Off the Grid...In a VW  Westfalia Campervan

Boycotting the Power Grid

Our power was shut off today–just like that!  With the flip of a switch (or whatever they do to shut off power) everything went quiet.  Baby was watching Veggietales on VHS (Yes…!  We still watch those.  :  )P  ) and all-of-a-sudden, a quiet click…and silence.  She looked at me, and I just thought for a moment we had overloaded the breaker.  Then I realized, we were only running one little T.V. and the fridge.  That wouldn’t cause a shut down.

Then…I remembered that pink paper that had arrived in the mail about a week or so ago; the one that said we needed to pay our bill by such-and-such date, or ZAP!  –We’d be cut off.  Ooops!  Guess I forgot to note that little ‘pink slip’.  So…I located the oh-so-colorful notice, and…sure-enough, the last day to pay was…(YIKES) yesterday!  ‘Guess that might have had something to do with our lack of power.  :  /

In an instant, I was on the phone with a ‘robot customer service rep’; giving away most of the money we had left.   I was told our power would be back on between “…two hours time and midnight tonight.”  Oh well…!  Those are the breaks when you forget to pay the power piper.

Which brings me back to the instant after our power went off.  Most folks would feel quite defeated, upset, perhaps even come unglued.  Me…?  I felt a calmness, a peaceful feeling of quiet and comfort at the absence of that hum of being on the grid of power.  The feeling I had was akin to having a huge boulder (the burden of bills) being lifted off of my shoulders.  I sighed a relief in that very moment.

Explaining the sudden interruption of cartoons to my little-one took some persuading, but soon…we were outside, playing in the yard…rummaging around in Peniki.  I was wishing we were still living and traveling in our old hippie van.  I love that van…more than I’ve ever loved any material object!  I’m not sure why, other than she has saved us from homelessness several times.  She has hosted many afternoons of laughter, even a few tears, and reading in the quiet comforts of her fold down bed; the dim light powered by Mother Nature, and solar power (off the grid!).

I thought today, after the power shut down, about just how vulnerable we all are!  How we rely so completely on the grid of power, the water department, the gas company…and any others we succumb to on a monthly basis.  It makes me miss our vagabond days in Peniki, that much more.  I know it’s the wave of the future, going solar and such.  For a while now, I’ve felt there would be a paradigm shift towards a freer alternative to working to pay bills…just to work to pay bills…just to work, to pay bills.  It’s an endless cycle.  We all get snared.

Even still, I can’t stop thinking about how I responded to the cutting off of our power today.  It was a reality check, if-you-will.  –An insight into true freedom…and independence from working just to pay for stuff we really weren’t meant to have in the first place.  We’ve all gone soft!  And been forced to rely on something, for the sake of the vicious cycle.

Like the Native Americans, or natives of any land, we weren’t meant to live on the grid, get our pre-packaged food from the stores, pay others to build our homes…caravans…whatever abode we choose.  We, as able-bodied humans, were given all the necessary skills to nurture, so we…ourselves, could rely on we…ourselves. 

Though we are now backed into a corner, most of us.  Not only do we need gasoline to fuel our vehicles, but we also buy so many things that are manmade of artificial ingredients (plastic, instead of paper, driving instead of riding a bike (which is also made of plastics and such), or better-yet, going back to the horse and caravan (buggie) days.  I realize how much I alone, have contributed to the endless cycle of spinning our wheels to go nowhere but to work…to pay bills we were never really meant to have.

So, in a nutshell: I’m thinking even more now than ever before, about getting off the grid.  Instead of paying a monthly electric bill, have solar and wind power…along with sufficient batteries for power.  –Relying on natural burning fuel (propane canisters) for heat, cooking, and hot water.  –Using candles, oil lamps, and battery lighting to light our place after dark.

I know…!  Not quite off the grid, because we’d still be relying on plastics, artificial fuels and such.  Still, I know which way I’d like to go with being independent of utilities companies and bills.  I’m quite sure, in our day and age, it wouldn’t be allowed.  As the Good Book says, Man will dominate man to his own injury (to paraphrase).

As for me, I’ll take the ‘rough road’ any day.  I somehow feel, the path less taken is much more worth the effort and opposition I am likely to face along the way.  And I’ll take the peace and quiet of off-grid living, and the time (which no amount of money can buy back) I will have with my family…instead of working endless hours–a lifetime– to pay for the ‘so called’ easy life.  Nah..!  Not for meAnd I know I’m not alone on this.  The world is coming around.  I see it coming–soon…soon.

 

Peniki's Glamping Dress Rehearsal the night before our 'almost' trip

Our ALMOST Road Trip

Last week, we set out and headed West down 3005; bouncing happily down the highway in our VW Westfalia ‘Peniki’.  Our destination…?  Lake Belton.  We had been planning this trip to Bus Fest for months and months, and I could hardly wait.  I spent weeks sewing Hippie Bus applique pillows to donate to the fund raising auction that next day.  The only problem — so I thought at the time — was the fact that I hadn’t mapped out our travels until a day or two before we were to leave.

That was the day I felt like the air had been let out of my balloon of enthusiasm.  Leave it to me to misjudge the distance of our destination by hundreds (and I mean hundreds) of miles.  I was completely deflated!  And if I had only seen the zip code that had been right in front of me for months and months, I would’ve realized that the town of Morgan’s Point where the festival was to be held, was not the same Morgan’s Point that is just 40 miles or so from where we live.   I would’ve known the event was instead several hundred miles away…one way!

If I had noticed all of this…I wouldn’t have sent in our pre-registration money for the event I had wanted to attend so badly.  And…I certainly wouldn’t have made all those lovely pillows to donate to an auction I would never make it to, and as a result…would let some nice folks down.  No telling what they thought about me not showing up with my auction items, I pined away for days.   But I just can’t worry about that, I finally convinced my weary self.

I knew, deep down, that Peniki wasn’t yet up for such a distance.  So…if I had noticed the actual location–or taken the time to look at the map, or plan our route–I never would’ve been so bull headed to think we were ready for such a road trip.  Poor Peniki tried the best she could, against the wind all the way.  But after getting lost and going 10 miles out of the way, going through half of our very tight travel budget before we were even halfway there, and after Peniki kept trying to stall out on us out in BFE (which wouldn’t be the first time…believe me!), we decided to just cut our losses and turn around.

We had made it not even half way there, and were in some little town called Wallis when Nico looked at me, and I looked at him…and we knew; this trip was not meant to happen.  I had been experiencing that dreaded feeling; you know the one that tells you something’s not right about what you’re about to do?  Stupid me…!  I ignored it and just kept on coarse for our impending travels.  Deep down…I felt we shouldn’t go after I realized I had misjudged the distance of our destination so badly.

I just wanted to go hide in a hole somewhere, or in Peniki, and cry.  Funny how that feeling of disappointment I felt so often growing up, never seems to feel any better now that I’m grown.  Perhaps I’ve never actually grown up in a lot of ways.  Planning ahead is probably one of them.  But I guess that’s also why the saying goes: With age…Comes wisdom.  Seeing on the bright side; this must mean I’m still young at heart.  I refuse to think that I might’ve ‘momentarily’ lost my good senses.  I often miss the blissful state of ignorance I frequently had when I was younger.  Though, I find, it still visits me quite often.

Many Blessings your way & Safe Travels too.

GVR