I got up this morning, turned on the coffeemaker, walked the puppy, watched a little television news, booted up my computer and went to work.
I bring this up not because it’s particularly remarkable—quite the opposite—but because the New Improved Secret Hidden Bunker in the Rocky Mountains connects to no power lines. There’s no cable for cable television, no phone lines, no sewer or water connection. In fact, it is untethered from what we’ve come to call “the grid.” And, at least for the moment, it’s working.
The journey began as so many epic adventures do—with a simple question. My Sweetie and I were living in the little Colorado town of Nederland at 9000 feet, where to quote actor Will Geer’s Bear Claw in Jeremiah Johnson, “Winter’s a long time going … stays long this high.” After 13 winters, it was time to Go Down.
When we moved to Ned 13 years ago, it was a quirky place whose only real source of income was the Frozen Dead Guy, a Norwegian grandfather kept on dry ice in a Tuff Shed—Google it, even I can’t make stuff like that up — and the eponymous Frozen Dead Guy Days each bitterly cold March. We even marched one year in the Frozen Dead Guy parade through the one-block-long town. As newcomers, we got the ideal position between the herd of alpacas and the bondage sluts riding on the hoods of hearses. Really.
When we decided to leave Ned, it had become the epicenter of the “marijuana revolution” in the United States. The little mountain town of 1200 people and some dogs sported five medicinal marijuana outlets, one retail marijuana outlet, a “smoking room,” three hydroponic gardening centers, a pipe store, 30 grow rooms blossoming with designer ganja and a startling number of vintage Volkswagen buses and tie-dyed T-shirts, as if the Grateful Dead tour had just trucked in from 1968. My Sweetie and I were the only two people in town with reliable short-term memories.
After a year of searching, we found a stunning 34 acres with breathtaking views, close enough to go into the northern Colorado cites of Ft. Collins and Loveland for a good dinner and upwind enough from Denver to miss most of the fallout — joke, JOKE! After all, I was the producer of the first “survival” show, “The Best Defense/Survival,” which laid the groundwork for those that followed. One London newspaper reporter referred to me as “the most depressing man in America” after my guest appearance on the History Channel’s special, “After Armageddon.” I told her I thought I was upbeat and perky as well as heavily armed. You’ve got to expect a certain level of paranoia.
As we looked out over this amazing property, which equally amazingly we could afford, we both noticed an absence of power lines, telephone poles and the other accoutrements of the 21st century.
“What would you think,” asked my Sweetie, “about building an off-grid house?” “Yippie!” my Internal Survivalist shouted. “Hmmmmmmmm,” I said out loud. But the die was cast.
Do you dream of living off the grid? If so, let us hear your motivations and challenges in the comment section.