The Inaugural Tow

Making our Tiny Life a Reality

After an entire summer of futility in searching for land, and with my mom on the cusp of moving to Ontario (thus putting her house up for rent), we needed to make some big decisions. The tiny house had been sitting, waiting, in the lot outside the warehouse where we had been building, and it really couldn’t stay there any longer. It wasn’t in the way, but I felt bad about it being there unattended to for so long. In addition to that, since our tyvek had been ripped off in the wind and we’d only installed 2 out of the 12 windows in the house, it was just one big leaky box! Every week that went by was adding to my mounting stress. Also, when the tiny house had been moved outside in the spring, it wasn’t levelled up with our jacks, creating an opportunity for water to pool in one corner. We went out there after a rainstorm one weekend to tidy up, and I literally had to bail water out of the back right corner with a cut off plastic jug. Needless to say, I was freaking out. We’d gone from a perfect, dry, controlled build to a vulnerable, wet, and unpredictable situation. Blaarrhgg.

Fortunately, before too long at all, we found a great 1 bedroom apartment for rent on Bauline Line, which is only about 15 – 20 minutes from downtown. The landlord and his family own some 80 acres of land and run a heavy equipment company (similar to the father son duo who helped us out with our initial build site!). They didn’t mind us parking our tiny house nearby and continuing to work on it. Huzzah! So we signed the lease and started carting our belongings over there. Even after having done a significant cull before leaving for Japan, we still have too much stuff. Definitely in need of doing another cull before the final jump to tiny life.

We were hoping that the family friend who had towed our trailer from St. John’s out to our build site in Chapel Arm could help us again. He wasn’t available until near the end of September, and we were really hoping to get it in sooner. But, another lucky thing – the job that Tim scored upon our return also employed a great deal of mechanics. It seems that mechanics, at least around here, are pretty comfortable with towing things and often own big sturdy trucks. One of Tim’s work buddies in particular had experience towing RVs from a dealership near St. John’s out to the Argentia ferry on the regular. He was available on Sunday morning, September 10th, and agreed to tow it for us! So off to the NL Motor Vehicle Registration building we went to obtain our second In-Transit permit for a homemade trailer.

Tim’s friend told us that if wind can blow into something being towed, it’s gotta find a way out. It can build up a lot of pressure and potentially blow the walls out. Imagine! So,
the day before the tow, we went out to Chapel Arm to board up the window holes. Before starting, I had to once again bail out the back right corner of the tiny, holding back melodramatic tears from adding to the giant puddle. It poured rain the entire day, and we got thoroughly soaked. We had enough scrap plywood left over from the build to do the job, but no more scaffolding. Two ladders would need to suffice. What a different experience! By nightfall, we’d finished the bulk of the work, but we still needed to jerry-rig some wheel wells in order to prevent the tires from splashing a thick film of mud up inside of the tiny house while being towed, and, connect the wiring for the tail lights. We decided that rather than fumbling around in the dark, it would be best to go home and come back bright and early in the morning to finish these last few tasks before our guy arrived.

20170910_105318And that we did. We didn’t have much time, so I took on the wheel well project with some 2 x 4s and a big tarp while Tim took care of the lights and wiring. I literally just banged some boards together into a skeleton box, and stapled a tarp around it and then to the floor. Good to go.

When Tim’s friend arrived it had just started to rain, yet again. He was super kind and came out to help us hitch up the trailer to his truck. He even brought an extra wrench so we could move the adjustable hitch and get everything nice and level. We couldn’t believe how bad the weather was… we’d watched the forecast and knew that it wasn’t going to be great, but it was just downright miserable (and the tiny house miserable looking…). After having an exceedingly nice summer it just seemed too ironic that this was the day we were going to drive out over the highway with our baby of a house.

th before towing

Everything up to this point was theory… and although the guy who owned the warehouse had moved our tiny house several times without us to re-position it, we had never seen it move before. Watching it roll for the first time was pretty surreal. It was hard to believe that we had built that thing with our own hands. Now it was going to go hurtling down the road at up to 100 km / hour, and, for the next hour, its fate was out of our control. The adrenaline was crazy, I was all shaky, and my concept of time was all messed up. I guess to anyone else, including our guy towing, all this wasn’t that big of a deal. It was just like towing an RV and we needed to get it done so we could all go home out of the rain. To us however, it was really intense.

We had a few last words with our driver, and then he set out on the road. Hurriedly we followed, but first, had to lock up the gate, and of course, it was like I had two left hands. I got into our car and we took off after the tiny house, but at this point, we couldn’t see it anymore. We headed onto the ramp and merged into the highway, and still, couldn’t see the tiny house. 20170910_112244A minute later, there it was, rolling along leaving a big wake of rainwater behind it, looking very tiny indeed in the surrounding envelope of fog. There must have been at least 40 or 50 km of wind and more during the gusts. The entire ride was a blur with our eyes fixated on the tiny house in front of us.  We defended the space directly behind it, not letting anyone separate us.

Our driver’s girlfriend was sitting in the passenger seat of the truck, and even though we’d only just met, I called her several times on the phone during the ride. She kindly and calmly answered all my questions about how it was towing and if there were any issues. Everything seemed to be just fine!

20170910_124522When we arrived at our destination we had a short drive down a dirt road to the final parking place. The rain had washed a channel perpendicularly through the road, and probably had been doing so every time it rained for quite some time. The truck went over it, but as the tiny house wheels headed down into the miniature valley, the tail end of our trailer brought up on the road, suspending one set of tires, spinning, in mid air. Normally, I probably would not have reacted so calmly, but in that moment, it didn’t feel like a big deal at all. Maybe it was because I was in disbelief over how smoothly the journey had gone and in comparison to what could have gone wrong, it was really pretty small. We grabbed some 2 x 4s and strips of plywood that were lying around and built up the valley so that as the wheels went over it a second time they would be propped up higher, lending clearance space for the back of the tiny house.

It worked! The corner that was dragged on the ground prior to our bridge building ingenuity had had its flashing peeled back a bit, but the insulation behind it was unharmed. An easy fix. With that, we decoupled our future home from our friend’s truck, walked away with big smiles, feeling very much in need of a pint and a warm dry place to relax.  To the Duke of Duckworth it was!



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