Some people may not know what off-the-grid or off-grid means, so here it is --- The term off-the-grid or off-grid refers to living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities.

Off-grid living is no longer a one room log cabin in the woods. It's energy independency. You don't have to rely on utility companies, you create your own power. Today, there are more than 180,000 off-grid homes in the US.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mountain Traffic...

5:36 pm - 42 degrees - raining...

You would think that living up in the mountains we wouldn't have a lot of traffic or any traffic issues.  Well there is and we do.

On nice days there are people up here who just want to drive around in the mountains, or some are heading to a trail head to go hiking.  With all this rain we've been having lately, there are a lot of kayakers who are braving the swollen river - apparently its a great class four run. In the fall there are a lot of hunters out and about scouting getting ready for hunting season and even more during hunting season.  

Currently its the loggers who we're seeing the most of.  There is quite a lot of land around us that is owned by a large timber company and there is always something going on, so we run into loggers rigs, company rigs, equipment trucks, log trucks, semi's bringing in large equipment, etc. 

They were parked there to let everyone know to be extra cautious
on the blind corners, a lot of dump truck traffic on the that day.

Normally all the traffic isn't really a big deal, but there is one sharp hairpin corner on the gravel road to our house where accidents regularly occur.  And this morning the county road struck again...   



The lowboy trailer was too long and didn't quite make the corner.  They had to unhitch the trailer from the semi and unload the bulldozer.  They used the bulldozer to pull the trailer back onto the road.  After getting the trailer straightened out, they hooked the trailer back up to the semi and off it went, with the bulldozer following at its own leisurely pace.


 
It's not the first time this has happened {click here} and it definitely won't be the last time.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring Is Here...

1012 am - 38 degrees - overcast, windy, raining... 

...even if it’s only symbolically.  Yesterday marked the spring equinox, it signaled the end of the astronomical winter in the northern hemisphere.  Yet the signs of winter are still hanging on.  This morning it was 36 degrees outside and we still have very large patches of dirty snow all over the place.

On a dreary, cold, windy, rainy day like today, I find myself longing for any sign that spring, and warmer temperatures, may be nearing.  I’ve already started day dreaming about the warmer days, the start of everything turning green, the fading of the winter, what we’re going to plant in our garden, firing up the grill, hanging out with family and friends around a roaring bonfire and 9pm sunsets!


Even with the chilly temperatures and the slowly melting snow, there are a few small signs that spring is truly on its way, from the new huckleberry buds to the tiny green onion sprouts in our mini herb garden.



The wildlife are also coming out of hiding.  I haven't heard the little drummers yet (aka Ruffed Grouse) but we're starting to see them more and more.  Soon enough we should start hearing that unusual mating call; the courting ritual of the forest birds, that strangely enough you feel more than hear.  It's an unmistakable "thump...... thump...... thump... whir-r-r-r-r-r!" of a male ruffed grouse "drumming".



Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saturday Evening Post…

10:49 am - 42 degrees - raining and windy...

A small glimpse into our lives as we live off-grid... sort of like eves dropping.  It may be a thought, quote or a conversation; funny, sweet or sad; but it will always be true.  We will see if it resonates with you…


Me:  “Jack!  Stop riding your bike in the backyard.  I want the grass to grow and it won’t if you keep riding there.  Tony, can you please make him a bike track somewhere other than the backyard.”

8-yr-old Son:  “But I like riding in the backyard.”

Hubby:  “I’ll go find a spot.” 

Me:  “Jack!  Why are you riding your bike in the backyard?  You and Dad just built a new bike track for you to ride in?!”

8-yr-old Son:  “I like the backyard.”

Me:  “Look around, you have acres of land to ride your bike on.  Stay off the grass in the backyard!  And put on your bike helmet!”

8-yr-old Son:  "My jumps and trails are in the backyard."

Me:  "Go plan out some new jumps and trails over in and around your new bike track... away from the backyard!"


Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Ups And Downs Of Life...

11:32 am - 42 degrees - raining, foggy...

I haven’t posted in just over a month and there’s a pretty good reason for that...

On Valentine’s Day, our computer crashed, or rather the hard drive did.  We lost all our photos, videos and most of everything else since I only had a very small portion of it backed up.  I was pretty upset.  It was not a good day.  But lessons were learned.

I was also in the middle of our Girl Scout cookie season – yes I’m a Girl Scout troop leader to 25 amazing girls.  Cookie season is already an insane whirlwind, and without a computer it just made it that much more interesting... not it a good way.

2 of the 5 vehicles we needed to haul our troop's 375 cases of cookies.

Caitlyn out working a cookie booth.  It was cold out!

And that whirlwind of craziness was topped off with snow, snow, a little bit of rain, and oh yeah, more snow. 
 
Clearing off the road so we can get through.


Snow and fog.
  
We always keep a handsaw in our rigs
so we can clear the road when needed.


Breaking trail on the county road as we head down the mountain.
Have to get the kids to school some way.

Because we have gotten so much snow this winter, Tony has spent a lot of time in the tractor blowing off the driveway and part of the county road.  Because he does this, we haven't had any real problems getting on and off the mountain.




Blowing off the county road...


...until we met the county plow guy!

Last Monday, while we were all in town, we got 16" of new snow.  So when we tried to get home, we got stuck on the last tight corner on the driveway... well, I got stuck, then Tony got stuck trying to get me out.  



Tony was going to try towing me up, but then he got stuck.



Tony and Caitlyn hiked home, while Jack and I stayed with the rigs and busted into a box of Girl Scout cookies (what else are you going to do when you're stuck in the snow?).  



I managed to rock my rig back and forth enough to get unstuck, before Tony came back with the tractor and towed his truck up while Jack steered - he didn't want to put his chains on.  I don't blame him, I don't like putting my chains on either, they're a pain!  In fact, in order for me to put chains on, I have to be completely stuck-stuck and unable to move at all. 



The last seven miles of our drive home that night only took about 2 hours or so, but we finally made it home.  And Tony once again jumped into the tractor to go blow off the driveway.

Snowy sunset.
Fast forward to today, and we once again have a working computer, I just finish the final cookie season reports (YEA!!!), the last several days of rain has helped to melt out the driveway and life is calming down again... and just in time for the next round of heavy snowfall which is due to start tomorrow.

I'm ready to be snowed in again.  No winter cabin fever here!  Guess where I'm going to be... yup, curled up on the couch with a book!  

Spotted a used book sale the other morning while
running errands and I got all this for $6.50!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Winter Storm...

12:08 pm - 32 degrees - snowing...

We’re in the middle of another winter storm that will carry through till tomorrow night.  The weather forecast is all over the map so they’re saying we could get anywhere from 1 foot to 4 feet of snow before this storm is over.



We’re currently just over 8” of new snow which is also known as Cascade Concrete.  This type of snow got its name because it is characteristic of the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest, and we get it quite often.  It is a wet, heavy and often sticky snow, which makes doing anything like walking, snowshoeing, driving, skiing, snowboarding, sledding, literally anything, very difficult and you’re bound to get soaking wet doing it!
  
He's having trouble getting his sled to work...

...but that doesn't stop him.
It's snowing, he's soaking wet and this little polar bear is having a blast!

This is the kind of snow that is horrible to drive in.  You can be in 4-wheel drive, with new studded snow tires with chains and you will still be spinning your tires.  Glad we don’t have to go anywhere today.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Off-Grid Kids Questions And Answers...

1:08 pm - 34 degrees - freezing rain (Snow Day #9)...

Our kids wanted to be a part of our new YouTube channel so our daughter wrote up some questions and they had a mini Q&A session.

This video was one take, unrehearsed, and just makes me smile!



We moved up here back in 2010 when our son was just over a year old and our daughter was four years old - so living up here in the mountains is pretty much all they know.  The off-grid portion of it is just normal to them and they usually don't even think about it.

We moved out into the middle of nowhere because we wanted property.  Any decent sized property that was close to town was way too expensive or nonexistent.  We were looking for someplace that would have ample room for our kids to run and play, to build a tree fort should they want or whatever project they dreamt up.  We wanted them to be outside and enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer.  To spend the days with dirt between their toes, playing make believe in the yard, and being outside from nearly sun up to sun down, doesn’t that sound like a wonderful childhood?

We want our children to learn the value of work and to have a greater appreciation and a deeper sense of gratitude for the things they have and what it takes to earn them.  We want them to have a strong work ethic – to work hard and honestly.  We don’t want them to be afraid of work or afraid of working hard.  That fear only leads to the feelings of entitlement which seems to plague our society today.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore. Dream. Discover." ~ Mark Twain

Monday, January 16, 2017

Driving Home - In Hyperspeed...

9:06 am - 25 degrees - 32+ mph wind gusts...

Our area was hit hard this month when about a foot of snow fell on the metro area in a 24 hour period - that usually only happens about once a decade.  The snow moved out and the colder air moved in and kept the winter scenery around.  Schools, businesses and most activity in the area was either halted by the snow or severely reduced as a white blanket draped the metro area and surrounding communities.

Most commuters weren’t prepared for the snow storm causing abandoned vehicles and a lot of accidents.  A week later and freeways are clear, main roads still have icy patches and side roads are covered in packed snow.

With all this crazy weather that we have been getting lately, several of our friends have made videos of portions of their commute.  They wanted to see what our commute home was like so here it is...


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Winter Mountain Chores -- Clearing The Driveway

6:46 pm - 17 degrees - clear night, 54+ mph wind gusts...

It is definitely a work in progress as I'm learning how to take and edit videos.  Today I learned that I don't have any video editing software on my computer, so I put together this video on my phone - downside, the resolution isn't that great.  But hey, I edited my first video!  Yea!

Here's a clip of Tony blowing off the driveway.  We have lost track of how many hours he has spent in the tractor this season, but it is a LOT!

We've Started A YouTube Channel...

6:40 pm - 17 degrees - clear night - 54+ mph wind gusts...

We're constantly asked why we don't make videos or have a YouTube channel... well now we do!

It is definitely a work in progress as I'm learning how to take and edit videos.  Today I learned that I don't have any video editing software on my computer, so I put together a video on my phone - downside, the resolution isn't that great.  But hey, I edited my first video!  Yea!

{Click here} for the link to our YouTube channel.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Snow Day #8...

1:40 pm - 21 degrees - overcast, 33+ mph wind gusts...

A blanket of fluffy white snow, sparkling snowflakes, moonlit nights, twinkling starry skies... 


...sounds pretty dreamy until reality strikes.  The kids are on day Snow Day #8 and winter just started!

Actually it’s not that bad.  Yes, the kids miss their friends at school and Tony has had to take more days off work for snow removal than he planned... but, we haven’t caught that nasty bit of cabin fever yet!! 


We have just over 4 feet of snow and there have been patches of gorgeous weather so the kids have spent a lot of their time playing outside, sledding, building forts, having snowball fights with the occasional snowmobile ride.  






When the wind gets a little too brutal or the cold starts seeping in, it drives everyone back inside where we’ve been playing a lot of games, and doing a lot of baking.  When tempers start to flare everyone goes off to their own corners of the house to stick their nose in a book, watch a movie, or play in their rooms. 
 
Labyrinth - fun game that everyone can play and enjoy.

Nertz!!!  I love this game so much that I taught the kids how to play.
It's like Solitaire but everyone's playing at the same time.
Caitlyn is getting pretty good, and Jack still needs a little help.

Sequence - Caitlyn and I really like this game,
but Jack can only stand about one round at a time.

So far so good considering we haven’t left the mountain since last Tuesday and they don’t go back to school until this coming Tuesday!

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