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, April 23, 2017

Off The Mountain Fun...

4:57 pm - 43 degrees - raining...

Every now and then we just need to get away from the daily grind, which sometimes means getting off the mountain to go exploring.  

One of the many reasons we love living in the Pacific Northwest is because it's one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the country. 

Head North and you’ll run into Olympic Nation Park which is home to the Hoh National Rainforest – the largest rainforest in the United States.  There is also the Puget Sound which is comprised of inlets, channels, estuaries and home to the San Juan Islands. 




Head west and you’ll see the beautiful rugged coastline of the Pacific Ocean that is lined with steep cliffs, moss covered trees and enough rainy days to keep is gorgeous and green. You also have the Long Beach Peninsula which is an arm of land that is known for its continuous sand beaches which also happen to be a Washington State Highway.



Running down the center is the Cascade Mountain range that splits the area in two from north to south.  There are also a handful of active volcanoes, along with the remains from the many lahars (volcanic mudflows).







Running across the center from east to west is the Columbia River.  Along the Columbia River is the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area which protects the spectacular canyon where the Columbia River cuts through the Cascade mountain - with cliffs and overlooks of Washington to the north and Oregon to the south.






You want the high desert, head to the east side and you’re in the Columbia Basin which is a dry, open country, rich in stark scenery.






There are so many different options to choose from, a few hours in any direction and you have something beautiful, different and amazing to explore and enjoy.

Still, home is where our hearts are.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Learning How To Use A Crosscut Saw...

10:45 am - 48 degrees - overcast...

While we were at Tony's parents' house, his dad brought out one of his 5' crosscut saws - he has a collection of them.  Grandad showed the kids how to use the crosscut saw by cutting a round off of a downed tree.  


By the end, they were getting pretty good.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Mountain Chores...

3:42 pm - 40 degrees - raining...

Yesterday we had a break from the wind and rain.  It was in the mid-40s, that’s winter t-shirt weather up here; basically it was the perfect day to spend outside and do a little outside spring cleaning.  

We still have patches of snow here and there, but the majority of it has melted away.  So yesterday I started to rake all the small rocks that were tossed into the yard from the snow blower back onto the driveway.  One bad side effect of using the snow blower on a gravel road are all the rocks that are tossed up to 16+ feet into the yard.  There are so many little rocks in the yard that unfortunately it doesn’t even look like I did anything there yesterday. 



We also spent a good portion of the day picking up and burning most of the fallen and broken tree branches from around our main driveway.  Tony walked around with a pole saw cutting off the broken branches from the trees.  He got a little side tracked and started limbing the trees up, so we had quite a pile of branches and twigs to burn. 



The kids decided to take a break from all the yardwork to sneak in some bow and arrow practice.



By the end of the day, everyone was tired as we sat around our bonfire to roast some hot dogs and marshmallows.  All in all, it was a good productive day.

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!

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