Who I Am, What I do, and Why I do it...
I was born and raised in Victoria BC, Canada and have lived on the West Coast most of my life. I love everything about the West Coast . . . the beautiful Pacific Ocean, the majestic mountains and the thousands of acres of Old Growth Forests.
Growing up in Victoria I always considered myself a "city girl" and would have been content to live out the rest of my days that way, but the Universe had other plans. 10 years ago I met and fell in love with my "soul mate" (corny, I know) and his retirement dream was to move to Lasqueti Island; an off the grid, remote island in the Straight of Georgia.
At first I was apprehensive about this. I was 43 and at this stage of my life did not want to invest a lot of time in a relationship doomed to fail we did not want the same things out of life. But then I realized I could not judge something I had never experienced and when Vaughn asked me to go view the piece of property he had in mind to purchase, I agreed.
Getting to Lasqueti Island is a bit of a feat. It is a 2 hour drive north from Victoria and then you take an hour boat ride from French Creek in a 60 passenger "foot ferry". There is no car ferry to Lasqueti and everything you are going to take with you (suitcases, groceries, water, etc.) needs to be loaded and packed onto the boat yourself.
In good weather it can be an enjoyable ride with breathtaking views . . . but when the weather turns rough and the wind is blowing 40K and the waves are 10 to 15 feet high, then ride is a whole other experience. It was March when we went to view the property . . . let's just say I got "my money's worth" on that fateful ferry ride.
After an hour of hanging on for dear life and wondering if we were ever going to make it to dry land, the Centurion VII made it's way into False Bay and slowly sidled up to the dock. A little shaken I disembarked and made my way up the ramp and walked along the "Lasqueti Highway" . . . or in other words, the Public Dock, the social hub and main thoroughfare of Lasqueti. There is no major shopping on Lasqueti. No malls, no big box stores and everything from food to clothing to household goods is brought over either on the Centurion or on "the barge". The Dock can be a busy, chaotic maelstrom of activity as people pull their possessions off the boat while others get ready to pack theirs on. I fell in love with the mural that greets you on the dock freight shed, such a wonderful represntation of the vibe and life on Lasqueti.
I stood agape as I watched the throng of colorful characters hauling their stuff to and fro and waving at each other, calling out greetings of "hello" and warm wishes. I had never seen anything like it and a felling of warmth and love washed over me. I continued down the dock to "downtown" Lasqueti, which consists of a small hotel with pub and a gas pump and a small store/cafe that sold a few groceries and sandwiches. It was like stepping back in time as people milled around, leaning against their vehicles, and chatting with one another. I was instantly in love with everything all around me.
Next, Vaughn and I and a friend of ours, that already had property on Lasqueti, loaded our stuff into his truck and we made our way to the piece of property we came to look at. There are no paved roads on Lasqueti, save the stretch from the dock for 1 KM to Main Road, and I took in the sights as we bounced along the pothole-filled dirt road, which included feral sheep, the odd deer and not much more. People like their privacy on Lasqueti and most houses are well off the road, or behind closed gates and vegetation.
Eventually we came to the bottom of the "driveway", not much more than an abandoned logging road, that led to the property. Our friend put his truck into 4x4, locked the hubs and we began to climb up the mountain. Again, as a City Girl this was a new experience for me and one I wasn't sure I wanted to repeat. We came to a hairpin bend and our friend had to back up almost to the edge of a cliff, the tires spinning, to make the turn. That was it for me. I screamed and jumped out of the truck, deciding to walk the rest of the way. The men laughed at me and carried on. I did not care. Not dying was more important to me than driving the rest of the way.
I continued the steady, steep climb on foot and breathless, met them the near top of the mountain. I took a moment to gather my wits, then stood still and looked around. I was thunderstruck. Never had I seen so much beauty. Through a break in the massive Douglas Firs I could see the glistening waters of the Sabine Channel. The forest that surrounded me was filled with red barked Arbutus trees, massive Cedar, Pine and Maple. Our friend's rustic cabin was nestled on top of a moss and lichen covered bluff, taking in the panoramic view. We quickly unloaded the truck and put our stuff into his cabin and then set off to go "walk the line" of the property I was getting more and more exited to see.
We spent the next couple of hours stomping through the woods, climbing bluffs (some very steep) and following a makeshift map of the property's boundary that was part of 80 acres of "Earl's Mountain". We stopped from time to time to enjoy a crisp, cool beer and chat of the possibilities of where we could build our "homestead". As the daylight was starting to fade we decided to venture down to the bottom part of the 10 acres we were considering purchasing when suddenly we came into a bit of a clearing and then that's when I spotted it . . . Mt. Trematon . .. and then I knew, I absolutely knew in my heart and soul, this is where I would spend the rest of my life. I turned to Vaughn and said "You HAVE to buy this piece of property."
It's been almost 10 years since that fateful day and I would not change a single moment of it. Living off the grid, on a mountain on a remote island, has it's challenges. I went years without running water, our cabin is heated by a wood stove (which needs trees cut down, bucked and split to give us the 6 cords of wood we need each year), it also cooks our food and boils our water.
I still do not have indoor plumbing (outhouse only) and we are responsible for our own power (solar panels with back up generator), our own water (rain water collection and storage), we grow some of our own food and if anything breaks it is up to us to fix it.
Do I ever think about moving back to the city? No. Though some days I wonder just what kind of crazy I am to live this lifestyle.