Give us this day, our daily bread... AND a tiny house!!!
And that spectacle was unchanging for as long as I would make my weekly pilgrimages up and into the Redwoods during that last bittersweet season in my beloved Sonoma County.
Without fail, every Sunday, even on my way back home to the seemingly nondescript intersection that brought me there in the first place, you would see herds of cars. Just herds of 'em! All peppered like shell-shocked cattle on a mid-western cattle drive, strewn about on the sides of the road in a hurriedly, haphazardly, apocalyptic manner with a constant stream of zombie-like humans pouring themselves out onto the street, stoically stumbling forward only to then wait in endless, crookedly messy cues.
Why the mass of metal and humanity you ask in such an otherwise bucolic setting? Well, all this empty-headed/zombie-like behavior was driven by one simple reptilian-brained instinct.
Now, before I go further, I have to state that this was, in fact, the type of undeserved, unnecessary... white privilege hunger that really only the first world can give you! Not the REAL, haven't had a meal in weeks, Sally Struthers was just here begging for cash again hunger. But the typically Americanized and pathetically entitled "Veruca Salt/"I-HAVETO-HAVE-IT-NOW-DADDY", carnival-type-hunger! Probably the worst type on the planet and we should ALL be ashamed of it. But you know, we are deeply conditioned creatures here with selfishly-driven bad habits. Aren't we?
So it had to be stated.
But, with that being said and out-of-the-way... it was the THIS SCENT... the maddeningly gorgeous ancient scent of fresh hearth-baked, organically grown, hand-harvested and homemade bread that's embedded in our roots of our DNA as a species that instinctively *PINGS our Mesopotamian sense of NEED.
It was this divinely sent scent... that was thickly wafting through the air every Sunday as you would innocently attempt to make your way and drive through and NOT have to stop. And if you did try and actually succeeded in passing by, well, that scent would haunt your olfactory and tummy for days.
You'd be thinking about it the rest of the day and the next day at work and probably all that night lying in bed only to find yourself driving back the very next Sunday to finally... joyfully... join the flop-sweated cult of the devoted all patiently waiting to gorge themselves on the limited, sacred bounty on hand!
I'm telling you, the sheer power of the scent from that fresh from the garden/oven bread wafting through the air within a few hundred yards from this little roadside garden-shack-turned-bakery seemed to drive anyone who passed by slightly nutty.
If you've ever actually driven by there, well then, you know this is NOT an exaggeration of fact, but totally God's honest truth of the matter.
I, admittedly, was among that deeply devoted "cues as pews", "Sunday mass" of humanity that seemed to end up there on our weekly paradigm pilgrimages. So much so, that I started to get know the customers as much as I knew the owners.
When I picture the image in my mind's eye now, all I see are these stoically, humbled, happily entranced and enveloped zombie-like stares. Arms outstretched, feet club-footed, dragging and paddling behind us as we all fall-forward. Incrementally, inching toward the scent with each passing customer like old Warner Brothers cartoon characters. Our stumbly... "rumbly-in-my-tummy"... gates drawing us inches closer and closer, moment by moment... toward our... daily bread! And all this spectacle was of course... ON A SUNDAY MORNING!
I can still see each of us, helplessly standing there, wide-eyed and peaked. Like hundreds of truly-haven't-ever-missed-a-meal-pouch-stomached-spoiled-little brats with undeserving needy wants. All of us trying hard in our Sunday best/emotionally/nutritionally depleted Oliver Twists faces, trapped in our own Industrial-Revolution-Era-style Workhouse asking for yet... ONE-MORE?
Getting all cued-up in that LONG line no matter HOW EARLY I arrived, to wait my turn (usually for well over an hour) just to get my grippy-paws on ONE... YES... JUST ONE... one loaf... of a very limited, home-grown, home-made, home-baked-on-site, most transcendentally yummy loaf of fresh baked bread is a deeply joyful memory now.
All this fuss, and all of this writing over a family owned & operated, roadside-attraction that's set in and among the very own gardens that are used to make the bread that you were about to inhale? Yes! And yes... AND YES!
The craziest part is that the place was literally only open one day a week and the owner once told me that was more than enough!
Oh, and the places name? "Wildflower Bread"!
The only way to truly describe the entire experience would be to go there and get 'ya some yourself. It was an experience and taste that I will truly never forget.
Annnnnnnnyway, after my ritualistic Sunday pit stop of freshly baked bread and coffee, I would take the heavenly-scented-loosely-wrapped loaf of bread, tuck it straight between my legs for the constant thoughtless ala Homer Simpson style "MUST-TEAR-BREAD-MUST-PUT-BREAD-IN-MOUTH" road trip-style munching that was about to occur for the next half-hour... and head up onto the Bohemian Highway into the Redwood Forest over to where the mouth of the Russian River dumps out into the Pacific in the cliff side, picturesque-straight-out-of-a-storybook town, called Jenner.
I would then head up to the Seaside Ranch outside of the town of Gualala on a ride that can't really be describe, only experienced.
Gualala, is pronounced... "Waaallll-lal-la" hahahaa... yeah, I know... I know... but it's a town that is so magical that this drive alone would be well worth a trip out there again just for that!
Seaside Ranch, is one of the first, if not the first, environmentally/consciously developed green towns of its type in the entire country if not the world. The setting for it is something pulled right out of an Emily Bronte novel. With little Redwood groves and small slopping hills and a gentle, Red-wooded Mountain backdrop topped off with a forever crashing-waves-on-the-rocks seashore in the forefront. And all of this achingly-perfect-beauty is actually tucked in between a strip of land that is really a lot smaller and more intimate than I can describe. Again, you'd have to experience it and no matter how I can describe it... words fail to do it justice.
The point of all this, was to simply tell you that for over a decade, since I first heard of something called a "Tiny House" waaaay back in the mid-2000's, I fell immediately head-over-heals in love with the idea. It was perfect for me and my ideology and I knew I would make one of my own one day.
Now, as fate may have it, I happened to live only a few miles where the very person who ignited this craze lived and worked. His name is Jay Shafer and his company is called appropriately... "Tumbleweed Tiny House Company".
A VERY long story short...
In life, you receive signs and signals if you can see them. And all you have to do to see them is really just be aware to what life is telling you. Where it's pointing you, through visual and "coincidental/synergistic/ serendipitously-charged" moments per se. Right?... RIGHT!!!
Now, with that thought in mind, it only took a few Sunday drives passing Jay's Tiny house sales and work site on highway 12 on my way up to Gualala via Freestone, via the Redwood Highway, via roue 1 along the Pacific Ocean... while sitting there in my car, munching on the heavenly bread I just purchased, starring off into gastronomic bliss, just outside of the Redwood Forest in a setting full of slow rolling hills, Redwood forests, streams and creeks and prairies.... to dawn on me that I had in fact, found the perfect location for my tiny house.
Now, life has its ways and six years later, post-divorce, post a move back east and years spent working my tail off back here to reestablish myself and my show and no, I STILL do not have my tiny house.
And no, it probably won't be in the little slice of Heaven that was the tiny town of Freestone along the Redwood Forest, but still, the design was something I have been working on since then.
I actually finished this last year but never went back to until this morning and thought it would be fun to share with all of you and perhaps maybe... JUST MAAAAAYYYYYBE... a few of you are true Tiny House zealots like myself.
It would be fun to exchange designs and ideas and maybe I can even improve it a bit before I actually have it built.
Problem is... Where do I put the thing now?
But that's a story for another day and time down the road...
Thanks for reading all this and I hope you like my design. It took me years to get it right and I 'm sure I'll be tweaking it out right up until the day construction begins. ~AA
You can check out the town of Freestone here:
You can check out Wildflour Bread here:
You can check out the town of Jenner here:
You can check out the the town of Seaside Ranch here:
You can see Jay's life's work here:
And FINALLY, you can check out my tiny house design here:
Thanks for reading!