Following are the stories of my family’s journey from a place of manicured lawns and HOA’s to a place of yellow jackets, ticks, stickers, mud, frozen pipes, neighbors that almost shot us, a driveway from hell; and the best adventures of our lives.
I am not a formally educated writer. I go on gut but I love humor and it’s a great way to gloss over the underlying struggles we’ve faced since we left our previous lives behind hauling nothing but a 20′ travel trailer. When we pulled onto the road to find our destiny in the Spring of 2017, we literally didn’t know where we would end up by the end of that summer but we figured (rightly) that adventure awaited us on the open road and beyond.
We are a married couple with a sixteen year old son and two cats. We were growing tired of the increasingly frenetic atmosphere of the Puget Sound region so we sold our house and headed east in search of wide open spaces more compatible with our nature. In the spring of 2017, we sold our house, bought the travel trailer and hit the road.
We camped in the national forest and anywhere else we were allowed for over three months as we cruised the real estate websites for property. In September we found a few acres of raw land in eastern Washington near the Idaho and Canadian borders that was just right. It was three miles away from the closest town and far far away from any major metropolitan area and came with no utilities.
Moving onto undeveloped land means you’re on your own. Amenities – heck – the things you need to survive are no longer a matter of pushing a button or paying a bill. You have to figure it all out for yourself. You become the chief engineer, contractor, and if something breaks, repair person for every project . Everything we used to take for granted is often missed sorely but we’ve grown in ways it’s hard to put into words.
We kind of scrambled for lack of preparation for the first few months. We got our water from the city standpipe then found out they close it in the winter. Luckily, we had discovered natural springs on our property which we dug by hand. For power we used a gas generator. The following autumn, we installed solar but couldn’t really use it until the next summer.
We initially used WiFi for Internet but it became us vs the Google data pig. The neighbors let us use their WiFi until we got into a fight and they changed their password. We could only connect from my husband’s spot in our bed anyway, and only if it wasn’t raining. It eventually took downing three gargantuan trees to get Internet service to the property.
Emotional and social adjustments were inevitable with such a big move. Like the new extremes in the weather in eastern Washington as opposed to those of the moderate rain belt we moved from, the emotional highs and lows were more extreme. Hotter summers and colder winters gave rise to newfound happiness and adventure which gave way to days and weeks of depression but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Our first weeks at our new home were fantastic. We were officially land owners and there was exploring to do but then winter came on fierce and with a seriousness that slapped all thoughts of anything but survival out of our consciousnesses. Our water pipes froze and our worldly possessions disappeared under three or four feet of snow. Some things we didn’t find until the spring melt.
Zero degree temperatures forced us to make the decision to relocate my son and I to an emergency shelter while my husband hunkered down at the property with our cats. Three months later, we moved back to the property and picked up where we left off; still struggling financially and with very little to work with.
Spring, then summer came with new challenges. We got a crash course on bugs and I took up slingshot while trying to shoot down yellow jacket nests. The heat, and an oppressively hot summer made it one of the longest I’ve ever experienced but we had things in the works.
We tilled rock-hard soil and planted a garden. We dug the spring and a trough going down the hill to a catch hole. We used antiques we found buried on our land to construct things we needed such as the fence to our garden. We did whatever we could to pass the time and keep our chins up.
Thank you to my husband for helping me to get through it all. When I was at my worst, he would hold my face in his hands, look at me and say “Good things Baby, good things”.
As fall arrived, our “eggs” began to hatch and we were finally able to make some huge changes to our living conditions and begin to build, literally and figuratively, the quality of our lives. We could stop trying to just survive and begin to live.
We’ve accomplished a lot since fall. We now have a solar power system, generators, a large shed, an upgraded RV (we decided to put off building until spring), and other necessities. We have a fireplace to sit by, a wood pile, larger propane tanks and other means for which to stay comfortable and dry for the winter. So far, so good as of January 2019.
Although better prepared now, this life is not for the faint of heart. It requires sturdiness and ingenuity. More money wouldn’t hurt but we have something in the works.
Welcome again and I hope you will enjoy the stories (and some of my eccentric poems), that follow. 🙂