Mr. Open Sky and I were discussing the steps that led us to where we are today and the thought processes. The decisions and the mistakes. Like they say, hindsight really is 20/20. I want to share some of that with you here. Perhaps it can help you get a feel for where we’re coming from and maybe might help in your decision-making processes as well. Maybe you can learn from our mistakes.
It was 2012 and we were in the city, ready for a change. I was pregnant and we had decided we were not raising our kid in the city. Mister was raised in smaller rural communities and I was raised outside a small community in Alaska. We both enjoyed our childhoods, roaming and playing and exploring without fear of … all the things that come about living in a city. We wanted that for our kid. Plus, we had always entertained the notion of going back off-grid and having a small farm. Back to simple living again. Okay. So the decision was made, we wanted out.
At the time, we were already going pretty frugal, attempting to dig ourselves out of the debt we had got ourselves into. One of the motorcycles was paid off, but the other wasn’t. We had a mortgage. We had already gone car-free for about a year. Ditching the car in favor of bicycles, walking, the public transit system, carpooling, and motorcycles. We started selling off some of our possessions in order to put that money toward debt. Our grocery bill got more frugal. We lessened our power and water consumption. We quit eating out. Turned off Netflix. All that stuff. It wasn’t enough. We needed out of the city.
After much discussion and making a pros and cons list, we decided on moving back to Alaska. So there we were. Not many possessions, but still a lot, if I think about it. We knew we needed a vehicle and the motorcycles sadly were not coming with us. We sold the one and let the company we bought the other one from come repossess it. (Yeah, I may have cried a little bit. I loved that motorcycle.) We considered keeping what possessions we had, buying an enclosed trailer and a truck, Mr. Open Sky driving up the Al-Can Highway and me and the baby flying up. He had a ton of great tools and supplies like ladders and other equipment. We had a really nice bed and frame that he had made. We had some high quality real wood furniture that we had stained and finished ourselves. High-efficiency, energy star appliances that were only a few years old. We weighed it out – keeping all this nice stuff and moving with it. Or sell it all. Knowing that eventually we would have to replace a lot of it. Some of it was near essential to building our home and farm. But most of it was just nice stuff that we’d like to have but didn’t actually need for survival.
We discussed and researched and thought. In the end, Mr. Open Sky decided we would sell what we had. He decided on a Subaru Forester (used but great condition) SUV. Four-wheel drive, capacity to have a kid in the back along with plenty of groceries or whatever, fuel economy. Instead of buying the enclosed trailer, we would only keep what fit in and on the car. At this stage, the baby was now born, we had our move date and had bought the tickets to ride the ferry out of Bellingham, Washington up to Juneau, Alaska. We started selling. Everything. Dishes. Clothing. Furniture. Appliances. Tools. Spare building supplies. Whatever we could, we sold. The day we drove out of there, what didn’t fit in or on the car got left behind. We were done.
Fast forward a few years. We ended up moving four more times. Juneau to Homer to Soldotna to Douglas and then back to the Kenai Peninsula. In that time, we slowly acquired some of the things we needed for our property and farm. Mostly, tools and equipment. Table and benches. Dishes. Oh, and a bed. That was awesome. Beds are great. We also sold the Subaru and bought a larger SUV. A Chevy Tahoe. Because honestly, that Subaru was great in town but couldn’t cut it for living out in the sticks trying to build a home and a farm. We needed something that could handle rough roads. Possibly getting stuck (and unstuck). Something that could haul a trailer with logs on it. Also, something that can handle being loaded down with lots of supplies, plus a growing family.
So, here we are today. We ended up spending a lot of unnecessary money, time, and energy. I asked him if we had it all over to do again, with the knowledge we have now and the way things happened, what would he have done differently and here’s how Mr. Open Sky responded:
Going back, I would have opted out of buying the Subaru. I would have stuck with my original plan of buying the four-door truck and the five by ten enclosed trailer. At that point, we would have just kept some of our stuff. Probably not even filled it up. Mostly the tools. But also the wood furniture and some of our nicer, better quality belongings. From there, we would have driven the Al-Can [Highway] instead of using the ferry, because those tickets were really really expensive. I think it would have been a wash [financially], over all the different moves, to have gone that route.
I would have to agree with him. While the Subaru got better gas mileage, it didn’t perfectly fit our needs and so we had to sell it and get something different that would. Instead of renting a U-Haul for the move from Douglas, we would have had our own trailer. Instead of putting things in storage like we have right now, they’d be in the trailer on our property with us. Instead of taking the time and money to build a shed to house the tools and generators, they could be in our trailer. Granted, we had some preconceived ideas about how the farm would pan out back in 2012. We didn’t expect to start building until 2017 at the earliest, more likely 2018. We didn’t expect to move so many times either. But we wouldn’t have had to re-buy a lot of the items that we already had.
Sometimes I think it was all the right decisions, to get us to the point where we are today. Where we forced ourselves to really LET GO so that we could move on in our lives from a materialistic viewpoint to a more organic real standpoint, stretching and growing as people and a family. To truly appreciate the important things. And to really start reaching for our goals and dreams instead of just….dreaming them. At the same time, I hate waste. I don’t like a waste of time, a waste of resources, a waste of money. As I’ve mentioned previously, I love conservation. So from that point of view, a lot of our decisions seem like a terrible waste. But, I also know how to learn from my mistakes and keep my chin up, too. Hmmm. The jury’s still out, whether we really made mistakes or not. We did the best with what we knew at the time. But still.
Aahh, hindsight. Where were you four-and-a-half years ago?? Oh, yes. I remember. You were there, in the future. Waiting for us to meet you today. How about you? Got a hindsight story to share? Later I’ll be posting a guest post from a different perspective. See ya.