One Man's Paradise

Winter storm

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“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

Haruki Murakami


Failing heat tape, a power outage, and impassable roads are just a brief reminder about the severity of life in rural Alaska. Winter has not even started, yet.

I am not really living off-grid, but when essential utilities fail, that most of us take for granted, it feels like living off-grid. Temperatures dropped into the single digits and that’s when things break. Plumbers and electricians were working overtime in rough conditions and hard to come by. A foot of snow and no snow plow in sight. ..

I felt more secure 3 years ago living off-grid, 120 miles north of Anchorage. There was no road. There were no power lines. Everything, food, diesel, and anything else had to come by bush plane. There were weeks, when the plane could not make the trip due to inclement weather. But we were prepared. We had backup systems. We had fire wood for heating and cooking, the well would provide water all winter. And if we got a ton of snow, so be it, we did not have to go anywhere.

Oh, there were times when I called the mechanic. Not to make an appointment, but to walk me through the process of fixing a 20 kW diesel  generator on a radio phone, where only one person could talk at a time. In addition, the phone was in a different building than the generator. Nevertheless, it all worked out.

I learned a lot in those 9 months.

The simpler, the better.

Anything man-made breaks at some point.

So here I am, freezing temperatures, failing heat tape, power outage, and a looming winter storm warning.

One more lesson: In the end it all works out, and if it’s not working, it’s not the end, yet.

One day later, the heat tape is back up, the power is on.

The car is still stuck in the drive way.

That’s for tomorrow.

Stay warm, be safe.

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6 thoughts on “Winter storm

  1. You’ve got to have initiative and a hell of a lot of common sense to live off-grid.

    I couldn’t do it (with my health issues), but I can live without many things most city folk take for granted.

    • Sometimes I think you have to be nuts to live off-grid. Then again, you can live in wonderful places.
      Common sense, that’s a good one. Where do they teach that one these days?

  2. Don’t know but I grew up in a relatively poor family who grew their food, made most of their clothes (and toys) AND fixed anything that went wrong themselves, so one might suggest that this was a good starting point.
    Common Sense is sometimes inherited, but following parental examples does make a difference. Can it be taught? I doubt it. You’ve either got it (or you haven’t) 🙂

    • What I meant is, you have to be a little different if you choose to live off-grid in a challenging environment, like the Alaska Range in the winter… if you also could live at the beach.
      I agree with your statement on common sense. It’s not as common as we think 🙂

  3. Why does it always seem like these things happen in clusters? Going along great and then one day you simultaneously blow out your back, run out of firewood and water, the generator gets too cold and quits working and the truck gets stuck. Oh wait, that actually just happened to us recently. One issue at a time….get the truck unstuck, go into town and see the chiropractor, get some firewood….deal with the generator another day. Ah, living off-grid in rural Alaska has its benefits and rewards and also its heartache. I wouldn’t have it any other way because out here less is more and without the busyness of the city, we truly find ourselves once again.

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