Feb 4, 2012

Towing the tiny house from Kansas to Washington State, Dec 4, 2012

“Trekking westward with TONITA’S TINY HOUSE      – indeed – an adventure in moving”

{ A true tiny house transporting tale authored by:  Glen }

As an eager soul who’s commonly up to a challenge…I now concur with the famed U-Haul Corporate credo...”Adventure in Moving.” Having moved my household treasures periodically over the past 5-decades, I’ve never referred to such a mundane task as an adventure. However, U-Haul’s popular “Adventure in Moving” phrase recently proved poignant as I transported Tonita’s, just constructed, tiny, trailer-mounted, fully appointed house –2,000 miles westward as winter’s wrath quickly approached.

My tiny house transporting trek began a week before my trip departure day, November 29th, when I began carefully considering whether a central, mountain and western states weather windowwould allow for reasonably safe driving. After assessing weather forecasts across the state’s of Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and Washington – I observed a brief driving window, that, while certainly not weather-perfect, did provide me with the opportunity to thwart the disaster of major snow or ice, IF I could begin my trek by driving 500-plus miles west to either western Nebraska or eastern Colorado from Kansas City, Missouri by the evening of December 1st, before declining weather approached Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas.

My game plan was forecasted. I flew out of Seattle southeastward to Kansas City Missouri on November 29th, to rendezvous with Tonita’s Tiny House builder, Scott Stewart, who’d agreed to tow the new tiny house from its Mountain View, Arkansas build location to Kansas City. Meanwhile, in Kansas City, I picked up my previously reserved 14’ U-Haul box truck – with its necessary tow configuration– and we attached Tonita’s 24-foot, 8,000 pound, nearly 14 foot high, tiny house, right there in my motel’s generous parking expanse.

Wednesday evening, November 30th, with bad weather moving closer, I made a final driving route decision to take Interstate 70 westward through Kansas instead of driving I-80 through Nebraska. GAME ON!!

Thursday morning, December 1st, I departed Kansas City just after the morning commute for an all-day cautious race westward against looming weather. Within an hour, after entering Kansas, smack into brisk headwinds, I could quickly tell, upon peering at the ever-sinking gas gauge, that Tonita’s Tiny House haul was not proving economical. My rented truck labored against the headwind resulting in a 5-7 mpg. Guzzling of gas. I was thankful for the (central states) lower gas prices that greeting me at the numerous truck stop fill stations. While driving west the entire day through Kansas, then into the eastern reaches of Colorado, I continued to gain altitude. That evening, upon entering Limon, Colorado at 6,000 feet elevation, it was 7 degrees and blustery with light snow cover. It had snowed extensively earlier that day in Denver, 80 miles further west

However, according to my plan, I remained just east of that day’s extensive snowfall –waiting for the weather-forecasted clear skies that would appear for me the next morning. Meantime, I was very

impressed with how well Tonita’s Tiny House had trailed along behind me that day, with its commercial-grade, double tandem axle, I-beam trailer averaging 55-60 mph along some non-wind challenged stretches.

Friday morning, December 2nd, after scraping extensive ice off the truck cab windows, I departed from Limon on a cold sunny morning, heading west to Denver, before turning northward on I-25 toward Cheyenne, Wyoming.  The truck radio periodically advised me of the severe winds out of Montana, Wyoming and Utah that had created havoc across Southern California the day before.

As I drove north on I-25 toward Cheyenne, the winds became brisk and the clear, sunny skies gave way to fast moving clouds that supplied swirling snow showers.  However, the road surface remained safe and dry.

Having just turned westward on I-80 out of Cheyenne, mid-day, I became certain that I must make every effort to drive off Wyoming’s high plateau and reach the valley floor below in Ogden, Utah that evening.  The latest weather update called for hastening snows across Wyoming by nightfall – and continued snows for the next 2-3 days.

Indeed, I began encountering my “Adventure in Moving,” as I drove west from Cheyenne…UP…UP…UP with my trusty U-Haul rental truck laboring with its 8,000 lb. trailing load at leaner oxygen heights.  Now, very carefully navigating across a 9,000 foot pass, with estimated 60 mph. side-wind gusts, icy roadway and fast blowing snow – my speed now reduced to 35 mph. – with “18-wheelers” s-l-o-w-l-y passing me, thereby causing continual steering correction because of severe wind and the slip-stream effects caused by transporting a large load.

Then, all of a sudden, with no traffic nearby, a severe wind gust caught me from the driver’s side, pushing Tonita’s Tiny House 45-60 degrees sideways from the truck.  Yes…my real moving adventure was unfolding before me in glaring force, second by agonizing second, with clenched grip, mouth agape, fear-filled eyes and hyper-vigilance.  Then, instantly aborting one’s reactive instincts to hit the brakes, which would have, most likely, ended with substantial damage on that icy roadway;  I continued to gently engage power while steering both truck and tiny house between the confines of the 2 westbound lanes of I-80.  After 10 very slippery seconds and 500 precarious feet of heightened maneuvering, everything was back in good driving order with exception given to a, now stressed, driver who’d just survived imminent damage.

Needless to say, I took a short breather and some quick reflective time just a few miles later in Laramie, after slowly driving down from that windy and icy summit.  For those reading, who’ve never driven across the lonesome state of Wyoming, I-80 maintains road gates positioned every 15-20 miles across the entire state, which can be quickly closed in order to stop any transportation from proceeding in case of severe weather.  Moreover, extensive snow fences have been constructed across the state on I-80 because of common blowing snows and poor visibility.  Furthermore, travel on I-80 across Wyoming represents a sustained altitude drive that ranges between 5,000 and 9,000 feet…perfect conditions for cold, desolate, harsh winter driving.

Following my fuel stop in Laramie, with snowy weather quickly progressing westward behind me,                  I continued all afternoon making tracks across Wyoming – with extensive side winds and periodic snow showers greeting me every 10 or 15 minutes.  Around 7:00 P. M., I arrive in Wyoming’s most westerly town, Evanston, on I-80 to gather more fuel.  Blowing snow and stern warning comments expressed by the truck stop station’s attendant, that if I wanted to remain out of serious weather, I needed to quickly proceed west, through the snowy pass on I-80, then downward on I-84, toward my evening lodging goal of Ogden, Utah…far below in the Great Salt Lake Valley.

Two hours later amongst remnant snow flurries, I arrive mentally and physically tired from the constant    2-hands on the wheel, focused driving, through high altitude terrain.  Hooray…Tonita’s Tiny House navigated a stressful winter driving day of mountainous terrain.  Upon arriving in Ogden, I knew that I had escaped the looming winter storm that had been chasing me that entire day.

Saturday morning, December 3rd, I awake to cool, very clear skies in Ogden, Utah.  However, looking just eastward up into the Wasatch Mountain Range, I viewed very dark cloud cover.  Indeed, heavy snows were quite prevalent just eastward – in Wyoming.

Leaving Ogden and driving northward on I-84, I encountered my most pleasant drive thus far since leaving Kansas City 2-days before.  Shortly after entering the state of Idaho late that morning, though, significant winds again battered me as I headed northwest toward Boise and beyond.  Again, strong winds sapped my gas mileage.  With the winds howling, coupled by continuous corrective driving measures caused from passing “18-wheelers” and other traffic, I pulled into Mountain Home for another fuel stop.  Upon carefully pulling into the, high overhang, roofed gas pump area, an attendant at the “Pilot Truck Stop” shocked me with her fearful comment…”Your front passenger-side trailer wheel is completely shredded.”


Instantly, I gazed at the tiny house trailer in amazement at what had taken place – miles before I had stopped.  Even though I would routinely glance at both sides of the tiny house trailer every 30-60 seconds during the entire journey – I remained totally unaware of this mishap.  Thank goodness for the roadside diligence of “AAA” and the 2 extra wheel/tire assemblies that Scott Stewart had supplied me with back in Kansas City, I was totally prepared for the local AAA rescue team in Mountain Home.  Within an hour, I’m fueled and back on I-84 heading westward past Boise at dusk and onto the border city Ontario, Oregon by nightfall.

After fueling up again in Ontario, I head westward toward my Saturday evening driving distance goal of Pendleton, Oregon.  Before me, though, stretched a winding 100-mile night passage through Oregon’s Blue Mountain Range – before coasting down the last, long decline into Pendleton.  This segment of my journey occurred without incident and I arrived in Pendleton around 9:00 P. M. on a cool, clear evening.

Sunday morning, December 4th, I awake again to clear sunny skies.  Driving westward from Pendleton,         I made another fuel stop 16-miles west.  Fortunately, my due caution paid off for me as I entered the gas paddock.  I peered at the roof clearance above the gas pumps and assessed that Tonita’s Tiny House roof ridge would not clear the gas paddock roof.  Sure enough, after obtaining eyesight assistance from a station attendant, my suspicion was confirmed, the tiny house roof proved to be 2-inches too high.  Subsequently,

I re-positioned the truck to access fuel, then backed the tiny house away from the pump, after fueling, to continue on my journey home that day to her rural expanse…30-miles from Seattle, Washington.

The remainder of my drive home Sunday, occurred under bright sunny skies…a wonderful conclusion to my 2,000 mile, 3 and ½ day trek from Kansas City.  I arrived home at just after 3:00 P. M. and proudly parked Tonita’s Tiny House in the yard for her long awaited, joyous greeting.

The tiny house arrived home Dec 4, 2012 at 3:30 pm

HOORAY… I had successfully navigated my long trip through often heavy winds, high plateaus and mountainous regions, while dodging the most severe weather that December often brings to Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and Washington.


Victoria - Ozarks Crescent Mural said...

I'm very familiar with driving across Wyoming in blizzards after growing up out west and family being in Kansas. We made that trek a million times growing up. I felt you all the way there. It brought tears to my eyes seeing you arrive at Tonita's and it's beautiful there. Kansas City is my hometown, so it was nice to hear you start out from there. Good job!

DanielleNicole said...

Can you tell me how much Scott and/or Glen charged for the transport? I live in upstate NY, but have fallen in love with some (including yours!)of Slabtown Customs designs. I worry about how much of an additional cost it would be to haul it up here. Any info you could give me would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Everyone loves it when folks get together and share ideas.
Great blog, continue the good work!

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