Unplugged for a Year


How does an ordinary woman in her 30’s, who grew up in suburban America, tackle fears of terrorism and global warming? Simple—learn to live on what is available locally. For 12 months, I unplugged and lived on raw, wild land on the Big Island of Hawaii. The views and privacy were unparalleled, but there were also no modern conveniences—no paved roads, no power lines, no house, no water pipes—just a great big empty field flanked by fresh streams and ancient ‘ohia and koa trees. I wanted to answer a single question: Could I survive with only local resources if the world went black?

Costco was the immediate answer. I pulled up to the warehouse in a new-to-me diesel SUV converted to run on used french fry oil and loaded up on everything propane–grill, water heater and lamps. So many trips were required that the employees came to know me by name. For shelter, I chose white 10 x 20 tents (most people use them for parties or as temporary car garages), which I eventually pitched in tandem creating one giant tent “house” complete with dining and guest “wings”. I threw in two large, white coolers for food storage and a compost bin for waste management. My three dogs were in charge of security. I seemed to have the basics covered.

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