Memorable Moments

Times we won’t forget since we moved.

Here is a list of some memorable moments we’ve had since we left “civilization” over two years ago:

  • Finding a man asleep in the back of his pickup truck minutes after a bear ransacked his belongings at his open tailgate – inches from his feet.
  • Driving with a twenty-five foot trailer behind me for the first time and coming to a halt at a bridge we weren’t sure was wide enough for us.
  • Shaking a skunk out of a cage at 2:30 in the morning.
  • bear screen shot filtered
    A passerby.
  • Watching the solar eclipse on the beach of a river at a campground.
  • Coming home from work to the first snow we’d seen in years. Three feet of it.
  • Hitting the ground after a bullet ricocheted off a tree near us and yelling “there are people down here” when our neighbors almost shot us.
  • My husband walking out the door to our RV to see a bear about thirty feet away.
  • Finding a skunk in my kitchen in the middle of the night.
  • The night our cat jumped onto the canvass of our camper-trailer, collapsing it onto my head and my half-asleep husband mumbling “are you sure that’s the cat”?
  • Bambi
  • The night we packed our trailer to leave for our new home in eastern Washington in a monsoon then having the lights on the truck go out on the freeway.
  • Getting a flat tire while pulling our trailer out of the woods and living in it for two days on the outskirts of a residential area while we had the tires replaced.
  • Letting an extremely aggressive wildcat we’d caught out of a cage.
  • My husband listening to the bays of a wolf pack while he stayed in the trailer alone one night. We found tracks outside the trailer the next day.
  • Striking water under pressure and seeing it gush out of the ground while we were digging our spring deeper one summer. We’ve been set ever since.
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  • The family from hell we camped next too while on the road who got drunk every night and fought. It ended with half the crowd screeching away in a cloud of dust and spraying rocks one morning.
  • Driving down the highway as we neared our new home with Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down a Dream playing on the radio as the sun tipped the horizon to the east.
  • Runnin’ to a dead-end after we discovered the road to our property had been washed out and having to back the trailer into a dirt ravine to turn around.
  • Pulling up our driveway for the first time on the morning of September 18th, 2017.
  • DSCN1038
    Our latest four panels.

The Definition of Perfection

What is perfection?

Most of us strive for it but never fully attain it because we’re human and because the idea of perfection is so intangible.

Is it being better than or having more than someone else or does perfection lie in one’s behavior, actions and conscience?

It seems to me as if society measures perfection by accomplishment but I believe a truer measurement lies in our attitudes and conduct, including being honest about ourselves.

I struggle with my self confidence a lot because I tend to succumb to society’s version of what “perfect” is. I see myself as falling short if I don’t perform as well as others or have as much.

When I’m working on my blog, I try my hardest to stay grounded until I go on the Internet and suddenly see hundreds of great looking informative blogs that seem better than mine. Its intimidating and makes me feel inferior when I compare my work to others.

Fortunately, I have a wonderful husband who sees perfection in ways I sometimes can’t.

When I recently told him about my insecurities, he said he thought my quirkiness and personal foibles made for interesting stories and that he valued originality.

He ventured that having a successful blog is about more than having a professionally made logo, being an authority on something or landing an early placement in the search results. He said personal stories can’t be stolen or duplicated.

He also likes my stick figure drawings.

The pep talk brought me back to my senses.

I understand hard work is necessary to build a successful blog or no one will see it but I’m going to concentrate on seeing myself and my blog as perfect the way they are.

Perfection is ultimately subjective and if we see it as being human, we’re already there.

Out of the Pot and Into the Frying Pan

How we came to live in the wild (three-and-a-half miles from the nearest town).

Introduction

When I was a child, I would stand on the side porch of our suburban home and look down the hill past the developments to the expanses of farmland that stretched out beyond. I wished I could be there where I could be with the animals and roam.

My Aunt would occasionally throw us into the back of her station wagon and haul us off to go for a hike, explore a mine, or go camping. These adventures instilled in me a love of nature.

I went on to spend most of my life living in the suburbs, the idea of having a home in the mountains or country always in the back of my mind.

Then I met a person who shared my dreams – my husband. Together we made  them come true.

  Following are the stories of my family’s journey from a temperate place of perpetual rain, manicured lawns and HOA’s to a land of baking summers, frigid winters, wild animals, wild neighbors, a driveway from hell – and the best adventures of our lives.

 After we sold our house in suburbia in the Spring of 2017 and pulled onto the road towing our twenty foot travel trailer, we 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.

Here’s our story.

……………………….

The Road

We are a married couple with a sixteen-year-old son and two cats. We want a dog but for now we have the neighbor’s six or seven.

Life in the Puget Sound region where we were living was getting frenetic and overcrowded so we sold our house in the spring of 2017, bought a travel trailer, and hit the road. We felt squeezed out like too much jelly on a sandwich so we set out to find a new slice of paradise in the rural regions of Washington state.

The national forest and anywhere else we were allowed to camp became our home for three months as we cruised the real estate websites for property. In September we found a few acres of land near the Idaho and Canadian borders in eastern Washington that was just right.

It was three and a half miles from the nearest Walmart and tucked into the foothills of the Huckleberry Mountain Range. At the time, there was one neighbor nearby with nothing else between us and the surrounding mountains. The property was undeveloped and had been unoccupied for seventy years.

Settling In

Moving onto raw land means you’re on your own. You become the engineer, contractor, electrician, and if something breaks, repairman for everything you depend on to live. We had to figure some things out.

At first, we got our water from the city standpipe then found out they close it in the winter. Luckily, by that time, we’d discovered natural springs on our property. For power we used a gas generator.  The following autumn, we installed solar and it’s been a love/hate relationship ever since.

We initially used a WiFi hotspot for the Internet but it became us vs the Google data pig.  The neighbors let us use their connection until we got into a fight and they changed their password.

We could only get online from my husband’s spot in our bed anyway, and only if it wasn’t raining. We eventually had three huge trees cut down to get a line of sight to a tower for Internet.

A person once suggested that having an Internet connection kicked us out of the category of being off-the-grid. Another made the absurd observation that having a phone did the same. Living off-grid is different for everyone and involves varying degrees of disconnectedness and choices of survival strategies and tools.

Attempting to put this flailing mess of variables into one neat box just doesn’t work. We don’t depend on the city for power but we sure as heck depended on the manufacturer of the solar panels and the generator. Get the point? 🙂

A New Way Of Life

In addition to the logistics of setting up “shop”, we had to adjust to a different mindset. Hardiness is respected in these parts and the local government pamphlet opens with the words “Welcome to the Wild West” and urges the reader to “get used to it”.

We were fresh from a lifetime of living in the suburbs and afraid to touch a gas-powered chainsaw let alone make a go of living amongst the trees and the turkeys. We wondered what we had gotten ourselves into but we were too excited to be new landowners to let any reservations get in our way.

Our First Year

After the honeymoon period, winter barreled in with a seriousness that slapped all thoughts of anything but survival out of our consciousnesses. The neighbors had warned us of sub-zero temperatures and snow drifts as high as the eves on a house. It wasn’t far from the truth.

The weather turned cold and wet and we found ourselves ill-prepared for reality. Our water pipes froze and our worldly possessions disappeared under three feet of snow. Some things we didn’t find until spring.

As the temperatures plummeted toward zero, my son and I went to stay in an emergency shelter while my husband hunkered down at the property with our cats. I worried constantly about him but we visited often. I would take dishes back with me to the shelter to clean and straighten things out while I was there.

Three months later we moved back while it was still frigid. We were low on money and propane. Keeping warm was a challenge with frost and ice gaining a foothold inside our trailer by the day.

I would grab whatever I could find and obsessively fill small crevices and holes where cold air was entering to cut the chill. Our central heating system was inefficient so we used a small indoor heater to keep us comfortable until spring.

We sometimes cooked or made coffee over a fire. I would hunch over my homemade rocket stove in the cold and wet while my husband built his pit fire. I remember feeling miserable and hopeless as I struggled to get the stove lit in the freezing rain and snow.

The harsh winter had taken a toll and my outlook had become very bleak like the weather.  There would be many challenges ahead before the days began to warm.

Spring, then summer arrived and we discovered a billion new bug species. I took up slingshot while trying to shoot down yellow jacket nests and we discovered ticks, or rather – they discovered us.  Ticks and Sticks.

The grass grew up to our waists with stickers everywhere. They would lodge themselves into our clothes and our cats fur like tiny barbed arrows and we had to push them through rather than pull them back out or risk destroying the cloth in the process. We had to carefully cut them out of the cats fur when it got badly matted (better to have a veterinarian do this).

Sweltering heat made that summer one of the longest I’ve ever experienced but we had things in the works.

We tilled rock-hard soil and planted a garden using old barbed-wire left behind on the property for a fence. We put a handle on a pickax head we found and used it to chip away at the bedrock underlying the spring. I cleaned up a seventy-year-old can opener when ours broke and it worked fine.

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”.

Moving Forward

It’s a year later and we have the solar power system, generators, a large shed, and a nicer RV (until we finally build a home). We have a fireplace to warm ourselves by and we have each other.

The following stories and poems aren’t meant to show others how to live off-grid as we still don’t know how but welcome and enjoy. 🙂