How to begin to address my blog-negligence over the last 10 months? I could start by stating that I’ve been busy- and it would be true. Between selling the Imperial house and purchasing our dream off-the-grid home, most daylight hours have been spent toiling away at one thing or another. I could also point out that “off-the-grid” entails no internet, making time in the blogosphere a bit more difficult to come by. I could excuse my absence by noting that I’ve been inundated in wedding planning and being a new (puppy) mother. I could mention the summers’ journeys to which I dedicated what little free time I was able to scare up.
However, these would all be weak excuses. Truth be told, I’ve not even thought about my blog for months on end. Perhaps this is a result of all the aforementioned distractions, commitments, endeavors, and excitements. But I lament my lack of prose, introspection, and reflection during this, one of the most exciting and overwhelming times of my life. After all, a girl only gets married and buys her first house once (if all goes according to plan).
So let’s see if I can’t touch on some of the major bullet points:
In April, Louis and I purchased an off-the-grid home on 20 acres in Wanship, UT. The property sits in the Uinta mountains at about 7500ft, and overlooks Rockport Reservoir, and the Weber River. Our home runs primarily on solar and wind power, with a backup propane generator. We have a very productive well, and a septic system for sewer. In the winter, we will heat with a wood burning stove. The house is a glorified double-wide, but have no misgivings. Unless that was disclosed, you wouldn’t think it any different than your typical two-story home. We love it! We have awesome lake views and the house is very light. I am enjoying the interior decorating process, although I wish the bankroll was many times bigger. Unfortunately comfort items are somewhat lower on the priority list than survival necessities, of which there are many.
We are very much enjoying the pros of country living, including the solitude, beauty and freedom. We can see very few houses from our perch on the hill, and most of our neighbors are part time up there anyhow. Basically, we’ve got the place to ourselves, affording us the opportunity to host friends and let loose.
Our pups love it too! Which brings me to another exciting life event- on July 23rd we brought home Denali, our new husky/lab princess. She is a mama’s girl, and has been a great, easy puppy. She pretty much instantly potty and crate-trained, and she has been very mild-mannered. I took her on a couple of river trips, and she did great. She loves hunting with Miley and is almost the same size as her big sister at just 5 months. She is gonna be a monster. The two of them like to wander far from home, but such is the life of a country dog.
In addition to enjoying the pros, we are learning how to wrestle the challenges, which have included flatmates of the rodent persuasion, a tired-out old well pump, the intricate nature of solar systems and replacement of the battery bank, myriad deer destroying many attempts at new flora, and winter. We will have to maintain our own road in and out for out 1500 yards, so we’ve just invested in a plow truck. We’re hoping that it will serve us well… our ability to access our home depends on it. Winter is sure to hold a unique set of challenges for us, but we have diligently worked to make ourselves as prepared as possible. Louis has stacked a pile of wood so high that I can’t imagine ever using it all, but as the cold sets in, I see that it is easy to go right through it. I love having a fire burn day and night.
In May, Louis and I traveled to Costa Rica. Pura vida they say… the pure life. It is most certainly an enchanted and laid back place. We rented a car in the capital city San Jose, and then sprinted for Puerto Viejo on the Atlantic Coast. Navigating and driving proved to be both tricky and entertaining. Our trek across the SE portion of Costa Rica was scenic and slow. We loved Puerto Viejo, an Afro-Caribbean influenced town that offered a leisurely pace, beautiful beaches and surfing, delicious fish tacos and pina coladas, reggae music, and our beautiful accommodations at Finca Chica. We rode bicycles down the boulevard, lazed under tree boughs that touched the tide, dined to our hearts’ delight, and wondered at the abounding wildlife during hikes through the jungle.
From Puerto Viejo, we set off on an overnight trip down the Pacuare River- my first international river. Having spent the last decade running private trips, paying for and joining a commercial, tourist venture was hard for me, but it was time and money well spent. A bit cocky and raucous at times, our guide Johnny (be-good) deemed himself a comedian and took plenty of liberties with his story-telling, as any good guide should. Between intervals of “ALTO PEOPLE” and “GRACIAS PEOPLE” we made our way down an epic, world class IV river without any big hiccups. The rapids were swelling and beautiful, the riverbed rocky, and the jungle lodge we overnighted at absolutely mesmerizing. We made some good acquaintances on the trip and enjoyed drinks late into the evening with the guides.
From the Pacuare, we traveled NW to Arenal- the base camp town to Vulcan Arenal, one of the nation’s most stunning and (until recently) highly-active volcanoes. There we stayed at Campo de Silencio, a beautiful hot-springs retreat at the base of the volcano. Our time spent there was relaxed. On the morning of our last full day, while soaking in the hot springs, Louis proposed. And just like that, I became and engaged woman in paradise.
Since then, we have ventured to Vegas for a work trip, to Portland for a wedding, and down to Moab for a Westwater river trip and a wedding, but most of our time has been spent working on projects at the house. It has been an eventful summer, and I am ready for some of the stillness that comes with winter… and the epic pow thrashing, of course. My winter commute down to the city will be challenging, but hopefully manageable. I am steadily planning our wedding and raising our dog children, feeling at times like quite the Holly Homemaker. It is nice to know that our home and our land are our own, that we have a place in this world to toil and till and make our own. Undoubtedly a lifetime of work lies ahead of us and my life has been forever changed by the decisions made and set in motion this year. We can not go back, we can only move forward, and I find comfort in that notion.