We Quit Our Jobs to Ride Our Bicycles

I heard about Jim and Shane while on a teardrop trailer gathering in northern California and just their simple Facebook name said it all: We Quit Our Jobs to Ride Our Bicycles. The bicycle tour is still going on, but once they hang up their helmets—the tiny house building will commence.

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The two men from Northern California had both been raised in mountain communities and wanted to return to the land after working for several years. The idea of quitting their jobs and riding around the U.S. on their bicycles coincided with their love of the outdoors, gardening and working with their hands.

“We were growing tired of living in the mundane and felt the need for a dramatic change,” Jim and Shane said. “The idea of traveling by bicycle was appealing to both of us from the stand point of its simplicity, its affordability and the exposure to possibilities. With traveling by bicycle, you see and experience so much more in the slow pace of pedaling than you ever could in the enclosure of a speeding car. We also were interested in exploring the country in search for new ideas and a new place to live, one that would accommodate our dream of building tiny homes.”

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Jim has an interest in small structures and Shane has a strong background in sustainable living. After stumbling across Lloyd Kahn’s book “Tiny Homes, Simple Shelter” in a small book store in San Francisco, they decided that they would build a tiny home for themselves after finishing their trip.

“Our experience with bicycle touring has solidified our interest in simple living and has taught us the virtues of getting by with just the basics,” they said. “We have a particular interest in the salvaged aspect of the Texas Tiny Homes and the ones that emphasize outdoor living and engagement with the surrounding environment.”

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Their tiny house idea has expanded further to become a tiny house community. They want to create a bicycle centered communal living space that includes several tiny homes, a common meal and meeting space, large garden and greenhouse, gray water system, bicycle powered laundry machine, and photovoltaic and water heater panels. They also want to build with salvaged materials. The men recently spent a few weeks building a greenhouse with recycled materials for a host family in Pahrump, Nev. After their pedaling tour, they will be on the lookout for a town to host their tiny house community.

“Finding a town that is willing to work with us on our idea of tiny home community has proven to be a challenge,” Jim and Shane said. “We want to find a place that is in need of affordable living and be able to provide it in the form of tiny homes.”

You can follow their tour and see their beautiful photos on their Facebook page and on TrackMyTour.com.

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Photos by Jim and Shane of We Quit Our Jobs to Ride Our Bicycles

 

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

 

Moroccan Tiny Houses

After the beautiful country of Spain we headed down to the culturally fascinating country of Morocco. This small part of Africa is home a large coastline, parts of the Atlas mountains and touches on the nearly 3.7 million square mile Sahara desert. In these wild areas that seem to be on the very edge of existence are some interesting small, traditional homes.

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Many people (specifically the Berber people of North Africa) in the Atlas mountains live and work as farmers raising goats, sheep, olives, wheat and fruit like dates, pomegranates and oranges. Because of the heat of the desert, homes have to keep both humans and animals cool and many of the homes you see are still built the traditional way. Bricks made with mud, sand and straw (sometimes animal dung) are laid out in the sun to dry. They are then stacked on top of a stone foundation and covered with mud plaster. Many of the homes don’t have windows, but instead have intricate metal grates for safety and airflow. Ceilings are made with bamboo stalks, the trunks of olive trees and covered with rocks and more mud plaster. Doors are actually made from the doors of shipping containers and then embellished with metal filigree and colorful paint.
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Traditional Berber tents are located in the sand dunes of the Sahara. Unlike the Touareg nomads of West Africa, these tents stay in a location for years, even as the sandy landscape changes around them. Many small villages are built on harder rock that contains a small oasis. Wells are dug into the ground and water can be reached in about 15 feet. Tents and supplies are brought into the villages by camel or by dune buggy.

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Berber rugs made of colorful wool yarn from both goat and sheep are used for the walls and floor while olive trunks are used as supports. Bamboo stalks are used for the roof. Tents are placed in a circle for protection from wind and sand and rugs are placed on the ground around a central fire pit.

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You can take a camel trek out into the Sahara desert with several tour groups in the Marrakech area. The drive into the desert takes about two days and gives you an idea of how tough these people have to be to survive the extreme climates of this rugged country.

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Photos by Christina Nellemann

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Sacromonte Caves

Continuing down from the land of the hórreos in Asturias, the southern region of Andalucía has its own rustic shelters that—instead of sheltering corn and hay—have become homes for modern nomads. The Sacromonte neighborhood of Granada has a series of caves that were once inexpensive homes for the city’s Roma community in the late 19th century, but are now utilized by the city’s artistic dwellers. sacromonte-gypsy-cave-1200x1200 Most visitors come to Granada for the UNESCO world heritage site, the Alhambra, and the funky Albaicín neighborhood. The Sacromonte area lies just above the city along a hillside and once contained over 3,600 inhabited caves. A flood in the 1960s wiped out many of the homes and what was left is now occupied by approximately 30-50 nomad residents from all over the world. Many are just passing through, hoping to extend their travels by selling their art in the city plazas, while some of the ancient caves are occupied full time. sacromonte-cave-hallway-1200x1200 sacromonte-cave-community-1200x1200 CUEVAS-DE-SACROMONTE-EN-GRANADA Essentially, most of the people living in the caves are squatters overlooked by the local government. Their Bohemian looks and local art including jewelry, baskets, pottery and weavings can be seen in the local plazas. Traditinal flamenco music and dances can be seen in theaters and restaurants in the Albaicín. granada-spain The living conditions in the caves are basic. Most of the caves have electricity from local power lines or solar panels. Plumbing and toilets are sometimes shared between several residents. However, the caves do stay cool during Granada’s hot summers and you really can’t beat the view.

 

Photos by ExpertVagabond, Fjalonso and Christina Nellemann

 

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]