Going Backwoodsier…Our Off-Grid Dream

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From the home site…

Not everybody’s idea of a dream come true involves the potential for being eaten by bears…but tonight when I found my third pile of fresh bear poo in as many trips to my new land, I knew my dreams were coming true right before my feet.

Not that I want to be chewed on by a grizzly…not even a little bit…but my whole life I’ve wanted to live somewhere so wild…so remote…that anything can happen.  And I’m finally getting my way.

This week my family has purchased forty acres of land with nothing on it but hundreds of tall spruce and birch trees and a view to live for.  Surrounding this land is hundreds and hundreds of acres of Native Association or State of Alaska owned land that should never….hopefully…be inhabited.  The nearest privately owned home is a mile away.  We’re just seven miles from my kids school and a mile from the nearest power pole.  We’ll be providing our own power via solar and wind and creating a world for our children where they will learn the value of a subsistence lifestyle in as much as we can do that…and still eat a Dairy Queen blizzard once in a while.

No shortage of firewood…and millable lumber…

Yesterday we walked the land for the first time.  Now…let me explain.  This is land that has not been touched in many, many years, if ever.  Other than a handful of old stumps where someone must have at one time harvested some of the larger trees for a home, the land is essentially untouched.  Old windfalls litter the ground like pick-up-sticks, hidden under tall grass that has since weaved its hold.  Walking is treacherous and slow.  And yet the thrill of making our way across its depth for the first time is difficult to explain.  It was…to say the least…a fantasy being realized.

Our home will be here…

Our place…I like the way that rolls off my tongue…sits on the edge of a gentle slope, overlooking Ninilchik in the distance, the Cook Inlet beyond that and a snowy mountain range across the water where we should be able to see no less than three volcanoes from our front deck.  About 600 feet into the land, along that western edge, sits a natural clearing that runs down the hillside providing a partial view.  We will have to clear some trees to encompass the vast sites.  Just up from that clearing we’ve found the perfect home site. We hesitated at first…thirteen hundred feet of depth and we’re only going in just under six hundred?  But the view…oh, the view from that spot…it’s the only logical place for me to live. Not just on that land, but in the whole world.  Standing there, it just makes sense.

The path for the driveway…
Marking the driveway

Today we weaved our way back in, stepping over another wet pile of bear sign and singing loudly about Jesus as we went…so as to have an edge over the bear who surely must be an atheist…and stood again on the place where we will a build our home.  We came equipped this time with bright pink ribbon.  Not with which to mark our way out, but to mark our road home.  We started at the view and worked our way out, choosing the least obtrusive path on which to push through our road.  By the time we emerged from the thick woods, we had somehow managed to plan out a gently curving road that would not take out a single tree…as if it were meant to be.

From the road, you can better see the view we’ll have when we remove some trees…though it will span wider…

This week we plan to get our dozer up there and start pushing the road through.  Gently, at first, because we don’t know if there is gravel on our land or not.  If not, we only want to barely break the surface…and leave the tightly woven mossy topsoil in place so we can bring in gravel to cover.  If we have gravel on our own land, we shall be singing praises about all the money we will save.

I’m not sure of the timeline of this project. I’ve never been one to wait on anything.  Poor Dan may go to work his shift and come back two weeks later to find I’ve sold the house and moved all 7 kids into a their own individual tree forts with connecting rope bridges.  It’s been known to happen…

But please…travel along with us on this journey as we attempt to move our family off-grid…build a house out of empty pockets…and find in those thick, bear-infested woods, a dream we’ve waited for our entire lives.

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One Response to "Going Backwoodsier…Our Off-Grid Dream"
  1. Derek Wilkins says:

    Awesome blog! Recently purchased land in Happy Creek area, off of Tim Avenue. Never been to Alaska, but know that I won’t be spending my retirement here in Florida either. Will be so nice to live remote, where the sounds of Ambulance Sirens drown out the singing birds. Little less than 2 years to go, already paring down to get ready to leave here. Will be watching for new posts, while I try to read through all of your blog. Thanks, Derek

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