At some point in our life, we’ve all thought of leaving the busy city behind and run to a place where we can have time for peace and quiet.
Husband and wife, Mark and Chera, don’t have to daydream about it anymore after turning an old cabin into a cozy off the grid home for their family of 5, accessible only by boat!
“I think we were drawn to this place because of how remote it felt yet close to the city.” Chera shared. “… and being on the waterfront has always been one of our dreams and also how peaceful we feel when we’re here.” She added.
Chera may have fallen in love with the place at first sight but Mark has felt a different level of connection.
“I just remember being up here there was this little stellar Jay that kept following me around and I just lost my dad.” Mark opened.
“The old man I could hear him saying, ‘oh it’s beautiful up here my boy,’ you know and it almost willing me pushing me in that direction sometimes you take it as a sign.”
Knowing that they have found the perfect place to build their new home, Mark and Chera thought hard to figure out how to take the first steps toward their dream.
After all, there is no road to get there so everything would be transported by boat and barge, from building materials and equipment to belongings and workers.
“The off-the-grid thing came later it’s like oh yeah, by the way, there’s no road to get here no power or anything up there so we kind of had to ad-lib out of necessity yeah,” Mark recalled. “…and won’t it be a great adventure we can just learn as we go so.”
And so their adventure began with the help of the people in their community, who happily offered guidance on what to do.
As their new space comes with a challenge, the couple were limited in how much they could modify the existing cabin. Thinking outside the box, they attached a yurt to the house with a mudroom to give the children their own bedrooms.
Meanwhile, to cope with the weather, the family of five have a wood stove in the house, a pellet stove in the yurt (for keeping constant temperature for the kids), as well as backup wall-mount propane heaters for extremely cold days.
They also turn this on when they are away from their home during winter and prevent pipes from freezing.
For electricity, they have 3 systems. First, a solar power system with 18 panels and a large battery bank, which works great in the summer even though they are surrounded by mountains.
However, during the colder, rainier months, the system doesn’t keep everything running so they installed a hydro turbine, which creates electricity using water pressure from a creek up the hill.
This also provides 24 hours of electricity for most of the year. As a backup to these two systems, they have a propane generator, which they try not to use unless they really have to.
“If it gets really really cold we do have little wall-mounted propane burners as well but propane, as we said, is expensive because it comes up in a barge and they charge a premium.” They explained.
The family of 5 get their refreshing drinking water from the creek, the same place where they get their turbine from. To keep impurities at bay, they run the water through 2 filters.
They have one that removes the sand and the rocks from the water. The second one is more of a mining filter. The water is also supposed to go through a UV filter, which they will hook up soon.
Certainly, Mark and Chera are having the time of their life in their epic off the grid home. However, as their chosen location is only accessible by boat, some raised concern over their 3 growing children.
“They seem to love it.” Mark and Chera reassured. They also revealed that they discussed everything with their children to make sure this is also where they want to be.
And though the family live off-grid, they are not keeping their kids away from other social interactions.
“When it’s school time of the year, they’re at a school all day.” The couple explained. “They do their after school stuff and they don’t miss out on anything like that.”
“And then when we’re home, we have family time and it’s nice you know and in the summer there’s a great community up here so they’re not really missing on in my opinion.” They added.
On top of their close family ties, the proud parents believe that their new home is shaping their children to be really great people. Being close to nature plus their helpful community empower the kids to expand their horizons, learn more, and do more outside in the woods in nature.
For their work arrangement, Mark and Chera have flexible jobs so they have the freedom to work in town or from home. They also have 2 enclosed boats equipped with GPS and heat, which are enough to make their 20-minute commute back and forth to town safe and sound.
“We love living here and I wouldn’t go back, I wouldn’t go back to the city ever,” Chera concluded with conviction.
Who would ever want to go back to the city when you have an epic off the grid home like Mark and Chera? With the breath-taking view and picture-perfect scenery, every single day feels like a vacation!
Find out how Mark and Chera moved heaven and Earth to build their dream home away from the city buzz by watching the video below from Exploring Alternatives: