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.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Lava Canyon Trail #184...

12:27 pm - 59 degrees - blue sky and sunshine...

Yesterday was our Girl Scout troop’s family hike.  I wanted to pick a hiking trail that no one had hiked yet and was fairly kid friendly.  So I picked the Lava Canyon Trail #184.


Here we go... 2+ hour drive to the Lava Canyon Trailhead!

The Lava Canyon trail is a three-layer hike, each layer a little more challenging than the previous, through a stunning canyon carved into an ancient lava layer. 

The rock formations in Lava Canyon are remnants of a Mount Saint Helens lava flow that coursed down the Muddy River’s valley several thousand years ago.  The basalt lava fractured into a honeycomb of pillar-like columns as it cooled.  When the river then cut down through the flow it carved waterfall chutes and left free-standing lava towers.


Later stream debris buried the formations until Mt St Helens erupted again on May 18, 1980 when the heat destroyed Shoestring Glacier, triggering a massive lahar (mudflow) that swept through the area at over 100 miles an hour, washing everything out but leaving a lifeless, mud-caked landscape in its wake. 

Nature finds its own way of recovering what is lost.  The transformation at Mount St Helens is amazing; what once was a barren landscape of destruction is now bursting with new growth.

The unique Lava Canyon trail wanders through this geological phenomenon in a beautiful way.  The views around every turn are amazing!  In addition to the breathtaking views, you also get to climb metal staircases, cross bridges, and climb ladders.

A sign at the trailhead marks the three-sections like a ski map – green for “easiest”, blue for “more difficult”, and black for “most difficult”.  Since our fun lovin’ group of 26 people, had an age range of 4 years old to 60+ years old, we choose to only do the first two sections which is a 1.3 mile loop with a 300-foot elevation gain. 


The first “easy” section is a paved ADA path that leads 0.4 miles to an overlook, but it gets more challenging when the pavement ends. 



The second “more difficult” section was definitely not as kid friendly as the first section since parts of the path are very close to cliff edges, and the steep wet rock was extremely slippery.  There are signs everywhere stating that over the years, there have been fatalities from hikers getting too close to the edge, slipping, and falling into the raging creek and waterfalls below.  Even with all the warning signs, the second section includes the 125-foot cable suspension bridge, so we continued on.



 

The 125-foot cable suspension bridge can be an intense experience for those who are not comfortable with heights.  You can turn around and hike back if the bridge just isn’t your thing.  Even though a few people in our group do not love heights, I am happy to say that everyone crossed the bridge!




The swaying cable suspension bridge was AWESOME!!!


125-foot Cable Suspension Bridge!!!

After we had all crossed the bridge we looked for and found our first Geocache of the day! 

Geocache Hot Lava GCG632 - Found it!

At this point we continued around the loop and back to our cars. 


Below the bridge, for the more adventurous hikers without small children, you can continue downstream where the trail drops more dramatically and sometimes leaves hikers exposed.  Eventually, the trail arrives at a point where hikers must descends a dizzying 30-foot ladder if they wish to continue.  A bit further down the canyon, a 0.2-mile spur trail visits (via another ladder) a lava outcrop viewpoint called The Ship.  Turn around here for an uphill return to your car.

After we completed the hike, we headed out to find our second and last Geocache for the day.  This one was an EarthCache at a lahar viewpoint with Mt St Helens in the background.  The photo does not do it justice.  It was beautiful, and a wonderful ending to the fun day.

Geocache Lahar Viewpoint GC3Q2XY - EarthCache, Found it!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Saturday Evening Post…

8:19 pm - 48 degrees - clear night...

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...


{messaging back and forth}
Me:  “Bear just ran across the road in front of my car, 20-25 feet!”
Me:  “Saw 7 deer, 3 elk, 1 bear, and a ton of grouse all in one day!  Love living in the mountains!!”
Mom:  “Did you get any photos?”

Me:  “No.  When I'm outside I usually don't have a camera on me.  When I'm in my rig, most of the animals are so quick I don’t have time to grab a camera before they disappear into the brush.  Need to hook up a dash cam on my rig and constantly keep a camera on me.”

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fall Is Officially Here And Winter’s Not Far Behind...

10:37 am - 59 degrees - scattered clouds...

Yesterday was the first official day of fall.  Autumn.  Autumnal Equinox.  Fall. 

Whatever you call it, it’s officially here.  Not that I need an actual date to tell me what I already knew, for the past several weeks we’ve been watching all the trees around us turn.  The leaves are changing from green to multi-colored hues of red, orange and yellow as they fall to the forest floor below.  The mornings are getting darker and there is a little nip in the air.


As the summer temperatures wind down many of us look forward to everything Fall has to offer, and with it some of my favorite things... scarves, boots, pumpkin flavored everything, hot chocolate, warm days and cold nights, crisp air and hoodies.

With Fall also comes the beautiful orange glow of the season.  Things take on a different view, vibrant colors become more subdued, the flurry of summer activities start slowing down and preparations begin for the colder months ahead.



The cooler temperatures and rainy days are on their way.  That means that old man winter is just around the corner - winter could be here in just over a month and a half.

Before the snowflakes start to fall (which is usually sometime in mid November) we need to finish hauling, splitting and stacking firewood; clear the ditches along the driveway; service the snowblower; service the snowplow and Dodge truck; service our daily rigs; stock our rigs with extra blankets, jumper cables, a tow rope, shovel, snowshoes, and some snacks and activities for the kids (just in case we get stuck for whatever reason); stock the pantry; and try to complete as many other outside projects on the house as we can before the weather turns nasty.




There’s no denying that there are some headaches that come along with winter, especially when you live in the mountains.  It snows in the mountains, its part of the allure for most of us living here... fluffy white stuff to play in through the crisp (hopefully sunny) winters.  

The winter winds may be harsh, but those who live in snowy, cold climates know there is still charm to be found in the season.  When you are relaxing in front of a warm fire or enjoying a rich meal with family, it’s easy to forget the wintry weather just outside the door.  That’s why we try to be as prepared as possible, we want to be able to spend more time enjoying the season instead of laboring outside.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Selfie Scavenger Hunt...

8:04 pm - 51 degrees - scattered clouds...

The kids and I went on a mom and me beach campout for the weekend with our Girl Scout troop.  One of the activities we did was a selfie scavenger hunt, and it was tons of fun!

I created a list of 52 items that were either on the way to the beach or somewhere around the beach.  The time limit was from Friday morning to Saturday evening.  Everyone was given a scavenger hunt list and we ran around town taking selfies with as many items on the list as we could – I must say, some of the teams, got pretty creative with their selfies.


Sunday morning all the selfie photos were totaled up and prizes were handed out.  The kids and I got 48 of the 52 items – not too bad, we came in third place and now I have a bunch of cute photos as a reminder of our fun weekend!


Laundry Day...

11:37 am - 57 degrees - scattered clouds...

While modern off-grid living might be considered the “simple life”, it is not easy!  For us, while our home is still under construction we have few modern conveniences, and the amount of work that goes into the simplest things like taking baths, washing clothes, doing the dishes, and cooking meals, is intense – especially when compared to city folk, who just have to load a machine, push a few buttons and ta-da, it’s done.

Am I complaining?  No, just stating a fact.  Here is another fact – I am not Superwoman (sorry to disappoint you).  Trying to juggle the demands of off-grid living while running two young children around to school and activities, being a Girl Scout Troop leader of a very active troop, and the President of the Booster Group (aka PTA) of our kids’ school, while my husband works in town all day – isn’t for the faint of heart.

We have often joked that we were living like ‘Little House on the Prairie’ – only in the mountains and with internet.  Although the similarities are still there, we now have one more thing that Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t have – a washer and dryer!


I cannot express how extremely appreciative, thankful, and excited I am to finally have, after five years, a washer and dryer!  Hand washing clothes, in theory, is a great idea and sounds fairly simple – plunge and scrub, plunge and scrub - but in reality, it’s a lot of work!

Thankfully I had the option to run into town to do laundry - which is what I choose to do.  For the past five years, laundry has been done at either the local laundromat (45 minutes away) or a family/friend’s house (45-60 minutes away), and on occasion hand washed here if we were in a pinch.

If I had to hand wash all our clothes with two very active kids, who somehow manage to get completely filthy five seconds out the door, and a husband who works outside all day... I would be so busy washing and scrubbing, that I would never leave the house.

Next up on my “Wish-List” is a fridge!  But for now, I am happy in our crazy little mixed-up world of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ meets “modern off-grid”.



Friday, September 11, 2015

Firewood...

2:16 pm - 83 degrees - scattered clouds...

The firewood cutting for this coming winter is finally underway... well sort of.  We're just starting to haul it down to the house where we can start to cut, split and stack it.


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