Just Park It: Fields, Ranches and Casinos of NorCal

Northern California stretches from San Luis Obispo County to the Oregon state line. It is diverse, grandly beautiful and chock full of tiny houses. They can be found on farms, ranches, vineyards and of course, backyards. Beginning March 5th, we could see them greatly multiply across San Luis Obispo backyards after the new zoning ordinance officially takes effect.

Our Fall tiny house travels took us to Santa Rosa. There we stayed in a field, to be turned into a tiny-friendly campground in the future. We became acquainted with the owner while presenting at the Glamping Summit in Long Beach, CA. Just a few miles up the road from our parking spot, we visited dear tiny house friends and new couple, Andy and Hilarie. Respectively, The Whittle Wagon and Tiny Hell on Wheels on the social medias. Hilarie’s DIY tiny house on wheels was parked on a ranch, perched at the top of an insanely steep driveway. Thank goodness for heavy-duty dually trucks and tractors with hitches!

Andy and Hilarie have a fun whirlwind love story. Within just a few months of dating, they have taken a road trip, lived tiny together and completed home repairs. If they can survive all of that, while remaining madly in love, then they must be meant to be, and are now happily engaged. We met them individually over the last few years of travel. For Andy, it was in Texas in 2016, when he lived in his first tiny house on wheels, a DIY 24’ gooseneck. A year later, to be more nimble on the road, he built a micro tiny home on wheels, only 14’ long. Admittedly Andy has become a build addict, so it was no surprise that just six months later, after selling both tinies, he had moved into his DIY shuttle bus conversion in Colorado.

We met Hilarie in New Jersey, as she was finishing her 20’ tiny home and was preparing for her first road trip with her roommate, a mini-pig named Crusher. Since then Hilarie and Crusher have traveled all over the country for tiny house festivals and meetups with friends.

To find ranch tiny house parking like Hilarie and Andy did, search Craigslist or tiny house parking sites like SearchTinyHouseVillages.com and TryItTiny.com.

While in Sonoma County, we met up with Jay Shafer, the godfather of the modern tiny house movement. He showed us his new micro tiny house on wheels—the total cost is under $5k! It’s efficiently built with minimal use of materials while maintaining beauty and functionality.

We were also very fortunate to catch a tiny house advocate training workshop. It was led by powerhouse advocate Dan Fitzpatrick, the architect of the Fresno THOW zoning ordinance. To learn more about that, watch our documentary, Living Tiny Legally Part 1. This workshop is part of a new series by the American Tiny House Association (ATHA) to help further local legalize tiny efforts.

Local is where change happens. A little support from those who’ve been successful elsewhere can really elevate your advocacy efforts. We highly recommend you join ATHA, to gain access to these great resources, and to contribute to a good cause that can help forward legal placement of tiny houses across the nation.

Join us Thursdays on YouTube for new episodes of Today’s Tiny House Parking Spot and more!

After leaving Santa Rosa, we made our way to far northern California on a stretch of road we have never traveled on with our tiny home, despite our many trips to California. It was one of the most breathtaking drives we’ve ever been on. At one point we were surrounded by mountains. We stopped in the town of Weed (not named for the now  legal marijuana) to fill-up at the most beautiful gas station. Well, the station itself was pretty standard but the view of Mount Shasta was incredible.

A little further up I-5, we found parking at the Rain Rock Casino in Yreka. The unofficial capital of the state of Jefferson. Have you ever heard of that? Definitely worth a Google. The casino offers free boondocking for RVers and truckers, up to two nights. And they have FREE WiFi.  The only requirement is to check in when you arrive; the casino security officers were super friendly.  Watch the above episode of Today’s Tiny House Parking Spot for a look for a closer look.

Rain Rock Casino made a great two-day pit stop on our journey toward central Oregon. An ideal safe spot to stay while waiting for the parking lot and roads to thaw out. It was our first winter weather of the year! Though we found it refreshing, it came with potential hazards on the road.

Our tiny house travel tip: never rush. If it takes longer than planned to get to your next destination, so be it. Safety is everything. A slow, non-rushed pace keeps you and your tiny home safe and gives you the opportunity to make impromptu pit stops, like admiring magnificent Mount Shasta from the side of the road.

-Alexis Stephens, Tiny House Blog contributor

My partner, Christian and I are traveling tiny house dwellers. Together we’ve been on the road three and half years for our documentary and community education project, Tiny House Expedition. We live, breathe, dream the tiny home community every day. This is our life and our true passion project. We are very grateful to be able to experience this inspiring movement in such an intimate way and to be able to share our exploration with all of you.

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