Tiny Shiny Home Blog 2019-08-19T18:36:13+00:00 https://tinyshinyhome.com/feed Tiny Shiny Home hello@tinyshinyhome.com https://tinyshinyhome.com/family-fun-in-medora-nd Family Fun in Medora, ND 2019-07-09T09:00:00+00:00 2019-07-26T17:06:27+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post contains affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

When asked what I wanted to do for my birthday this year, for once I already knew. I wanted to go to Theodore Roosevelt National Park!

Driving through South Dakota last year we threw around the idea of heading north for a weekend to ‘check off North Dakota’ on our state map. Little did I know that North Dakota would turn out to be one of the prettiest states we have visited so far!

After lots of research, we finally decided to make it happen. A 10 hour weekend drive got us there just in time for my birthday. But the party was just getting started!

We had a fun-filled week working with the adorable town of Medora, ND. We stayed at the Medora Campground which is unusual for us, but being a quick walk from all the activities in town was a huge bonus!

The showers and bathrooms were very well kept and the employees were super helpful and extremely friendly when there was a little mixup with our reservation. Overall, the close quarters were worth the close proximity to everything this town has to offer!

Medora is full of charm and there is so much to do that we’ve broken down some of our family's favorites…

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Obviously! Visiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park the first week of July was perfect. It was so green! We’ve seen several badlands in our time on the road but this one takes the cake! I mean...grass, bison, wild horses, prairie dogs, rattlesnakes… what more could you ask for?

The views just don’t stop. We drove most of the loop (part of it was closed) and just couldn’t get over the views. Green prairies as far as they eye can see, speckled with badlands popping out of the wildflower fields. It was incredible!

And of course we did the Junior Ranger program and the kids got another badge!

Perception Medora

Medora Perception Medora Perception

We’ve seen several of these spots popping up lately but we’ve never been to one until our visit to Perception in Medora. The kids really enjoyed the optical illusions. The best part was the house! As soon as I stepped in I felt like I had vertigo, but it was still so fun to see and experience. I felt like I was walking crooked the rest of the day, but it was worth it.

Cute Downtown Shops & Playground

Medora Playground

There are so many cute shops in this little town. You can easily walk to every one in just a few hours. We were lucky to find one of the magnets for TRNP (we collect all the magnets for the parks) that we were looking for that wasn’t available in TRNP gift shop. Score!

If you have little kids (or even big kids) make sure to walk over to the playground! It's right near Perception and could easily kill a couple hours there. Very well made and a great location makes it a no-brainer to visit.

Homemade Ice Cream

Medora Icecream

The kids made it their mission for the week to find the best ice cream in Medora! There are several places to choose from and they’ll be doing a report on which one was their favorite. Homeschool for the win!

As for Jonathan and I, our favorite was the Coffee Brownie at Hatlee & Brae followed by a close second of Maple at Marquis De Mores. YUM!

Medora Musical

Medora Musical Medora Musical

Okay friends, I admit that I had little expectations for the musical because the only musicals I’ve been to have been high school productions. All I can say is wow! We were totally blown away by the Medora Musical. Amazing singers, expertly executed, and an overall flawless production.

In the middle of the show, after the intermission, we were treated to the funniest magician we've ever seen. His energy was higher than you could imagine and had us rolling in our seats. We haven't laughed that hard in a long time!

You could tell everyone was having a blast! The audience was captivated and we left stunned. I cannot stress it enough, you simply HAVE to experience the Medora Musical yourself. It was worth the trip to Medora even if all you have time to do is go to this musical.

Pitchfork Steak Fondue

Pitchfork Steak Fondue

You had us at fondue! If anyone is cooking meat in a pitchfork, sign us up!

When we arrived, the line was incredibly long, but this wasn't their first rodeo. We were picking up our tray of food in no time and shocked at how smooth the process was for moving that many people through the lines!

Pitchfork Steak Fondue was a buffet style of fixings full of fresh veggies, garlic toast, baked potatoes, and fresh fruit. Once we filled out plates with all the sides we picked up our hot-out-the-pot 12 oz steaks! You heard me! 12 ounces of delicious, juicy, flavorful meat from a pitchfork!

We all got the steaks and honestly there wasn’t much left behind. This is a meal that should not be skipped when visiting Medora. Just head right over to the musical after and make it an evening you won’t forget!

Medora Riding Stables

Medora Riding Stables Medora Riding Stables

After getting rained out a couple of times, we were finally able to make it to the Medora Riding Stables. This was the kids first real horse ride and though they were very nervous at first, they were all glad that they went and had such a great time. The scenery was spectacular and the horses calm...and hungry;) it was the perfect way to close out our time in Medora.

Walk with Theodore Roosevelt

Medora Teddy Roosevelt Walk

This town is full of drama - in the best way! Joe, AKA Theodore Roosevelt, met us for a little hike and history about TR! It was super informative and I was happy I got to skip a history lesson for the week! His passion for this town and knowledge of TR was contagious and has me looking for biographies of Mr. Roosevelt! Make sure to check out A Teddy Roosevelt Salute Medora while you're in town.

4th of July Parade

Medora, ND Parade

Last, but certainly not least. If you're lucky enough to make it there for July 4th like we did, make sure you go to the parade!

An adorable mix of cowboys, tractors, firefighters, and local businesses put together this magical little parade that all the town comes out for. Our kids had a blast picking up candies that were thrown at them.

And if that wasn't enough, make sure you stay up late enough for their fireworks show! If you try to fall asleep, you'll quickly be woken up by the thunderous booms echoing off the badlands surrounding the little town. We just walked a little bit up the ways from our campground and caught the show on the side of the road. The best way to end our time at this adorable town of Medora, North Dakota.

Medora Fireworks

Thank you Medora, for a week that we will not soon forget!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/avoiding-burnout-while-traveling-full-time Avoiding Burnout While Traveling Full-Time 2019-06-26T08:00:00+00:00 2019-06-26T15:29:32+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/

It’s going to happen.

You’ll find yourself surrounded by natural beauty and you’ll feel trapped, or depressed, or irritated at the thought of looking at another canyon, mountain range, or waterfall. You’ll think to yourself… 'it looks just like all the other waterfalls I’ve seen over the last 4 years' or 'it’s just another canyon'. You’ll know in your head that it’s special and you should be enjoying it but you just can’t. That my friends, is travel burnout.

I’d venture to say that the last half of 2018 was like that for me. Nothing felt special. I didn’t care to see another mountain range and if I had to hike one more canyon I just might scream. So…what do you do when that happens to you?

First, let’s look at the root cause. Are you tired? Do you miss family and friends? Are you getting enough rest? Are you stressed about work or deadlines? Finding the root cause may help you understand how to adjust your travel lifestyle to better accommodate your needs.

Maybe you just need to slow down. Or you need to meet up with friends. Do you need to Skype with your family more often? Perhaps you need to adjust your work schedule.

But what if it comes out of nowhere? Maybe you just need a small break. There are several ways to get through a burnout period while traveling full-time. Here are some ways to change it up and hopefully avoid the dreaded burnout.

Have some alone time.

alone time

Have your spouse take the kids to a movie or go explore for half the day. It’s amazing what a few hours alone can do for your mental state. Put on your favorite music or podcast. Take a shower. Make a favorite drink. Open the windows. Take a nap. Just do whatever makes you feel relaxed and happy.

Go somewhere familiar.

Camping at Lost Dutchman

Sometimes it’s nice to go back to a familiar place. You know where you can get water, groceries, gas. You don’t have to use GPS to get you around town. Sometimes it’s nice to have a break from all the research that goes into traveling full-time. And there's a lot of research!

Get a hotel!

Jax's Birthday Hotel

Rent a hotel room for a night or two. One with great beds and clean showers! Sometimes changing your surroundings completely makes a huge difference. Everyone gets a little break, and when you get back to your RV you’ll likely have a whole new appreciation for it.

Meet up with friends.

Camping with Friends

Sometimes this is a lot harder to pull off. Traveling full-time you meet a lot of people, But it's hard to keep track of where everyone is. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to coordinate with friends to have some quality time together.

Try a new hobby.

adali and macrame

I used to have so many hobbies at our house. Creating is a huge hole that’s not been able to be filled while traveling. Supplies take up too much room and we just really don’t have the space for lots extra supplies. However, if you can plan a head, try taking a class on something you’ve been wanting to learn. Pottery, glass blowing, stained glass, wood carving, painting, etc. Sometimes I find that just learning a new skill lights a fire deep inside that just makes me incredibly happy. Maybe it will for you, too!

Go shopping!

Copper Bells

Okay, hear me out on this one. I don’t mean, ‘go out and buy a bunch of useless crap that you don’t have room for.’ What I mean is...look for something that makes you truly happy every time you see it. Just last week I took the kids to the small town of Grand Lake, CO and found the most adorable copper bells that I couldn’t live without. These bells are now hanging in our Airstream and it makes me so happy every time I look at them.

Go on a date.

Date Night

I know, I know…some of you have small kids and can’t quite make this happen. But when Jonathan and I can, we love going into town for a quick sushi date, or we’ll go grab some ice cream and just sit in the car and talk. Sometimes we’ll even take an iPad and watch an episode of a favorite show. But don’t think you have to get away. Many times we’ll just let the kids watch a movie in their area while we chill in our area. Yes, we’re only separated by a curtain, but sometimes you just need to have some time alone without anyone asking you questions! Living tiny forces you to get creative to find alone time.

Splurge!

Float Tank

Jonathan and I splurged and went to a float tank once. It was the most relaxing experience. We were able to clear our minds, have some time alone, and we left feeling so much better. Maybe float tank isn’t for you…maybe you can splurge on a massage, a night on the town, or a weekend getaway. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself so you can take care of others!

Make a list.

Thankful for...

I hate lists! But sometimes I just need to list all the things I'm grateful for. Make a list of the incredible things you’ve seen on your journey so far. The animals. The natural wonders. The people you’ve been able to meet. Sometimes we get so caught up in the negative it’s hard to see the positive. Making a list will help you see just how lucky you’ve been to experience so much.

And friends….don’t be afraid to take a break!

Just because your interests change, or you find out you need something that you didn’t think you did…that doesn’t mean that you aren’t cut out for a life of travel or adventure. People change, we evolve, our needs change and that’s okay. If you want to have roots, settle down. If you want to take shorter trips, do it! If you want to sell it all and try something new…make it happen! You are more than just a full-time traveler! You’re an adventurer…and that doesn’t just go away. It’s a part of who you are, no matter where you are.

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/four-years-on-the-road Four Years On The Road! 2019-05-06T07:00:00+00:00 2019-05-06T17:39:49+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/

I can hardly believe it! Last week, on May 2, we celebrated living on the road for FOUR YEARS! It’s so fun to look back at where we started and everything we’ve done. And how big that 5th wheel was! Geesh!! I'm so glad we decided to renovate this 47 year old Airstream!

We’ve seen some pretty incredible places, but seeing them with our kids by our side has made this journey the absolute best. And look how much they have grown!

kids on bench 2015 Img 0666

I never would have guessed that we would be on the road for this long. But it turns out, our kids enjoy it just as much as we do.

Snow in the Sonoran Desert

Sure, we’ve discussed settling down and finding a place of our own in the desert, and that will likely happen, but for now…we travel.

Joshua Tree Hike with Kids

We will continue to explore new places, hike new mountains, learn new lessons, visit new states and hopefully run into new friends along the way!

Monterey Bay Tide Pools

Over the last 4 years we’ve explored in 34 states and visited 55 National Park Systems (which include monuments, seashores, parks, recreation areas).

Grand Canyon Jr Rangers

With just 16 states left to visit we’re excited to see how many we can squeeze in this year! We’re now accepting donations for gas money and flights to Hawaii ;)

kids at monument valley

We have had the most incredible time on the road and it has been an absolute pleasure being able to share our journey with you all! Thank you for your constant support and encouragement. We are so grateful to all of you who've opened your homes and your driveways for us, and especially those of you who've taken the time to read our stories here, comment on our photos and spend time keeping up with our little family adventures.

We love you all! Cheers to more adventures!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/tiny-standing-desk Tiny Standing Desk - How to Work Remotely in an RV 2019-03-27T07:30:00+00:00 2019-04-09T00:13:25+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post contains affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Those who don’t know us often assume that we get to travel full-time because we hit the jackpot or retired early. Yeah, I wish!

The truth is, I still have to work and make a living from the road so we can afford to do this. Thankfully, I already owned my own design and web development company so transitioning to working remotely was easy.

My clients were located around the country - and some even out of the country. They didn’t care if I was in Tennessee or Brazil. But supporting a family of 6 with your own company is hard - and we knew when we renovated our 1972 vintage Airstream that I was going to need a workspace to call my own.

Cramming 2 adults and 4 kids into 220 square feet was a major feat of design and planning in itself. How would we make space for me to get my work done, too?

Multi-function is the name of the game here. Our kids bunk beds were designed to fold into couches during the day. Our master bed becomes our dinette. Could we make a workspace that disappeared or turned into something else at night?

Let me tell you, we tossed around A LOT of ideas over the 6 months we renovated that trailer. But surprisingly it was the simplest that turned out to be the most effective.

My Mobile Workspace

A quick background on my setup. Since I do design and coding work at FortySeven Media, having a large, color accurate monitor is important. I’m clutching onto an Apple 27” Cinema Display until it dies a fiery death because Apple stopped making them, and the combination of color accuracy, camera, speakers, and peripheral support is perfect. Plus it looks dang good.

Monitor Mounted

Connected to this is my trusty 13” Macbook Pro. It’s small, light and portable - perfect for taking into town to work for the day. And it’s long lasting battery means I can save on power usage while camping off-grid. I keep it stored in a TwelveSouth BookArc. This is a great little product that matches the aluminum finish of the laptop, keeps it upright to save space, and creates better airflow.

Shelf Desk Angle

I also have an Apple Wireless Keyboard, a wireless Logitech mouse, a pair of AirPods, and a Traveler’s Notebook. You’ll see why these are important in a minute.

Oh, and I’ve been doing the standing desk thing for years so we knew we could save a ton of space not having to create an actual table and chair kind of situation. There are plenty of health benefits to not sitting all day, too - but I won’t cover that here.

Mounting the Monitor

This was the easiest piece of the puzzle. Apple displays (or most monitors) can be converted to a VESA mount for attaching to the wall. Combine that with a NewerTech Pivot Wall Mount and you can literally push your monitor up against the wall or extend it over 20” and all ways in between.

Because of our tiny space and rounded walls, measuring where to mount this was the hardest part. Here’s a few ways we store it when not in use.

Monitor Against Wall Angle Monitor Against Wall Flat Monitor Against Wall Vertical

It stays folded up out of the way until travel days where it’s easy to slide off the mounting peg and put the whole thing on our bed. Just it case it were to start swinging around in transit. Plus, that 30lb monitor bouncing up and down on the road isn’t the best idea.

Pro Tip: Make sure to attach the base of the mount to a stud or very secure wall. That might be hard to find in an RV.

The Portable Standing Desk

Coming up with a standing desk area was the hardest part. In our 5th wheel trailer, we pulled out a cabinet on the wall and built a little shelf that folded out (kind of like this Ikea table). But this little corner of the Airstream didn’t allow the space for something like that. Not enough flat wall, and I needed to work at an angle because I didn’t want to be crammed in the corner. The rounded ceilings on these vintage trailers limit you a bit :)

Speaking of this corner, in our renovation we needed to have a small “chase” to run wires through so we built a small shelf on top. Originally our counter top was going to stop at the fridge, but we realized I would need a place for me to put my laptop, mouse, keyboard, etc… so that I wasn’t having to mess with that every day. There’s something to be said for having a workspace that is easily accessible.

Chase And Shelf

Around the same time we also realized we didn’t have a space for a trash can. How did we miss that? The simple solution was to extend the kitchen countertop, but drop it down and put a trash can in it. A picture is probably easier.

Shelf Trash Can

Obviously that counter top does’t work for standing - or sitting even. And this was where we got stuck. How do we create a table top that comes up and out - at an angle no less - for me to stand and work at?

After lots of research and false starts, I ran across a company called Tether Tools. They make temporary laptop stands for photographers in the field and use camera tripods for the base.

Honestly, I didn’t really like any of their actual tables, but I did notice that they sold this Aero LoPro-2 Bracket which would fit perfectly into a standard Arca style quick release plate receptor.

That’s where the lightbulb went off. We already had a heavy duty tripod with an Acrca mount. It could fold up tiny and fit in a drawer. I could take the same wood we made our shelf from, make it the exact size I needed, and mount the bracket to it.

Tether Tools Bracket Bracket Arca Plate Adapter

Instant standing table!

Standing Desk Straight On

This Standing Desk is Insanely Flexible

The coolest part is just how versatile this setup is.

There’s the basic setup. Keyboard and mouse on the standing desk and monitor on the wall. When in this position, the wireless AirPods let me listen to music or podcasts without worrying about a wire getting snagged on something.

Standing Desk Underneath

There’s the wrap around version. The arm is so flexible I can move it around the corner facing the other way if I want to give everyone more room up front.

Standing Desk Wrap Around

Notice that box on the back of the monitor? That's a Segate 4TB Hard Drive mounted with some Command velcro strips. This keeps it out of the way, but makes it easy to remove if we need to take it somewhere.

Here's what it looks like from the other angle.

Standing Desk Wrap Around Front

Then there’s the low power version. If we’re boondocking (off-grid) and need to save power, I’ll just set my laptop and mouse on the standing desk and shut off the monitor.

Standing Desk Laptop

If I feel like sitting, and our dinette hasn’t been converted to a table, I can make the tripod shorter and sit at the edge of the bed to work.

Portable Sitting Desk

In “Theatre Mode” we all pile on our bed up front and use the big monitor pulled out from the wall as a TV to watch movies, Netflix, or Hulu.

Pro Tip: make sure you have a robust traveling internet setup.

Kids Watching Movie

Hiding the Standing Desk Away

At the end of the day, my laptop, mouse, keyboard, and notebook all go back on the shelf over the trash can, the tripod gets put back in the drawer, and the table top sits discreetly in the corner out of the way.

Desk Put Away

Shopping List

Want to make your own tiny, portable standing workstation? Here's a handy list of everything we used.

Note: you can search Amazon for "tripod laptop stand," however, many of them either aren't tall enough to stand at or the table aren't wide enough to fit a laptop, mouse, phone, etc... Even worse, many have a lip to keep things from sliding off, but that could easily get in the way when resting your hand on the table to use the mouse or type on the keyboard.

For now I'm recommending you piece together your own, but if you find a solid tripod laptop stand that comes as one product let me know and I'll add it here.

For a more detailed look, check out our Airstream renovation tour where we show you full details about the standing desk and it's multiple functions!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/eating-whole-foods-while-traveling-full-time Eating Whole Foods While Traveling Full-Time 2019-03-26T11:00:00+00:00 2019-03-28T19:04:02+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/

It’s. A. Struggle!!

Honestly I thought it would be easier to eat healthy on the road. Little did I know that we would fall in love with camping off-grid in remote areas which usually results in a lack of decent grocery stores. I mean, finding out that the local grocery store is also a the hardware store is not something that even phases me now. At first it was shocking, but now I’m like… "Okay, that’s normal."

We’ve relied on granola bars for hiking and way too may processed foods to make it easier for us to spend less time in the kitchen and more time exploring. But that’s about to get flipped upside down. As of April first things are going to drastically change here in this Tiny Shiny Home.

My goal for April is to eat all real food. You heard me right! A long time ago, back in 2014 we did Whole30. I still remember how amazing I felt, but I also remember how incredibly hard it was for me. However, since we’ve been really good at intermittent fasting over the last year, I’m hoping that it won’t be as bad this time around.

Committing to something like this is huge for us. Especially when we’re in a different location each week or two. Finding a good grocery store is hard, food prep in a tiny space is maddening, but I’m determined.

I will make a meal plan each week and do my best to stick with it (something I'm not very good at). I’m hoping to share our journey both here on our blog as well as on our Instagram stories. I’ll be linking to recipes and sharing photos as well as what we thought of each meal. We have one kid who may struggle a bit so finding things that he’ll eat will be a challenge but I’m committed to making sure we have meals that all of us will like. Fingers crossed!

So, if you’d like to join us for the month of April in eating real food, we’d love to have you follow along! Comment below if you'll be joining us, and check out our stories on Instagram for meal ideas and how we'll be prepping food in such a tiny space! Use the hashtag #tinyshinyrealfood when you share your meals and we'll feature your post on our stories!

Since I already have a good idea of what I’ll make the first week, below you’ll find my grocery list and links to some recipes I’ll be trying the first week of April. Let's do this!

Meals

Grocery List

Somethings I need for these recipes I already have on hand. But here's what I'll be buying for the first week.

Meats

  • Chicken thighs - lots
  • Beef Strips
  • Ground Chicken
  • Ground Pork
  • Ground Beef
  • Flank Steak
  • Bacon (without sugar and bad stuff)
  • Applegate Turkey Lunchmeat

Produce

  • Avocados
  • Onions
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Small Red Potatoes
  • Cauliflower - 4
  • Bell Peppers
  • Limes
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Pineapple
  • Garlic
  • Jalapenos
  • Cilantro
  • Green Onions
  • Cucumber
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil Plant
  • Dill
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Broccoli
  • Red Cabbage
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Sprouts?
  • Pears
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries

Frozen

  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • mango

Cold Stuff

  • Butter - to make ghee
  • Eggs

Bottles/Canned Goods

  • Coconut Milk
  • New Primal Buffalo Sauce
  • Avocado Oil Mayo
  • Can of Green Chilies
  • 8oz Tomato Sauce
  • 6oz Tomato Paste
  • Pickles

Spices

  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Parsley
  • Pink Sea Salt
  • Dried Dill
  • Chipotle Chili Powder
  • Liquid Smoke

And there you have it! That looks like a lot of stuff! I'm sure our grocery budget will increase a bit, but we'll just dip into our 'eat out budget' since there won't be a whole lot of that going on!

This won't be easy. I'll likely want to punch strangers in the throat the first week, but I won't do it. I'll smile, I'll make delicious, real food and make each meal a celebration of health and happiness. So, who's with me?

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/why-do-we-love-to-boondock Why Do We Love to Boondock? 2019-03-13T05:00:00+00:00 2019-04-09T00:11:23+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/

Hello dear friends. If you’re reading this, chances are you know who we are and you know why we travel full-time. You probably know all our kids’ names and that we have a weird obsession with boba. And if you’re still reading this, you probably even know that we love to boondock. And if you’re new around here, that just means camping off-grid (usually on public lands designated for us nomads).

But I don’t think we’ve ever discussed WHY. Why do we prefer to live in the middle of nowhere without electric hookups, unlimited water, flushing toilets, and regular showers? The simple answer is FREEDOM!

From our very first boondocking adventure we knew that this was how we wanted to live. Incredible scenery right out our front door.

Img 8390

Adventure is always just a few steps away.

Img 6878

We enjoy the stillness, the solitude.

Img 6882

We know this is not most peoples preferred way of living, but for us…it’s a little slice of heaven. There are no 6 page rules to sign at check-in, no reservation fees or extra kid tax, no neighbors so close that they can smell what I’m cooking for dinner.

Freedom.

Our first year of travel was stressful in so many ways. Towing a huge 5th wheel on interstates was torture let alone parking the dang thing. Campground fees were astronomical, and we essentially traded our fancy suburban life for a less fancy suburban life. We were still right next to 100s of other RVers, no space to call our own, and if our kids were having a good time (and heaven forbid, laughing loudly) they were occasionally scolded by grumps who didn’t want kids as neighbors. Not cool.

Boondocking allows us to choose our ‘neighborhood’. And it typically looks a lot like this.

Img 7663 2

Or this.

Grand Tetons Mountains

Or this!

Yellowstone River

It's not only about the amazing locations though. Saving money is also a huge part of why we choose to boondock.

When we first simplified our lives, we chose to live with less so that Jonathan wouldn’t have to work 9-5. Having his own business for 13 years, he’s always been able to choose his hours. By having less expenses and a simple lifestyle, he's able to work less so that we can adventure more!

Freedom.

Less time working on client jobs means we’re able to spend more time investing in our own creative pursuits. We started creating more YouTube videos about our travels and we’re currently working on a course to help others who want to know the ends and outs of camping off-grid.

We spend a lot more time diving into hobbies like macrame, watercolor painting, reading, photography, and hiking.

Img 8580

Not everyone can live off-grid, run their house off of the sun, create a nerdy internet setup, or renovate a 46 year old trailer!

However, most of us do have the ability to get outside, explore our own backyards, or take a trip somewhere new. Being nomadic just makes it easier for us to do what we should have been doing all those years stuck in a traditional home…explore!

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So...get the kids dressed, grab a backpack full of snacks and water and go outside! Take advantage of the time you have with each other and go adventure together and experience your own kind of freedom!

For more information about how we renovated our Airstream for life off the grid, check out our Airstream renovation tour below!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/short-visit-in-san-diego-ca San Diego, Torrey Pines, Cabrillo National Monument, and the Seal Tour 2019-02-27T05:00:00+00:00 2019-02-27T18:45:02+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post contains affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Oh, San Diego. It's was so nice to meet you!

After leaving Hollywood, CA we headed south and scored the best site at a little site at a place called Lake Jennings Campground. The campground itself was pretty run down which is a shame because it has so much potential, but the views were incredible!

Lake Jennings View

We opted for a dry campsite (no hookups) so that we would have an amazing view. All the other sites with utilities had very restricted views and cramped next to one another. I think we made the right decision.

lake Jennings

We came to San Diego to explore Torrey Pines and to find Sea Lions. And we managed to do both! Plus we saw that Cabrillo National Monument was there so you know we went to get another Junior Ranger Badge!

We want to give a special thanks to Old Town Trolley/SEAL Tours of San Diego for making it possible to see some Sea Lions!

Check out the short video above of some of the fun we had in San Diego!

Don't forget to like the video and leave a comment on YouTube if you enjoyed it.

Oh, and make sure to subscribe so you don't mess the next episode!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/tiny-water-tools-you-should-have-while-boondocking Tiny Water Tools You Should Have While Boondocking 2019-02-22T05:00:00+00:00 2019-02-26T03:07:47+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post contains affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

If you camp off-grid often, you know the water struggle. Where can I get it in this town? What kind of connection do they have? We’ve already covered the basics in this article (like bladders, hoses, jugs, etc…), but here are a few more indispensable tools to help you level up your water quest.

Water Bandit

Water Bandit

If you need to fill up your tank or bladder with a hose, but the water spigot you’re trying to use doesn’t have a threaded connection, you’ll find the water bandit to be super handy.

It’s basically a rubber funnel with a threaded connection the end that you can jam onto the spigot and fill up without any muss or fuss. I definitely could have used this over the years and I’m glad I have it in my arsenal now.

Shutoff Valve

Hose Coil Spring Coupler + Shutoff Valve

Many times I find myself filling up and transporting water by myself, and having a shutoff valve makes it so much easier to fill various containers without making a mess and wasting a bunch of water. Just combine a coil spring coupler hose and a shut-off valve and you’ll have a magical little tool that lets you stop the flow without running all the way back to the spigot.

Pro-Tip: Combine this with a drill pump (see below) and water bladder to transfer water from the bed of your truck to your fresh tank all by yourself.

Water Key

Water Key (Sillcock Key)

Many commercial buildings or gas stations will have water faucets on the exterior, but no knob or handle to turn it on. This makes sense, they don’t want a bunch of people stealing their water and running up the bill.

That’s why a water key (or sillcock key) is more of an emergency or last ditch effort kind of thing. We always want you to ask permission before filling up your water jugs, and stealing isn’t cool. That being said, this is a good tool to have at your disposal for weird situations like a zombie apocalypse.

Washer

Extra Rubber Gaskets

I know, these little guys aren’t an earth-shattering revelation. But we’ve found that having a few extras of the mundane things that are prone to breaking or getting lost can be the key to enjoying your time camping instead of heading to the hardware store.

Yes, these little hose washers get lost all the time. They fall out. They fail. They stretch. Then you’ve got stuff leaking all over the place and making a mess. Grab yourself 6-pack and never worry about it again.

Drill Pump

Drill Pump

Have a big bladder full of water and need to transfer it to your fresh tank? Have a cordless drill? Then grab yourself one of these bad boys. This little $12 self-priming transfer drill pump has been a game changer for transporting water. Before we just had to let gravity do the work and it took forever!

Now we hook it up to a hose, connect our drill, and pump the water right out in no time flat. It’s pretty amazing little gadget, and totally worth it if you find yourself transporting water a lot like we do.

Pro Tip: Combine with a hose to hose connector (pictured), and a coil spring coupler hose to pump it by yourself without needing an extra set of hands.

And now, my friend - you are equipped to be a fresh water ninja. Go forth, obtain your water, and flourish!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/travel-route-2019 The 2019 Tiny Shiny Home Travel Route 2019-02-18T05:00:00+00:00 2019-07-28T19:54:13+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/

Below you'll find a map showing our travel route in 2019. Click on a marker to get a link to any articles we've written about that area. We'll keep this post updated so you can follow along with us. Enjoy!

Locations in this post

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/our-first-visit-to-universal-studios-hollywood Our first visit to Universal Studios Hollywood 2019-02-14T05:00:00+00:00 2019-02-15T02:20:58+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post contains affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

I’ll admit it. I wasn’t super excited about visiting Universal Studios Hollywood. If you know us, you know we’d rather be hiking mountains alone than stuck in a city surrounded by thousands of people. I get anxiety when we have to be in large groups so putting me in the middle of a theme park just sounded like the worst idea.

However, this adventure is not about me! It’s about our family and more specifically, OUR KIDS! We just spent the last several months listening to the Harry Potter audio books with the kids after the older two had both read all the books. Then we watched all the movies so you may say we became Potter Heads. I’d heard great things about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood so after much research, we decided to surprise the kids with tickets!

We counted down the days, did lots of research, and we were so excited when the day finally came for us to explore Hogsmeade. We got there right as the gates were open and went straight to Olivander’s Wand Shop. We waited 20 minutes to go to the Wand Experience where you’re in a large group of 20 people but only one gets chosen to get fitted for a wand.

Let’s just say, ours were only our kids in our group, so our chances were pretty good. Ada was chosen and I cannot even tell you how special it was. I teared up as the Wand Master spoke to her so kindly and made the whole experience purely magical, but that was just the beginning. Every interaction we had with the workers there was amazing. Everyone stayed in character and was so friendly and helpful.

After all the kids picked out their wands…or rather, after the wands picked our kids…we went straight to our first ride. The Flight of the Hippogriff. It was the kids very first rollercoaster and a great starter for our day. They LOVED it and were excited to go on the next ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Woah. I wasn’t prepared for how cool that was going to be.

I thought you just sat in a chair that would move a bit in front of a big screen…NOPE! It was so much fun. We really felt like we were flying with Harry and all of his friends. So incredible.

We promised the kids after their first rides that we would grab some Butterbeer. We were told that the frozen kind was the way to go, but we had to see for ourselves. Yep, they were right…however, we got one frozen and one fizzy and drank them simultaneously and our minds were blown! THAT is the way to drink Butterbeer!

After wandering around the shops for a bit we grabbed some lunch at the Three Broomsticks and whoah! I had no idea that a theme park could have such amazing food. Like real, delicious food. We got fish and chips (which were probably the best I’ve ever had), herb roasted chicken, and chicken tenders. Everything was so fresh and good. Oh, and the fizzy pumpkin juice was awesome! Pricey? Heck yes, but you are at a theme park. It was worth it for the experience of the whole day.

We decided to let our food settle as we took the Universal Studio Tour. I didn’t realize that it was also a ‘ride’ of some sort. It was so fun to see a little bit of the behind-the-scenes and see how some of the movies are made. I didn’t expect to get wet on a bus tour, but my pants got soaked in an earthquake! The tour is a must. It’s an hour long but worth it.

After a few more rides we decided to go back to Hogsmeade so that the kids could cast some spells with their magic wands. They had so much fun with those wands.

We bought some postcards at the Owl Post to send to some family and friends. Of course another round of Butterbeer to close out our day.

It was the most incredible day. We couldn’t stop smiling and Ada hugged us every chance she got in between spells and swigs of Butterbeer. She proclaimed it to be the best day of her life, and I may agree.

Thank you Universal Studios Hollywood for making our first visit an experience we will never forget!

Watch the video about our trip to Universal Studios Hollywood! If you liked it, please leave a comment on YouTube after the video and give it a thumbs up! Thanks friends!

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/quick-tips-for-staying-safe-while-boondocking Quick Tips for Staying Safe while Boondocking 2019-02-13T05:00:00+00:00 2019-02-13T21:57:36+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post contains affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

We get asked all the time about how to stay safe when camping off-grid. While we’ve never had a problem - and while you’re much less likely to encounter one in the middle of nowhere - we know it’s something many of you are concerned about.

So here are a few quick tips for staying safe while boondocking!

Wickenburg Overhead Drone

Unpaved Roads are Tricky

First things first - always drop your trailer and scout a boondocking location before you try to tow anything down a rocky dirt or sand road you’re not familiar with. You’ll keep yourself from getting into sticky situations and you’ll probably find an even better spot than you would have towing.

We recommend having a vehicle with 4 Wheel Drive just in case there’s mud or deep sand. We should know - our first boondocking experience with our 2wd dually ended in disaster!

Consider adding a lift to your trailer. Roads to off-grid spots are often rocky and uneven. Raising up a few inches really helps to keep from bottoming out.

Antenna Relfection

Reliable Internet

If something dangerous does happen, it’s important that you can make an emergency call or get directions to the closest hospital. Having a reliable internet connection while camping off-grid is essential.

By combining a cell phone plan, booster and antenna you’ll be well on your way. Learn more here.

Friendsgiving at lake mead

Send a Message

Once you’ve found your perfect boondocking spot, you can take a few simple precautions to send a message if someone comes up to your RV.

Adding an alarm sticker is the oldest trick in the book - people even do it for their houses. But it feels a little more authentic for a trailer in the middle of nowhere. I’d just guess it came as an add-on when purchasing. Keep in mind that gun stickers might be counter-productive if law enforcement or border patrol pulls you over.

In the same vein, you can add a small LED light near the door or step to look like an alarm is set. And if you’re alone, put out multiple chairs or pairs of shoes to make it look like you’ve got backup.

Las Cruces, NM

Lock Your Junk Up

Besides locking your doors and windows, try adding a deadbolt for extra security. Those little standard latches are pretty easy to break.

Did you know that most RV storage compartments use the same keys? If a thief has a set of them they can easily get in. Take a few minutes, replace the locks and get your own keys.

Finally, consider locking your wheel chocks or adding a wheel boot so that someone can’t run off with your tiny home.

And that's it! Want to learn even more about staying safe? Check out the Boondocking Collective.

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/exploring-indio-ca-joshua-tree-sheilds-date-garden Exploring Indio, CA, Joshua Tree National Park and Shield's Date Garden 2019-02-06T05:00:00+00:00 2019-02-06T19:16:34+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post contains affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

In this episode we're exploring Indio, CA and Joshua Tree National Park. We also get a taste of our first 'date shake' from Shield's Date Garden and hike a crazy trail called Ladder Canyon!

Don't forget to like the video and leave a comment on YouTube if you enjoyed it.

Oh, and make sure to subscribe so you don't mess the next episode!

Links Mentioned:

Video Gear

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/exploring-ajo-organ-pipe-cactus-national-monument-camping-with-friends. Exploring Ajo, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, & Camping with Friends. 2019-01-27T05:00:00+00:00 2019-01-28T05:06:34+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post contains affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

This episode we're in Ajo, Arizona exploring "butt rock", hanging out with traveling friends Wandering Nation, and hiking at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

Don't forget to like the video and leave a comment on YouTube if you enjoyed it.

Oh, and make sure to subscribe so you don't mess the next episode!

Links Mentioned:

Video Gear

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/boondocking-in-wickenburg-az-recapping-2018-exploring-hassayampa-river-nature-preserve Boondocking in Wickenburg AZ, Recapping 2018 & Exploring Hassayampa River Nature Preserve 2019-01-22T05:00:00+00:00 2019-01-28T05:02:48+00:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post contains affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Hello friends! In this episode we’re visiting the little town of Wickenburg, AZ (just west of Phoenix) where we stayed out in the desert for 2 weeks enjoying those unforgettable Arizona sunsets and picking jumping cholla out of our appendages. We love this little town full of friendly, helpful people, and home to a little treasure called the Hassayampa River Preserve.

Enjoy our awkwardness as we I am still getting used to being in front of the camera.

Don't forget to like the video and leave a comment on YouTube if you enjoyed it.

Oh, and make sure to subscribe so you don't mess the next episode!

Links Mentioned:

Video Gear

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https://tinyshinyhome.com/how-we-boondocked-for-6-months-in-2018 How we Boondocked for 6 Months in 2018 2019-01-21T05:00:00+00:00 2019-03-13T21:15:54+00:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/

Way back in 2015 we boondocked for the first time and totally fell in love. Out there on the edge of a ravine, surrounded by friends we just met for the first time, the attraction was instant.

Maybe it was the silence, the raw untamed beauty, or the feeling of freedom. Or maybe it was just that it was free! Either way, since that day we made it our goal to boondock more.

That involved selling the huge 5th wheel we had at the time and renovating a vintage Airstream for off-grid domination. Since then, we’ve been boondocking all over the country, and wanted to take a few minutes to share our favorite areas we visited in 2018.

Sierra Vista, AZ

This is such a gem of place - with lots of hidden off-grid camping up the many canyon roads that are in National Forest land. There are hiking trails all over - many of them don’t even show up online anywhere, and that’s ok with us.

We visited here right in the middle of winter, and the temperatures were great - 60’s during the day and just a little chilly at night.

Airstream Sierra Vista Sunset

Ajo, AZ

A tiny little town near the border, we found the boondocking out near the old mine to be perfect. Quiet, peaceful, and only 10 minutes down the road to get supplies. The temperatures were perfect and it’s only 40 minutes from Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument!

The only downside is that there seems to be a lot of immigrant activity - plenty of Border Patrol vehicles, some signs, and we even found black water bottles as we were hiking around in the desert. We never ran into anyone, but just know it’s a possibility.

Ajo Sunset Ajo Drone1

Willcox, AZ

Literally out in the middle of nowhere, Indian Breadrocks is a rock hopper’s paradise. We had a blast exploring, climbing and sliding down the unique rock formations, and were wowed by the nearby Chiricahua National Monument.

It was a little busy (and windy + chilly) when we were there in February, but we really enjoyed our time there.

Indian Breadrocks Rainbow

Las Cruces, NM

Las Cruces was the first place we boondocked with the newly renovated Airstream, so we were excited to come back in 2018. But dang it got busy! Our usual area was completely full, but we lucked out after a bit of scouting with a beautiful spot nestled right up agains the Organ Mountains.

Bonus points: Dripping Springs Natural Area and Aguirre Springs National Recreation Area are right down the road and have phenomenal hiking.

Las Cruces Mountains Airstream

Carlsbad, NM

If you love cows, then there’s some great off-grid camping near Carlsbad, New Mexico. Most of it is cow pasture so you’ll have to honk your horn to get them to move off the road occasionally. It was still a little cold and windy here in late March, but there were definitely warm days, too.

Obviously Carlsbad Caverns is great, but don’t forget to hop back across the state line to Guadalupe Mountains National Park and seek out Sitting Bulls Falls - an amazing little oasis in the desert.

Carlsbad Airstream

Padre Island, TX

Right after we got our Airstream polished in Austin, we headed to the beach for what we thought would be a perfect weekend of catching rays and riding waves. Bad idea!

The crazy winds, combined with salt, sand, and humidity literally sandblasted some of our beautiful polish away. Arghhh!

Sure it looks cool, but unfortunately our beachside boondocking experience wasn’t the greatest.

Padre Island Airstream

Elk Mound, WI

Sometimes you need a nice place to stay overnight that isn’t a Walmart parking lot. We love Boondockers Welcome for this very reason. Spending the night on a small farm, sharing a campfire with the owners, and meeting new friends is much better than a crazy parking lot.

Cornfield Airstream

Custer, SD

After enjoying our time directly inside Custer State Park, we found a nice little spot out in the woods to camp off-grid and continue to explore the area. It was wonderfully quiet, even with cattle that came to graze every so often.

Custer Reflection

Badlands National Park

We setup shop right outside Badlands National Park with a spectacular view down into the canyon below. It was super windy, but the weather was perfect, and we loved the close access to the park.

Badlands Drone Badlands Clouds Airstream

Yellow Stone National Park

This park is so big that we ended up boondocking in multiple states for quicker access to certain areas. Yeah, I said states!

On the north side, we found a beautiful spot in Montana on the Yellowstone River where we enjoyed the soothing sounds of the water and watched Bald Eagles fly and hunt for fish.

Yellowstone River Yellowstone Pink Sunset

Near the west entrance, we settled in on the shore of Henry’s Lake in Idaho. The kids loved skipping rocks every night, and we met up with several other traveling friends.

There were a lot of fisherman out on the lake, but other than that it was pretty quiet.

Yellowstone Lake Sunset Henrys Lake Airstream

Jackson, WY

Besides really loving the town of Jackson, we loved our boondocking spot about 20 minutes outside the city with amazing views of the Grand Tetons. We were here in late September and it was already getting cold. Like mid-20’s at night.

Thankfully the Airstream renovation held up and kept us nice and warm. We did go through a ton of propane, though! With close access to Grand Teton National Park, we really loved our time here.

Grand Tetons Mountains Grand Tetons Drone

Hunstville, UT

Up the mountain outside of Ogden, we camped out in a recreation area that wasn’t necessarily our favorite place, but the blazing internet upload speeds were necessary for that week as we were doing live Facebook calls each day.

The more we hung around and explored, though, we dug the little towns close by, and even found a beautiful fall hike to a waterfall.

Huntsville Airstream

Hurricane, UT

This was probably one of our favorite boondocking spots last year. Between the epic sunsets and Zion National Park in the distance, we were pretty sad when our 14 day limit was up. Thankfully we met a ton of new friends here, and found out that there are some even better adventures outside the park in the surrounding area!

Hurricane Airstream Sunset Hurricane Drone Sunset Hurricane Airstream Drone

Wickenburg, AZ

At the end of the year we had to bounce around from park to park in the Phoenix area due to a flight back home to see family. We spent a lot of time in some of our favorite State Parks, but had to mix it up with boondocking.

Finding somewhere free and off-grid with good signal is hard in the Phoenix area, but we lucked out with this beautiful spot outside Wickenburg, AZ. It was quiet, 10 minutes from town, and the sunsets were impressive.

It got a little cold right at the end of the year, but from what we understand, they only have 3-4 weeks before the temperatures jump back up to the 70’s for the winter.

Wickenburg Airstream Tele Wickenburg Drone Wickenburg Overhead Drone

And with that, 2018 was over! We boondocked nearly 6 months out of the year and loved every minute of it. Want to know how we find all these cool spots and plan the perfect off-grid camping trip?

You’re in luck! We’ve got a great little guide to finding the perfect boondocking trip, and are running a 5-day challenge in early February to teach you how to plan your first boondocking trip. We hope you’ll sign up and join us!

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