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Tiny Living: Going small to go big

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If you could trade in most of your possessions, along with the responsibilities that fall upon most homeowners, would you? Could you live without a lawn, without most of your furniture, a driveway, and no space for guests?

Would you be comfortable in close quarters with an intimate partner? With children?

If these questions terrify you, run fast from Columbus tiny house pioneers Modern Tiny Living. But if you’re, at the least, intrigued—or outright excited—by the benefits of downsizing, this thriving company could hold the key to unprecedented freedom.

Founded in 2016 by a group of longtime friends, Modern Tiny Living is driven by “the opportunity to do something greater,” says co-founder Trent Haery.

“My friends and I have always sort of been unconventional thinkers, looking for ways just to—as much as it is financially but also through time—to have some sense of liberty. And we felt also that the tiny house movement is right in line with our values.”

The friends took stock of the existing tiny home industry and found room to innovate, working with an experienced architect already familiar with the unique specifications of tiny homes. They sought to shift the industry standard from small cabins to upscale, modern living spaces.

“The results and the feedback would suggest we were right: that people want to go tiny. However they might not necessarily want to downgrade the quality of their interior. Hell, if anything, they want to upgrade because they say, ‘Alright, I’m not gonna go with the national average [mortgage]…. Therefore I will spoil myself with a quartz countertop and tile backsplash, and this, that, or the other.”

MTL’s building process varies for each individual tiny house order, a flexibility due to its relationship with Amish carpenters in Northern Ohio, and a company insistence on excellent customer service.

Their three standard models—The Kokosing (24 ft. trailer, 256 sq. ft.), The Mohican (20 ft. trailer, 230 sq. ft.), and The Point (20 ft. trailer, 240 sq. ft.)—start between $59,000 and $69,000. Final price is dependent on financing, included appliances, and other customizations. Each standard model has inspired dozens of custom variants, including a cowork space and coffee shop (“Upwork”), and a fully-solar, off-grid home with garage door and folding deck (“The Latibule”). Shells of their homes for the DIY-inclined are also available at roughly one-third of the price of a full tiny home.

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“As builders out here, we bend over backwards to make our clients happy, and the degree of customization is incredible because that’s just where the industry is today,” says Haery. “Builders are willing to go above and beyond to just have one more happy client in that regard.”

That is, if buyers can overcome a couple of cumbersome barriers to entry, most notably financing and legality. The emerging industry, for all its marvel, is still hamstrung by lenders and local governments who are unprepared for the complexities of tiny living, unaccommodating to them, or both.

Squeamish large banks are uncomfortable with the portable homes and the absence of corresponding property that a typical mortgage would include as collateral, leaving buyers to urge credit unions and small, community banks for RV loans.

“Still, most lenders are not interested in doing RV loans to tiny house manufacturers, usually because they’re afraid somebody’s gonna live in [the tiny house] full time,” explains Haery. “It’s obviously a depreciating asset so you can’t really compare it to dirt that you get with the house on a traditional home.”

But hope is on the horizon. Koala Financial Group, a specific tiny house lender, appears to have cracked the code, and could soon offer reliable financing to buyers at competitive rates with down payments of roughly 5%.

“What they’re promising sounds too good to be true, so I’ll be absolutely floored if they can deliver on it. But I pray that it works out because it’ll make getting a tiny home so much more feasible for hundreds of thousands of people,” says Haery.

If affordable financing can be achieved, buyers must then deal with the patchwork of municipal and county codes that prevent tiny houses from being parked legally in certain areas. The city of Columbus and adjacent suburbs maintain building codes and/or zoning regulations that exclude tiny houses from being considered legal living spaces. Haery contends that an imminent exodus from conventional housing structures and mortgages looms if these issues are sorted out.

While tiny houses might seem perfect for nomadic, excitable travelers, the industry’s clientele is much more typical than you might expect. And if minimalism is an attractive concept, it’s less likely than pure financial reality to compel the curious to go tiny.

“A lot of people think of the tiny house industry—our clientele—as a bunch of nomadic people who just don’t want to be tied down to one location. I don’t think that’s it […] I don’t think they’re looking to get a tiny house because they’re minimalists.”

Haery has multiple theories as to why the tiny life is appealing, but believes that most of them boil down to a greater sense of freedom and more options.

“I think that’s a major benefit that tiny homes offer people is the option to have a place to live that they like, they’re proud of, they own, and it doesn’t feel like the word ‘mortgage’ is based on the word ‘death.’ It doesn’t feel like this is gonna be a bill until you’re dead. And that’s a nice liberating feeling—that you can go out to eat, you can take a vacation, and you don’t need to charge it, and you don’t need to be rich. You just need to downsize.”

Curious about tiny living options? Schedule a tour and ask questions at moderntinyliving.com/schedule.

Sidebar: Ways to go tiny, without the tiny home

So you’re not ready to take the tiny home plunge yet. Happiness really can be about wanting less, rather than having more. Try some downsizing ideas now, and maybe a tiny home will be in your future.

Storage

Think vertical. Think wall-mounted storage. Think ottomans and benches that open up to create extra storage space. Clear, stacking containers are best for frequently-used items.

Purchasing habits

Consider the life cycle of each item you purchase. How long to plan to keep the item? How often will you use it? Where will you store it? What will you do with it after it is no longer useful to you? Something you don’t bring into your home is something you don’t need to store or organize.

Declutter

That project you started but didn’t finish? Will you ever get around to it? What about those things you intend to fix but haven’t? Do you need that collection of trophies, memorabilia, or whatever, or would a set of pictures do? Don’t use sentimental attachments to necessarily determine what you should keep and what should go.

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Great Apes: Two gorillas coming soon to Columbus Zoo

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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is no stranger to primo primates. Colo (RIP) who was both the first gorilla born in captivity and the oldest known gorilla in the world, called the zoo home for 60 wonderful years.

Now, two new additions from a zoo in Wisconsin will be joining the storied Columbus troop:

17-year-old Shalia and her 4 ½-year-old offspring Sulaiman will be transferred to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium from the Milwaukee County Zoo in Wisconsin sometime in the next few weeks.

When the duo arrive, it will be something of a family reunion. Two-year-old gorilla Zahra is half-sister to Sulaiman, and has been at the Columbus Zoo since 2018.

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Play like a kid at R Adventure Park in the Hocking Hills

Mitch Hooper

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Tucked away from the main road leading into Hocking Hills sits a world that rivals most theme parks you can find. Complete with a multimillion dollar ropes course, 68 miles of riding trails, a speed course, off-road vehicles, zip-lining, a paintballing arena, and a damn roller coaster, this dreamland sounds just like that—a dream. But for Karry Gimmel, owner, curator, imagineer, and engineer—R Adventure Park is every bit of his wildest dreams made into reality.

Upon arriving at the park, we drove up the long drive-way and eventually our playground was unveiled from behind the tall trees. The ropes course towered in the background as Polaris quads, side-by- sides, and three-wheeled Slingshots were scattered about near the front desk area. As gray skies filled the sky, we knew the Ohio weather was going to do its best to give us its worst.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

“Don’t worry,” Gimmel assured us. “We have some of our best days when it rains.”

It didn’t take much to convince us. Gimmel has worked and continues to work as an engineer for Disney World—if anyone can be trusted as a reliable source for fun, it’s him. Combine his knowledge of theme parks from Disney World with seemingly unlimited space (thanks, unplotted land!) and a little horsepower, and you have a place where kids, mom, dad, and even grandma can participate.

He took us to the eye-grabbing rope course to begin our day. I’ve never been one to call myself an adrenaline junkie, but heights haven’t really bothered me before. Whether it be the roller coasters at Cedar Point or working summer construction on scaffolding 60+ feet off the ground, I came, I saw, and I conquered. So when I approached the first tier all strapped in my safety harness with my guide on hand, I was befuddled to find how nervous I was.

The first obstacle is an easy one: a balance beam. But to my eyes and brain, it was a tightrope across the Grand Canyon. And when I took that first step, I was sure it was a tightrope across the Grand Canyon and the slightest gust of wind would send me to my doom. Slowly and methodically, I stepped forward making sure to follow OSHA tips like always keep three points planted when at high altitudes. Turns out that summer construction job is paying off.

After making it down and back comfortably, we continued to turn the heat up. Each level higher presented more difficult obstacles—all seemingly insane until you actually complete them. Every obstacle completed might just bump your confidence to the point where you might just try a few backwards, hopping on one foot. But if you’re feeling more comfortable staying on the first tier, there’s no shame in that.

As we finished up the ropes course, the rain seemed to be moving in which made for an appropriate time to switch. We ditched our belays for helmets and safety glasses and made our way to the Polaris side-by-side vehicle. To say this vehicle was covered in dirt, mud, and dust is an understatement. Our driver went to brush some off the seat, but Gimmel quickly stopped him.

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that; you’re going to get muddy,” Gimmel said. “Do you want to do the trail, or the ‘trail’ trail?”

Of course, we picked the “trail” trail.

After a crash course in how not to crash, we took off into the woods cruising through the curvy trail surrounded by trees and nature. We continued as tree branches brushed by us and the mud slinging party only grew bigger. Each dry strip of land was a chance for the mud to come free from the tires and these human-seeking dirt bombs were on a mission. Our trek through the trail eventually took us to a speed course where we could finally let loose and see how this machine works. Gimmel knew exactly where to take us: the drag strip.

On the count of three, we screamed off down the quarter-mile dirt strip like a rocket shot out of a cannon. Gimmel, leading us in a one-man side-by-side, gave us a few seconds head start and still managed to smoke us in a cloud of dust. (We’ll get him next time, though.)

All-in-all, the 30-minute adventure on the trails felt like an eternity—in a good way. The twists and turns of the trails remove all your sense of direction, making you feel as though you just traveled miles away from the park. But with a few turns here and there, we wound up right next to the ropes course where our day all started. Of the 68 miles of trails, we covered about three.

The mantra at R Adventure Park is fun for everyone with an added bonus: instant gratification. Gimmel said the park started when he would have business partners visit for various reasons and inevitably, he’d be scrambling for a way to entertain them. He always keeps vehicles nearby and he had a few ATVs on stock which quickly became the favorites for his friends—anyone who’s ever tried to rent quads before knows how much of a headache it can be just finding a rental place, let alone finding trails.

Gimmel recognized the lack of options as well as the high overhead with getting into off-roading. At R Adventure Park, he could offer both without the big investment. But he was going to need some more off-road vehicles to accommodate. After some reluctancy, he was able to work on agreements with Polaris, making R Adventure Park one of the few spots in North America where you can rent, learn, and ride ATVs without having to purchase your own.

There’s another mantra for R Adventure Park and Gimmel says its thanks to his Canadian genes: creating a community. While you’ll find adventure and excitement in nearly every corner here, you will not find lodging. And Gimmel seems like he has no plans for that in the future. Instead, he encourages visitors to look into lodging options near the park as to support his neighbors. For him, it’s not about having the entire pie, it’s about everyone getting a slice. It just helps that his slice comes served in a Polaris Slingshot that can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.6 seconds.

R Adventure Park is located on 15155 Sauerkraut Road, Logan, Ohio 43138. For hours and operations, visit radventurepark.com.

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Local canine training company won’t heel until human, canine bond is created

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SPONSORED

Everybody knows that dogs are mankind's best friend, but being bffs with someone who speaks a different language can prove difficult. That's where ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC comes in.

ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC was founded with one goal in mind: to deepen the human canine bond. It's a one-stop-shop for pet owners seeking professional dog training, behavior modification services for aggressive, reactive, and fearful dogs, on- and off-leash obedience coaching, boarding services, grooming, and so much more.

But what makes ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC different from all the other doggy daycares?

"ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC has cracked the code between human and dogs by learning to understand what makes us human, our genetics, how we communicate, how we learn, and knowing about sensory and emotional responses," said owner Jordan Hickle. "Canines vary from their human counterparts, greatly. Having the understanding and knowing what these differences are allows us to go above and beyond in our educational experience."

Hickle attended The Tom Rose School for Professional Dog Trainers in High Ridge, Missouri where he completed both the Professional and Master In-Residence Certification Programs, graduating with honors.

ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC teaches a fully comprehensive and practical handling course with all their Premier Dog Training Programs. These programs are tailored with your dog at the forefront of the program’s design process, explained Hickle.

And it's not called Columbus’ Premier Dog Training Company for nothing. Hickle leads his pack of experienced, well-informed, passionate professionals on a path towards singularity between you and your canine companion.

"Well behaved dogs who are knowledgeable in how to appropriately interact in our human world are able to accurately do their jobs of being a blood pressure lowering companion," said Hickle. "Not only that, their human companions can sleep peacefully at night knowing their dog is a well-behaved member of society and NOT a nuisance or liability!"

Is your dog a well-behaved member of society, or...not so much? Choosing ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC is choosing commitment, concentration, and a livelong companionship between you and your dog.

"Above all, we recognize that your dog is family!" said Hickle.

ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC will be moving from Reynoldsburg to 510 East Main Street, Columbus in September. For more information, call (614) 623-4593, email [email protected], or visit apk-9.com

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