiny House. Learn about the tiny house movement and Vera’s personal tiny house journey. Ms. Struck will share her building envelope design based on bio-mimicry. She will discuss many of the tiny house decisions that face those enthusiast’s curious about the movement. Trailer modification, design process, framing, sheathing, downsizing transitions, insulation and energy systems will be covered. Includes light refreshments, building samples and 30 minute Q&A session. Bring your sense of humor!!

• Includes light refreshments, and building resource samples (as long as they last, so register early)

• a copy of her e-book, “Living the Sustainable Tiny Life” will be included in the tour/workshop

• after each workshop the Christian W. Klay Winery will provide a wine tasting

June 11th: 9-12 AM Limited to 12 attendees 

June 18th: 9-12 AM Limited to 12 attendees

If you are planning an entire weekend of enjoyment in the Laurel Highlands, we suggest:

• enjoying one of the many local white water rafting challenges

• visiting one of the three Frank Lloyd Wright homes (including Falling Water, 10 minutes away)

• visit the Ridge Runner Distillery across the street

• take in a swim, golf, a spa treatment, or a holistic healing session at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort

Comments about her book:
Once I started reading Living the Sustainable Tiny Life, I couldn’t put it down. In addition to Vera’s inspiring personal journey, she gives the reader a detailed look at how and why she designed each element of her house the way that she did. I was surprised to learn that she managed to get her floor to have an R value of 33 with an ingenious design and construction method. I definitely recommend this book for anyone considering but isn’t sure if they can gain the skills required to do it themselves. Living the Sustainable Tiny Life will give you the kick you need to get moving!” – Ethan Waldman, Tiny House Designer/Builder/Dweller/Author of Tiny House DecisionsTiny House Parking
Other comments about her e-book by tiny house movement leaders can be seen here.

 

2016 Events Schedule

As several of my followers have been asking about workshops and tours, I wanted to post some of the events for 2016 even though I am not posting the Summer Tour Schedule yet.

I hope to have a Spring workshop in April and will post it here first! So, please come and see me at any of these events and we can talk “tiny”!

February 5-7, 2016: Speaker at Derek Diedricksen’s Small Build at the Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, Mass.

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March 4-6, 2016: Keynote Speaker at the Georgia Tiny House Festival 

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“Why Tiny? Why Now?” Hear from International Tiny House Jamboree speaker, Vera Struck, about the growing social tiny house movement that went viral.  Learn how Vera’s affordable zero-waste tiny house, the Silver Bullet, is a resilient solution to the lack of affordable non-toxic housing, provides relief from the American debt culture, reduces one’s carbon footprint and provides a simpler, free and more substantive life in a world of diminishing resources.

March 16, 2016: Keynote Speaker at the Greater Newburyport Village at the Newburyport 5 Cent Savings Bank Auditorium, 6:30PM.

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April, 2016: BU Sustainability Festival (both campuses)

May 18-19, 2016: Silver Bullet Tiny House Summer Tour Launch and Tour at EBSCO Host Corporate, Ipswich, MA.

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June-September, 2016: Look for the cross-country tour schedule posting in Spring, 2016

August 5-7, 2016: Workshop Facilitator/Speaker at the 2nd International Tiny House Jamboree

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October 8, 2016:  Blue Ocean Music Hall, Salisbury, Mass. 7 PM Rubbish to Runway Fashion Show to benefit Long Way Home.

Our Founder, Vera Struck, will create two new eco-couture fashions for another sustainable education non-profit, Long Way Home, that will be featured at the renowned Rubbish to Runway Refashion Show!

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