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!!!