…get up at 7:00. Brave the stormy seas. Make the 10:00 ferry. Do the shopping (Sal is at a quilting bee). See the doctor. He’s South African. Seems good. We talk. “I love it here. Can’t see why people want to live in Vancouver. Too expensive. No quality of life. This is great. I live five minutes from the office. I see the ocean from my house and from the office. Why do Canadians want to live in the city like that? It costs way too much!”
“No idea. I did it. But now that I have done this, I have no idea why I did what I did. Just didn’t look up, I guess.”
“Down there in the lower mainland, you have no time to look up!”
Side note: my salivary gland is OK. No worries. One side seemed a bit dry. It is. But it still rates a 7 out of ten according to the ear, nose and throat guy. I am good to go. So, I go.
I buy some wiring from the electrical supply store. 35 year old guy at the counter just moved up from Victoria. Couldn’t stand the pace. “Man, I was spending over half an hour in traffic. The cost of living was crazy. I love the forest. We came here.”
“But you still live in the city, albeit smaller. Still town.”
“You are right. I gotta get away further. But, for now, this is like heaven.”
Go to the next place. The guy asks for my address. I explain. “Oh, God, I am 100% onside, man. Gotta get out! My wife and I are building an all-green house. Going off the grid although we will stay in town, you know, she likes shopping.”
“Off the grid means no roads, no power, no water, no sewer. And no services. But you are doing alternative energy and that is 90% of it. Good on ya. Do you know what you are doing?”
“Our contractor does. He knows that stuff. He’s a real green-guy, eh? All solar and compost and all that.”
“Well, I’ll give you a small tip: do not spend too much on your first set of batteries. We all seem to kill our first set and most of us manage to kill our second set, too. So, buy 8Ds or L-16s first. Maybe ten years from now, they will have Li-ion worked out or better. Don’t spend a lot on your first set of batteries.”
“Batteries, eh? Hmmm….I’ll have to talk to Jack about that. He’s our contractor, ya know? All green, he is. This is great! We’re going green and you have already done that. Cool. Was that D-16’s?”
Did I mention the doctor was an hour behind schedule?
Did I mention that Home Depot did NOT have the three things on my list? Did I mention that………….?
……………never mind. The world is mad. I keep thinking it is all getting crazier and crazier out there every day and then I see who is running for the US presidency and all of a sudden, it all looks sane by comparison.
Perspective is everything.
Lived many years in a tiny interior village after living in New West. As a teen, It was in culture shock for me but turned out well mostly. Had to walk every where no transport. No television! A country and western station and the CBC. The country station only played country, no Beatles. The 50,000 watt stations came in at night from the USA and some teen culture beamed into this backwater. No major chain stores or restaurants not even a library. Great dark nights with plenty of stars. At noon a whistle blew and businesses closed for lunch. No Sunday shopping. No drugs other than alcohol and nicotine. A ten minute drive put one in the middle of nowhere. For a teen with city experience this place was purgatory. The dream was to go to the Coast and do something. Out of necessity I started to read any thing I could get my hands on. Read “Dr No” long before it was ever made into a movie. After living there for many of my teenaged years, a tiny change happened Safeway came to town and shook this tiny place to the core. Perhaps it was a little like what happens when a Walmart comes to town. The local bakery folded, fresh produce arrived and the place was less of a food desert. These changes drove many people out of the village to very remote areas off the grid. As a teen I welcomed these changes but even with a Safeway brain death was just around the corner. At night KGO would come hammering in with “Fun, Fun, Fun” surreal.
I know the feeling. Young people crave, yearn for the biggest gene pool they can find. So, the city beckons. And that craving for the sexual gene pool morphs into the economic gene pool pretty quickly. By 50, you have been assimilated, resistance is almost futile and it is only then you realize that you were trapped by natural forces offered up for your convenience but at a HUGE price. You got your sex, you got your BMW and you got all the toys but you lost a lot of your FREE time, your health, your dreams and your ability to think and do for yourself by then. By 50, you are pretty locked in. And then you yearn for the freedom and outdoors of your other basic need. Nature. For many, living in nature is no longer an option by then. Too many urban umbilicals, too few skills, not enough money to buy your way out. Old habits. Fears. Lethargy. “It ain’t easy being green” (Kermit). I was lucky. I was not as plugged in as most. Lawyers, professors, careerists, professionals, small business owners….leaving what they built up is difficult. A South African doctor is ‘on the move’ anyway. Bit easier to choose a pleasant life rather than a hectic one by that stage in their decision making. And they do.
A teen’s distopia is an other man’s ideal. I get the attraction of a tiny community. The Mother Corp reported this morning that 1.5 of an acre of waterfront in Tofino is currently listed for over seven million dollars. This is for a bare lot! This is hard to conjure with. In the late 1960s the VW vans were heading to Horsefly(recently with a broken tailings dam) and people are on the move again. A general dissatisfaction seems to be on the move with millions of migrants and immigrants seeking improved lives. The propagandist statements about excluding peoples or building walls or deporting other groups signals complications on the horizon.
Guess we did pretty good. Our first set of batteries lasted almost fourteen years. Yes, a few went bad early and had to be replaced, but only a few. We set up a second solar system. We used one during the day, and the other at night. The second system’s batteries lasted nine years. We chose to replace both sets last summer and to increase each bank to eight batteries each. We chose to go with 6-volt deep cycle batteries again rather than AGM. After a lot of research we decided they were more reliable for our situation. We don’t need a lot of electricity, mostly recharging devices and keeping battery booster packs charged to run DC lights at night during the long winter nights. Like you, I hope solar and battery technology continues to improve. But in the meantime, we have what we need. – Margy
You did very good. Everyone, it seems, kills their first set. “Batteries don’t die, their owners kill them!” Standard joke that is, of course, mostly true. Part of it is the batteries, tho. Poor technology, poorly made. Basic lead acid battery is no better than what was around prior to WW2. I am eagerly anticipating Elon Musk and his ‘next generation’. We have three banks of 8D’s. 600 ah. 48 volts. 2100 watts of panels. In the summer, we are running all the time without the genset. In the winter, I need a 12 amp charge for two or three hours as a supplement to what they pick up on a winter day.
WL your partner? Just read a book….
Yes he is. We gave up life in the metropolis way down south for Powell River. He’s written a lot about our area and living up the lake. I’m trying to write, but it takes me a lot longer to get things on “paper.” For me the small posts on the the blog are a lot easier. – Margy
Thought I would check in and leave a note saying so 🙂 This is the 35 year old guy from the electrical wholesaler in CR 🙂 Love the blog man, my wife and I read a couple of your entries from life in the Eastside. Life is an amazing balance of reality and insanity, thanks for sharing your stories Just a note for you, we escaped Vancouver, not Victoria 😉
It was a pleasure meeting you and chatting, made my day a bit better! Thanks for putting me on to your blog as well. As my kids get older and I have more time to “escape” life in the race, I look forward to venturing further into lands unknown and staying for as long as possible.
All the best David and I hope we run into each other down the dirt road again 🙂
Nice to see you here…! That’s great. And I’ll be back……I go into the turmoil every month or so. Always good to get back out. Now, all you have to do is convince your wife that a splitting maul is a suitable gift for a woman and Starbucks is completely frivolous….then we introduce her to construction….it will take time….but it’s worth it.