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My 14 years off-grid living in the Alaskan wilderness…. Why you should spend time living off-grid

May 22, 2017

The term off-grid as described in the ‘Urban dictionary‘ is “the state of being off of the internet, no Facebook, Twitter, Skype, AIM, Gmail chat, Myspace etc. But to most it means living a lifestyle devoid of any connection with civilization or public utilities including commercial electricity or running water. Then there are others that only consider you living off-grid if you are have a totally sustainable lifestyle by growing your own food and butchering the animals you raise or hunt. Lastly there are those who are called ‘preppers‘ who insist that along with the above lifestyles you must prepare for the collapse of civilization by stockpiling months and even years worth of food, medicine and supplies.

But why do I say that everyone should spend some time living off grid and just how far do I think you should go? Having recently returned to living in ‘civilization’ after 14 years in a remote wilderness cabin I think I have a very simplistic answer for you…. appreciation. Something as simple as flicking a switch and having the lights come on in the city is not taken for granted after you have had to carry a generator in and out of a cabin every time you wanted to have a light on or your battery bank fully charged. Or how bout the appreciation for turning a spigot on and having running drinkable water at your fingertips without hauling water jugs to the nearest river or town to get water especially when temperatures are down to 30 below.

Your thinking so why should I appreciate things that are part of daily life in any city in our nation? Because at times even here in civilization things do fail to work like they are supposed to do. Power lines go down, water is shut off and phone and internet service at times stops and to some that is stressful and to them equivalent to the end of the world. Even if you have a high tolerance for aggravation sooner or later you will get upset when these things happen, but not so if you have lived off grid for any length of time, because you will be prepared for them not only psychologically but by having a physical plan to cover most emergencies.

Since living here in civilization I have already experienced all of the above utility disruptions and it effected me not in the least. When the power went out I started to use one of the many headlamps and battery powered radio I had from my old cabin, or when the water was shut off for repairs, not only did the 20 gallons of bottled water I had on hand help, but I knew instinctively to gather as many pots and bottles I could find and filled them with what water was left in my apartments water lines.

Simple things done because I lived for years without ‘civilizations’ modern conveniences and my point is you too can be ready for most disasters that turn your comfortable home into a lonely scary cave. From power outages that can last for days to snow storms that isolate you for a week in your apartment, that old Boy Scout motto ‘be prepared’ rings true. Yes I know its common sense to have some extra batteries and a flashlight around but if the power went off as you sat working on your computer would you instantly know where they were and be able to navigate to them in the dark? And what is wrong with having a number of jugs of bottled water tucked away in the closet or some canned or packaged food that will last for months on a shelf somewhere?

Now these few minor steps will make most crisis you encounter a bit easier to weather but will not make you psychologically ready to handle those situations for extended periods of time. For that you need exposure to those conditions to mentally prepare you to accept your current situation. For that taking frequent forays to where you have to learn to live without modern convinces is in order. With your work life so full I know it may be hard but I am sure everyone can find a few days to just drop out and get away from it all and spend some time camping. Camping is a wonderful way to prepare you both mentally (learning to do without) and physically (gathering the things needed for your time away). Plus a few days without internet or phone access I know will be hard at first but will reward you later when you loose your cell or internet service.

I guarantee that if you camp on a regular basis
you will soon develop the attributes
needed to handle most (loss of civilization) disasters
and who knows you may actually begin to look forward to
getting away from it all.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Claudia permalink
    May 22, 2017 5:08 pm

    I like that 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. May 22, 2017 5:17 pm

    I would love to give this a go.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mike Hohmann permalink
    May 22, 2017 6:44 pm

    Everyone should experience 2 days w/o power just as a wake-up call to take stock and plan ahead a bit. 3-4 days might be better. Water off for a day, how do you handle it… a few days, then what. All should plan ahead for such outages… a few days anyway, and think about ‘what if it was a week or two?’ A natural disaster/infrastructure breakdown raises questions about basic necessities… water, food, communications, first aid… and the need to plan ahead. Few people do it! Many folks just think the government will take care of it… good luck with that, when push comes to shove!

    I agree w/ Pete -camping, or better yet backpacking for 2-3 weeks, carrying everything you’ll need to survive on your back, helps develop a mindset. Plenty of scenarios to contemplate.

    Me, I’m going out for BBQ tonight at a great new place a few blocks away. A cold brew… ahh I can taste it now! But I’ve got dehydrated meals and water for a week at home. I’m a backpacker with a well-developed mindset including some backup plans; my wife not so much, but we’ll get by. If it’s something serious -a month or more, the story changes – the whole environment changes. And who plans for that… those crazy preppers, that’s who. Some will do better than others in such a situation. You don’t have any more cash? Credit cards are no good when the power is out, and gas stations can’t pump fuel either. And cash machine are likely not working, or they are out of money,,, probably both!

    But by and large, the city slickers could give a hoot. They don’t even think about it. But if/when the SHTF, many urban areas could get real rough in a very short time… and most folks aren’t ready for that!

    It’s my experience that stuff happens when its really hot or really cold.Ya got any ice for that water, Pete?


    Liked by 2 people

    • May 23, 2017 11:48 am

      Your words ring true Mike because when SHTF in any urban area or for that matter where there are more than a few hundred people living civilization (aka civility) will cease to exist. Even when I lived back East I witnessed many incidents of anarchy simply because the news spoke of a snow storm heading our way, the only true way to be ready for this is preparation both with supplies and experience.


  4. May 22, 2017 10:52 pm

    When you’d spent that much time in nature, without ALL the electronic devices, ALL those extra “noises” from the rest of the world, you’d become more and more introspective, and hopefully, as you returned BACK to civilization, you will be able to keep that state of mind you’d found in the wilderness, so whatever’s going on in the world don’t get to you, and you can be a better observer of the things around you, and happening in your own life too…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Kris permalink
    May 23, 2017 3:02 am

    I kind of laughed when I read this. I grew up in the back woods of the Peninsula. TV was rare, I remember outhouses, and although we had electricity, it was truly a privilege. I have been without water on more than one occasion and it is awful. Even where my boys grew up in Oregon, we often were stranded without power. They were also Scouts, but knew from the get go how important flashlights and being prepared were. I got a call during one of the hurricanes on the East Coast. It was my eldest. He wanted to thank me for helping to teach him how to stay occupied and in control during storms. The power went out, he got candles, bottled water, a flashlight, and continued working on one of his projects. His friends were confused he wasn’t addlepated like everyone else. Both my boys have ‘bug out bags’ and even with my Diabetes and health issues, I’m ready for most anything. Probably!

    Liked by 2 people

    • May 23, 2017 11:55 am

      Congratulations Kris for instilling in your children that can do attitude, I can see by your words that you are indeed ready for whatever comes down the road. Even if one was old like myself or have some physical limitations having the can-do mindset will help overcome the obstacles we face.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Del permalink
    May 23, 2017 11:41 am

    yea Pete sure miss the trap line chatter… And the silence.. We could hear a truck coming for miles before it hit the Hoot bridge…..
    And yes Hurricanes can be a challenge but its just a thing….. We have been through many and yes being prepared way before the storm hits is common sense but some people just don’t think until the last minute…..
    Anyways sure miss my days off the grid. Burnt in the grey matter forever….

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 23, 2017 11:59 am

      Knowing what we experienced back in Alaska its funny Del how people today react to normal weather disasters. I have to admit the last storm I faced and had me trapped for a couple weeks got to me but I believe it was more frustration at not being physically capable of handling it then being stuck in the cabin for two weeks.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Del permalink
        May 23, 2017 1:29 pm

        Yea Pete I remember driving back to Eureka with a truck full of sled dogs coming back from the Nenena 140 ( which I placed 2nd about an hour behind Swenson) and when there was no road maintenance from Livengood to Manley a heck of a snow storm blew in.. I was breaking trail all the way to Eureka and when I got there pushing about a foot of snow to the cabin, parked it, and that’s where it stayed until break up…. I was lucky to have good dogs and a sno go thou to get me around….. Those were the days Pete.. Keep it up brings back great times we both have had in Gods country… Del

        Liked by 3 people

  7. May 31, 2017 8:31 pm

    First I want to say thank you. I have been following and reading your blog since I signed up for wordpress recently. Still new to this blogging stuff but I am starting to enjoy it. As crazy as this may sound, more so to my self. I have been playing with the idea of just going somewhere far from the big city and perhaps give natural camping a try. I mean just being outdoors with only a tent, needed supplies for survival and nature to see if I could both handle and like it. While it would not be an Alaskin adventure more so something to get in touch with my self. I am guilty of being in the spoils of this modern world with all the luxuries of modern technology etc, etc. I just feel that something is truly missing and perhaps the experience might be sometrhing that I need. At times I feel like I am being choked being too connected. Not to say that I would not go through tech withdrawal after some time in nature. But after reading this post it helped me see something that I been thinking about but kept pushing back. It just might be the experience that I need to get intouch with my self and realized just how lucky we truly are. Simply turning everything off may not work for me because in the city the hustle and bustle, the noises are the constant reminder that tech is all around but I guess the isolation of being some where alone might be just the ticket. Now I don’t know how will it be hence why I think I will start in baby steps, Any way before I turn this into some long ramble, I wanted to say Thank you one more time.


  8. June 1, 2017 7:33 pm

    Nice post Pete. I agree, it would be transforming, if everyone gave living off the grid a shot. Who knows, one may appreciate the experience so much, they could spend 14 years living the life.


  9. June 8, 2017 12:11 pm

    Hey Pete – once again WordPress has decided to stop notifying me of your postings; this is most irritating! Loved this piece!! As someone who grew up in and spend almost sixty years of his life around large cities in the Midwest I was amazed and frustrated when the power regularly failed here in the Talkeetna area for the first six months I lived up here. But, as you mentioned, I was prepared as I already knew of the shaky reliability of electric power north of Wasilla and hence had wired in my portable generator. In addition, I’d determined what appliances and similar were on what circuits and what they drew in terms of amps. This meant when the power failed I could run the generator and still have power to the fridge, water pump, some lights and similar. I’ve come to accept such interruptions as a way of life up here and, to be honest, MEA has really improved the reliability of their service. But even the best improvements cannot defend against a small plane crash landing on the Park around Mile 88 and taking out a couple of utility poles or similar. Living in/around cities ya just get used to electricity always being there; sadly, it takes not having it for even just a few hours to cause folks to realize just how dependent they are on the power source.


  10. September 4, 2017 10:22 pm

    So true.


  11. November 7, 2019 5:04 pm

    I really enjoyed your account of simplifying as a manner of living. We forget how gratifying this is. All the more reason to live in Alaska. Thank you for your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

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