Moving Considerations

So I started a new job on August 1st as a Project Manager for Green Home Design + Build in Hood River, OR! In the 8 years I lived in Portland, I fell in love with the Columbia River Gorge; cycling on the old highway and hiking in the forest amidst thundering waterfalls, native wildflowers and sweeping vistas. I knew that someday I would want to leave the city. For me, Portland had reached that tipping point with the overwhelming amount of people moving in, clogging the roads and dramatically increasing the cost of living. Rent is now double what it was 5 years ago and wages haven't kept up. Having sensed this population growth trend and realizing that I would never be able to afford a house in Portland is part of why I chose to build a tiny house on wheels two years ago. My plan was then to save up money to buy land in the Gorge and then move my house out there to live in until I built my dream strawbale home. The move timeline accelerated as an erratic work schedule instigated putting feelers out to the communities in the Gorge. Before I knew it, I was offered a job that not only pays well but also advances my career, where I am able to draw upon my varied work experiences to create new programs and manage construction projects.
Working in Hood River while my house is in Portland presents some challenges such as the fact that I chose not to commute everyday and instead camp out of my truck. I recently bought a canopy and plan to build out the back eventually once I figure out how I want to use the space. Camping out of it during the week has worked out quite well so far since I have found a mountain bike area where travelers are commonly sleeping in their vehicles. I have also slept near the waterfront event site which is another popular spot for people staying overnight. I found a yoga studio with a shower, cook meals on my camp stove and have access to a fridge and microwave at work. It has been relaxing to get out of town after work, set up camp and read a book in the evenings. Though it has also presented the challenge of not being able to spend time during the week preparing my house for the move next month. Weekends have been a whirlwind of preparing the house and managing the garden.
I found a space east of Mosier on a family's 10 acres with a view of Mt. Hood that is mostly ready to move into since it was intended to be their bigger house site but they chose not to build. That means a solid, leveled, graveled pad with water hose connections and septic clean-outs. A PVC pipe was already in place so they just had to run wire and make up a box for me to plug into. They were asking the highest amount of rent compared to the other spaces I had found but were also the most ready to host a tiny house. Other spaces had issues such as access, water quality and quantity, and winter road maintenance plans. Plus, I was hoping to stay on the Oregon side to avoid transferring things over to WA, not to mention better health insurance in OR.
The move is nearing and I'm both anxious and excited for my new life in the Gorge!

One Year Anniversary!

Halloween marked the one year anniversary of when I started the adventure of moving into my house! I invited friends over for a party the day before but due to a crazy wind and rainstorm I postponed until the following week which provided more accommodating weather for tours and sharing stories and s'mores by a fire :)
Last year, it started raining about two weeks before my move which was not an issue at my build site since I was building on asphalt and transportation was easy on the city streets. The difficult part was getting it into the yard on soft garden ground into it's place. You can read more about all of that here. After four days of moving and settling it on a sound foundation, I moved in!
Within a few weeks, I had a couple of friends in town spend the night so I put up some temporary shelving to get things off of the floor to clear a space for me to sleep while they slept up in my loft. Luckily they are also outdoors people and didn't mind the chaotic accommodations.
Since I had spent all of the money I saved to start the build, I took a little break from projects until January when I installed plumbing and finished out my bathroom. I used the compost toilet I found at the ReStore until I had an overflow issue and then needed to rebuild it. I used some inexpensive cedar fence boards to build a new box but it wasn't all that functional for various reasons so I continued to use the shop bathroom. In the last few weeks I finally rebuilt the toilet to a more functional and aesthetically pleasing design so I am excited to be able to use it now that the rainy season is back.
Speaking of rainy season, I am really grateful for the gutters and rain chain I added to help direct rain away from my house, not to mention how cool the recycled glass bottle chain funnels water to the ground. My polycarbonate awning is also welcomed in providing a more sheltered entry to my house. I needed to add some flashing above it to help prevent water from pooling up behind the siding and entering my house through capillary action via my door frame. I also built a covered bike and tool storage area with another shed roof on the trailer tongue. Moving my tools out of my house freed up a good amount of space since about half of my possessions are tools and outdoor gear!
I added rock holds to ease loft access, new "great room" shelving in the form of fruit crates, and a full size digital piano that I hope to loosen up my rusty fingers on more this winter and beyond.
In May we wired up my house for AC power but it wasn't until June that we ran power out to the yard shed where I could finally plug in and turn on my fridge and water heater. In August, I added a small battery based solar system that powers the electronics and lights in my loft and could power my great room light and outlets in the future if I want or need to be off grid. (I would need to swap out the water heater and fridge for RV/boat style propane appliances and figure out my cooking situation if I could cook outside on my RV range or grill year round.)
I learned how to weld in May and built a kitchen cabinet frame which was finished out with drawers and slides in September by a cabinet maker friend who works in the shop next door. I also built a small cabinet with one shelf for the left side of my sink (next to the bathroom wall) to fill in the gap which had been designed for a double basin sink before I found my awesome farm sink!
Outside, it's been a bountiful year in the garden (my first time as the primary gardener for a large space). I grew native wildflowers, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries,pees, green beans, beets, parsnips, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, chard, cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, basil, corn and squash (so much squash...). Giant sunflower volunteers grew to over 10' tall! And of course there was much watering and weeding...the morning glory, thistles, dandelions, wild peas, wild onions, blackberries and quack grass really wanted to take over the yard but not this year...
I have changed jobs a few times from doing home performance audits, sales and project management to a summer outreach and canvassing position promoting the urban forest and now to solar installs! I continue to volunteer for my favorite non-profits: Friends of Trees, Portland Fruit Tree Project and Community Cycling CenterI also found time to play outside more this year, mainly in the form of hiking. Here's to the next year!
As always, you can check out my fickr for more photos!