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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Living Like at Camp



Just about every natural disaster takes down the power grid. Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, snowstorms, tornadoes, and even solar storms. Throw in human error and it's a miracle the grid works at all.

I'm a big proponent of alternative energy. Even small solar electric systems can be a huge help. Then I got to thinking about how I used to spend many a day at my dad's old hunting camp. My dad and his friends built it about fifty years ago, when I was a little kid. Solar electric wasn't an option back then.

Here's what the place was like. It was sixteen by sixteen feet square. The camp was framed with spruce poles. Walls were constructed from salvaged boards. There was a small covered porch in the front. It had a woodstove, a bunk bed, a full sized bed, sink, and a propane stove. Propane came from a hundred pound cylinder. It ran the stove and two gas lights. Propane was the big luxury item in the camp. At first they used a kerosene lantern.

Water came from a brook maybe a hundred yards down a steep hill. Behind the camp was a woodshed and an outhouse. The toilet seat for the outhouse was kept on a hook behind the woodstove. You would not believe the difference in comfort that made, especially in sub-zero weather.

To get to this camp required a nine mile trip up a logging road, then about another quarter mile down a fire road. Many a year we were unable to drive all the way to camp. Sometimes we only had to hike the fire road. For a few years the last three miles would get blocked part of the year. One year my cousin and I traveled the whole way on cross country skies.

Occasionally someone would bring an AM/FM transistor radio. It wasn't all that often, however, as we were at camp for the quiet and isolation. Entertainment consisted of cards, a cribbage board, books, and magazines. It was nice. Actually, it was wonderful.

I got to thinking about how my lovely wife and I would survive at our house with no electricity at all. Let's say the grid goes down and for some reason my solar electric gets knocked out too. It would be a lot like camp. We'd have to keep the woodstove going in cold weather. Jugs of water would need to be hauled up from the well. The toilets could be flushed that way, but it's a lot of work -maybe more hassle than an outhouse. Actually, if I could use the composting toilet from the sailboat it would save a lot of work.

Lighting might become a problem. Eventually all my LED headlamps would run out of batteries. We've some candles, but they wouldn't last forever either. Maybe we'd just go bed when it got dark.

As for entertainment, there's playing cards, a cribbage board, board games, and thousands of good books to read. Actually, it doesn't sound too bad to me. There's something to be said for a less technological lifestyle.

-Sixbears

11 comments:

  1. Non electric needs are useful. For short lighting needs, check out the UVPaqLite units. Glow in the dark that soak up ANY light source and glow for a few hours. Not high output, but in the dark, any light source helps and they don't spoil your night vision hardly at all. Don't cast a beam, they just glow. The mylar packed units are nearly weightless - about the weight of an empty envelope (Really!). And they are advertised to last forever. We've had ours for several years and they have the same light output as they did new.

    For a few hours after darkness falls - useful, at least for us. Hope this helps.

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  2. When Irma went through and knocked out power for a few days I found it quite peaceful. I have an old oil lamp and candles that I used. Peanut butter always tastes good to me and there's plenty of that in the house. Jugs of water aplenty also for drinking and flushing. Thankfully I didn't have to go anywhere 'cause gas pumps run on electric power. All in all a little like camping.

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    1. Not a bad way to live, at least for a few days. Might get old after six months.

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  3. Though I wouldn't choose to go off-grid completely, I could handle it. Ironically, my wife actually grew up off-grid, but I don't think she could handle it. Maybe you need to get some propane lamps, like you had at the camp. I'm sure Lehman's carries them.

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    1. I helped install one in a friend's house once. He put it over the propane stove so he could see what he was cooking during a power outage.

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  4. I’m with you, the power grid is very fragile and over-worked today. The more I learn about prepping and the aftermath of an EMP (which I feel is most likely to happen) would keep us in the dark for a long time.
    My home is all electric but I can live OK without it. I’m in Florida and really can live without A/C. We do have a chilly winter but have a fireplace to take the chill out of the air (firewood is everywhere here). Water? I have a manual bilge pump that can pump all the water I need from the lawn irrigation well and with the ceramic water filters supply all the clean water we need. Cooking? If the fireplace is burning cook there. If not the rocket stove can handle the cooking. Toilet? Can flush it with well water or the good old ‘bucket’ will earn its keep. Lighting? If the solar system is still working then no problem, but if taken out by the pulse we have oil lamps, if we run out of oil then it’s into bed at sunset and up at sunrise. Life like this is almost pleasant to think about, simple and I like simple.

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    1. Sounds like you are good in shape and have adapted to your climate.

      Most people never think this stuff through.

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  5. I keep a couple of garden solar lights in storage for a longer power outage. Put them outside during the day and bring them in at night. Many of you will remember the big power outage in the summer of 2003 I think it was. Husband, kids and I enjoyed that evening's quiet and were a bit sad when the power came back on. Could we handle a longer outage? Yes. I'd have a bit of computer withdrawal but we haven't watched TV in at least 5 years. We have several board games and a deck of cards. We have a creek that runs through our back yard and a filter so we would have water for toilets and drinking. Actually, this reminds me we should do what I call a power down day. We turn off the power and "practice" being without power for several hours. Between the hurricanes, fires, snowstorms (already!) it would almost feel like a couple of hours of solidarity. Stay well!

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    1. Sounds just like our camp when I was a boy living in Pennsylvania. The spring was our refrigerator and sometimes the bears would raid it. It was about the same depth and width as yours with a full length front porch. Loved that place.

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    2. West Side Mom: A practice day is a really good idea. Nothing reveals gaps on your preps like actually testing it out.

      Dizzy: We are lucky to have had camps to go to. It's a simple way of life, but good.

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