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.
Thirty-one days into the new year and most resolutions have already flown out the window. I’m not really one to make resolutions, but I am one to hold myself to high expectations of achieving. Something. My quandary over the word ‘resolute’ in light of time’s passing, i.e. the new year, has me further reflecting on my decision to achieve in this relatively new off-grid lifestyle. Or more to the point, succeeding at life in general.
According to my dictionary.com app, words like ‘bold,’ ‘courageous,’ and ‘firm’ are acceptably interchangeable for resolute, and actually lead me to further puzzle over my standing in relation the goals I set for myself and the actions I take thereafter. These days, to be honest, I’m not apt to describe myself with any of the aforementioned synonyms. I’ll explain…
We’ve had a couple of weeks to settle in now to the new routine upon the big deck. It’s been longtime in coming since we endured a mud-laden summer, fall, winter, and spring in our old roughed-out location buoyed on cinder blocks down the hill. (Quite literally, we have had to shake off our sea legs from walking upon our very poorly platform for the past 12 months.)
On a bright and sunny June 4th last year, we pulled our happily weary caravan covered in Florida salt spray into Cuba, NM with the rest of our lives ahead of us. We had no idea what lay ahead, but we were eager to jump in with eight feet to realize our long-time dream of living off-grid in the New Mexico mountains.
No one could say if we would make it through the first year, let alone the first monsoon season, first snowy winter, first encounter with wildlife, first yurt-raising, among other character-building firsts. Well, we did (despite the bets against us), and we are so much better for it!!
This year, we celebrate all that we accomplished at Sahalee in our inaugural year with you cheering us along the whole way. The occasion was marked by a two-night camping trip on the ‘Back Five,’ where we explored the property we usually only gaze upon from a distance. We climbed chalk hills and rocky ravines to spy the yurts between the trees and name all the towering Ponderosa Pines we live underneath. We saw the sun rise and set from a different vantage, and were able to behold new blossoms and leaves, trails and markers, and feelings that we hadn’t experienced before. It was like our first day all over again!
As we sit on our new deck above the ground where we once camped out in the tent, and plan to move the yurt to the main stage, it’s still quite surreal. We haven’t stopped pinching ourselves, believing that it is still really too good to be true. Now, we look ahead to years two to twenty and are thrilled to bring you along with us as we continue to learn and define the ‘Sahalee Way.’
With that being said, please do save the date for our First Annual Sahalee Off Grid Open House on Labor Day Weekend. We’re hoping to make this a standing event where all are welcome to stop in for an hour – or a week – to enjoy all that we love about this place. Feel free to revisit our Guide to the Land of Enchantment for more information about the area, and let us know if we can help you plan your trip for September.
Finally, since you are reading this from our newly upgraded site, please do take a second to hit the Follow button and ensure you are on the list to be first to know about any new updates via email. We expect to be giving all our loyal followers some bonus material and special little extras in the near future.
From the very bottom of our hearts, thank you, and Happy Sahaliversary!!
If anyone is pondering their fitness goals for the new year, I can honestly say that nothing works as well as moving off-grid. Before we had a chance to hit the scales during our visit with the Colorado fam for Thanksgiving, we could only guess at how much weight we had lost since moving to the mountains in June.
Forty below they said. Nine feet of snow they said. First flurries by Halloween they said. All of these threats weighed heavily on our minds since loading in at the start of summer. We prioritized our to-do list accordingly by trying to amass a mound of firewood, situating and insulating the water tank to avoid freezing, raising our solar array, mounting our snow tires and securing chains, ordering snowshoes, stocking up on dry goods, and enclosing the potty, among other things. While there is always more to do – And you never quite feel adequately prepared going into the cold season no matter what you do – we were also making mental preparations to steel ourselves against a typical bitterly-cold winter to arrive on schedule. Now, it’s almost Thanksgiving and we’ve barely touched 20 degrees overnight with only a random rain shower. As if we didn’t have enough to anticipate for the first of the year with the election fallout, we’re left wondering if La Nina is going to make this winter a non-event, or bring it on with a furious force.
It seems like a million years ago now that Mark and I hooked up the wee little 300W PV system for basic operations when we first arrived on-site in June. Ben and I made a few little upgrades over the summer to include adding a 4th panel, switching to a more robust charge controller for future growth, and adding both a remote inverter start and Ethernet communications port for the charge controller. All of this was fine and dandy for the past few months, but we needed to give the array a boost for winter. Below are the progress photos so you can see more about our shoot-from-the-hip PV facelift.
If you have been following over the past few weeks, you will have seen that we’ve been operating in a figurative – and literal – whirlwind. After raising a second yurt, spending time with Hurricane Matthew, and marching on with homestead improvements, we are looking forward to reacquainting ourselves with the quiet surroundings and slower pace that Sahalee so wonderfully delivers. That being said, winter is on its way, as the falling leaves remind us, and we still have much, much more to do before we can comfortably and confidently nestle in for our first cold season on the side of the mountain.
Our experimentation with our new All American Sun Oven continues with two new shoot-from-the-hip concoctions… Number one is a creamy mushroom pasta bake, and the next is a spicy Southwestern rice dish. Both were put together with leftover produce and standard pantry fare in accordance with our approach to defining offgrid gourmet (sans refrigerator).