Impulsive, Decisive, Tomato, Tomahto!

Hi. This is Allison. Daniel’s wife. Thanks for taking an interest in our grand adventure. I’ll be a guest blogger from time to time. But you’ll notice that I blog about the “softer” side of this adventure. Daniel can research power and water and toilets but I’m all about the emotions and the process for setting off on the challenge.

As a couple, Daniel and I are frequently labeled “decisive,” which is a polite way of saying “impulsive.” I would agree we are on that scale, but somewhere in between the two adjectives. With this decision to build a cabin and live off-grid, however, it wasn’t as impulsive as you might think. For a while now, Daniel has taken an interest in and learned more about the “prepper” movement – the process of being prepared in the event of a worldwide event that would require everyone to fend for themselves for much longer than most people ever could. So we bought some land in Eastern Arizona last May. At the very least it would be a good place to go hiking and camping and an escape from the heat of the valley.

We moved to Arizona from Oregon in July of 2011. Having lived in our current rented house for one year already and with one year left on our lease, just last week we decided this house wasn’t for us and we’d most likely be moving at the end of the lease. Although we love the school and the neighborhood, the 2 neighbors that we know and our proximity to shops and restaurants, the house itself isn’t where we want to live for the longer term. This part of town, yes. This house, no.

As we set off on our trip to Eastern Arizona last Saturday, I was in a funk about having to move yet again and settle in somewhere new, with all the adjustments and uncertainties that come with a house move. We were driving down the road, only a day into our 4-day trip when Daniel innocently asked me “Can you imagine how much money we’d save on housing costs if we built a cabin on our property and lived in it for a year with no rent or mortgage?”. I found that I couldn’t really come up with a good answer for why that wouldn’t work.

In the last several years we had frequently talked about giving the kids some kind of unique living experience. When I was in 7th grade I lived in Spain with my family for almost 6 months. When Daniel was in 4th grade he lived up in the Sierra Nevada mountains and dredged for gold, living in a tent for an entire summer. We both recall those experiences as some of the most memorable parts of our childhoods. They were not always wonderful and they both involved a lot of adjustment, but without a doubt they changed us and made us appreciate what we had.

We knew we wanted to give that kind of life experience to our kids, although up until this point we’d always talked about doing it in another country. But with the lease being up in a year, the property being one of our favorite places to spend time and the plans we had to build a cabin eventually anyway… well, it just made sense.

My trip to Spain and my time spent as an exchange student in Ecuador, coupled with my working for one of the biggest high school exchange student outfits in the world for 13 years… all of those experiences are lending me a measure of psychological support as I contemplate yet another major change that feels like it’s coming so soon after the last one.

I’ve told many people that moving to Arizona has really brought our family closer together. We weather the “storms” together, being somewhat isolated (initially) in our new community as we all got to know new people. Moving to our property will really be another exciting chapter in our family’s life. When we lived in Oregon I would not have said that we needed to grow closer, but as I see that actually happening, it makes me very happy and grateful we stepped out on faith and removed ourselves from our tidy little box.

At dinner last night we were arranging chop sticks and napkins, sharing our ideas of how the kids’ bunk rooms could be arranged with multiple bunks for maximum capacity to hold guests when our friends and family come for visits. Our 10 year old, Haley, submitted her ideas in the form a drawing on her iPhone (below). I guess that means she’s invested?

I love that we are all working on this project together as a family, and I know it’s a drop in the bucket of what’s to come. Can’t wait to share it with you all.


PS: Next post… CHICKENS!!!

5 thoughts on “Impulsive, Decisive, Tomato, Tomahto!

  1. Hi! This is amazing! I am looking forward to following your journey to nowhere. It is definitely far from your current lifestyle but would expect nothing less than for you guys to take on the challenge!

    Will the girls still have playdates?
    Will they be going to public school or will you homeschool?
    What will they do for extracurricular activities there?
    Will you go to the store and grocery shop or will Safeway deliver?
    How far is the nearest mall?
    Will you have a back up plan for a home “on the grid” just in case?
    Have you thought of setting up some type of cameras on the property during this next year to monitor the activity there, whether it be animals, etc?
    Or have you thought of setting up some type of animal/rodent traps to detect what living creatures you’re up against?
    Will you create an outdoor living space, such as table, chairs, umbrella, faux grass?
    Is there a way to contact police/fire to make them aware of your location in case you can’t get to them? Such as (god forbid) something happens to you and Dan and Haley/Zoe are the only ones able to contact help…obviously they can’t drive.

    Phew.. and I’m just getting started… 🙂

    Miss you!!


    • Oh I love your interest! It makes me think that maybe I’m not totally crazy for doing this! I’ll address the softer side of your questions.

      As Dan said, I’m sure they girls will have playdates. Friends in town, go to their houses after school, etc. Haley really doesn’t have a strong need for a lot of friends. She’s really happy to be at home. Maybe that will change but that’s where she is now. Zoe, on the other hand, would like to surround herself with kids older than her. She and I will be the ones acutely aware of the isolation. But we’ll factor that in and plan things to do, visits to “old” friends in Gilbert, visits with new friends from school, etc. Haley and Zoe are quite closer (much more so than in OR) so I have a feeling that will help a lot. When we lived in Spain my sister and I played ENDLESS games of Crazy 8. And even though we each had our own room, we shared a room. So that’s a side benefit of the adventure. May not happen exactly as I am thinking but I think we’ll see some closeness as a result.

      Can you believe the closest Wal Mart is 80 minutes away? Holy cow my palms are sweating as I write that. Amazon will be happy to deliver to the nearest PO Box, however. But with a Very Small Cabin, one does have to think twice about what one buys. I’m pretty sure D concocted this whole plan to keep me off the retail. It’s funny how easy it is to buy stuff when you have 5100 square feet to put it in.

      I have already been planning some kind of whistle system in my head, as a way to check in on the girls if they are out galavanting around the property. I’ll perfect the system (maybe write it up as a flow chart and laminate it) and share it with ya’ll later (see, I’m working on my foreign language skills. That there is cowboy country!).

      We are now taking reservations for the mini cabin. Will fit a family of 5 just fine! Book now! 🙂

  2. Hi Kristine… I’m sure Allison will take a stab at these questions, but here are my answers.

    Oh, and BTW… thanks for being such a cheerleader. Not everyone is as keen on this idea as you are. 🙂

    The girls will go to a school in St. Johns, which is about a 30 minute drive south of the ranch. I’m sure they’ll meet people and I’m sure they’ll go to friend’s houses and their friends will come to ours.

    We’ll have chickens and some goats and rabbits. The girls will have a LOT more to do around the house. But I suspect we’ll play a lot games together, too. Being in tight quarters makes for a close family. Also, Haley has a bb gun so I’m sure there will be lots of “hunts” for varmints.

    Yes, we’ll be able to shop just like normal. There are several places in St Johns to get whatever we need. And Show Low is the nearest “larger” town. There is a Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot…etc, there. Show Low is about 1 hour and 20 minutes, give or take. I’m not sure if they have a mall, however. I think the nearest mall is actually in Flagstaff. That’s about 3 hours away. But our distance to the nearest mall is a GOOD thing. That’s where the “save a lot money” comes into the picture. 🙂

    No back up plan. It’s 1 year… come hell or high water.

    Yes, I actually have thought about the camera thing. I’m actually wanting to set up a web cam so I can watch things as they happen (and record them too, of course.) That’s one of the reasons I can’t wait to test out my cell booster (see the post I just put up) there so I can get a live feed. Then we can see where the teenagers are sneaking around. Right? Haha! (Sorry… that’s an inside joke for anyone else reading this.)

    Yes, we’re looking forward to the outdoor living space. Each cabin I build will have deck space. That’s one of the advantages of living in Arizona. Gotta have outdoor living areas.

    Yes, 911 works out there. So, no worries there.

    We miss you guys too, Kristine!!

  3. Hi Dan,

    Thank you for including me as a friend to follow your adventure! And I will do just that, follow your posts!
    Have fun!

    Tina L. Turner

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