It had been a long time since I spent the night with electricity and had hot water just by turning on the faucet. It took me a while to get used to off grid life, but now that I have I can’t imagine going back to an electric life. You can read about my journey learning to live off grid in Off Grid Living: A Woman’s Perspective. Maybe you’ve wondered what it would be like to live off grid. But here are a few of my perceptions of what it was like for me to revisit an electric life for the day.
- Air conditioning: It was actually nice to step into a cool building after walking around town. We had done a lot of exercise and were really hot. But after we cooled down, I just wanted to go back outside. I’ve grown so accustomed to no air conditioning that I actually prefer it that way. The hotel had sealed all the windows and painted them shut. The only way to move the air around was to use the air conditioning unit. At night, I climbed in bed cold and piled on the blankets. A little later I was hot. I couldn’t find the right temperature because it seemed so fake. I just wanted to turn off the air and open a window. Since the hotel was historic, it was built with air movement in mind. It had two huge windows in the bedroom area which were supposed to allow a lot of air and light into the room. But when the hotel was modernized, an air conditioning unit was added and the windows were painted shut. What a tragedy for those of us who love fresh air.
- Hot running water: I was looking forward to this more than anything. For me, water requires more work off grid than anything else. I was not disappointed. Hot running water felt just as great as I had remembered! It was wonderful to stand under the hot shower and just let it run without thinking about how I was creating extra work for myself to haul more water. My husband and I each took three showers in the span of one day. That’s real luxury for an off grid life!
- Noise: Eureka Springs has noise ordinances, but they don’t enforce them. They are trying to bring the quiet peaceful atmosphere (of day’s gone by) back to their town. It’s a tourist town and I understand what they are trying to achieve. I love the peaceful life! But it just seemed funny to me that they think they can achieve this. Where there are a lot of people, there will always be excessive noise. We moved out in the country to get away from lots of people and we love the quiet. The noises that we have on our homestead usually involve our animals. The donkey can really holler when she gets going!
- Entertainment: Since living off grid, my family has been asked about what we do for entertainment. It’s hard for us to answer that question in a satisfactory way because our idea of entertainment is usually very simple. We enjoy things life taking walks around our mountain, flying a kite with the kids, and having a special meal after the kids have been put to bed. So we talked a lot about what we would do when we visited Eureka Springs. The town is known for their shopping and shows. Neither of which sounded very appealing. So in the end, we had the most fun walking around on the back roads, looking at the buildings and Victorian architecture, and finding the hidden springs. We had a decadent meal and afterward went to a jazz night at the hotel. We stayed for a short time enjoying the people watching, but then left early. It was more appealing to sit out on the hotel balcony and look at the stars. We’ve realized that we’ve learned to enjoy the stillness.
- Shopping: I mentioned that Eureka Springs is a tourist town and known for its shopping. There were so many cute little shops that lined the streets, but I never had the desire to go in any of them. Looking at their wares from the windows, I saw some very cute things. But they held no draw for me. I no longer care about acquiring things in my life because I know that they don’t make me happier. I have everything I need. I certainly don’t need a fancy knick-knack or expensive vase to take up room on a shelf.
- Lights: We walked into the hotel room and all the lights were on! I promptly opened the window blinds and turned off the lights. It felt like such a waste of electricity! And then I remembered the privacy issue. People can see in the windows! In our little country homestead house, we can leave our curtains open all the time and not worry about anyone looking in. The only reason we have them is for blocking the light from the full moon and the early morning sun. But during the day, I’m so used to letting the natural light in. The hotel’s big old fashioned windows let in so much light. The bathroom had it’s own window. I would love a window like that in my bathroom at home. So much light and air in the summer! It felt like such a waste to have to close the blinds for privacy and turn on the electric lights.
- Night: I love sleeping off grid. One of my favorite things about our lifestyle is to be able to sleep without electronic devices around me. I’m convinced that insomnia is a modern thing. Our bodies sleep the best when unnatural light and electronic devices are not around. In our hotel, there were little lights on everything! The TV had a glow from behind even when it was off! The smoke detector light was like a beam shining right in my eyes. The spotlight lighting up the historic hotel so that it could be appreciated from the street at night shone right in our window. The only thing we have at home is a full moon at certain times of the month. Even my husband who has never been sensitive to sleeping with lights on was affected. The next night in our own beds, I turned down our lantern and fell asleep in the blissful dark.
- Time: I know that we were on vacation for the day and we didn’t have the kids with us, but I was struck with how much time was freed up when it wasn’t necessary to do things like pump and carry water, take care of our composting toilet, and heat water for showers. I normally spend a lot of my daily time just taking care of my family’s physical needs. It was wonderful to take a break for a day. In reality, I realize that without lots of things to keep me busy, it would be easy to sink back into a sedentary lifestyle. My off grid life keeps me moving all day everyday. I don’t need to make time for physical activities because no additional exercise is needed.
- Exercise: Speaking of exercise, it was wonderful to be able to hike around the town without difficulty and without getting tired. Some of the hills and stairs we climbed were pretty steep! The pre-off-grid me would have never been able to do that. It felt good to not be hindered by an out of shape body. Living off grid has gotten me into the best shape of my life. I’m so grateful for that. I can now go anywhere my feet can take me without worrying whether I’m going to make it.
I felt like I was spoiled for the day, but I was so grateful to get home. I love our peaceful life away from the business of the electric world. The only thing I really miss is hot running water. I don’t need all the other things that electricity and a city life have to offer. I love learning what I can do to live more and more simply. It’s a very gratifying and rewarding life for us.
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