I had a great trip to South Carolina last weekend for a friend’s wedding. Shorts and flip flops all day was a nice change from the jeans and sweatshirts our weather has required. And for some reason, this trip has caused me to think a lot about what it means to live off the grid. Maybe it was all that time spent on planes breathing recycled air. I’m not sure, but I do know that I consider myself off the grid with no running water, electricity or even indoor plumbing. But I have cell phone service and my blog has a Facebook page. How off the grid is that?
As I think about shaping my experience, which in the near future means buying land and starting to build my own cabin off the grid, I’ve begun to wonder if living off the grid means giving up modern ammenities. Should you be able to drive right to your house, or hike in? Can you live on a major road and listen to traffic all day, or do you have to be isolated? Can you buy imported foods or do you have to suffer a life without Guiness?
I’ll tell you one thing: there is no way that I am spending the rest of my life without indoor plumbing. I don’t think off the grid means no hot water for showers, but is it too much to ask to have a hot tub? What about a wood-fired hot tub that only burns wood taken from my land? Is that still off the grid?
One of the things I’ve learned in this whole experience is that I don’t mind living simply. I know now that I can live without a lot of things that many people consider neccesities. I’ve often read about other people who live off the grid, but seem to give up nothing. They have every modern convenience, along with a room full of deep-cycle batteries that everntually become hazardous waste. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong, and I think it’s up to each person who decides to live this way.
I know what I want out of living a somewhat unconnected existence. I like being able to keep in touch with friends and family and don’t want to be disengaged in that way. What it means to me is that I try to be as self-suficent as possible, while not becoming the Unabomber. I want to get some land that can provide the logs for a small cabin, one that will have a nice bathroom with hot water. I want to raise most of my own food and rely on wood, solar and wind for the meager electric and heating needs I will have. I also want a hot tub. I’ve always wanted a hot tub.