I read google news. I get to select the topics in which I have interest and, further, I can dial in how much interest I have and so limit or expand the number of articles. I have lost interest in professional sports, for instance, and never had any interest in ‘celebrities’ so I don’t get any of that. But I do have interest in new inventions, the environment, politics, China, Hong Kong, economics and all things off-the-grid. I get a lot of news on alternative energy and OTG.
But what a bizarre picture they (journalists) are painting about living off the grid. It’s almost all lies! Yesterday I read a very short article on two people (with kids) who moved off the grid and it described their incredible hardships. The photo that went with it showed a woman with a large bucket on her head indicating the water she had to carry for their once-weekly wash. Insane! http://www.wideopencountry.com/really-like-live-off-grid/
The reality of the picture showed that her modern looking SUV-type car was at the top of the slope she was walking down so, that alone, made water carrying stupid. A hose at the top and the water would have flowed downhill. What utter drivel!
My point? Well, most articles depict someone living OTG as a poor, heroic/tragic figure battling against the elements while living minimally in a crude, wattle-and-daub hillbilly shack. The featured folks are described hiking to and fro with geese and chickens and pigs underfoot. Their snotty nosed kids dressed in rags are being taught the 3 R’s by way of candle-light and readings from the bible. Hoses run on the ground to get water, the outhouse is in the middle of the overgrown garden and some stringy hippy-type is making shakes with a home-made froe under a tarp strung high on trees. Total nonsense.
Most people I know living OTG live relatively comfortable lives. They have simple but working systems that provide the essentials. They buy ‘extras’ from town. They want for nothing. OK, they do not have 52 inch TVs but that’s mostly because they have chosen not to HAVE TV. Their fridge may be propane but, other than that, it works like a normal fridge. They have hot water. Washing machines. Light.
I admit that many OTG homes are more basic than the granite counter-top, stainless steel, marble entry town-homes of the city but so what? They still have counter-tops and entries. They are warm and dry. And their view is a 1000 times better.
We are a smidge upscale compared to most. We have drywall. Many didn’t go to that trouble and so they have painted plywood or varnished cedar for their wall covering. L & M (a young couple 10 miles away) built almost entirely from what they had on their property and their house is absolutely gorgeous (they are very skilled). Natural wood planks make the walls but they did it beautifully.
Yes, it was hard getting here. But the bulk of that hardship was because we were late middle age and had no skills. That, together with the logistical challenges, made it hard. But, today, we live like Riley. The hard physical work we undertake, we do so from choice. We take a break when we want to. We quit when we want to. It is a bit hard physically by modern city schedules but it is enjoyable by ours. It is NOT hardship.
You should have it so good.
I confess that I have inadvertently added to the myth that is so often being reported. I did so unintentionally. I just wrote the book about what was new and challenging to us and, by limiting it to the difficulties mostly, I gave the erroneous impression that we are some kind of masochistic fools wearing hair-shirts while lifting logs in the hot noon-day sun. And we did do that. But only once. Once was enough. That kind of work is stupid. So we took off the hair-shirts, bought some winches and we don’t work that hard and stupid anymore. (mind you, we still do find new ways to work stupid). We still get tired but we are just NOT enduring hardship.
Living OTG is no harder than living in the city. Different. More physical. But NOT harder on an overall measure. Yes, the transition was hard. And using muscles that you haven’t used in a long, long time can be painful. But only a fool would continue to endure hardship for a long time. We worked hard for a few years so that we do not have to work so hard now. We still have challenges but, to be frank, they make us feel more alive. I want them.
I say all this for one reason: do not think that living OTG is all hardship or full of pain. There is some. But that is NOT the attraction, that is simply a small price to get to a wonderful place. And – finally – read what I am saying, not what the imbecile journalists are writing. They look to sensationalize and exaggerate minor and temporary difficult aspects of life OTG.
And – with respect to the older pioneer authors of ‘yesterday’ – read their books for the adventure or the history. But do NOT think that is the way OTG is done now. Today almost everyone has vehicles, solar panels and satellite. Many have cell-phones (which don’t work that well but they can use them as they get closer to civilization or higher on mountains). Pumps, pipes, windows and insulation have made the trip into the forest and their OTG houses CAN be nice and comfy. They may NOT be but they CAN be.
And NO! That is not just a function of having money. I could – if I was younger – build a modern, comfortable, warm and roomy house complete with outbuildings for next to nothing simply by salvaging what is thrown out in the city. Add $50,000 and I could have satellite and alternative energy as well.
Seriously? I do not understand the ‘agenda’ of those writing about OTG as if it were only for the hardy, Dan’l Boone-types. I’m not. And I like it. I am just a cut above Liberace on the manly-endurance scale and I can do it with a little bit of effort. Not much. And Sal excels.
So can anyone.