River Guide Tiny Houses

This last summer, my husband and I took a three day whitewater rafting trip on the South Fork of the American River in central California. This area of the state has a culture of its own. While the mountains and the coast have the ski and surf bum, the American River is home to the seasonal river guide. Many of these river guides come from all over the country to raft and kayak one of the most popular rivers in the West and they live from May to October in a hodgepodge of dwellings.

The river guides we rafted, ate and played in the water with lived in tents at nearby campgrounds, in temporary buildings on land leased by various rafting companies or in VW buses in the parking lot. One of the guides even lived the entire summer in a hammock strung up between two live oak trees. The guides used the campground bathrooms and showers and cooked in outdoor kitchens. Around the river, and in the massive, thorny blackberry bushes these free spirits squat in what might seem like terrible living conditions, but what they see as the best way to experience the river. Continue reading

The Tiny Houses of Black Rock City: Rites of Passage

This year’s Burning Man was a rite of passage for two of our good friends who decided to come along with my husband and me to this popular event. It was their first time attending, and many of our discussions revolved around how impressed they were with the organization and creativity of the event…especially the building of Black Rock City. I agreed that the ingenuity of the camps and shelters that make up the city grows each year.

The art, the shows, the dancing, the fires and fireworks are all wonderful, but personally, my favorite part of Burning Man is visiting the camps and admiring the multitude of styles and designs of shelters. These shelters (most of them specific to Burning Man) are built to create shade from the blistering sun, as blocks against the wind that sweeps across the desert, and to protect Burners from the ubiquitous dust that gets over everything. Each year I’m in awe with how the artists transport these structures across the country and erect them in this stark desert, only to take them down again a week later.

This year the weather couldn’t have been better. The dust was minimal, the winds were mellow and the temperatures were fairly low. In fact, you needed a shelter warm enough for the very cold nights that affected most Burners this year. Here are a few of my favorite tiny houses of Black Rock City 2011. Continue reading


What might look like a small toy village is actually a set of tiny houses used for camping and protection during music festivals in the United Kingdom. Podpads are designed to be a fun, comfortable and secure solution to the less attractive aspects of camping. They are rented out at various festivals for around 350 GBP or $550 a week and can be purchased as a guest house or child’s playhouse.

Designed and developed for Glastonbury Festival 2005, the podpad will stand up to the most severe of weather conditions. They are comfortable, weatherproof, cool, soundproof, secure, and safe with optional extras available to increase comfort. They are also a possible solution to a group base camp, on-site storage, as well as live-in accommodation.

The podpad is designed to accommodate two adults comfortably on either a double or twin beds. In exceptional circumstances, they can accommodate a family of three. The podpad is 8 feet by 6 feet with a wooden floor and a fitted carpet. They have raised beds with mattresses, shelving, windows with curtains, a mirror, light and a 12V socket. Podpads are also solar powered by a panel outfitted as a sunflower on the roof. This can be used for low usage items such as charging cell phones, laptops and iPods. Continue reading