off the grid

Not everyone can handle the rigors of a remote mountain lifestyle, but my cousin Shirley Cameron has mastered them quite well. For most of her adult life she has lived off the grid…long before off the grid was cool. Shirley has been asked a number of times, why she still lives up there, often snowed in during the winter. Her answer is always the same, “I love my mountain.” I must admit that the top of the mountain, where Shirley lives with her grandson, Tyrel Cameron, is a beautiful place, with stunning views, but I don’t know if I could stand to live up there, so far away from civilization. Oh, I admit it is peaceful, and Shirley has made the yard quite beautiful. Her home is simple, not elaborate, but it works for her. The animals, who roam freely through her property, might be interesting, except for the occasional bear, which I would not like…no, not one little bit. Shirley even takes the bears in stride. I suppose that when you live around them, you know when to be outside and when not to. No matter how much work living off the grid, high on a mountain is, Shirley and her grandson, Tyrel have made it seem easy.

You might be wondering what they do during those long winter months. Shirley had a huge library of books and she does a lot of reading. Her favorites are westerns like Zane Gray and Louis L’amour. She loves getting on Facebook to connect with her many friends there. It’s so nice that internet can be anywhere now, or she would not be able to get online. That could make for a long winter, if she is snowed in. Even having her grandson with her, Shirley would need to be comfortable in her own skin, because there is time she spends doing her own things, while Tyrel does his own things. You must be ok with alone time to be comfortable with that.

Shirley loves to cook, can, and make jelly…a large variety of jellies. When we last visited her, she sent us home with jellies, and man…were they good. The meals we ate there were delicious. I suppose Shirley has had a lot of time to perfect her cooking skills. She knows what tastes good, and what will go with what. She and Tyrel even mix their own spices, and they are wonderful. They sent some home with us, so I know that for sure. Yes, Shirley has made living off the grid look easy, even though it is usually a lot of work. Today is Shirley’s birthday. Happy birthday Shirley. Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Chris Iverson is an avid outdoorsman. He loves camping, fishing, and guns. That is pretty typical of people who live in Wyoming. If Chris and my niece, Cassie could live totally off the grid, I think they would, and if the someday move off the grid, I won’t be one bit surprised. Sometimes, living in town just gets to bee too much for them, and they will load up their camper trailer, and head for the mountains. It is wonderful for their kids, Lucas and Zoey too. They love being in the mountains, especially with family and friends.

When Chris and Cassie had Lucas, there were some challenges. Lucas was born with Down Syndrome, and many parents would have considered other possible avenues of dealing with a known birth defect, but for Chris and Cassie, that was not an option. Lucas with their precious baby, and he was who he was. They loved him and cherished him, and he has grown into a wonderful little boy. Chris and Cassie, are great parents, and they have trained both of their children to be wonderful, caring children who love and respect their siblings

Chris loves his family with all his heart, and always tries to do whatever he can to life better for them. He has the ability to fix his cars, so that saves him money, that can be better used in support of his family. Life isn’t always easy for the Iverson family. Medical bills have plagued them from time to time, but they have continued to persevere, and I know they will do so in the future. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My cousin, Shirley Cameron is what can only be call a Modern Pioneer Woman. Not many people were living off the grid when she and her parents and brother moved to their mountain top in Washington state. They built 3 cabins. Her brother later moved to town, but her parents, Ruth and Jim, lived there for the rest of Ruth’s life and until fire destroyed their cabin, and Jim, who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease had to be moved to a nursing home, where he lived out the remainder of his days. That left Shirley and her husband Shorty, and their grandson Tyrel living off the grid on the top of Wolfe Mountain.

After Shorty’s passing, in 2016, Shirley and Tyrel live up there alone. Oh they have neighbors, down the mountain, and Tyrel’s mom lives not too far away, but in town. Shirley and Tyrell just like living in the wilderness far from civilization. I really don’t think Shirley will ever leave her mountain. The views up there are breathtaking, and she gets to see lots of wild animals. Nevertheless, winter can be long and lonely. There are times when getting off the mountain just isn’t going to happen, because the snow is too deep. They have to have enough food to last for a very long time, because running out of food would be bad. There is a well, so water is not a problem, and they use a generator for electricity, so they do have to have enough fuel to run that. Still, summer will come around again, and everything is renewed.

These days, more and more people are living off the grid. It has become almost “fashionable” for people to get away from the city and all of its ties to utilities, phones, and water. With cell phones, people can still be connected to a degree, if they choose to be, but they can also shut it off when they don’t want to be connected. I think Shirley likes to be disconnected sometimes. It gives her time with her own thoughts. Being a modern day pioneer woman is not a way of life for the faint of heart. A person has to be comfortable in their own company. I don’t know if it would be something I could handle, but Shirley has done well with it, and I commend her for it. Today is Shirley’s birthday. Happy birthday Shirley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Shoichi YokoiThese days, lots of people have considered living off the grid. It’s almost the latest thing. Most of them really just want to do away with the bills that go along with being on the grid…water, electric, gas etc, but some of them are really wanting to lead a disconnected life. They want to shut off the phone, television, and computer, and just enjoy nature. To me, that sounds like fun for about a day…but then I am more a child of the age of technology than even my kids and grandkids are sometimes, and that’s saying something, because they are technological people, in one way or another. I have to wonder how the off the grid people would feel about it, if they had been Shoichi Yokoi.

At this point, I’m sure that you are wondering who Shoichi Yokoi is and what was going on with him that made him such an off the grid type, so I’ll tell you. Shoichi Yokoi was a Japanese sergeant, from World War II. Shoichi was stationed on Guam, which had become a United States territory in 1898. In 1941, during World War II, the Japanese attacked Guam and captured it. The 200 square mile island, located in the western Pacific Ocean remained in Japanese Hands for three years. Then, the United States attacked and retook the island. As the Japanese forces retreated and surrendered, Yokoi made the decision not to surrender, and he went into hiding in the Jungle. He dug a tunnel, that would be his home while he was in hiding. Yokoi, who had been a tailor’s apprentice before being drafted in 1941, made clothing from the fibers of wild hibiscus plants and survived on a diet of coconuts, breadfruit, papayas, snails, eels and rats. “We Japanese soldiers were told to prefer death to the disgrace of getting captured alive.” While living in the jungle, Yokoi carved survival tools and for the next three decades waited for the return of the Japanese and his next orders…three decades!!!

Somehow, this man was so far off the grid that he had no idea what was going on in the world for almost three decades, and he assumed that World War II was still going on. He spoke to no one. He hid from anyone who might have come near him. Then, he slipped up…a good thing, as it would turn out to be. After 28 years of hiding in the jungles of Guam, local farmers discovered Shoichi Yokoi hiding in the jungle. I’m sure he was totally shocked to find out that he was the only one in the world still fighting World War II!! After he was discovered on January 24, 1972, he was finally discharged and sent home to Japan, where he was hailed as a national hero. I guess Shoichi must have grown to love Guam, because when he married, he and his new bride Shoichi Yokoi home on GuamGuamreturned to Guam for their honeymoon. Shoichi went on to live a long life, and passed away on September 22, 1997 at the age of 82. The people of Guam and the governments of the United States and Japan must have though that his story was so amazing that his handcrafted survival tools and threadbare uniform are now on display in the Guam Museum in Agana. Shoichi might have been an enemy of the United States, but I can’t help but think that he must have been a very faithful soldier, to have held out that long.

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