Dropping Off The Grid: A Growing Movement In America: Part III


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Dropping Off The Grid: A Growing Movement In America: Part III

  1. 1. Dropping Off The Grid: A Growing Movement In America: Part III5 Great Spots For Dropping Off The Grid:So youve decided you want to drop off the map and leave Big Brother behind.Its harder than ever in our always-connected world, but if youre ready to planyour big vanishing act, here are a few actual destinations to keep in mind."Off-grid living is a spectrum that unites greens and survivalists," says Rosen,referring to those who choose to escape city life because they either donttrust the government or dont want it meddling in their affairs.So if youve been considering going AWOL, let tax day be your inspiration. Andif youve got what it takes to look after yourself, with a little help from someearthy friends, here are a few off-the-grid destinations that will take you in.Or perhaps youd like to drop in for a visit ...Terlingua, Texas:Spend a night at Upstairs at the Mansion if youre just passing throughTerlingua, Texas.Theres no shortage of songs about this fabled West Texas ghost town on the edgeof Big Bend National Park, chock full of desert gypsies occupying the remainingmining ruins. But perhaps the most well known is Gary P. Nunns "Terlingua Sky":Well, you know were probably too old for this. / Maybe the rest of the world istoo young. / We drive 500 miles to get loose and get wild / And stay up til thelast song is done.Of course its hard to tell just how young or old anyone is in Terlingua. Desertliving takes its toll on your skin while rejuvenating the soul.Terlingua is surrounded by ruggedly beautiful terrain, sits at a high altitudeand a distance from civilization that provides for some of the worlds fineststar-gazing and plays host to two of the most celebrated and highly attendedchili cook-offs in the country. If you arent ready to escape to the wilds ofWest Texas, at least plan a trip for the first Saturday of November, when boththe Frank X. Tolbert - Wick Fowler Championship and the Chili AppreciationSociety International cook-offs take place.And make sure to spend a night at Upstairs at the Mansion -- a boutique hotelbuilt in the ruins of the century-old mansion owned by the founder of the ChisosMining Co.For more information, visit www.terlinguacitylimits.com or www.chili.org.Slab City, California:"The Last Free Place in America" is about 190 miles southeast of Los Angeles andan hours drive north of the Mexican border. Here, in Slab City, youll findhundreds of free spirits living in campers, RVs and school buses scatteredamongst the giant concrete-slab ruins of a World War II-era military base.When the base closed after the war, a group of servicemen stayed, and thecommunity continued to grow -- mostly because it supports the wayward life, andneither the U.S. military nor the state of California have ever charged thesquatters. Keep in mind theres no water, electricity or sewer service, so thelifestyle presents its own challenges.You might recognize the village of mobile homes or the nearby "Salvation
  2. 2. Mountain" from the 2007 film "Into the Wild" or the book of the same name thatinspired it. Illuminated by a vision from God, Leonard Knight spent 26 years andthousands of gallons of paint crafting a hillside out of adobe and straw. Thegiant art installation is an explosion of colors and scriptures and such aspectacular vision that an unsuspecting traveler might think it a mirage.Its worth the trip just to see the giant work of art or to take a life lessonfrom some of the locals making their own way in this concrete Eden.Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, Missouri:In the heart of the Midwest lies a commune dedicated to socially andenvironmentally sustainable living. Located on 280 acres in Rutledge, innortheastern Missouri, Dancing Rabbit inhabitants aim to prove that egalitariancommunities can thrive in America. But the main focus is on the environment, asmuch of the property is reserved for wildlife habitat and villagers havereintroduced native plants to the area.If youre just looking to stop in and check out the scene, stay at the MilkweedMercantile Eco Inn, a straw-bale-constructed bed and breakfast. Dancing Rabbitalso offers one- to three-week visitor programs to more fully experience theecovillage. Most of those program participants camp on the property.For more information, visit www.dancingrabbit.org or www.milkweedmercantile.com.Smith Island, Maryland:For more than 300 years, the residents of this Chesapeake Bay waterman communityhave managed to exist without local government, jails or police. The Methodistchurch and the blue crab business give the community its structure. Not onlyhave islanders preserved a sense of order, but theyve also upheld a unique wayof life and dialect similar to that of the West Country of England.The assortment of islands known as Smith Island can only be accessed by boat,and many are uninhabited. If youre not looking to take up island lifepermanently, you should at least visit for the outstanding seafood and theirsignature eight-to-15-layer Smith Island cake.For more information, visit www.smithisland.org.Breitenbush Hot Springs is a worker-owned cooperative promoting personalrenewal.Breitenbush Hot Springs, Oregon:This holistic hot spring resort nestled in the Willamette National Forrest, 50miles outside of Salem, Oregon, is one of the most relaxing spots to go off thegrid. You can join the 50 to 70 members of this worker-owned cooperative who runBreitenbush by lending your skills for a year, at which point the community willvote on your membership.The communitys mission: "To provide a safe and potent environment where peoplecan renew and evolve in ways they never imagined."Of course, if you just want a short rejuvenation escape, you can makereservations for anywhere from $52 to $119 a night, depending on dates andaccommodations. Visitors can enjoy massages, performances, yoga, more than 20miles of hiking trails and the renowned natural geothermal springs that havebeen used by Native Americans for centuries.