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The American Way

Whether you’ve sold cookies and earned merit badges or not, there is no denying the impact of the Boy and Girl Scouts on the American Way. Enterprising girls clad in green, and boys with bright smiles, open doors all over the nation and leave an indelible mark on the people of the United States, and have done so for over a century. As a measure of their influence, notable American Scouts include household names such as Sandra Day O’Connor, Neil Armstrong, Lucille Ball, Bruce Jenner, Sally Ride, and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a common rite of passage in the early grades, Ben and I recited the Scout’s oath with two fingers- he as a Cub Scout and Webelo, and I as a little Brownie. There is something special and sacred about donning the gold emblems and making a promise out loud to do your best, help others, and be a true patriot. While we didn’t follow the full course of the programs (probably a little too regimented for us as boundary-pushers), there’s no doubt we can be proud to have participated in those formative years.

Beyond those basic activities as school children, we both had a more personal connection to the internationally-recognized youth leadership associations. For Ben, he lived next door to the Girl Scout’s Camp Elliott Barker where he helped tend the grounds as his first summer job. He passed by the esteemed and picturesque Philmont Camp everyday on his way to school where Scouts from all over the country go to push their limits and achieve personal bests in the great outdoors.

Turns out that northern New Mexico hosts several Scout camps to include a property just down the road from Sahalee, Rancho del Chapparal. A little more far removed, the family lore on my mother’s side claims that my great grandfather, Lewis Hay from Baltimore, had a hand in operating a Boy Scout camp in Eagle Pass, TX in the early 1900’s. He is buried there, and we are hoping to research more and make a visit at some point to connect with the outpost.

These indirect touches with the Scouts have colored our lives in ways we hadn’t really thought of until recently. When you think of Eagle Scouts, specifically, you think of capable and trustworthy men groomed for excellence and public service. There is no better example than the young man I am privileged to know who is now a high-achieving cadet leader in his third year at West Point. I marvel at BJL’s new undertakings since I spent many days with him and his three sisters (also Scouts) as their nanny while he was an energetic and curious boy in the primary grades. I’d like to think the times we spent day-camping and bushwhacking at Wickham Park in Florida influenced him to purse outdoor adventures as a proud member of our United States military. It was truly humbling to join his family at the Eagle Court of Honor, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this bright young man and his siblings.

While Eagle Scouts are turned out into the world prepared to endure life’s toughest challenges with grace and determination, there are events for which one can never fully prepare. This happened to be the case for Eagle Scout, and member of the Order of the Arrow, Jackson Leslie Beam.

My eldest nephew, a 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, disciplined banjo picker, and missionary for his church, was snatched away from this earth on June 24th after suffering an unforeseen and tragic health complication.

He just graduated with his high school diploma the weekend before, and celebrated his 18th birthday on May 5th with his twin sister in Fort Wayne, IN. Jack grew from a sweetly enchanting little boy to be a model citizen with the guidance of his mother as Den Leader of his troop. At Scouting events and within his wider community alongside his father (a graduate of the US Air Force Academy), soft-spoken blue-eyed Jack proved himself to be a leader among his peers, and was compelled to attend to the needs of others to include his adopted little sister. All who knew him expected great things from his pending two-year mission to Taiwan and future studies in computer science at Purdue University where he was recently accepted.

An Eagle Scout in the truest sense, going above and very much beyond the rigorous requirements, this young man gave us hope that the future would be in the best of hands long after the older generations are gone. Now, Jack serves as a reminder of what can be accomplished in just a few short years- to live a life of purpose that is full of genuine love. Jack’s legacy lives on in the hearts and memories of others, and there is no doubt he will be remembered in the Scouting community for a very, very long time. Claiming the legendary ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic‘ as his favorite song, I don’t believe anyone would fuss at adding Jack’s name to the list above of notable Scouts for their positive impact on the world as a true American.

Jack and his cousin, Wyatt, in 2016

In this year’s celebration of American Independence, we honor those here and gone who have made their own pledges to follow their faith, honor their county, and help others for the good of all.

During a White House visit by Scouts and Explorers in 1961, President John F. Kennedy shared how Scouts “learn the qualities of perseverance … you come to understand something about nature and something about our country.”

“After years of observation,” he continued, “I really believe that the experience you have … is the best possible training you can have to equip you for later life.”

“What you are doing now will prepare you to play a significant and responsible role in maintaining the freedom of the United States.”

Scouting Magazine

Be safe, savor the moment, and hug a Scout this Fourth of July!!

Happy Sahaliversary!

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!

Sahalee Off Grid New Mexico
Can you spot the yurt? It’s there, we promise!

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!!

 

 

Farewell, Old Friend

Today marks the end of an era and the start of a new chapter. Three years ago, we were formally introduced to “Ol’ Skraggly” as the ancient Ponderosa Pine greeted us on our first visit to Sahalee. Such an impressive feature, the woody elder is an immediate attention-grabber and landmark, and was a delightful surprise to us upon learning we’d be sharing the same space during some very precious moments.

Ol Skraggly Sahalee Off Grid ponderosa pine
Our first encounter c. 2014

Continue reading “Farewell, Old Friend”

Aaahhh… Springtime in the Rockies

You may have heard a quip or two about the schizophrenic nature of Rocky Mountain weather during the spring months (and snow on the 4th of July). If nothing else, I’m sure you are conjuring images of naked skiers with big grins and see-through skin underneath shiny-blue skies. The reality here in our first year is that after planting our garden too soon on exactly March 20th, the Sahalee Off Grid weather station recorded a high of 76 and low of 19 for the month of April (on the 18th and the 5th, respectively), we battled hail earlier this week, and it’s snowing as I write this! The week before that, we unexpectedly encountered the fallout of Spring’s moody temperament while on the road to visit family in Montrose, CO for the holiday.

Continue reading “Aaahhh… Springtime in the Rockies”

Everyday is Earth Day at Sahalee Off Grid

Hooray!! The day has finally come for our earth to be celebrated by people around the world! Phew!! I was getting a little worried there… The other 364 days pass by and our little blue planet spins at 1,042 mph without much fanfare from the bi-pedal creatures with opposable thumbs. Besides those of us who hug trees on the daily and go to church under the stars as part of a normal routine, billions of people hike concrete jungles and harvest food from plastic boxes, only stopping to consider their place on this planet during one contrived semi-sacred occasion. The reality is that on any given day here upon this shiny orb, there are still 1.5 billion people in the developing world living without electricity, 1 in 10 people worldwide who have no clean water whatsoever, and 2.3 billion people in the world have no access to a toilet! These fragile souls live much closer to the natural elements and are left taking stock of all that planet Earth affords them upon every waking moment.

Continue reading “Everyday is Earth Day at Sahalee Off Grid”

Off-grid finance

Making the move from suburban Florida to rural New Mexico was meant to satisfy several wants and needs. One of the main objectives for starting a homestead from scratch was to live without the financial burden of paying a mortgage or facing the temptation to keep up with the Jones’ and live a life of pure convenience.

Continue reading “Off-grid finance”

scepter water can – 5 gallon review

We currently have 8- Scepter 5 gallon water cans, giving us 40 gallons of water storage.  At Sahalee Off Grid any water we use gets hauled several miles in the back of our pickup truck as we do not have a source of fresh water right now.  That being said, it was very important for us to find a vessel to haul and store water that is made with good quality and would be reliable for us in less than ideal conditions.

5-Gallon Scepter blue plastic water can
Scepter 5-Gallon Water Can

The Scepter can truly is ideal for our situation.  We can fit all 8 of them against the cab of the truck, so they ride just perfect on the rough road back. We have read several reviews about this container and many of them note that the containers give the water a “plasticy” taste…..While we haven’t experienced any funny or off tastes in the water we have used out of them our max storage time in the container is likely 6 weeks or less.  We do not use them for long-term storage.

They are made of good thick/durable plastic that have withstood being dropped and tossed around in freezing temperatures as well as riding around in the back of the truck on rough roads with Pick Axes, Shovels, Winches etc…  The Water Can has an articulating nozzle which I found brings a little less struggle while emptying the container. Attaching the nozzle to the container while it is not in use is a thick black cap with ridges around the outer edge which makes the closing/opening process a breeze.  There is an airvent on the back, it has a good sturdy plastic cap that screws on, but also has a “safety attachment” keeping the cap tethered to the can even while it is off.  This airvent cap is my only complaint–it takes 4 turns to put it on but 20 or more to take it off.  I can’t explain it….While I haven’t seen anybody else having that problem in the other reviews, it is a pain in the butt for me to get off .  That being said, the Scepter water can gets my absolute recommendation.

Cuba News is now online!

Cuba News Feb20 2017

April Fools! Subscribe by US Postal Service to read analog version 1.0. 

Happy April!!

“Worth the Cash or To the Trash”–AcuRite Weather Center review

As we were wandering around the hardware store last summer we came across this AcuRite Weather Center (model 00615). We weren’t in the market for a weather station but it was on sale and as we walked the store getting the things we came for we convinced ourselves that we just couldn’t live off-grid without this particular weather station right now… Long story short we were the proud new owners of this piece of technology.

This is a 3 in 1 model, it measures; temperature/humidity (inside and out), wind speed and barometric pressure. The kit comes with a display unit and the 3 in 1 sensor that is mounted outside in a location of your choice. The display unit houses loads of good information as seen below and even has trending arrows for outside temp/humidity and pressure as well as a bottom scroller that you can adjust to flash the info that is most important to you.

Interior Digital Display Unit for the AcuRite Weather Center
Display Unit

 

The 3 in 1 sensor was very easy to install, and certainly seems like it would be easy to install in numerous locations. It is really the work horse as it wirelessly transmits all the data to the display unit inside. The instruction manual says to keep the display unit and sensor within 330 feet of each other and I think we are certainly at that limit and operating fine.

3 in 1 Sensor for the AcuRite Weather Center mounted about 12 feet high on a fence post
Mounted 3 in 1 Sensor

While this a great product overall and we are certainly happy we did make the decision to buy it. We have identified a few opportunities for improvement…

1. It has a “future forecast” feature in which it “predicts” near term weather using the trending temperatures and barometric pressure. We are doing better licking our finger and sticking it out the door to create our forecasts than this weather center does.

2. We think it needs a backlight on the Display Unit. It would probably be better if we didn’t know it was 45mph winds at 1:00 in the morning but dangit we still feel we should be able to if we want to.

3. You lose your historical data when you change the batteries in the Display Unit. Simple solution is to just write it down if you are interested in saving it, wish I would have thought about that before I changed the batteries. 🙂

It’s important to understand that we weren’t shopping for a weather station so we just got one on the spur of the moment… If we had been shopping for one, it’s pretty likely that we could have found one that would have solved problems 2 and 3 at least…These are very minor flaws for us, we definitely feel like we made the right decision on this purchase. While we may upgrade to a more robust weather station in the future we think this was a great start and was Worth the Cash!

"Worth the Cash or To the Trash"–AcuRite Weather Center review

As we were wandering around the hardware store last summer we came across this AcuRite Weather Center (model 00615).  We weren’t in the market for a weather station but it was on sale and as we walked the store getting the things we came for we convinced ourselves that we just couldn’t live off-grid without this particular weather station right now… Long story short we were the proud new owners of this piece of technology.

This is a 3 in 1 model, it measures; temperature/humidity (inside and out), wind speed and barometric pressure.  The kit comes with a display unit and the 3 in 1 sensor that is mounted outside in a location of your choice.  The display unit houses loads of good information as seen below and even has trending arrows for outside temp/humidity and pressure as well as a bottom scroller that you can adjust to flash the info that is most important to you.

ARDisplay
Display Unit

The 3 in 1 sensor was very easy to install, and certainly seems like it would be easy to install in numerous locations.  It is really the work horse as it wirelessly transmits all the data to the display unit inside.  The instruction manual says to keep the display unit and sensor within 330 feet of each other and I think we are certainly at that limit and operating fine.

3n1
3 in 1 Sensor

 

While this a great product overall and we are certainly happy we did make the decision to buy it.  We have identified a few opportunities for improvement…

1. It has a “future forecast” feature in which it “predicts” near term weather using the trending temperatures and barometric pressure.  We are doing better licking our finger and sticking it out the door to create our forecasts than this weather center does.

2. We think it needs a backlight on the Display Unit. It would probably be better if we didn’t know it was 45mph winds at 1:00 in the morning but dangit we still feel we should be able to if we want to.

3. You lose your historical data when you change the batteries in the Display Unit.  Simple solution is to just write it down if you are interested in saving it, wish I would have thought about that before I changed the batteries. 🙂

It’s important to understand that we weren’t shopping for a weather station so we just got one on the spur of the moment… If we had been shopping for one, it’s pretty likely that we could have found one that would have solved problems 2 and 3 at least…These are very minor flaws for us, we definitely feel like we made the right decision on this purchase.  While we may upgrade to a more robust weather station in the future we think this was a great start and was Worth the Cash!