Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Taste of Life Off the Grid

Over the past year or so, I’ve made great inroads with my explorations of California. My knowledge of the West, however, needs quite a bit of work; I’ve been to Reno and Tahoe in Nevada, and Denver, but that’s about it. So last weekend Andrew and I headed to Sandpoint, Idaho, for what proved to be an eye-opening, rather alarming, introduction to this odd, distant state. Our purpose for the trip was a wedding, for a cousin of Andrew’s who—of his own volition—recently moved with his new wife to a log cabin deep into the Idahoan woods.  

Without naming any names or being too specific, I’ll say only this: I saw more guns this weekend than I’ve ever seen in the rest of my life combined, and heard more talk of guns than ever before, which is saying a lot since I come from the hunters’ playground of Southwestern Pennsylvania. I learned about people living “off the grid,” who don’t pay taxes and have their own generators and are for all intents and purposes, and for reasons of their own, invisible to the powers that be. I saw signs for “elk jerky” and drove by roadside stands selling all manner of lamps, wall hangings, centerpieces, and what-all else made from “shed antlers”—which are, I learned, not antlers that have been stored in a shed but which deer themselves have shed from their bodies, apparently a natural process. Oh, and “Spokane,” where we arrived at the airport, is pronounced “spo-CAN.” I’ve spent the past 31 years of my life referring to it as “spo-KAIN,” on the rare, very rare, occasion I’ve had to refer to it at all.

Despite my feeling of having stepped smoothly off the face of the earth, Idaho does have some beautiful landscapes. It was nice to cross another state off my been there/done that list, but I have to say it was good to get back to California.

Lake Pend Oreille

By the lake

Out on a boat

Dog + boat = happiness

Not seasick yet…

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