Postcard: Off “The Grid” for a weekend on the Olympic Peninsula

by holli on September 6, 2012

Howdy From The Olympic Peninsula!

One of my favorite bloggers, Stacy, at Seattle Seedling, does “Postcards” from her adventures. I love to read those posts and dream of someday attending a harvest feast at a farm.  But, life as a family means we’re pretty much booked for time to spend on such adventures.  I’ve just realized we get to do some pretty cool adventures as a family too. So, I’m copying her idea. These adventures aren’t as easily accessible to most families as going to Great Wolf Lodge, but with a little effort and willingness, they’re out there.

Tree Farm next to the Olympic National Forest.

Last weekend we spent on a Tree Farm, completely independent from Power and Sewer lines. The “Farmers” as I’ll call them, are old friends. The Mister is an Ecological Economist, and the Missus is earning her keep in Real Estate. They moved onto 30 acres with only a Cabin and small creek, completely surrounded by Forest.

It took over 10 years, but they’ve finally built their Dream Home: a lovely house with 3 bedrooms, an office, library, kitchen, dining room, great room (living room), 3 bathrooms and full basement with a shop, garage and extra office. It functions like any normal house, except that they get their electricity from Solar Panels and a Generator helps it all work smoothly or fill in when needed. The house is heated with firewood – harvested locally and off their property. Their water is pipped in from the creek, and they collect rainwater to help.

The whole house functioned like a normal one in the city. The only exception was when too many rooms had lights on and you flushed the toilet – the lights would flicker. The kids noticed this and I found it a perfect time to explain about how we might be using too much electricity.

Our little Hiker made it all 3 miles!

We learned many things about trees and snacked on Huckleberries while getting our walking tour. For example, did you know that Mountain Beavers cut off the tops of trees, then eat a few branches? Or, that Fungi growing on the outside of a tree indicates it’s also growing on the inside?

Learning hike: forest ecology in a few hours.

As a family, we had a complete break from TV, Internet and even Movies. Our cell phones said that we were in International Coverage Zone (not covered in our plan), I turned off my cell phone except to coordinate a visit in downtown Port Angeles. The kids begged us to bring our iPad, so we did, but it conveniently ran out of battery life on our drive out there. We made no effort to charge it while on the Farm. So, the kids were left with Crayons, Paper, a few books and their favorite stuffed animals to play with…soon, they found wood was more fun: from walking sticks to Bark Armor!

We saw deer, hiked to Marymere Falls near Lake Crescent, and enjoyed the beautiful views out at the Straights of Juan de Fuca. It was a really great time to unplug and be present as a family. I think it was a perfect way to prepare for this new school year and schedule that will make me sympathize with all the parents before me who dubbed themselves Professional Chauffers.

Port Angeles, Washington – a view from the Pier.

If you ever want to get out of the city, the Olympic Peninsula is full of camp sights, lodging, bed and breakfasts and chain motels. The drive out there is only 2-3 hours depending on how far West you want to drive. If you think the Cascades are beautiful, it only gets better the farther West you go!

A trip to the Peninsula is great from late Spring to Fall or end of October if you want to see the lush green forests or attend one of many festivals or farm tours. Otherwise, it’s cold, like 10 degrees colder than in Seattle, and they do get snow so it’s more sketchy on the road. But, residents don’t bat an eye in the Winter, and there is even a spot for Skiing and Snowboarding at Hurricane Ridge.

Okay, back to real life for me: time to weed and water the P-Patch before meeting my son’s school bus.

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