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.

 

Camping Along The Natchez Trace Parkway

Mississippi Alabama Stateline

Mississippi Bi-Way

Entrance to Natchez Trace

Natchez Trace Pkwy

Bridge Over Natchez Trace

Native American History

DSCF8056

Building Campfire

Rocky Springs Campground, Miss

Rocky Springs Campground, Miss

Key West Road Trip — The Journey Home

{Journal Entry}

DAY 4:

‘Pulled out of St. Joseph’s Peninsula at around 1:30 or so, headed West on Scenic 98 to 71 North.  We’re planning to visit the Southern Tip of Georgia before we head home on El Camino 84 to Texas 287.  That’s the plan anyway.

*Update*

We ended up at a rest stop off of Interstate Highway 65 at 1 AM in the morning.  Ugh!  ‘Drove all night, but we didn’t want to pay the $$$ on a room for just a few hours of sleep.  So…after stopping numerous times at various motels–and trekking out to the ONLY (what seemed like it) National Forest in Alabama, we settle for a nice…much safer, rest stop.  It was the best choice, and one we should’ve made much earlier in the evening. 

*What I Learned*  Sleeping at rest stops isn’t half as bad as I suspected.  Guess it pays to listen to Nico sometimes; as much as I hate to admit it.  lol

Hippies on Duval Street in the Florida Keys

Okay, so we’d been lingering a lot on Sugarloaf Key and not had too much time for Key West until…  Until we decided we had to know more of the island that our friend T.J. swore to us was ‘much better than we’d so far experienced’.  *not word for word*  We knew we’d have to make a day of it and, once and for all, see it for ourselves; Duval Street…Southernmost Point and everything in between.

In no time at all, Peniki was blaring down Overseas Highway at 55 mph and we were once again on Key West.  This time, we’d left our bikes back at Lazy Lakes and opted to go afoot.  We tried to think like the local Conchs and check out the ‘not so touristy’ spots where, in our opinions, the local-focal were likely to frequent.  In our search, we ended up at a little outdoor bistro with a tropical setting like no other we’d seen anywhere near Duval…complete with talking birds.  One Mango Daquiri later, I was sure we’d made the right decision by choosing to take a more intimate look at Key West and Duval Street.  We were fast becoming friends with the Florida Keys.

Off the Grid in The Florida Keys

We’d lost all track of time or day by the end of our first week in The Florida Keys.  Sugarloaf Key had proven to be a perfect landing spot for our little family; our old rig a welcome sight to practically everyone at Lazy Lakes.  I had the feeling that most folks didn’t know quite what to make of the ‘Hippies’ in the classic Volkswagen Westfalia Van.  I was proud of Peniki…beyond measure!

So we’d survived Publix Market that first trip to Key West; never to return again.  Winn Dixie had proven to be our grocery store of choice on the island.  As for short ‘beer runs’ and other necessities, we biked on over to Kickin’ Back Market a few miles up from Sugarloaf Key, or just made a quick jaunt over to the KOA Campground Store…right next door to Lazy Lakes.

We had fallen into a laid-back routine by our second week in the Keys:  I fed the fish right behind our camp-home every morning, Nico had his regular visits from friends for guy talk out by the street or sittin’ around our little abode.  And even though it had been our intention to ‘rough it’ while we were on this adventure, it seems the kindness of others had lavished us with a few of the ‘finer’ things of camp-life; furnishing us with a TV hooked up to cable, fans, and a few chairs we’d really needed, freshly caught Mahi Mahi steaks, and some of the best company I believe we’ve ever shared.  I really was loving life in the Florida Keys.  Still, in my deepest subconscience…I knew, we would soon be returning to the rat-race to welcome our first Grandson into this world.  If only, I thought to myself often, we could have everyone we love in one place…this place, I would never have wanted to be land-locked…ever again.

All in all, we stayed a full 3 weeks in the Florida Keys, and loved every minute of it!  After that night at T.J.’s barbecue, we were destined to sing our songs on Mallory Square, for all of Key West to hear at the Sunset Celebration.  It was an entirely different gig for us; an unforgettable experience I’ll forever cherish.  I met a man who made an impact on my life; a fellow, much more seasoned, street performer.  His name was Dr. Zeaus (spelling?), though I cannot recall his real name.  I hope someday I can remember.  Either way, we had an interesting conversation about life and the way people aren’t allowed to live the way they wish anymore…in this day and age.  How we both feel that folks are no longer really ‘free’.  I’m sure our beliefs would be met with much opposition, but to each his own.  Right?

Needless to say, Nico and I took Gypsy Vin Rose to the Sunset Celebration on Key West and the evening was truly magical!  Just as the sun was setting, we sang our hearts out; one of our favorite original songs ‘Time’.  The music…the moment…the bit of money we made from passersby…the memories made…the much-appreciated words of a stranger “You guys have great spirit.”  I’ll never…ever forget such words of encouragement.  Still, no one was ever more encouraging when it came to our music than our friend T.J.  And even though the CD we left him with was still just a rough-cut, live and unedited, he loved it just the same as if it were our polished studio work.  It was real!  As we know GVR must always stay!  To us, our songs need to flow like the water, remain free as the wind: that is the voice of Gypsy Vin Rose.  To us…anyway.

As for our thoughts on Key West, besides that first bad experience at Publix, we took rather well to the island life and the Conchs thereabouts.  Riding bikes, snapping pics, fishing, kicking back with friends, swimming, touring and lunching on Key West, and singing at the Sunset Celebration.  So many things about our three weeks in The Florida Keys, not to mention the wonderful new friendships we’d formed, are memories I’ll always treasure.  And because there is still so much to tell, I couldn’t possibly cover it all in one sitting.  I invite you to keep posted.  The adventure is just beginning!

 

 

 

Shopping in Key West

*Journal Entries from Summer 2011*

Day 20-Something (We’ve lost track by now):

Okay…!  So we’d planned on heading on in to Key West today; check it out and see what it’s all about.  Long-about noon time,  we cruised over Cow Key Channel and there we were: In the Famed Key of Keys!  I snapped pic after pic of anything…everything my shutter could capture.

It didn’t take us long to see that it was a very busy little island.  Taking the right path where it splits (A1A goes left, Hwy 1 goes right) we ended up in traffic!  Yuk…traffic!!  Of all places in the world, I never expected such hustle and bustle on Key West.  But there we were; one red light after another, waiting…waiting, to see what all the fuss is about.  Still, we weren’t seeing it.

Finding our way to the Publix Market, there were bikes everywhere out front: That was different than anything we’d seen back in Texas or along the way.  A nice change of pace, I thought to myself.  We parked and went in for a few necessities, and plenty of libations for T.J.’s barbecue later that evening.

I must admit, the view across the street from Publix was like seeing night and day; Publix was ‘Blah’…the Gulf side Marina was very inviting.  I saw houseboats everywhere!  I wanted to go live on one of them.  Nico and I dreamed of what it would be like to float around in our houseboat, without a care in the world; singing…playing music, writing songs all day or night.  The vision was nice while it lasted; thanks to the hectic frenzy inside Publix.

The energy in there was all bad!  The people were as crazy as back home; the vibes I felt from one woman were barely short of evil.  She was in a very bad mood and didn’t do much to hide it.  I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there!   We decided to avoid Publix after that.  I was rather taken-aback by the ‘feel’ of the place and the people in it.  Publix is definitely a place I’d NOT recommend in Key West.

So…after that ‘experience’ at Publix, we decided to check out the other side of the island before heading back to Sugarloaf Key.  It was a very refreshing change from the commerce side of Key West: hotels, seawall, beaches, miles of sidewalks for riding…running…walking.  I loved the other side of Key West!  Now this…I definitely would recommend.  When you visit Key West, take the left turn…not the right.  You’ll be glad you did!

After a brief tour of the ‘lighter’ side of life on Key West, we spent the rest of our day back on Sugarloaf; kicking back a few brewskies and prepping to mosy down to T.J.’s for some laid-back fun on Lazy Lakes’ peaceful freshwater lake.

The evening was filled with fun, good food, singing and playing our music.  I do believe, after that night, T.J. is our biggest fan!  He shared a lot of insider secrets to entertaining on Key West.  To hear him tell it, we needed to share our songs at the Sunset Celebration that goes on nightly over on KW.  It was fun to imagine, but we weren’t quite sure we were ready to join the ranks of street performers.  But, time would tell!  If it was left up to our new friend, I knew we’d soon be braving the crowds on Mallory Square.  It was an exciting thought!

 

Three Weeks in the Florida Keys

Day 2 on Sugarloaf Key:

For us…this morning was a new beginning.  The light of day had brought with it a better view of Lazy Lakes Campground and the clear water lake beside us.  More of our new neighbors stopped for a friendly ‘hello’ and to tell a few tales of their younger days when they either owned or knew someone who’d owned a Hippie Van like Peniki.  Still, we seemed to be frowned-down-upon by the more ‘uppity’ clan of big-riggers; the ‘old codgers’ I call them.

All in all, the folks at LL are turning out to be a pretty warm bunch of retirees, part time beach bums, or full time ‘conchs’ as they so lovingly refer to native residents or transplant natives of The Florida Keys.  Again, our new friend T.J. happened by on his bicycle…on his way down to a little store called Kickin Back, a mile or so down Overseas Highway.  Being the nice person he is, he asked if we needed anything while he was there.  Lucky for us, we were well packed, and at that time only needed to buy more ice for our ice box.  The campground office sells ice and is really laid back on when campers pay.  Like I said, Lazy Lakes is just the place to go for a relaxing vaca in the Keys.

For most of our first full day on Sugarloaf Key, we’ve lolly-gagged about on our bikes with baby in tow, met a few more nice locals, and relaxed for the first time in days; got a little fishin’ in too.  We ended our day with a few brewskies by our trusty old VW Van, overlooking the myriad of fish from the ‘backyard’ of our new place in the Keys; however temporary it might be.

Tomorrow will be a busy day when, in addition to the barbecue we’ve been invited to at T.J.’s, we will head in to check out Key West, pick up a few more groceries and supplies…and see how the local ‘Conchs’ live.  I can hardly wait!