I have had few mentors in my life – well, none, in fact.  (Maybe my father in one respect.  We lived in bad parts of town and he taught me how to handle a street-fight situation which came in handy now and again, I must say.)  And I have huge respect for some people who have shared with me their perhaps-more-useful-in-overall-life knowledge along with love and support during my life.  My friends and siblings have been great.

But, really?  I have to say that going-off-grid was not one of those fully supported-with-love kinda things for most of my friends or siblings.  They thought it ‘interesting’ sometimes.  They thought that we would ‘make a nice cabin’, maybe.  Perhaps.  (If we got a good contractor.)  Some, in fact, were less-than-enthusiastic and, out of love and support, tried to talk me out of it.  Really?  Most were ambivalent or just didn’t really notice until we were well and truly gone.

So going off-grid was not influenced by my or Sally’s peers, siblings, friends, neighbours or even acquaintances.  Exception to all of that: Sal’s parents.  They were probably the only people with whom we shared the vision that were unequivocal in their support.  Mostly.  I am sure they had their doubts as to our ability but, truth is – any fears or doubts were never expressed.  Only love, support, encouragement and donations of used building supplies.

“So, where did the inspiration come from?”

No question:  Mother Earth News forums.  I made some friends there.  Steve, Davidson, Sarah, Pate/Majere and many more.  They weren’t directly supportive or even inspirational as such.  But they were talking the talk, walking the walk and sharing the dream.  Those guys were and are still great.

But, of course, inspiration is more than that.  It is somewhat more indirectly cumulative in it’s emergence, I think.  A bit like a snowball rolling down a slope, ya know?

Sal and I read a lot.  And one of the few genres that we both seem to like and  share are ‘adventuring couples’.  I know that sounds sucky.  Sorry.  And, in my defense, I mostly read ‘other stuff’.  I’d say my ratio of ‘other stuff’ to travel-writing is 98% to 2%.  And adventure-traveling-in-couples is less than 1%.  Still, if you read a lot, that translates into a dozen or so books on traveling singles or couples.  My guess: we have likely read about thirty to forty such books.

Some were influential.  And that is the point of this post.

Author Chris Czajkowski wrote in her blog: I live off the grid, alone, and have done so for nearly 30 years. The earlier cabins I built are far from a road in the high mountains of British Columbia’s Coast Range. They are accessed by an overnight hike, or a 20-minute float plane ride from Nimpo Lake in the West Chilcotin. They are 150 miles from the nearest banks, traffic lights, supermarkets or cell phone frequencies. 

Chris started out in the Lonesome Lake area, I believe and didn’t, I am sure, intend to be a writer or remote resort manager.  As it turned out, she became both.  Nuk Tessli takes guests every year and Chris has published something like 10 books on living off-the-grid.  Her blog is better, really, than mine.  She is 80% pictures for one thing, has thirty years in the woods for another and lives much further out than we do.  And she just plain knows more.

But I don’t know her.  Not at all, really.  I have read a few of her books, I was in touch by e-mail a few times and she was inspirational to Sally and me. We kinda like ol’ Chris.

We also read Ian and Sally Wilson’s books about adventure traveling in Canada.  Not quite the same off-the-grid thing but inspirational too.  Plus her name is Sally.   They aren’t off-the-grid so much as ‘adventuring’ so far off the grid it seemed to have a connection.

See them today at:

I guess HDT’s Walden has been influential, too.  I seem to quote him now and then.  Henry David Thoreau, tho, is oft-cited by writers mostly because, I think, he touches on some universal themes.  His particular story did not interest me too much but he captured much of what I have come to know as real about living.  And living out here.  I’ve had some experience of it anyway.  So, he counts.

Strangely, I have to say that A.J. Jacob’s book, A year of Living Biblically, also had an influence.  His books are all about him.  Him, him, and more him.  What he thinks, what he eats, how his poop changes.  And that is how I think.  What a couple of dickheads, eh?!?!  But, I must admit that he is occasionally funny in a Woody Allenesque kind a way and so his blend of neurotic narcissism resonated with me.  Gave me confidence to write all about me, me, me, and more me.

Another big influence was working for Linwood Homes.  I spent a year there causing havoc but it was great fun for me.  I got a mental ‘handle’ on building.  No longer was the idea of building my own house just a complete mystery.  It was still a challenge but, after Linwood, I could wrap my head around it.  That was huge!

The biggest influence, of course, was a negative one.  I came to loathe cul-de-sac living. The city.  The traffic.  The rat race.  The rules.  Didn’t feel right.  Wasn’t healthy for me.  Didn’t satisfy me in any way.  And I just began to disengage.

So, as Terry O’reilly describes it: I came under the influence.  And that influence just happened to be living off-the-grid.

Who woulda guessed?

3 thoughts on “Influence

  1. Any pioneers in your family? Some of mine were sod busters in the Dakotas 1870s, later during 1901 in the Edmonton area living in a soddy and burning swamp grass to keep alive and literally keeping the wolf from the door.


  2. Nope. Come from a long line of short-lived Celts who were deep into coal mining (pun) in Wales before seeing the light (pun2) and the dead canary. Grandparents came to Canada (Edmonton) and then, on a roll, came out to Vancouver. Dad born in Edmonton. Me in Vancouver some years later. Mom in Wales (she was there at the time of my arrival, tho). Their idea of roughing it was poverty in a ghetto. They’d be right about that. First Vancouver, then San Francisco and then back to BC. They did ‘try’ Mayne Island for a few years. But went back. Heaven? That’d be right around here. Right about now. Wish they could have seen it. Both long passed.


  3. My grandfather was a coal miner’s son. Great Grandfather’s way out of the mine for his children was to give them a musical education. When my grandfather came Edmonton he and his sister played for the silent movies. He was born in 1901.


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