Living Tiny

“Voluntary simplicity means going fewer places in one day rather than more, seeing less so I can see more, doing less so I can do more, acquiring less so I can have more.” Confucius

The simplicity of our lives while roaming the planet led us to the same conclusion – less is more. It’s not the easiest road but perhaps the most thoughtful.

It was brilliant how the whole thing came about. Our commercial property had an abandoned studio home out back that we decided to remodel and use as a rental property.

Red tagged on the first day of construction!

The original home was built on the dirt – no foundation. The County allowed us to take the building down in order to build a proper slab foundation as long as we rebuilt using the exact same footprint, roofing material and as much siding as we could.

Before (click on any photo to enlarge):

Just as people fall in love with babies and puppy dogs we fell in love with a tiny home – promptly putting our primary residence on the market.  We abandoned the rental concept and decided to make it our home.

Meet Mona.  She’s 20′ x 22′ – 440 sq.ft. of living space with a small storage loft.

Tired of the upkeep required by perfectly engineered shiny Brazilian hardwood flooring we opted for unfinished concrete floors. All the warts of construction are permanently embedded – scuff marks, paint drips and cracks – perfection!

We work where we sleep.  It’s crazy but our pull down bed is a desk by day and bed by night. The pivoting motion of the bed allows us to lower the bed while the desk stays fully in place (plugs and all) – articulating to the floor.

Carefully planned built-in cabinets house what remains of our earthly goods.  We opted to purge. The kids got all the stuff we stored for them from their childhood – the remainder was donated, sold in a garage sale and a few antiques were sent to a house we have in the Palm Springs area.

The only furniture that went to Mona were two old leather chairs , a mattress and an outdoor patio set.

Bags and bags of clothing were passed on as well for we only have 41″ of closet space. So if you see us wearing the same clothes you’ll know why.

We created an urban garden area out back to grow the square footage.

Steve Jobs said “The greatest wealth is to live content with little.”

In keeping with what Steve Jobs professed and the wisdom gained during construction of Mona, we decided to do the same in Charleston, SC.  Withering from boredom in a suburban home where we found ourselves driving almost daily to the historic downtown area, we sold and bought a whopping 514 sq.ft. of luxury right in the heart of Charleston. Walking distance to everything. Completely remodeled and furnished. We moved in with two Asian rugs, a painting and half our clothing. Second garage sale of the year.

We love the look on our friends face’s when they visit for the first time – trying to imagine themselves living tiny.  We have everything we need, including a washer/dryer and kitchen, which is – much more than when wandering the globe.

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” Paulo Coelho

 

Follow us as we walk 600+ miles….

©OutdoorTravel http://www.outdoortravel.com.au https://bit.ly/2zbnHyh Thanks for the map!

That’s right.  Approx. 1000 kilometers.

This time it’s the Via Francigena (fran chee gena).

From ancient and medieval times it connected Canterbury to Rome. Today most pilgrims start in the Swiss Alps. Luckily, unlike our predecessors, none of us have to return home by foot.

Different from the famous Camino de Santiago where over 200,000 pilgrims annually walk the 500 miles from St. Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain the Via has only a combined 2,500 walkers, bikers and horse riders.

Bill and I walked the Camino de Santiago Frances in 2013 and in 2016 walked the Camino de Santiago Portuguese with Vino Verde Man, Chapmeister and Rockenstein . It was so utterly perfect that the five of us, on September 3, 2018, will step out the door of our hostel at the Great St. Bernard Pass in Switzerland and make our way to Rome.

The first two days have us descending 6,000′ in elevation. Hello knees…In the meantime, we walk to build up our strength. Unfortunately, the last couple of days have us walking at the local community center as our hometown has the most hazardous air in the USA caused by the horrific fires in California.

Curious about what’s in my pack??

If you didn’t read my ultimate packing guide from the last pilgrimage hop on over and check it out.

I made some adjustments – more than expected in the consummate search for perfection.

Here’s the list (new means different from last time):

  • New pack – the Osprey 24 liter Sirrus
  • The same Nike shorts which unfortunately have been discontinued.
  • New North Face Everyday Pant
  • New North Face on the Go Skirt (forgoing the skort)
  • Target tank top
  • New Athleta Speedlight Tee
  • Same Lulu Lemon Swiftly Tech Short Sleeve
  • Smartwool – one each – Mid-Weight and Light-Weight long sleeve shirts
  • A crazy and stupid indulgence – hippie palazzo pants from Walmart – who said ya can’t be groovy on a pilgrimage?
  • New My Trail Co rain gear – jacket and pants. Jealous of Rockenstein and Vino Verde  when they stepped out in the torrential rain all duded out with their My Trails rain attire. They stayed dry when I soaked to the bone in my cheap $1.99 rain poncho.
  • New REI 650 Down Jacket
  • OMG – I get to wear new but the same  Altra Footwear Lone Peak 2.5 shoes!! YAY!! Shoes are the most important part of this whole list.  Altra is now on version 3.5 with 4.0 coming out any day now. They changed their design and frankly the changes do not work for me. Geared up to wear the Altra Timp Trail – actually hiking in them with a friend when I realized she was wearing my favorite 2.5’s. Where did you get those???? Rockenstein! The zero drop wasn’t her thing so she passed them on. Well, that generous friend who only wore them twice gifted them to me. Doing a happy dance every time I put them on. Thank you Boo!
  • Crocs backup shoe for the end of the day, showering, etc.
  • Tights, undies, bras, merino wool gloves, a neck buff, homemade pillowcase with velcro to stuff my down jacket in to make a pillow.
  • Travel size toiletries.
  • Sea to Summit Traveller silk sleeping sack to keep the cooties away.
  • PackTowl ultralite beach towel

All weighing in at 11 pounds. Of course, I’ll be wearing some of those clothes so my pack will be lighter.

You men might be wondering what’s in Bill’s pack.  Basic black and flip flops!

We’re super excited. Jump on board and walk with us. Tell your friends to sign up for our blog – http://www.billandpaige.com.  Instagram Story @paigeshawdotcom and Facebook @billandpaige.

See you there!

Spring in Downtown Charleston

Remember January and the bomb cyclone? 

Check out Springtime. It’s magical.  The temperatures are mild and mother nature is singing.

Walking  has become our way of life since moving to the historic downtown area.  We really got to know the neighborhood averaging 7 miles a day – four of those days include a two mile jaunt to yoga – all in preparation for our upcoming pilgrimage (stay tuned).

Our pace is slow because there is so much to see.

Come take a journey with us.

Where……

flower boxes are in abundance,

entries are dreamy,

and pink homes rule!

Rainbow Row is like candy.

From tiny to traditional.

Meandering Live Oak trees tell a story 

and horses add to the charm. However, they are quite controversial right now – animal cruelty activists think it’s time to end this tradition. You decide.

Herons fly free…

and the iconic Ravenel Bridge links Charleston to Mt. Pleasant and offers fabulous views from the 5 mile round trip walking path.  Built in 2005 – it’s the 3rd longest cable-stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere.

However, it’s not all walking.  We started the act of fishing on the Ashley River. It’s salt water – where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers meet to form the Charleston Harbor and flow into the Atlantic Ocean. We just walk across the street with gear in tow – it’s right out the door of our home. I say “act” because the fish have completely avoided our hook.  It’s about the tide and bait.

All this – from sunrise

to sunset.

 

 

 

 

** click on photos to enlarge and head over to http://www.paigeshaw.com

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Meet the Huang Brothers – Fishermen – Keeping with Tradition

It was my honor to meet and photograph the Haung brothers, both at their home and on the Li River in Guilin, China.In about 1948 the eldest brother Yue Ming (now 86) and following thereafter the youngest brother Yue Chuan (now 79) learned the ways of the Cormorant fisherman.An ancient fishing technique where cormorant birds are trained to dive for fish and return their catch to their master’s raft. If not for the snare tied around the bird’s neck – the cormorant would swallow it’s catch whole.The brothers lived on a houseboat until 1978 at which time the local government gave fishermen land. They built a home on this property and still live in it today. It is modest, reachable only by boat and meals are cooked over campfire.Fishing was a way of life until the late 1990’s. Unfortunately, Cormorant fishing has become a lost source of income but the art form still remains.  River pollution, motorized boats and electric rod fishing have made it hard for the birds to successfully fish.

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Meet Mr. Huang – Cormorant Fishing and Casting Nets on the Li River

A little piece of Heaven on Earth is right here in Guilin, China. Unspoiled by development. Peaceful.

Sunrise on the Li River where the karst rock formations rise from the soil like the backs of sleeping dinosaurs.Meet Mr. Haung – 61 years old and considered amongst the youngest to know the ancient ways of the cormorant fishermen. Sadly, these days a mostly extinct fishing method. River pollution, mass fishing with electrical charges and motorized boats have depleted the fish population.

The cormorant bird – trained to dive into the water, capture a fish in its bill and dutifully return it to the raft. If not for the snare tied around the birds neck it would swallow the catch whole.The raft – long and sturdy.  Mr. Haung splashed the water for effect.  The birds accustomed to the rocking commotion on the raft remain unfazed.The art of cast net fishing – the large net is meticulously coiled in his left hand while an edge of the net is secured between his teeth and the remainder grasped in he right hand. Winding up like pro golfer, whilst swinging the net, the net is released high into the air.  The splash – circular in formation – is a testament to his skill.

 

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Deconstructing Shaw

2017 was the start of BIG changes with tiny results.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo.” ~ Rob Siltanen

In 2016 we traded Baja for Charleston, SC  so we can spend time with the boys.

The easy purchase was a ranch style house in West Ashley. Quickly withering from the normalness of suburban living, the sirens of historic downtown Charleston began to sing.

Our first visit to Charleston in 2010 had Bill pointing to an elegant and grand 7 story building on the edge of White Point Garden where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers merge to form the Atlantic Ocean and saying “I’m going to live there one day.”

Charleston – voted #1 top U.S. city 5th year running by Travel and Leisure (2016 best city in the world too) – comes at a price. A high price. Money equates to square footage.  You get the picture.

Well I’ll be darned if Bill wasn’t right (those moments still catch me off guard).  We are now fulfilling his prophecy. Downsizing by 75% and loving every 74, 014 square inches of it. (514 sq.ft.) It’s a 1 bedroom, 1 bath with a 60 sq.ft. balcony floating over the Holy City with expansive views of the water and breathtaking sunsets on most nights.

It came furnished so we had an estate sale and utilized Craigslist to unload all the furniture we had purchased just a year before. With 2 rugs and a painting in tow – we moved in.  Heaven!  We walk to everything. History and charm ooze from every corner. Horse drawn carriages clip clop through the streets and bar/restaurants are plentiful. Yoga is 2.5 miles away and allows us to kill 2 birds with one stone, walking to and fro. Two kids in a candy shop!

Sometimes you just have to jump off the cliff without knowing where you will land. ~ Zainab Salbi

And with that said – 30 days later we sold our primary residence in Northern Nevada and opted to go even tinier – 440 sq.ft. (63360 sq. inches).
When working and raising kids our home had 5 bedrooms, 5 baths, 5 fireplaces and a 5 car garage. After the kids moved out we downsized into a 2 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 fireplace, 2 car garage home. Now, we’re in a 0 bedroom, 0 fireplace, 0 garage and if wasn’t for the 1 bath…. Well – you get my point.

There was an abandoned tiny home on our commercial property in Nevada that we decided to turn into a rental.  The county allowed us to dismantle the house and rebuild in the same place using the same footprint, roof and siding.  It’s cute as heck and we thought what the heck. Now it’s our home.Talk about freeing…

Living in hotel rooms more than 100 days a year over the past decade, and more recently carrying our clothes on our backs while walking two Caminos has helped condition us. You really don’t need all the peripheral crap. Happiness isn’t derived by having stuff.

However, the struggle is what to do with your STUFF.

What we learned:  You give to your kids “now” all the stuff saved for them. Why wait until you’re dead?  Sell and give away all non-essential stuff and pack the rest of the shit (stuff) up in a POD and send it to your 3rd home.

YUP… You read that correctly.

Why have 2 homes when you can have 3?  Yes, as embarrassed as I am to write this.

Hi, our names are Bill and Paige and we are Crazy – it’s been 2 weeks since we were in our last home…

Today we are in Indian Wells, CA – right near vintage Palm Springs. This one was purchased 10 years ago as a rental.

Tenant moves out and we move in.  What can we say?  It’s warm here. Palm trees rule and golfing on pristine courses is intoxicating.

“One person’s craziness is another person’s reality.” ~ Tim Burton

So that’s us for now….

We have a big trip coming up in 2018.  Stay tuned.

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Meet Mr Xu and his Water Buffalo

Traveling through picture perfect Guilin in China we met Mr. Xu. In the dark of the morning, he and his water buffalo walked over an hour to get to work – arriving just before sunrise.The role of the water buffalo is rapidly changing with the onset of modern machinery and China approving the use of credit – payments over time. More and more the buffalo is becoming a household pet.

Timeless images of Asia wouldn’t be the same if a farmer posed with his tractor…

 

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