Tiny Shiny Home Blog 2020-04-07T08:01:56-05:00 /feed Tiny Shiny Home hello@tinyshinyhome.com https://tinyshinyhome.com/building-an-off-grid-homestead-water Building an Off-Grid Homestead: Water Options 2020-03-31T00:00:00-05:00 2020-03-31T11:30:42-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
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Typically, when you think of a homestead you picture grassy fields, lots of trees and fertile ground. Ours will look quite a bit different out in the high desert of southeastern Arizona.

We have so many big plans for this piece of land, but the big question right now is WHAT DO WE DO FIRST?

Let’s just pretend for a moment that the property has been re-zoned and it’s finally ours. Now what?

  • Should we worry about water first?
  • Do we install fencing first to keep out the free range cattle?
  • What about a storage shed for tools and equipment we’ll need to work on the property?
  • Will we need more solar power?

We have been boondocking for so long it’s no problem for us to pull up to the land and park our trailer. However, there are a few things that will make this a bit more challenging. Let’s start with our water options.

Drill a Well

Drill a Well

Now before we get started let's talk about why drilling a well is not an option for us in our area. Most people tend to drill for their water on a 'normal' homestead - however, there is a lot of agriculture nearby the property that is drying up everyone's wells. You could easily spend $5-$30K on drilling, but there’s no guarantee that you won’t need to re-drill in a few years. For this reason, a well was never a really option for us, but let's talk about the options we do have.

1. Haul Water in Ourselves

Option 1 Haul Ourselves

This is what we do when we're boondocking, but on a much smaller scale. This seemed like the most logical solution, but with being 40 minutes from town, we're looking at other options. 

While the cost upfront cost is reasonable (under $2,000), it doesn't make sense during this time of trying to avoid crowds and practicing social distancing. Plus we'd be spending way too much valuable time hauling water each week when we could be working.

2. Rainwater Catchment

Option 2 Water Catchment

Our ultimate goal is rainwater catchment. I’ve been sold on this option for so long, and though it’s a much pricier option, over time it would be much more self-sustaining for us. Now I know what you’re thinking. Arizona? Rainwater? I know! Hear me out.

With an average rainfall of 12 inches a year, and most of that falling in just 2.5 months out of the year, we’d need a lot of water catchment surface as well as lots of storage. What I would love to do is build a rainwater roof similar to Derek’s, but we’d need several 2600 gallon totes to get us through a year of our water needs. With all the other projects we need to do up front, that's going to have to wait a bit longer before we make this huge investment.

According to my calculations, I could build the roof for around $2,000, but the totes are whats’ so expensive. For 4 storage tanks, it’s around $7600 and that would give us 10,400 gallons of water for the year. Now…this is on the low side of our water needs, but I think we could make this work.

This estimate of course doesn’t include all the PVC to run the water where we need it, or connect the tanks, or the pump to get the water from one tank to our Airstream. It’s definitely a pricy option, but one that we could do in stages if we needed to. We could build a smaller roof with the ability to add on to it eventually, and we could start with only two tanks instead of four and just connect them later. It’s just a lot more complicated to do it that way. 

While our end goal is rain water catchment - at this time - we're going to have to find a cheaper option.

3. Water Delivery

Option 3 Water Delivery

The last option is to buy a smaller 1500 gallon water storage tank and have water delivered to us. Just this week we found a local who will deliver water to us 1500 gallons at a time. Score! 

With an upfront cost of about $1,300, and only $65/delivery, this option would take us 12 years to add up to what we would need to invest in our rain water catchment system.  

This seems like the most logical solution for what we need to get started. It's a great in-between solution that will allow us to store water for month(s) at a time with a relatively low investment.


So as you can see, there are so many options to choose from, and this is just the water! We still have a whole slew of other things to figure out along the way. We’re excited about learning so many new things and sharing what we learn with all of you!

We’ve been able to find a few other people out here who are doing similar projects so it’s been good to learn from them. We’ll be documenting the whole process in order to help others who are wanting to do something similar in a desert climate.

Thank you for following along on this crazy journey of ours. We're excited to share this new adventure with you.

And of course, if you have another idea for our water, let us know in the comments!

https://tinyshinyhome.com/kids-favorite-books-games Our Kids Favorite Books & Games for Being Stuck Inside 2020-03-24T00:00:00-05:00 2020-03-26T16:30:17-05:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
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I can't believe how much our kids have grown since we started traveling full-time! It's been amazing to see each of them grow up to have their own interests, hobbies, and passions.

With everyone stuck inside for the foreseeable future, we thought it would be fun to ask them what games, books, and products they would recommend to other kids who may be getting bored with nowhere to go.

I'll mention a few global items, and then share each kids' personal favorites below.

Article Overview

  1. Nintendo Switch
  2. iPad Apps + Family Sharing + Apple Services
  3. Books
  4. Board Games, Card Games & Art Supplies

Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is a fantastic portable gaming system. We spend a lot of time camping off-grid, so we appreciate that it's a battery-powered hand held system and doesn't use a ton of energy.

The Switch has great support for multiple accounts so each kid (or adult) can keep their progress for each game - and with the Nintendo Switch Online Family Account, all that progress gets backed up to the cloud just in case something bad happens.

Some games also support multi-player! By adding a few more controllers we can do a 4 player run in Mario Kart. Granted, the screen is pretty small for that. But it's totally possible.

It can come with us on long drive days, and with the dock we can hook it up to any TV with HDMI. There's been several times we took it to a hotel or a friend's house, and it was so much fun.

This case makes it easy to transport all the pieces, and this cable lets you keep it charged in your vehicle.

By adding a huge SD card, you can store all your games on the Switch without having to carry a bunch of cartridges around which is awesome when you have 4 kids using it regularly.

All in all, it's a really well thought out system, and as you'll see below, each of our children has a different game on it they really love.

Nintendo switch super smash bros

Adali's Favorite Switch Game - Super Smash Bros Ultimate

Adali - "Super Smash Bros is a fun multiplayer game that you can play on one or more Switch. There are so many characters to unlock, no two battles are the same."

"If you have a chance to play on a TV do it. It’s way more fun when you can clearly see what’s happening, especially on the levels that are always moving!"

Nintendo switch legend of zelda botw

Jett's Favorite Switch Game - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Jett - "The Legend of Zelda (BOTW if you will) is one of the best games I’ve played on the Switch. I like it because it gives you the freedom to do what YOU want to do. Want to go to all the shrines? You can do that! Want to get all the bosses done? You can do that, too! Want to kill Ganon first try? Sure! (Though you probably shouldn’t do that.)"

"It's an epic masterpiece!"

Nintendo switch rocket league

Jax's Favorite Switch Game - Rocket League

Jax - "Rocket League lets you build your own car and play soccer with it in crazy arenas. Sounds weird, but it's so much fun!"

Nintendo switch mario odyssey

Ada's Favorite Switch Game - Super Mario Odyssey

Ada - "Super Mario Odyssey is such, such, such a fun Switch game. Multiplayer is the funnest with a friend! Hope you like it - also you get to be a T-Rex!"

iPad Apps + Family Sharing + Apple Services

For many years, even though we had multiple Apple devices, we all shared my single iTunes account for purchases. This was fine until everyone started to like different music, movies, and games. What? How dare they have their own opinions 😂!

After tons of research, we finally pulled the trigger on Family Sharing + Apple Music + Apple Arcade.

The first thing I had to do was setup a family account, and then add the kids as Children accounts. Here I was able to setup "Ask to Buy," which is a cool feature that notifies you when your kid wants to buy or download an app, and asks your for permission right from your device. So instead of a bunch of texts about a game, I just get a notification that I can approve or deny.

We're doing a trial of Apple Music, and I think it's the thing the kids have loved the most. Instead of just seeing the music I've bought on iTunes now they can create their own libraries. It's been pretty cool to see them really dig into the styles and bands they like individually.

Finally, Apple Arcade. When it first came out, I was pretty impressed. The fact that you got access to some incredible games without any in-app purchases or ads was fantastic. However, as time has gone on and new games have come out, I'm not sure if we'll stay subscribed. Within the past several months, there's only been one or two games the kids are interested in, and they're being released so slowly we just aren't that excited about it anymore. It's only $5/mo so we're hanging on a bit longer for now.

Obviously the key to all this working is that each child has their own device - we went with iPads so they had plenty of room on the screen for reading, learning, and yes, gaming. We bought our iPads 4 years ago, and they are all still going strong. If you want a really robust tablet that will last for years, the iPad is a good bet.

Ok, enough of me! Let's hear from the kids, starting from oldest to youngest.

Ipad machiniarium

Adali's Favorite iPad Games - Samorost 3, Machinarium and Botanicula

Adali - "Samorost 3, Machinarium and Botanicula are three of my favorite games on the iPad. They’re made by Amanita Design, they’re all puzzle games with funny stories and silly characters. I love the art and design, and how much they make me think."

Ipad strangers wrath

Jett's Favorite iPad Game - ODDWORLD: Stranger's Wrath

Jett - "ODDWORLD: Stranger's Wrath is one of my top favorite games to play on my iPad. In this game you play as the STRANGER, hiding a dark secret, you try to get enough moola (yes moola) by bagging all the bad guys, beating the bosses, getting more moola...and in the middle of all that you get a mysterious phone call..."

"This game is my favorite because my dad played it first on our old TV back in our house. Good memories :)"

Ipad minecraft

Jax's Favorite iPad Game - Minecraft

Jax - "I love that with Minecraft you can create whatever you want, and play multiplayer with your friends and family."

Ipad pixel art

Ada's Favorite iPad Game - Pixel Art

Ada - "Pixel Art is a color by number app, and they have new art every day! There are easy ones, medium ones, and really hard ones. It's super fun, and you can create your own pixel art, too!"


Apps and games are fun, but we all know how important it is to read and learn. Our kids have found a deep love for reading on the road, and we can't even keep track of all the books they read.

While we would prefer them to have all physical books, turns out they take up too much room and add too much weight for living in an RV. Thankfully there are many great options for either buying or renting books for your tablet.


Since we're talking iOS, iBooks is a great online bookstore that integrates nicely with the iPad. The pricing can be a little expensive, so make sure to check other places first.

Amazon Kindle

The Kindle reader is also a really nice option, especially if you have an Amazon Prime account. Books bought on Amazon get synced with your reader so you can read whenever you like. Amazon is much better about running discounts or sales on books, too so often it can be cheaper.


Libby is an app that lets you connect your local library account and rent books virtually. This is by far the option we use most because 4 kids + lots of books = $$$. It's great that they can rent online, but the only downside is that they enforce artificial limits that mimic how a physical library works. So once a book is checked out, no one else can check it out. This can cause long wait times and frustration especially if you are hoping to read the next book in a series.

But overall, our kids use Libby all the time and enjoy how many books it's allowed them to read.

Now let's see what each of their favorite books are.

Books rangers wonder fun jungle

Adali's Favorite Books - Ranger's Apprentice, Wonder, & Fun Jungle

Adali - "Rangers Apprentice is a great series if you like knights, castles, and evil Lords. There’s lots of action but there’s also lots of jokes. I read them a while back and really enjoyed them."

"Wonder is another great book that I ended up reading right before the movie came out. It’s about a boy that was born with some health problems, so he looks a little different then others. The book and the movie are very emotional, but its still an amazing book. "

"Stuart Gibbs has a lot of good books, but I think my favorite series might be the Fun Jungle series. Of course, they’re all mysteries, except these are about animals because it all happens in a zoo. I learned lots of interesting facts, like did you know at one point there were only five white rhinos left in the world? At the end of each book there is a website you can visit to donate money and help animals around the world. Pretty cool."

Books percy jackson warriors moonbase alpha

Jett's Favorite Books - Percy Jackson, Maze Runner, The Warriors, & Moonbase Alpha

Jett - "Percy Jackson is one of my favorite book series ever (a close second, Wings of Fire is the best!). This series is action packed, sarcastic, and has great humor for all ages! I like this book because, well, it’s hilarious!"

"The Maze Runner Series is number four on my book list, but it’s also a action packed book filled with gruesome parts, but captivating. I like this series because it made me feel a lot of different emotions, wich doesn’t happen a lot!"

"The Warrior Series is very long, but it’s fun, sort of kiddish friendly, has some murder mystery and fighting, but still fun to read! I like this book series because it is the longest book series I’ve ever read, but also because it’s super addicting to read."

"The Moonbase Alpha books are really good! Made by the same guy who made the Fun Jungle series and the Spy School series, one of my top 10 favorites. Filled with murder and mystery (and possibly aliens?) I love this series because 1. I like outer space and 2., the last book made me feel sad and happy at the same time."

Books voyage of frostheart

Jax's Favorite Book - The Voyage of the Frostheart

Jax - "I’m still reading The Voyage of the Frostheart, but so far it’s a great book with really cool illustrations."

Books wings of fire

Ada's Favorite Books - Wings of Fire

Ada - "Wings of Fire is an amazing series! If you read it you will not regret it - trust me it’s an awesome book series about dragons. There's even a graphic novel version that are cool. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!"

Board Games, Card Games & Art Supplies

Technology is pretty amazing, but even better? Spending time face to face with your family, and using your hands to create something physical. Since we can't do a lot of hiking or exploring right now, there have been plenty of family game nights.

These are our kids favorites.

Monoply nation parks

Adali's Favorite Board Game - Monopoly National Parks Edition

Adali - "Everyone’s heard of Monopoly, but have you heard of Monopoly National Parks Edition? Instead of buying land you buy National Parks! It’s fun to see the places you’ve visited or planning on visiting soon. The property cards even have short descriptions about the Parks!"

*Note - this currently seems to be out of stock everywhere. Hopefully it'll be back soon.

Exploding kittens

Jett's Favorite Card Game - Exploding Kittens

Jett - "Said to be the biggest kick-starter game in history (so far), Exploding Kittens is fun, mildly gross and hilarious all at the same time. I like this game because it can be expanded to a 10 player game, so that means all of us can play! (P.S. Make sure you get all the expansion packs!)"

Exiled legends

Jax's Favorite Board Game - Exiled Legends

Jax - "Exiled Legends is a board game with a bunch of cool art on each card. It’s kind of confusing, and you need 5 players, but it’s so much fun. It’s kind of like a fighting game."

Unstable unicorns

Ada's Favorite Card Game - Unstable Unicorns

Ada - "Unstable Unicorns is a really fun game especially with all the different extensions you can add. The rule book literally says 'Build a unicorn army. Betray your friends. Unicorns are your friends now.' It’s SO FUN! Sometimes cruel, but mostly fun."

Jax art supplies

Jax's Favorite Art Supplies

In case you hadn't noticed a theme with all Jax's responses, he's really into drawing and art :) So in addition to what's above, he also picked all his favorite art supplies!

Dowswin Sketch Set: Jax - "I have this art set that I use all the time. It’s really good cause of how small it rolls up and because it has 29 tools! I don’t know about you, but that’s a pretty good deal."

Alvin Draft-Matic Mechanical Pencil: Jax - "This mechanical pencil is super good because it comes with a jar of lead and it’s super light it’s a great pencil for artists."

Copic Multiliner Marker: Jax - "This is a pen that’s made from the Copic company. I like this pen because it can be used in a bunch of different sizes. I got the .01 size and it works really well."

Finishing Up

Whew! That got a little out of hand! We hope each and every one of you are staying safe and healthy out there during these crazy times - and that maybe you'll grab a card game or two and make some memories with your family while you're cooped up.

Until next time, friends!

https://tinyshinyhome.com/three-years-in-our-tiny-shiny-home Three Years In Our Tiny Shiny Home 2020-03-18T00:00:00-05:00 2020-03-18T17:30:38-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
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Yesterday we celebrated living in this tiny home of our for three whole years! Three years! Is that even real? I remember pulling away from my parent’s driveway like it was just yesterday.

Six long months of renovating this Airstream into our off-grid, boondocking machine. And looking back at photos…I cannot believe how much the kids have changed in such a short amount of time. It makes me both sad and super happy to see the difference just three years makes. Look at how little they were!!

2017 Kids in Airstream

This tiny, shiny home has taken us on so many adventures. We never knew just how much this little home on wheels would change our family’s future. It’s brought us closer together (literally) as a family, and has given us the joy and freedom to call many places home. From beaches, to forests, to mountains and deserts. This Airstream has been the critical turning point for us as a family.

Kids in Airstream 2020

She’s been our shelter during the storms and a safe, comfortable place to rest and reset after our days' adventures. So much love and care has gone into this home. So many memories wrapped up in this hunk of aluminum.

If this home could talk, I think she’d say…thank you. “Thank you for fixing my broken pieces and making them beautiful. Thank you for giving me another chance to adventure and live this life of freedom.”

Vintage Airstream in Arizona

Without these last three years, we likely would have never been inspired to buy an off grid property. We probably would have given up on traveling without the ability to camp for free. We may have even settled back into a life in the city and became your suburban neighbor. But because of this Airstream, and because of our dream, we found who we are and where we want to be.

We are freedom seekers. We believe in the impossible. And we are a family who doesn’t give up on their dreams. Cheers to many more memory making moments in this tiny, shiny home of ours. And thank YOU for following along on our journey.

Want to see all the places our Airstream took us last year? Watch this video!

We are freedom seekers. We believe in the impossible. And we are a family who doesn’t give up on their dreams. Cheers to many more memory making moments in this tiny, shiny home of ours. And thank YOU for following along on our journey.

https://tinyshinyhome.com/re-zoning-update-did-we-get-approved Re-Zoning Update - Did We Get Approved? 2020-03-17T00:00:00-05:00 2020-03-17T10:49:06-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
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Our first official meeting for attempting to re-zone the property in Cochise County was March 11th. Jonathan wrote quite the impressive presentation complete with power point slides, because he's an over achiever like that.

We were feeling pretty good after watching the first 3 people breeze through their re-zoning with no problems. Then it was our turn.

After Jonathan made his presentation to the board they asked if anyone was there to speak up about it. One person was there in opposition, and they spoke to the board.

From what we can tell, they just don't want people coming in and re-zoning residential property to rural property. Which we understand, but we are right across the street from several other RU-4 properties so we think it makes sense in our case.

This whole area is divided into 1 acre parcels. It was meant to be a big subdivision back in the 70's, but never took off. Mostly because there is no water in the area. People are buying several one acre parcels and combining them into larger lots. All the houses around (we can see 2 from the property) are already set on at least 4 acres.

If there were homes on every one acre lot out there it would be a disaster. We feel like we'd be helping out the area by having 11 acres and only one residence on the lot. This would allow us to have lots of open area for animals, gardens, and to preserve the desert landscape.

Anyway, the good news is the board still approved us by a vote of 4-2. But we're not celebrating yet...

Our next meeting is set for April 7th where the approval recommendation will go before the county board.

At this meeting people have another chance to oppose the re-zoning and the same person already told us they'll be at that meeting too.

Thankfully we've talked to them and they actually seem quite nice. They're not at all opposed to what we want to do on the property - they just don't want it re-zoned to rural.

With the Coronavirus causing all the things to be shut down, there's a chance this meeting will be postponed. Which would be a huge setback for us timing-wise, but we understand the need to keep everyone safe and healthy. So we'll see how it goes.

We just wanted to say thank you to all of you who have texted, emailed and checked on us during this time. It means so much to us to have you rooting for us. We can't wait to see what happens next.

https://tinyshinyhome.com/property-update-meeting-the-neighbors Property Update - Meeting the Neighbors 2020-03-10T01:00:00-05:00 2020-03-10T10:56:40-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

It's March, and you know what that means?!?! Our re-zoning meeting is fast approaching (March 11) and we're so anxious. We've put a lot of thought, time, and some money into this property, and we are just hoping it will all work out in the end.

We've written our speech that Jonathan will be presenting to hopefully ease the mind of those who have spoken up against our application to re-zone. It's good. I can't read through it without my eyes watering. He has a way with words and I'm just so incredibly proud of him and all his hard work to get us to this point.

I've been overwhelmed with fear and anxiety up to this point, but now I just feel a sense of calmness.

Even if this property doesn't work out, I have no doubt that we'll be able to find another, but I'm really pulling for this one. It's just so perfect for what we want to do.

Last week we had the opportunity to meet up with some families in the area. Everyone has been so helpful in answering questions, sharing advice, and encouraging us. It just feels like the kind of community we want to be a part of. We're so looking forward to having a place to host friends, neighbors, and family.

While we walked the property one more time, we were really trying to pay attention to all the details.

Taking note of the trees, the yucca, the cactus, the mysterious mounds with holes that we can't seem to figure out what kind of animal they belong to.

We're still trying to find the best place to park the Airstream (you know, if we end up with the land) but haven't quite decided the best place for it.

We're ready! Ready to work. Ready to make this place our home. Ready to create our own little oasis and to share the entire process with you.

Thank you for following along on our new adventure! We'll keep updated as things progress.

https://tinyshinyhome.com/everything-is-breaking Everything is Breaking! 2020-03-09T00:00:00-05:00 2020-03-22T11:07:05-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

It's hard to believe that in just a few short days we'll be celebrating 3 years of living in our Tiny Shiny Home! But with the nearly 90,000 miles we've driven this little home on wheels, everything is starting to break.

Maybe you recall our expensive month of January having to fix packrat damage in the truck and then our wheel almost falling off causing us to have to replace both axels! Now our solar display is acting a fool and since that's how we know how much solar is coming in, we kind of need one that works!

With a quick search on Amazon we found that the company doesn't make the exact same model anymore. Of course not! That would be way too easy. So we bought their new solar display and knew we'd need to make a few minor adjustments.

This video condenses a couple hours of finagling into a short clip for you to see how 'easy' it was to replace :)

While it definitely works, you can see in the video that the display seems to be stuck in a weird infinite looping scroll! We have reached out to Amazon and have a replacement on the way to see if it fixes the problem.

We'll post an update with more info soon!

https://tinyshinyhome.com/grass-roots-farmers-co-op Grass Roots Farmers' Co-op - Real Meat on the Road! 2020-02-27T08:00:00-05:00 2020-03-22T14:06:25-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
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Traveling full time has so many benefits. You get to go so many amazing places that you may have never had the chance to visit before. You'll meet new people and find great friends along the way. But traveling full time also comes with challenges. Groceries being a big one!

Traveling full time means that occasionally you may be in the middle of nowhere. You may find yourself in tiny towns where the local grocery store is also the hardware store and there's not a Wal-Mart or Whole Foods for 100 miles. The cleanest meat option may be Tyson's Chicken in the frozen food isle. Umm, no thanks!

We've often joked that it would be so nice if we could get our groceries delivered to us out here while we're boondocking. But now that's possible...kind of. We love using Amazon Prime for getting shipments of supplies for the Airstream like Coco Coir for the toilet, or new propane pig-tails because the Arizona sun deteriorates ours so quickly. But we also use Amazon for dry goods like Tapioca Flour, Boba, Cocount Flour and Oats.

That's all wonderful and great, but what about meat? We've found it incredibly hard to find quality meat while traveling. We've lucked out in the summer months with finding great farmer's markets, but during the winter months your options are slim, especially while boondocking in tiny southern Arizona towns. We love being out here in the middle of nowhere, but we also want good food.

Well, we've finally found a place to order delicious meat and have it delivered to us! Grass Roots Farmers' Co-op!

Grass Roots Farmers' Co-op

They believe that 'healthy animals should be raised outdoors with sunlight, fresh air, and clean grass' and we couldn't agree more. All the animals are pasture raised, grass fed, no pesticides, no hormones, no antibiotics and no GMOs are used! It's incredibly hard to find meat that clean and humanely raised. Especially while traveling.

Until we can raise our own meat, we will buy from Grass Roots Farmers' Co-op. Let's take a look at how they ship it.

Grass Roots Packaging

Your package will come via FedEx. Our first box was shipped on a Monday and we received it on the following Thursday. We were a bit nervous that the meat would no longer be frozen, but they assured me that there would be enough dry ice and insulated packaging that it would not be a problem. And they were right!

Grass Roots Farmers' Co-op

I LOVE that their packaging is recyclable and biodegradable. All the meat will be shipped frozen with enough dry ice to ensure it stays that way. Plus, shipping is free when you order over $120 worth of meat!

Grass Roots Farmers' Co-op

Using this service has taken a lot of stress off of me. When I go to a grocery and look at the meat selection it makes me want to gag. I often leave with no meat because I just...I just can't. I know that those animals were not raised humanely, and likely not even on pasture. In fact, they may have not even been outside!

Now I don't have to worry about the quality of meat I'm feeding my family. Each package of meat comes with a lot number so you can actually find out where your meat is coming from.

Grass Roots Farmers' Co-op

Once you taste grass fed, pasture raised meat, it's nearly impossible to buy meat at your local grocery. Not only does it look different, the taste doesn't even compare. We are hooked and we think you'll love it, too.

Click here for $30 off your first order from Grass Roots Farmers' Co-op! I highly suggest the Maple Sausage Links, Breakfast Sausage, and ground beef. YUM!

https://tinyshinyhome.com/re-zoning-property-cochise-county Re-Zoning Property in Cochise County 2020-02-18T00:00:00-05:00 2020-03-17T10:45:58-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
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You may have heard that we found the perfect property for setting down roots and creating our own little off-grid homestead!

But there’s a problem. Turns out the property we fell in love with isn't zoned RU-4.

What the heck is RU-4?

RU-4 is a magical designation in Cochise county that will guarantee that our land will never be divided into anything less than 4 acres AND it allows us to opt-out of some building permits and inspections. It will also let us build in unconventional ways like straw bale and earthbag housing.

Where we're at now

Instead of giving up, we researched and found out that it’s possible to attempt to re-zone it.

Last month we had a meeting with Planning & Zoning where we officially dropped off our application. It cost $500 + $15/acre. We spent time there asking lots of questions and making sure we filled out everything correctly.

We also got a good tip on a way we might be able to "abandon" the non-existent road that runs right through the middle of the two parcels.

But that's a story for another day!

The Next Step

Our big meeting is set for the second week in March and we are counting down the days. In this meeting we’ll plead our case as to why we want this property to be re-zoned. They will drill us on questions and give us a hard time (we’ve been told), but we’re fighting for this land. We want it to be ours.

In the meantime, we’re planning all the things and trying to decide what to do first. Solar? Water? Storage Shed to keep our tools? Fencing to keep out the free range cattle? So many options, we’re just ready to begin!

What would you do first on undeveloped property? Let us know in the comments.

https://tinyshinyhome.com/replacing-axles-on-1972-airstream-again Replacing Axles on 1972 Airstream, Again 2020-02-07T15:09:00-05:00 2020-02-08T15:03:34-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

January was an extremely stressful time for us. First, trying to buy land and having to jump through so many hoops in the process. Then dealing with extensive packrat damage to our truck costing us over $1200! And now this. A wheel that nearly fell off our Airstream while traveling.

Axle Problem on Airstream

We were on our way to our friends' home to return a key from our stay there just a couple weeks back. We stopped for lunch and just happened to have leftovers that we needed to put in the fridge. Jonathan just happened to glance at the wheel and saw that we had lost a cap. Upon closer inspection, we knew it was bad right away.

Damage to Airstream Axle

We could see that things were not centered and we could even see a nut had melted into the spindle. We rolled the Airstream up on our Andersen Levelers so we could inspect it more. It was barely on there. I still am not sure how it didn't come flying off while we were driving down the highway.

Sad day

We called our friends and they came to see if there was anything they could do. We knew there was no way we could make it the 30 miles to the nearest trailer shop so we limped our way on three wheels back to Juan and Michelle's house.

They have saved us so many times, and we've ended up in their driveway for 3 weeks total in the month of January.

Quick story short, we ended up ordering 2 new axles since they suggest replacing both at the same time. We paid a 'trailer down' rush charge to get them in faster. They thought it would take 2 weeks to get them, but they came in just one week later!

Juan and Michelle even helped us install them. The process was smooth and only had one hiccup with a nut needing to be tightened on the spindle. Thankfully we caught it during our 'wiggle test'.

Check out the process here if you find yourself needing to replace your axles. But don't forget that wiggle test! But also, we have implemented a mandatory walk about every time we stop. We'll check temperatures on tires and inspect all wheels every time we stop from now on! Safety first, friends. We'll see you down the road.

https://tinyshinyhome.com/earth-runners-the-best-minimalist-sandal Earth Runners - The Best Minimalist Sandal 2020-02-03T00:00:00-05:00 2020-03-22T20:30:24-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

You all know we’re minimalists, I mean…we live in 220 sq ft, we kind of have to be. But even before we lived in an RV and started traveling full-time, we were always into the idea that less is more.

Back in my freshman year of college is where it really began for me. I was tired of picking out clothes and trying to decide what to wear each day so I simplified my life. I went to the store and bought a pack of men’s white T-shirts, washed them and wore a white T-shirt and jeans every day. Only changing the color of my bandana that covered up a horrible haircut.

I LOVED not having to think about what to wear every day. But somewhere after I got married and we started having kids the clothes piled up. It wasn’t until Ada was one that I began to declutter my closet. I still remember finding a shirt at Old Navy that I loved so much I bought 5 of them. And that is what I wore every day until they fell apart.

I still do this. I have since upgraded the quality of clothes so they will last longer, but I have one pair of Prana Summit pants that I wear nearly every day (except laundry day when I need to wash them). And I have 5 Cozy Up t-shirts from Prana. All black. All the same. I never have to think about what to wear.

This way of thinking also got me super into minimalist shoes. My first pair was a DIY kit from Xero Shoes. I loved these! I traced my foot, drilled holes for the laces and I wore them everywhere. I’ve since tried 2 other pairs from Xero. Each were great, but would fall apart after one year. The soles were thin and perfect, but the straps would fail way too soon. My search was on for the perfect minimalist sandal.

After many trials and lots of fails, I’ve finally found them. Earth Runners! They have two styles. They Lifestyle Sandals and they Adventure Sandals. Let me explain the difference because it took me awhile to figure it out.

The Lifestyle Sandals are more of an everyday sandal. The lace is a bit thinner and more flexible. The Adventure Sandal has a thicker lace which may hold up to more rock climbing adventures or trail running. But since I don’t do either of those activities, I went with the Lifestyle Sandal.

Earth Runners Sandals

Now, once you choose either Lifestyle or Adventure, you have 3 more options. Elemental, Circadian, and Alpha. Basically this is just the thickness of the sole. Elemental is the thinnest at just 8mm, then the Circadian at 9mm and the Alpha at a whopping 12 mm. Since I’m looking for the thinnest sole I went with the Lifestyle Elemental Sandal and I am in LOVE!

I wear these sandals every day. Rain, sun, mud, sandy washes, cactus-laiden trails. I wear them everywhere. I’ve only had them for a couple months, but I can already tell they’re going to hold up way better than the other minimalist sandals I’ve tried.

The strap is one single lace which makes the adjusting a little tricky, but the comfort is next level. Once you get the straps right where you need it, it’s magic from then on. Now, yes, Earth Runners did send me and Jonathan each sandals to try and write a review, but we love them so much we bought each of the kids’ their own sandals.

Earth Runner Sandals

Once we got their laces dialed in, they’ve loved wearing them, too. The only complaint I’ve heard is that they take “too long to get on.”

Earth Runners Travel shoes

Of course they take more time than slipping on a pair of flip flops, but the advantages of the Earth Runners are no match to a cheap flip flop.

Earth Runners for Kids

Not only are they the best minimalist shoe I’ve tried, but they also are earthing shoes. They have a copper plug on the bottom where the grounded conductive lacing system enters the shoe. If you don’t know the benefits of earthing or being grounded, you can read more on their site here.

Earth Runners for Kids

So, wether you're into trail running, rock climbing, or just hiking with your family, these minimalist sandals are here for your adventures. Give them a follow over on Instagram @earthrunners or check out their selection on EarthRunners.com. Happy adventuring, friends!

https://tinyshinyhome.com/2019-travel-recap 2019 Travel Recap + Big News! 2020-01-12T00:00:00-05:00 2020-02-18T10:39:02-05:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
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Oh, dear sweet 2019. You were nothing but lovely to us. With all the year-in-review posts and videos, we thought it only fitting to look back at all we did last year. Isn’t it so strange that while you’re living your daily lives, it rarely seems like we’re accomplishing all we want to?

But then you look back a year later and think, “Holy crap! We did so much!” That’s exactly how we feel, too.

While our original plan this year was to visit several states we hadn’t seen yet, halfway through we decided that we just wanted to visit as many National Parks as possible. Challenge accepted!

In 2019 we moved around a LOT! We put over 30,000 miles on the truck, visited 35 National Parks & Monuments, drove through 20 states and 4 Canadian Provinces, and boondocked at over 35 different locations. It’s been a wild year and we cannot wait to see what 2020 brings. Spoiler Alert: big changes!

But more on that soon. Let's take a look at our favorite locations this year.

Boondocking in Wickenburg, AZ

Wickenburg, AZ

What a great way to start the new year! We love boondocking outside of Wickenburg, with its rolling hills, towering saguaro, and incredible sunsets. Besides planning for 2019, we also visited on Hassayampa River Nature Preserve and highly recommend it.

Wickenburg is one of our Top 10 Favorite Boondocking Locations. For more info signup here for free.

Ajo Sunset

Ajo, AZ

Also one of our Top 10 Boondocking locations, we spent our time here with friends, soaking up adventures in the desert and the nearby Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

Joshua Tree South

Indio & Joshua Tree National Park (South Side)

This was the first time we visited Joshua Tree on the much quieter south side. We were still super impressed by the beauty of the area, and managed to find several other adventures down near Indio like Ladder Canyon, the Salton Sea, and Shield's Date Farm.

Kids Harry Potter World

Universal Studios Hollywood

For Christmas this year we took the kids to Harry Potter World! It was the first time we'd ever been to a big theme park, and while we usually don't love big crowds, we had a blast.

The kids approve :)

Torrey Pines

San Diego, Torrey Pines, and Cabrillo National Monument

While we were in the area, we decided to visit San Diego! After the touristy-ness of Hollywood, we focused on outdoor adventures like Torrey Pines and Cabrillo National Monument. Beautiful!

Kofa Wildlife Refuge

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

While Quartzsite is known for it's massive boondocking rallies, we found some peace and quiet several miles out of town at Kofa. Gorgeous views, and a fun hike up a with a row of palm trees in the middle of a canyon.

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

While we wouldn't recommend boondocking near here, it's got a great story, killer sunsets, and some serious free spirit artistic vibes. Worth a quick visit for sure.

Joshua Tree Hike with Kids

Joshua Tree National Park (North Side)

Here we go. While the south side was alright, the north side made us see what all the fuss was about.

It's a literal oasis in the desert!

Favorite Gifts For Full Time Travelers No Text

Trona Pinnacles

Simply one of our favorite places on the planet. There's nothing to do but be awed by the alien landscape and explore the massive rock formations.

Oh, and maybe watch film crews and military training exercises, too.

Salinas Moochdocking

Salinas, CA

During what would be one of our many "moochdocking stays" this year, we visited a friend's farm in Salinas, explored the coast, and even visited Apple headquarters for fun :)

Lake Havasu City Boondocking

Lake Havasu City

We nestled ourselves in a boondocking spot up the mountain, and explored the area.

It was a little quiet in April, but we hear it's quite the party town in the Summer.

Petrified Forest Lizard

Petrified Forest National Park

We've seen a lot of petrified pieces of wood in our travels, but the sheer amount here was staggering. And it's crazy to think there was a massive forest in these badlands long ago.

Meteor Crater Kids

Meteor Crater

Not a national park, but a fascinating location nonetheless. Loads of scientific information, and you really have to see it in person to appreciate the size of the impact.

Grand Falls

Grand Falls, AZ

This is definitely one of those off-the-beaten-path places. It's not well-known. It's not busy. There's no visitor center. But oh my goodness. One of the coolest waterfalls we've ever been to, period.

Sedona Boondocking

Sedona, AZ

When you're close to Sedona, you have to visit Sedona. It's just one of those magical places. We were treated to spectacular sunsets, and a trail to the "Robbers Roost" - an old stronghold for stagecoach thieves.

Grand Canyon Ada

Grand Canyon National Park

Can you believe that in nearly 5 years of travel we had never been to the Grand Canyon?

It was our goal this year to rectify that problem. We made sure to time it so we avoided the crazy crowds, and it was spectacular.

Monument Valley

Monument Valley

While the vistas here were truly incredible, it all felt a little touristy to us. I think if we had the time and money for a guided hiking tour we would have liked it much better.

Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings

Mesa Verde National Park

Believe it or not, we had never been to Colorado until this year, either!

We were completely blown away by this State, starting with the impossible cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde.

Goblin Valley Hoodoos

Goblin Valley State Park

One of our goals this year was to make an effort to meet up with more people. So when a whole group of friends asked if we wanted to spend Mother's Day at Goblin Valley State Park we said, "Heck yes!"

Just when you think you've seen all the cool rocks, nature goes and shows you there's still so much more to see.

Colorado National Monument

Colorado National Monument

We had to leave Colorado for a bit because it was still too cold and rainy to do anything. But we made it back a month later and were so glad we did. Colorado National Monument was absolutely gorgeous.

Ouray Hot Springs

Ouray Hot Springs

Another first for us this year was being in a hot spring while it was snowing!

Let's just say hanging in a massive hot spring while snow gently falls around you was something I never knew I needed in my life until now :)

Black Canyon Sunset

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Besides having the coolest park name ever, Black Canyon is one of those smaller national parks will still take your breath away.

I still can't work my head around the scope and scale of the picture above. It's like looking into a beautiful abyss.

Million Dollar Highway

Million Dollar Highway

This was the first year we towed at 10,000 feet of elevation. And what a way to do it!

The Million Dollar Highway is one of those drives you will never ever forget.

Angel Peak Airstream

Angel Peak

Another one of our Top 10 Boondocking Spots, this beautiful badlands area is so serene and picturesque that it's totally worth the 40 minute drive into town for supplies. We ended up staying there the full 14 day limit.

Great Sand Dunes Adali

Great Sand Dunes National Park

We just happened to be here on a very special weekend. The river was flowing at unprecedented levels and all the people were there. It was like a big party!

Seriously, though - until you see glorious snow capped mountains and towering sand dunes together you don't know what you're missing.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

At 14,000 feet of elevation, RMNP was the highest we've ever been besides flying. Even in the summer, the snow was piled up 8 feet high.

It was like another world up there.

Custer Sunrise

Custer Sate Park

Even though we had already visited Custer last year, we were excited to come back.

This area is beautiful, and we always love seeing some bison roaming around!


Theodore Roosevelt National Park + Medora

Oh what fun we had in the little town of Medora!

Besides being home to the national park (which is like lush, green badlands), we worked with the city and got to experience some of the fun attractions there like Perception, horseback riding, and of course the Medora Musical.

It's a magical little town that we can't wait to go back to.

Glacier Waterfall Blurred

Glacier National Park

After so much time in the Colorado mountains, we were not prepared for the glacier capped peaks, lush green valleys, and high altitude lakes at Glacier. Oh, and the shockingly blue waterfalls.

But we were just getting started in the PNW.

Newberry Volcanic Family

Newberry Volcanic National Monument + Lava River Cave

If you want to walk through a massive pile of lava rocks or explore a lava river tube cave, check out Newberry Volcanic National Monument. It's right outside of Bend, OR, and reminds me a lot of Crater Lake.

Crater Lake Adali

Crater Lake National Park

Speaking of Crater Lake, this one had been on our list for a long time, and we're so glad we finally made it there.

It's hard to explain just how huge this extinct volcano is without seeing it in person, so make sure you visit yourself one day!

Mt Rainier Adali Jon

Mount Rainier National Park

One of the most magical moments for me personally this year was at Mount Rainier. The peak itself had been shrouded in clouds all day, and our hike was grueling.

The shorter trail we were supposed to go on was closed, and we were going to have to add another mile and 1,000 feet of elevation we weren't planning on. Ashley and the younger kids decided to head back, but Adali and I were determined to make it.

Right as we got to the top of the ridge, the clouds dissipated, and the mountain was there in all its glory. We both just looked at each laughing because it was so beautiful.

A nice couple took our picture, and I'm so glad they did :)

San Juan Islands Lighthouse

San Juan Islands National Park

This could not have been a more perfect trip. We took our truck on the ferry from Anacortes to the island and were able to drive to all the different locations.

Even better? The orcas were migrating, and with a tip from a ranger, we were able to stay and see them swimming down the coast.

A truly magical day!

North Cascades Family

North Cascades National Park

We only had a short time to explore here, but are so glad we did. With breathtaking mountain views and low crowds, it was a great way to spend the weekend.

Revelstoke Lake

Revelstoke National Park, Canada

And with that, we headed straight up into Canada to keep exploring national parks. The first was Revelstoke, and we fell in love.

There were so many great hikes, but my favorite was our 8 mile trek to a hidden lake up in the mountains. I don't think everyone else loved it, though :)

Glacier Waterfall Jett

Glacier National Park, Canada

After that it was over to Glacier National Park where we tried our best to explore, but it was starting to get rainy and cold.

This hike to the waterfall was still pretty epic, even if we were freezing and wet.


Voyageurs National Park

Then it was a mad dash East and down to Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota. Again, we were on the tail end of the season so most everything was closed and the weather kept us from doing much other than a short hike.

We'd love to go back sometime and explore on the water.

Back in Indiana with the Airstream


Finally, we made it down to Indiana to visit Ashley's parents. We spent some time catching up and of course did a few projects on the Airstream :)

Knoxville Airstream Jett Ada


Then it was time to visit Jon's family in Tennessee. We were waiting on our new Home of Wool cushions so we ended up in the area for quite a while.

The kids did not complain since they got to spend lots of time with their Mimi and Papa :)

Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave National Park

To celebrate Jax's birthday we took a quick trip over to Mammoth Cave National Park to explore the longest cave system in the world.

While it was cool, we still think Carlsbad is the best!

Smoky Mountains Jett

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

After that it was back to Jon's parents to celebrate more birthdays and Thanksgiving. Oh, and to take the kids to Great Smoky Mountains for the first time. How is it we lived in Tennessee for all those years and never took them?

I guess you could say our priorities have changed a bit since then!

Hot Springs Park

Hot Springs National Park

With our hearts full, it was time to head back on the road. We needed to be in the desert again!

On the way we stopped at our last National Park for the year - Hot Springs.

Definitely not your typical park, it was fun to walk the cool downtown, learn about the history of the area, and see the sweet spa rooms.

Kartchner Caverns

Kartchner Caverns State Park

We made it to Arizona in a week, which was crazy for how far we had to drive.

But we were on a mission. More on that in a minute.

Suffice to say, we love Kartchner, and it's always so beautiful there.

Chiricahua National Monument Vista

Chiracahua National Monument

This is one of those places we could come back to again and again. It's so far out of the way it's hardly ever busy, but the rock formations are just incredible.


Our New Home?

And finally, friend if you've read all the way to the end (or watched to the end of the video) you'll know that we're officially putting down some roots.

After 5 years of traveling full-time and boondocking we realized how much we wanted to call an off-grid piece of land our own.

So we're currently in talks to buy this beauty in Southeastern Arizona.

We'll never be done with traveling - we've had a taste and can't go back. But we are looking forward to a new chapter in our story!

We can't wait to build our own little off-grid homestead oasis in the desert. It will be the craziest thing we've ever done - and that's saying a lot ;)

And of course, we'll be boondocking in our Tiny Shiny Home on the property for quite a while as we start building everything out.

So we hope you'll join us on our new journey starting very soon. Keep an eye out for more updates.

https://tinyshinyhome.com/growing-roots-in-arizona Growing Roots in Arizona 2020-01-07T00:00:00-05:00 2020-02-18T10:38:25-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

As you may know, we’ve been traveling full-time nearly 5 years! Seeing this beautiful country has been such an incredible adventure, and we’re so grateful that you’ve chosen to follow along. This last year we realized that boondocking awakened something in us we didn’t know was there - a deep desire to call some off-grid land our own!

As you can imagine, after seeing all the places, this wasn’t an easy decision. We even visited some new states this year that we thought may be good choices to plant some roots, but in our hearts we knew where we wanted to be. And that’s why we’re currently in beautiful Arizona.

We fell hard for the desert and the people that live here. So we’ve spent the last year researching properties and even began working with a REALTOR to find a piece of land to call our own.

It’s already been a roller-coaster of emotions. After a solid week of looking in the area that we love and striking out, we finally stumbled upon the most beautiful piece of land.

Potential Property in Arizona

To most, this piece of property doesn't look like much, but for us...it was love at first sight. But as with any new adventure, there are stumbling blocks for us to overcome.

First, let’s talk about what we’re hoping to do and why.

What are we wanting to do?

We are looking for undeveloped, off-grid land as a place to put down some roots. While I believe travel will always be a part of who we are, we are very much looking forward to cultivating community, building a small homestead, growing our own food, becoming more self-sufficient, and pouring our heart and souls into a piece of property. We hope to create our own little oasis in the desert.

Why Arizona?

So many reasons. The desert is magical. The plants, the animals, and especially the people. The climate diversity alone is unmatched. We can be warm in the Sonoran Desert or drive north for a few hours and be in snow near Flagstaff this time of year. The State Parks, National Parks, and Recreation Areas are incredible, and there’s so much to explore in just a short day trip. We cannot wait to experience more of this state.

Plus, we love the challenge of taking land that has literally nothing on it and turning it into something beautiful. We are interested in learning how to green the desert, and build an off-grid homestead from scratch.

Why Cochise County?

Yes, we’re looking for land in southeastern Arizona. More specifically Cochise County. We have fallen in love with the idea of building our own home using unconventional, natural, and locally sourced materials. Now, I won’t go into all the details just yet, but Cochise County has some of the most natural-building-friendly-rules out there. We are very much looking forward to helping others in the community with their projects, and learning first hand about alternative building methods.

All that to say - we’re about to embark on an entirely new adventure that will test us in ways we can’t even imagine yet. In case you hadn’t noticed, we don’t like to do things the easy way :)

Where are we in the process?

After long days of driving miles down dusty dirt roads, only to mark a bunch of locations off our list, we stumbled upon it. The sun was setting, the fields were golden, and the mountains were lit up. There may have been an angel choir singing. Every one of us loved this property, which is a big deal! Our REALTOR happened to be with us, and she believed it was zoned RU-4, which is a magic designation here in Cochise that allows you to build naturally with little restrictions. Thinking that it was zoned the way we needed, we were eager to put in an offer.

As our REALTOR was getting the paper work ready, we found out that it was NOT zoned RU-4. I did not take this news well…AT ALL.

After a day of heartache, many tears, and lots of research, I found that there may be a possibility of us getting this property re-zoned. We talked with the folks in the Planning and Zoning department of Cochise County and it sounded promising. But it will take some time, and nothing is for sure.

So that’s where we are right now. Our offer has been submitted, countered and re-countered, and we finally settled on a price. Now our next step is to see if we can get it re-zoned before the purchase is finalized. This will take some time since the county only reviews these requests on the last Friday of every month.

We are so excited about the possibility of this land working out for us, and we’re even more excited about sharing this new journey with all of you. We'll be documenting the process every step of the way, and wee hope you’ll follow along with our family on this new adventure.

Cheers to making dreams come true!

https://tinyshinyhome.com/packrats Packrats Caused $1,200 Worth of Damage to our Truck! 2020-01-06T00:00:00-05:00 2020-03-22T20:37:33-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

We spent Christmas week in one of our very favorite campgrounds, Lost Dutchman State Park. We’ve been there so many times I’ve lost count. It’s one place that gets us close enough to Phoenix without paying the insane RV park prices. The Superstition Mountains are a view that we just cannot get enough of. But this particular trip was one that cost us way more than the $30 per night.

Camping at Lost Dutchman

We’ve seen it before...trucks with their hoods up, lights laid out under RVs and trucks. We’ve heard the stories of packrats in the area, but we just never thought it would happen to us since we never stay too long in an area.

The day we checked out of Lost Dutchman we had planned on driving to our friends’ home to spend the night and catch up. But once we turned on the truck we saw trouble. The little wrench and engine icons on the dash were flashing, letting us know we had a serious problem.

Once we got out on the main road we knew we were going to have to get the truck to the shop as soon as possible. Our gears were slipping and something was really, really wrong.

We arrived to our friends' house and parked the trailer, not knowing the extent of the damage or even what caused it at this point. My first thought was rodent damage, but Jonathan was nervous it was a bigger problem with the transmission (something we dealt with multiple times on our last truck).

Luckily the Ford dealership nearby let us drop it off that Saturday, but couldn't diagnose the issue until Monday. Long story short, our truck ended up in the shop an entire week and my prediction was correct. Packrats chewed our wires!!

You wouldn’t think that something so small could cause so much damage but take a look at what they did!

Packrat Damages our Truck

In our case they gnawed through the nox sensor and air intake sensor which caused the engine to get really confused when switching gears.

We were lucky that it wasn’t worse, but after a $1,200 bill we've been on the hunt for prevention methods. Here’s what we’ve found.

What are Packrats?

Packrats (which are sometimes called woodrats) typically do most of their damage under the cover of darkness. They like to find dark places to nest in, store food, or in our case...wreak havoc on your engine’s wiring.

Side Note: did you know that most newer vehicles wires have casings made of soy? No wonder they want to chew them up! Who's bright idea was that??

After lots of research it seems that the best prevention is actually multiple methods.

Hood Up

The biggest advice I've read is to keep your vehicle's hood up at night. This will allow the moonlight to shine through the engine compartment, and having the hood up will cool the engine (if it's warm from driving to your location) creating a less hospitable 'den' for the packrats to enjoy. If your hood is like ours and has a light, you can just unscrew the lightbulb so that your battery will not die overnight.


Packrats don't like the light. It's advised to use flickering lights under your vehicle or RV when in areas that have been known to have packrats. Why flickering? I've read in several places that if you just have lights on constantly they can get accustomed to that and they'll likely just invade your engine or RV despite having the lights on. We've ordered this rope light and we'll be mounting them to a large piece of wood to place under the truck. More on that below.

Ultrasonic Devices

Another sure fire way to keep the rats out is to install an ultrasonic device under the hood of your vehicle. It emits a noise that is very unpleasant to rodents so they stay away. There are some that will attach to your truck battery and you can secure them with self tapping screws or wire ties. We have ordered these and we will install them this week!

Related, grab something similar for inside your RV, too. We had multiple issues with mice in Canada last fall, and a battery powered Ultrasonic device finally stopped them from coming in.


The last suggestion I read is to spray your engine with a spray that the packrats hate. Some suggest peppermint oil, or even coyote urine! Gross.

What We're Doing

For now, since we’re boondocking in the middle of nowhere, we bought some battery operated under-cabinet lights from Lowes to place under the truck at night. We also have been taking our ultrasonic mouse deterrent device from inside our Airstream and putting it under the propped open hood of the truck. This is not a long term solution as none of the items are intended for outdoor use, but until our order comes in, we've got to work with what we've got!

I’ve talked with several of the locals that live near packrat populated areas in the Sonoran Desert, and I love what Bill and Yvonne from The Upside of Downsizing created to detour packrats.

Keep packrats away

They’ve taken a solar powered rope light and attached it to a long piece of wood to slide under their truck each night. Then they just prop it up during the day to recharge. We’re totally stealing this idea and making our own as soon as we can! We’ll also attach an ultrasonic rat repeller to the pice of wood, as well as install one under the hood as extra precaution. Hopefully this will keep the pesky vermin away!

Have you found a way to keep packrats away from your vehicles or RV? Did you even know this was an issue in the desert?? I’d love to hear your solutions in the comments below!


Since this post, we have created our own board like Bill and Yvonne.

Detouring Packrats

We have also installed two of the ultra-sonic rat repellers under the hood of the truck. Make sure if you install them under your hood, that you're not directing the speaker to the sound-deadening material on the hood. You want that sound bouncing around the engine and pointed downward. Stay safe out there, friends!`

https://tinyshinyhome.com/airstream-connected Airstream Connected - Is it Right for You? 2019-12-17T00:00:00-05:00 2019-12-19T18:41:22-05:00 Jonathan Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

For us, working while traveling full-time means that we need a fast, stable, unlimited internet setup. And with more and more people hitting the road each year, it looks like RV manufacturers are finally starting to pay attention.

Airstream recently announced Airstream Connected, a combination of antenna, router, and GPS tracker that can only be installed professionally through their dealer network. The cost is a hefty $999 + Installation, but the most intriguing part is the option to signup for a special AT&T 4G-A plan that allows unlimited data for $360/year.

Update: As of January 15, 2020 At&T has pulled the unlimited plan completely and has removed the option for existing users to even be grandfathered in. Which is pretty rough. More info below.

Unlimited Data for your Airstream

Using the ultra wide-band water resistant antenna and sim capable router (Pepwave MAX BR1 Mini), Airstream offers a truly unlimited data plan from AT&T for only $360/year. The unlimited option was removed in early January of 2020. These are the new plan options:

  • 1 Month 5GB Adventure Plan - $25
  • 1 Month 22GB Adventure Plan - $90
  • 1 Month 50GB Adventure Plan - $175
  • 1 Month 100GB Adventure Plan - $300
  • 12-Month 100GB Adventure Plan - $325

Now, I can understand AT&T pulling back the reigns a bit, but the fact that they've killed the main plan that people would have had the expensive hardware installed for in the first place is incredibly underhanded. And not even grandfathering the original users in after only one year of use? What the heck?

I get the sense that Airstream didn't anticipate this, but either way it's obvious neither company did their homework here. Why would anyone spend $1,500 to install hardware for a crappy plan they can get anywhere? How do cell providers keep not understanding that people want to use their data plan full-time?

Anyway - regardless the plan, Airstream Connected has a few other intriguing features.

Extending Campground Wi-Fi

Using the high gain roof mount antenna, you can connect your whole rig to an external Wi-Fi network for use inside. Honestly, this is what the Wi-Fi Ranger did back in the day. We had one installed in our 5th wheel, and it was pretty much useless. Public Wi-Fi is slow, unreliable, and downright insecure. That being said, it can work in a pinch or if there’s a Wi-Fi network you trust (like at a friend’s house).

Either way, it’s nice that they built this feature into the hardware.

GPS Locator

The hardware includes a GPS locator so you can easily find your Airstream. I know, that sounds dumb at first, but hear me out. With our setup using hotspots, the Wi-Fi network isn’t able to pull a location. Which means if someone were to steal our Tiny Shiny Home, it would be a lot harder to find it.

Short of throwing a cheap iPhone in there with “Find My” tracking enabled and keeping it charged up (or buying an expensive GPS tracking device), this combined with the app is an elegant way to keep tabs on your trailer. And get back to it if you happen to hike out into the middle of nowhere.

Simple Setup & Support

The free smartphone app allows you to mange the whole network as well as scan a QR code to pair devices for initial setup. Plus you get direct-dial access to customer service if you have a problem. Knowing how complicated a robust internet setup can be, this is really great for folks who aren’t sure how it all works.

I had more questions

While the Airstream Connected page is well-designed and easy to understand, I really wanted to get some nerdy details on the hardware, installation, and plan so I reached out to their marketing team for more info. Here’s what I found out.

Is there a sim card in the router?

Yes, there are two SIM card slots in the network router (A & B).

Can you place that sim card in another device?


Does the hardware boost the 4G signal like a weBoost would?

It does not boost the 4G signal. It only creates a local Wi-Fi network.

Is there a directional antenna option?

With the kit that they offer, it is an omni-directional antenna. There are options that you could install a directional antenna, but it would be an aftermarket option.

Would there be a way to use a Verizon signal with this hardware?

It has not been tested and it is not a recommendation on behalf of Airstream, but the hardware does support two SIM cards. If you would choose to do so, you could add another carrier SIM, manage your router settings, and have the ability to connect another network, but Airstream's network plans and contract are exclusively with AT&T.

In light of the new info about the unlimited AT&T plans being cut, this is a sliver of good hope. At least that expensive hardware can potentially be used for another plan.

Is it possible to signup for the unlimited AT&T plan without paying for the hardware and installation?

You unlock the exclusive data plans by purchasing the hardware and there’s no other way around it. Airstream worked with AT&T to establish those plans and there are guardrails in place to make sure that not just anybody can sign up for those rates.

My Personal Take

Okay, so I have thoughts! The first is that no matter how good this AT&T plan is, it’s limited to one carrier. And I can tell you from experience you will definitely setup camp in areas where AT&T isn’t available. You will also setup in places where Verizon isn’t available. So having at least two major carrier plans is key to a strong, consistent connection. Points of failure and all that.

The second is that this hardware does not boost your 4G signal. It will definitely help - an antenna on the outside of your aluminum burrito is better than an antenna on the inside. But this is a huge disadvantage for those of us that want to boondock and camp off-grid. Without boosting gear it just doesn’t work.

The third is that it sounds like it may be possible to drop a Verizon SIM in the router and use both carriers as needed which is pretty cool. I know several folks who want that, but I prefer having a hotspot I can take with me into town or down a dusty road for signal testing.

Is Airstream Connected Worth It?

When I wrote this article the day before AT&T announced they were canceling the unlimited plan option, I would have said, "maybe."

Not anymore. If it were still available, I could see it working if you plan on weekend trips staying in campgrounds near AT&T signal - and you don’t want to deal with the hassle of a custom internet setup. Throw in the GPS tracking and support options and it’s almost worth the price tag.

But now that the data plans are not any better than what you can go buy directly from AT&T and the fact that it doesn't even boost your signal, what's the point?

Listen, if you’re like us - we travel full-time, camp off-grid, and work from our Airstream all over the country - I’d recommend something a little more robust like our Mobile Internet Setup. It’s kept us connected for 3 years all over the country and off the grid. Work all day and Netflix all night!

And more importantly, the hardware isn't tied to any one carrier. As we're seeing plans like this and others continue to be discontinued after 12 months, that's an important consideration.

What do you think? Is Airstream Connected worth it? Are there more questions I should ask them? Let me know in the comments.

https://tinyshinyhome.com/home-of-wool-airstream-mattresses-and-cushions Home of Wool - Custom Airstream Mattresses and Cushions 2019-12-16T00:00:00-05:00 2020-03-22T20:53:44-05:00 Ashley Longnecker https://tinyshinyhome.com/
This post may contain affiliate links or compensated reviews. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Back in 2017, when we were finishing up our 6 month renovation of our 1972 Airstream, it was time to start thinking about cushions.

With the project already over budget, we were trying to get it done as quickly and as cheaply as possible. Things like cushions and mattresses didn’t get much thought, honestly.

We went with the cheapest solution we could find, which turned out to be your standard highly toxic foam.

We knew it wasn’t the best option, but for just $300 we could get everyone a mattress and cushions for the dinette up front. Add in fabric at around $150 and a sweet Amish lady who sewed our cushion covers for just $200, it was a steal!

After nearly 3 years in the Airstream on the same foam cushions, it was time for an upgrade. I researched for weeks trying to find the perfect solution. We had a few goals in mind - we wanted them to be:

  • Non-Toxic/Chemical Free
  • Organic/Sustainable Materials
  • Good Price

We managed 2 out of 3 :)


My research lead us to Home of Wool. They're a company in Europe that is dedicated to making the highest quality items from the purest materials possible. I actually heard of them through our friend @thestreamlinedlife when she purchased mattresses for her kids beds in their RV.

Before we committed to ordering our bedding, we decided to try out their pillows. Ours really needed replaced, so this would give us an idea of the quality so we could decide if we were ready to make the investment of wool mattresses and cushions.

Believe me, this was a big investment. Not only in terms of your budget, but in your health and wellness.

We received the pillows quickly and the craftsmanship was extremely impressive. I mean, it’s just a pillow, but their attention to detail did not go unnoticed. We ordered the standard pillows and wool pillow protectors.

What is so unique about these pillows is you can just unzip them and remove or add wool to find your perfect feel. It took several nights before I felt like I had it dialed in, but now it’s perfect! But here’s the best part…

I used to sleep with a pile of Kleenex nearby because I would have to blow my nose every night when I laid down and all throughout the night. Now, no Kleenex needed in bed. This was huge for me. Not only was it annoying to Jonathan, who is on the outside of the bed and would have to get the Kleenex if I forgot them, it was super frustrating to me. I couldn’t even lay down in bed without my nose running!!

After several weeks with our new pillows, and seeing the change in my sleep, I really began thinking seriously about our mattresses and bedding. I finally contacted the sweet folks at Home of Wool and asked about getting custom cushions and mattresses made for our little home. They were so helpful every step of the way, and quick to answer all my questions.

In exchange for a small discount on our order, we partnered with them to create this article and video review just for you.

Custom Ordering Our Wool Mattresses

The decision was made! Though the price was a lot more than what we wanted to spend, we were happy to pay for the quality and the assurance of sleeping on non-toxic bedding.

We measured and drew up our dinette and checked, and re-checked the measurements many times. We finally sent them off and they were in production. Then it was just a waiting game. I had one too many dreams of receiving the bedding and it being totally wrong! It’s always risky when working with companies that are so far away.

Since all our bedding was being custom made and Home of Wool who is located in Bulgaria, we knew this could take some time. We were given an estimated date that they would arrive and we just waited, hoping they would make it before we needed to leave Tennessee. Ivan (at Home of Wool) let us know that occasionally the U.S. will keep items longer in customs. We were just hoping we would be able to leave Tennessee before freezing weather came in.

They made it to us before the estimated date! We were thrilled. We couldn’t wait to get them in our home. And wouldn’t you know, they were a perfect fit! We couldn’t believe it.

Why Wool Mattresses?

Now, you’re probably asking, why wool? Well, there are several reasons - wool is:

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Water repellent
  • Mildew resistant
  • Fire resistant
  • Durable
  • Sustainable

It also regulates your body temperature, keeping you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Mind blown! How can one material keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer?? I’m not sure, but it’s magical. You can read more about the benefits of using wool here.

Now, let’s talk details.

For the kids, we ordered four 4-inch tufted mattresses, wool stuffed with a cotton/linen blend fabric and piped edging. Look at these beautiful beds!

Airstream Bunkbeds - Home of Wool

These mattresses are a little bit taller than what they had before, so yes, there was some head bonking getting in and out of their beds on the first couple of days, but now they’re used to them.

We also ordered custom wool mattress protectors for each bed. Just look at the precision!

Wool Mattress Protector

They have elastic on each corner and just tuck neatly under each mattress.

Home of Wool Mattress Protector

Not only will the wool protect their bedding, it will also help with regulating their body temperature. The tufting alone is a work of art.

Home of Wool Tufting

Custom Wool Dinette Cushions!

For those of you that don't know, our dinette doubles as our master bedroom. That means it gets rearranged a couple of times a day.

For these, we went with four inch tufted cushions, wool stuffed in organic cotton, and 100% Linen removable and washable covers. We are in love!

Home of Wool Dinette Cushions

Not only do we love the natural look of the fabric and the brightness it brings in here, but having covers that are washable…game changer!

Home of Wool Zipper

Just look that the detail that went into making these. This makes me want to learn how to sew.

Now let's take a look in bed mode!

Home of Wool Cushions - Airstream Dinette

I can’t get over how precise they are. They are absolutely perfect. With the snug fit, I can’t even feel cracks between the cushions.

We also purchased a wool mattress cover that was custom to fit our bed! It also has the straps to secure it on each corner and it works perfectly even with our odd shaped bed :)

Home of Wool Dinette Mattress Protector

We’ve only had them for three weeks as I’m writing this post, but we will definitely keep updating the longer we use them. As for now...you can find me here.

Camomile London Quilt

So, let’s answer some questions…

Is it comfortable?

Yes! I’ve laid on the kids beds a few times already and I love their mattresses. They do seem to be a little more firm than our dinette cushions, which I really like. After 2 weeks sleeping on the dinette/bed, I am so happy with our purchase.

It’s not a memory foam mattress, so don’t go into it thinking it would be similar. It’s not. It’s more firm and has no bounce like a typical mattress. My back loves it! When we first laid out the dinette cushions, we were a bit nervous because the four pieces that we place on top of the table were a bit big.

We just have to squish them in more than we’re used to, but honestly, it’s so good that they are a bit big, because having them squished tightly together, I don’t feel any seams and I can’t tell where one cushion stops and another begins. On the foam, I’d constantly be stuck in the crack and it would drive me nuts! This is not a problem anymore.

Does it smell?

Yes! But not in a bad way. When we first put all the new mattresses and cushions in here it was an overwhelming barnyard smell. Obviously, it’s stuffed with real wool! We just opened the windows and let everything air out. Easy fix. It’s not noticeable anymore unless you trying to smell it by sticking your face in the beds and sniff really hard!

Are they heavy?

This is something I never even thought about until we received our first package! I hadn’t considered that we’d be adding a lot more weight to our Airstream with the new bedding. It’s a significant difference from the foam. Our build-out on the trailer is already a little on the heavy side, so we were a little concerned, but nothing to worry about. I do think it’s worth us going back to the scales to find out just how much our trailer weighs now.

What about upkeep?

Home of Wool sent us instructions on how to keep the mattresses and cushions in the best shape possible. It involves us flipping the mattresses over each week for the first couple months. No big deal as we’ll be changing the bedding anyway. They do suggest once a year that you set them outside in the sun for a day. No problem there!

Would I recommend them?

That’s a resounding YES! I am super happy with not only the mattresses, but with the company. Their attention to detail, customer service, and their dedication to make your home a healthier and happier one is unmatched. Yes, it’s pricey, but you get what you pay for. And having the assurance that our family isn’t sleeping on highly toxic bedding makes it all worth it to me.

So there you have it.

These are our new mattresses and dinette cushions from Home of Wool, and we couldn’t be happier!

If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments below and we’ll do our best to answer each one! Plus we have a special coupon for you to use if you want your own amazing wool bedding.

Save 5% on your Home of Wool purchase

(use code ASHLEY5)