It’s been awhile, Margy.

And I miss you. All of you – even all the Russians and the Chinese hackers who visit the site for reasons unknown.  Especially those of you who comment.  And I really appreciate the genuine friendship exhibited by some whose relationship with me now is entirely based on this blog or the book. Truly this exercise in writing undertaken a few years ago has paid off in many varied and unexpected ways.  It’s all been a real gift.

I just went through ten days of Xmas and it was pleasant enough.  Family is good. Friends are good.  Even just getting away from frozen pipes was good.  But, I confess, I have never really been into Xmas.  I am not the type.  I like people and I like to celebrate (a little) but I tend to balk at scheduled, ritualized celebration and festivities. Feels a bit contrived, a bit phony to me, somehow.  I prefer to celebrate and have fun when something good happens rather than when just a date rolls around.

But I know I am wrong about this.  Just being alive and healthy and enjoying my life off the grid is cause for celebration and even a festivity or two and so, why not schedule it in so others can join in?  No good answer to that so I comply and put on a Xmas smile not really feeling it but knowing it should be there nevertheless.  I show up, drink the egg nog, eat the turkey and kiss all the little kids.  Ho Ho Ho.

But that is now over and I am happy to be home.  REALLY happy to be home. Especially since the pipes thawed and I have acquired the means to keep them thawed even if it gets colder.

Twelve years late, but we will now be prepared.

Mind you, it is even easier if you put in the ‘fix’ and then go south without really having to test it but I never balk at taking the easy way out.  I constantly seek the path of least resistance and, in a week or so, that will take the form of a flight to Arizona.  I envision the hard part of January to be the hike to the pool.

And, I suppose, that is the point of this rather pointless blog.  Living OTG is easier today.  It is NOT the brutal hardship that it was even fifty years ago.  Wusses can and do live this way.  We are testament to that.

That point was brought home to us recently by a friend with whom we sometimes stay when in town or when doing something that requires a ‘sleep-over’.  She said, “Geez, I liked the book.  It made living off the grid seem doable and not so hard as I thought.  I was left thinking that I could do that!”  

And she can.

The difference today is a weird combination of communications, other technologies, markets, modern consumer habits and, most amazingly, the incredible number of living opportunities constantly opening up.  Here’s what I mean: OTG and ordinary rural land, even small town properties are getting cheaper to buy just as the thriving urban condo world gets more concentrated and expensive.  Finally, economics is working as you’d expect: more people moving into the city means less demand on non urban markets and that is showing up in the prices.  .

Score one for the OTG wannabe guys.

Alternative energy (mainly solar is now affordable, simple and dependable).  People can have the ‘amenities’ they are used to even living remote.  PLUS more of those amenities/services are becoming available from satellite services.  That technology alone, makes a world of difference.  Ironically, remote no longer means isolated.

China.  The virtual flood of cheaply made Chinese products means that the less capitalized OTG wannabe can now afford to do it.  Admittedly, much of that purchased will need replacing over time but the point is that one can afford a log splitter, a few winches, a few engines and the like.  One can get started.  Plus, we have a society that throws away the equivalent of a house a day just in the demolition and rebuilding process.

Amazon.  Modern-day shipping is only going to get better.  And shipping is still cheaper than shopping.  The whole purchasing-stuff exercise from finding it (communications) to buying it (Amazon) to getting it (shipping companies) makes living the more ‘comfortable’ version of life OTG more possible.  Maybe even cheaper.

Do I really think my 60 year old out-of-shape female friend can live OTG like we do? No.  I don’t.  The OTG challenge has been made much, much easier (thank God) by what I just mentioned above (and more) but it is still quite difficult at times and there is a HUGE learning curve.  We are 12 years into it and still learning.  I would guess that it will take the rest of our lives to even get close to half-competent.

Still, the point is: one hundred years ago OTGers were lean, hard pioneers existing on hardscrabble and beans.  They might have an axe and a mule.  Very few could do it.  Fifty years ago, OTG’ers were the not-so-penniless hippies who could gather implements and information, support and even some income and so it was markedly easier.  Still bloody tough but easier than ol’ hardscrabble-man.

Today, we have leapt that difficulty gap again.  It is only half as difficult for a young person today to do what the hippy back-to-the-landers-did back then.  And it is even easier for an equity-holding older person to do it depending on the equity they are holding and how long they wait to cash it in.

Put more bluntly, $1M won’t buy you a rat-trap on the east side of Vancouver.  But $1M would put you in a modern, equipped, beautiful cabin with half of the money left over.  Today, money is a viable solution to getting off the grid.  Much more than it used to be.

“Dave…?  Is this just another not-so-subtle hint for us to get OTG, too?” 

Well, yes and no.  As you know, I am an OTG advocate.  Unabashedly so.  I will promote and hint and suggest in every way I can so, yes….I am dong that.  But I also thought it newsworthy to note that the whole exercise – tho NOT easy – has become much, much easier than it used to be. Markedly so.

In the meantime, I wish you all the very best.  I really do.  I hope you have a GREAT 2017.  I hope some of you might even take a step away from the urban cauldron, maybe sleep in a cabin or two.  The magic is in getting away (not to a resort but a real cabin in the woods) for at least month….you may never go back…..


12 thoughts on “It’s been awhile, Margy.

  1. Hi Dave;

    So glad you are back. Got a little concerned when you hadn’t posted since the 16th. We do keep an eye on you.
    Totally agree with what you shared in this post about living OTG. We are doing it although not as remotely as you. Economics was the driving force in our decision. Ontario hydro wanted $45,000 to $75,000 (estimates) to bring a power line 500 feet to our property. We had a 2.8 kilowatt system professionally installed for $32,000 (2012) We were ahead of the game as soon as the solar system started producing.
    Just came in from plowing our driveway for the second time today. Also did two neighbours. We keep an eye out for each other and help where needed and when we are able. In sickness or injury neighbours always bring food, books to read, wood for the stove. What better way to live?
    We’ve been OTG since 2012 and love the solitude but know if needed our neighbours will be there.
    Thanks again for keeping your blog active. Loved your book and your writing is an encouragement to us all.
    All the best in 2017. Hope the water never stops flowing.


    • Geez, Art. Thanks. I am definitely feelin’ the love. Great to have a new ‘recognized’ reader. True about neighbours, isn’t it? In the city, it took an effort to meet them and you kinda wondered why one would make the effort…but, out here, they come as frequently as the wildlife and there is always a reason. Usually a ‘giving’ reason. Occasionally, a ‘borrowing’ reason. Always there when you need them, tho. Thanks for the nice things said….


  2. ACK! You’re BACK !
    Im the same, Christmas Schmissmas.
    Not a big fan of the commercialism and seeing everyone stressed.
    That aside.
    Was poor Wasabi able to handle the extra weight from the holiday feasting? :)-
    Did you go gaga in the Big City with all the bright lights?
    Is it snowing there? (Its been dumping here in BBY for 3 hours now!)
    So many questions, so little time.
    Happy New Beer
    Enjoy Arizona and have an “umbrella drink” for me.


    • Poor Wasabi was great! Fired right up. Carried a huge load (and yes, slowing down made the water encroach over the stern) and the lower funicular performed like the miracle of goofy engineering it is. We got back and settled in record time. No glitches. Systems were all a ‘go’. Even the pipes had thawed (they are trying to freeze up right now but I think we are prepared – almost anyway – more prepping tomorrow. Wood shed is full enough. Food shed is full enough. Wine cistern never full enough but OK. Only hiccup I can think of is the head cold from hell. But, other than that, we are as a good as we get while remaining clad. .


  3. Hey Bros;

    You are back safe and sound from away and you proved the adage that absence make the heart grow fonder. Nice to break bread with you and Sal and we will see you next time. We got a new vacuum and we are thrilled. Interesting what passes for thrilling changes over time. Pet hair reduced. Hurray, hurray!


    • Thrilled at a new vacuum, eh? You know…jus’ saying…nature abhors a vacuum. Me? I don’t judge. Live and let suck, I say.
      Dinner is always good when you cook. Large portions and tasty – my kind of food. Sal doesn’t leave much behind either. Thanks again. See you when the zombies chase you from the city. Bring ammo.


  4. Good to hear that you are back, at least until Arizona! We too were wondering it the frozen pipes had won! We’ve given up on ours for the winter – our water requirements are small, the creek is flowing well and near at hand, so not really much of a problem. And it looks like another deep freeze is heading our way, so we’ll just settle in and put another log on the fire! This OTG life’s great!


    • Oh no! No plastic pipe will ever defeat me and Sal for very long! One year, max! OK, maybe two. But you are right, this OTG life is great! Sal and I just musing over that before I wrote this. Love it! I can honestly say, “If you gave me a $10M home in Vancouver, I would decline the offer.” That tells you something (about my business acumen, anyway). .


  5. Wow, what an honour. We head back home from our Christmas festivities tomorrow morning. I’m so anxious I made a reservation for the ferry just in case. When I’m ready to go, I ready to go. Enjoy Arizona later this month. There’s nothing like a suncation this time of year. – Margy


  6. Hi David and Sally, Just sooo enjoying your book – particularly as I am able to relate somewhat – having relatives in Bute Inlet – living remote.

    We boat, fly or water taxi out of Campbell River to get there – so for us living in the hills out of Perth, Australia it is some change. Definitely one of my favourite places !!

    Back to your book – and PS would love more pictures – Liz


    • Thanks, Liz, for the complement. That kind of feedback prompts a second book…on it’s way. But I blame Sal for the lack of pictures. I delegated the camera duties to her and she hasn’t accepted the delegation. She balks at being ‘delegated’ to things. It’s been that way for years. It’s her only fault. I am hoping she is working on it. There was a bright spot recently with her photos of quilts and the greenhouse but the camera is back where the sun don’t shine so I am not optimistic. It may come to this: I will have to do it myself. Gasp! Horrors! I really hope it does not come to that. I suspect an inclination to Anthony Weiner tendencies.
      Book two was written but we deemed it too dull to publish. It was a bit too much like a seminar-in-a-book. So, it is back to the computer for a more realistic approach…..using real stories about what we actually do rather than theoretical stories of how it should be done. We really have to abandon the idea of sharing our knowledge and embrace, instead, sharing our ignorance. We have more of that to share, anyway.


  7. Am really really enjoying your book – and would love to email you – question is how?

    We have relatives up your way – so can relate somewhat to your remote living.


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