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An Off Grid Girl Visits the City

Well, it really wasn’t technically the city.  But it certainly felt like one to me!  My husband and I took a day and night to visit Eureka Springs, AR for our anniversary.  It’s been ten years and we wanted to make it special.  We walked and hiked the many streets, gawked at the beautiful houses (one of my favorite things to do) and landscape, and had a great time.  We constantly remarked that the location is not the best for building.  A lot of dynamite would have been needed and often homes were built on the side of the mountain.  Look at these houses that are built right over huge boulders!  I have never seen anything like it.  The people who built Eureka Springs stopped at nothing.  The result is a very charming little town.  I’ve been all around the world and I’ve never seen anything else like it.  Everything is literally carved out of the rock.

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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!
  4. Entertainment: eureka-springs7eureka-springs6Since 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Night:eureka-springs15 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Exerciseeureka-springs14Speaking 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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About JaimieB

Jaimie lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead known online as An American Homestead. They live with their two sons and her parents Tim and Joann on 50 acres located deep in the American Ozark Mountains.

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10 comments

  1. My husband is originally from NW Arkansas, and when we visited his family there years ago, the ladies went to Eureka Springs while the men went golfing. It was nice, a lovely place, but I wasn’t used to living in hilly land and got really tired! It is an adorable town.

  2. I think that on demand hot water is one of the best inventions of modern civilization. While I do not live off the grid I did spend over 13 years in the military and I was always popular as I carried a small propane stove in the field and could make warm water even for a spit bath. I was wondering if you have a large camp cooler/ice chest? That could work as a hot water holding tank if you can’t afford an Igloo jug at this time. Several outdoor sites and Amazon carry the Zodi portable camp shower/propane water heater with a pump that runs on 4D batteries or 6 volts. Kmart has a camp shower with battery powered pump that you can fill with hot water that is under $45.00.

    You are off grid so you deal with humping that heavy wieght of water daily and I bet you are very good at recycling water and it’s many uses. I think many preppers don’t realize just how heavy water is nor do they think about how much water is needed to run a household if they had to move the water daily instead of just turning on a tap.

  3. In South Africa we use a “Donkey Boiler,” (just Google it under images to get an idea)… Perhaps this would work for the hot water problem.

  4. great article ,thanks

  5. Jamie – could so relate to so much of what you were sharing about shopping; sleeping without electronics (I keep almost everything unplugged because I’m sensitive to electronics); entertainment (Jim & I prefer quietly sitting somewhere beautiful to enjoy creation to any formal entertainment) It was such a shock for me to go to CA recently and stay in others homes. What a contrast of life in CA – the instant society compared to our little homestead in NW AR. We both had difficulty sleeping. I found that I had so much free time (I utilized it to do art, play my guitar and cook homemade meals from scratch for our hosts). And yes, I took a lot of long walks for exercise since I was not getting my regular well-balanced workout in the garden and tending to the farm. Couldn’t wait to run out of the house in the mornings and sink my bare feet in the grass or walk in the dirt!

  6. I just ran across your blog and this post was very interesting. There are so many things I take for granted living on-grid. I tend to only notice when something breaks or the electricity goes out.

    Your comments about hot water made me think of a video I watched recently and I wanted to pass it along.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IRLVCJ1olA

    It shows how to make “endless” hot water with just a small stove and some sticks for fuel. There are also some other videos on his channel which use heat (such as from a wood stove) to heat water fairly effortlessly.

    Just having visited your blog for the first time, I’m not sure if you’ve used any of these methods, but I thought I’d pass it along anyway.

    Hope it’s a blessing!

  7. Nice articles.. Keep warm!

  8. I understand the little red light they are in smoke detectors, we also have an alarm on our home and ths red beam, catches you when you move. I don’t have any light’s on at night and my clock radio, I put a towel over it. We really are spoiled when it comes to electronic, electricity, running hot water. When my dryer died I did go to a laundry mat to dry. I could dry three loads in about 30 minutes, fold them and be home not listen to a dryer going for 2 hours each day was heaven. But hubby after three months bought me a new washer and dryer set . I could lie and say I did not want them but in reality I did. But it goes to show us we can live without certain electronic, or dryer we just have to train ourselves.

  9. Hot showers are one of the basics in my book. I’ve traveled quite a bit in Africa and became quite accustomed to the hot bucket shower/bath (1 teakettle of boiling water with cool water in a 5 gallon bucket is plenty; with a dipper for pouring over oneself.) BUT I do adore my Camp Chef 5L propane camp shower here in my little off-grid home. It does require water pressure, but I’ve seen online where people have rigged it up with very small battery powered RV water pumps to run it. I luckily have a gravity based water system (running a Highlifter water pump to fill my top of mountain tank.) I am a bit jealous of your flat pastures and garden space, but use gravity quite a bit around my steep mountainside homestead. On demand hot showers . . . aahhhh – yeah!

  10. Very jealous of you living off grid and enjoying Gods way of living. I want to get to that if I can. I am just thinking about it and love reading about it and “dreaming” about it. I just need to remember not to romanticize it into what it isn’t.

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