The Tale of Sweet Pistol Pete

Editor’s note: This post is ceremoniously post-dated to mark the occasion of Pete’s homecoming.

The sky was hot and blue with a warm breeze. A Friday. Dusty with no rain in sight. The day was long and the travelers had an urge to cover some ground. The rolling pastel landscape beckoned them to a new place.

In and out of sage brush and around the looming mesas they meandered until they found the destination. An outpost. Familiar to few. A destination for many. On the borderlands. A safe harbor for all flags. Offering the promise of new agreements and the finality of settlements passed.

The group didn’t know what was in store. They waited patiently. Seemed there were some happenings that weren’t part of the expected scene. Being strangers themselves, the strange was familiar. These days, even the familiar had folks feeling out of sorts.

Once inside, treasure-seekers have a sense where to look. It’s the getting there that can raise a challenge. Prying eyes in forgotten corners. Navigating disorderly order. Finding the unpolished gem, an exchange is made. Albeit lopsided. New parcels in hand, the companions make their way back to cross the arroyos begging for rain.

The blur of pink, gold, green streak by. Bright white clouds marching across make moving shadows on the ground. A jet black flash just at the right front fender. The rear view reveals opportunity for disaster. Small furballs and 18-wheelers don’t blend well on the asphalt.

And, so, the story goes…

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How to move an outhouse/storage shed

The potty is an essential feature of any off-grid scenario. There are many, many options for how to set-up the facilities for long-term success to include a traditional outhouse, composting toilet, incinerating toilet, and others. We chose to go with the ‘bucket system’ for a variety of reasons, but one of the biggest reasons was that it allowed for us to move the toilet without digging any new holes. Here is a brief review of our outhouse design evolution, and the steps we took to move the building last summer.

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On again, off again

Hello, All! We’re ashamed to admit it’s been a whole year since our last post… Here we are in 2020, and wow! Just, WOW!! April 2019 seems like a lifetime ago with all that has taken place for us personally and in the big wide world we all share. At this time, we are sending our sincerest heartfelt wishes to everyone for good health and happiness while the planet and all of humanity endures the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m sure there is plenty more to say here on the topic of global health crisis and the virtues of off-grid living, but we’d like to instead focus on a personal recap as a reflection and, we hope, as a much-needed distraction… So, here goes our year-in-review!

After we returned from our adventures in Ireland, life changed pretty dramatically for us at Sahalee. Namely, we started playing with fire. (Insert maniacal laugh here.) Thinking about the fire risk in our local forests and more closely on our fifteen acres around the yurt deck was terrifying as we headed into the Spring season. We knew we had to make wood clearing an active priority on our property to reduce flammable materials, and we wanted to become better educated about how we as landowners could work more closely with local fire agencies in the event we did have a wildfire start nearby. As it so happened, the opportunity came up for us to take part in a 2-day Prescribed Burn Workshop for Landowners hosted by the Forest Stewards Guild at the enchanting Fort Union Ranch in May. That was the tipping point to a series of unexpected and significant events that will be shared over the course of this post…

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Adventures in adobe

Knowing that we want to build a more permanent structure, we were interested to learn more about traditional adobe construction using the materials that we have on-hand. Ben lead the charge after we watched a variety of how-to videos on YouTube.

The first step was to figure out if the native soil had the correct sand/clay composition. All of our samples from the immediate area turned out to be a reasonable mix. Next, Ben built a traditional 14″x20″ form for two bricks. (Full-scale production would require many more forms with 6-8 bricks in each.) Instead of the traditional straw addition to the wet mix, Ben opted to use the plentiful local pine needles and under-tree ‘duff’. Finally dried in the sun for several days, Ben had one very good brick and one that didn’t hold up so well.

Since this little experiment, we have come to know about these extremely helpful resources:


We will continue to add more as we learn more about this low-cost building technique.

Sahalee Sluicers

The topography of our property is ideal for a sledding park since its all downhill. Over the past four winters, we’ve carved out several chutes between the trees and trialed a variety of sleds and saucers. This past season was the best yet since we had a decent amount of snowfall and found the perfect slippery discs to ride.

Mark was the first outsider to try the runs when he visited in January. With all the enthusiastic up-and-down, we quickly figured out that we had a new wintertime social club which we dubbed ‘The Sahalee Sluicers.’ Over the long weekend, we trimmed trees, piled snow, and perfected our technique to achieve the fastest and longest rides. The breakthrough moment occurred when we tried a 2-seat configuration with excellent results for speed and maneuverability, which then prompted us to ramp up to an interlocked 3-seat bobsled style.

Making everything we do into a competition, we started to craft a schema for badges that would inspire new sluicers to compete. (We also spotted the area that would fit a nice tiki bar to refresh before hiking the hill back up for another run!)

Three runs:

  • #1 The Main Drain – longest, pretty straight shot to the bottom, good potential for speed, two intersections for crash course
  • #2 Whoopdie Do – coming in to The Main Drain from the right near the top, a nice high drop-in at the start with a sharp right turn to merge
  • #3 Last Pass – coming in to The Main Drain from the right near the bottom, a short-but-quick drop is perfect setup for crash course


  • Complete all three runs single
  • Complete all three runs single at night
  • Complete all three runs 2-seats
  • Complete all three runs 2-seats at night
  • Complete all three runs 3-seats
  • Complete all three runs 3-seats at night
  • Survive a ‘crash course’
  • Survive both ‘crash courses’

We still have a few improvements to make ahead of next season (including cooking up some t-shirts), but we are really looking forward to sending even more smiles and shrieks of joy through the hills. Are you up for the ride?

Go piss in the field

Well, we made it back from our overseas adventures in Ireland and have plenty of stories to tell… First and foremost, we are pleased to say that Sahalee was as we left it (minus the snow), which relieved the tremendous amount of anxiety that develops whenever we venture away from the homestead. As for the trip, well, it was. And, we’ll do it again.

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Traveling–For the win or for the birds?

Ben here…

As I sit here thinking about what I want to pack for my trip to Ireland and how excited I am to go, I can’t help but think about Spring…

Considering dying my beard orange and donning some Lederhosen for the trip–thoughts?

I can’t help but think about building my shop

I can’t help but think about getting a garden started

I can’t help but think about getting firewood going for next winter

I can’t help but think about all the vehicle maintenance we need to do

I can’t help but think about “shelter after the yurt”

I can’t help but think why I feel the need to travel when I have so much to do here.

Carey and I have always been explorers, wanderers and travelers.  CONUS and OCONUS—we love to see our country and we love to see our world.  We love to see the different cultures, the different ways of life and all the different smiles that our beautiful world and finances will allow.  As a couple we have never been into “keeping up with the joneses”… We sacrificed running the air conditioner in our house in Florida for 15 years to free up funds for experiences instead of things. Our newest vehicle is our Side by Side and it is over 17 years old, our Saturn has over 225,000 miles on it and is still running like a champ.

We have worked hard to see and experience most of the states in the US as well as Mexico a few times, Italy, Spain, Canada and now Ireland and the culture and peoples that make these places so very special and unique.  From the little Italian boy who threw one of our friends toy helicopter in the fountain simply because his dad wouldn’t buy him one (if I can’t have it no one can!!, damn that was funny!!) to a whirlwind weekend in Madrid to see the one and only Sturgill Simpson, to the frozen cliffs of Niagara falls to the hiking trails in Washington and the capitol in the other Washington. From meeting my Italian relatives to hiking the red rocks of Moab.  From seeing The Avett Brothers in St. Augustine to seeing Margo Price and The Dead South in Phoenix—Travel has brought us great enjoyment!!  Follow @sahaleeoffgrid on Instagram to see all the pretty pictures from our travels.

Understanding all the enjoyment that travel has brought us—at what point is enough enough.  At what point do we start investing that money into Sahalee upgrades, at what point will we realize that we have everything we need right here on our 15 acres.  At what point will our “traveling bug” be satiated!!!

Well, let’s hope it’s after Ireland, because I’m ready to get my hands in the earth and see some progress!!  But first—I’ll toast you all with a nice milky pint of Guinness straight from the source 😊

This ones for all of you–the rest are for me

Fire, Water, and Puppy Dogs

The days are at their shortest now. Sliding into the Winter Solstice, we definitely notice how limited our time is under the sunlight.

The dawn stirs us from under the cocoon of covers in the morning with a soft bluish glow through the wedges of the toono, and encourages the start to the day. Seemingly just a short time later, the multicolored late afternoon skies and falling shadows indicate the pending darkness and a brief anxiousness to steel ourselves against the drop in temperature.

This led me to reflect on how we’ve adjusted off-the-grid and the rewards for the sacrifices we’ve made over the past two and a half years to live where we love.

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Our Big Ass Texas Adventure

During our 30-day self-imposed sequestration, we were daydreaming about how we’d cut loose at the end of the month. As it happened during one of our mindless web scrolling sessions, we lucked into finding tickets to see yet another exuberant performance of the incomparable Miss Margo Price on September 7th in Austin. Not just Austin, but Austin City Limits (or ACL Live)!!

Our 17th wedding anniversary was September 5th, and this heel-kickin’ country concert to benefit the Texas Hill Country Conservancy made our celebration plans a no-brainer. When else can we break out the Lucchese‘s? Carey had watched the American all-star lineup cross the ACL stage on PBS for decades as a little girl, and Ben was chomping at the bit for another exceptional live event with one of his favorites bands, not to mention the songwriting joy of Hayes Carll as the opener. Game on!

So, what’s the best way to get to Austin and back? Well, you make a big loop through Texas to include a quick a stop in Mexico.

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30 days at Sahalee

We are used to hearing people ask us, “Why?” by now…

“Why a yurt?” they asked us.

“Why New Mexico?” they asked us.

“Why thirty days?” is the most recent inquiry.

There are several reasons for our self-imposed sequestration:

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