“Well, if you hear anything, please give me a call. Thank you,” Darlene frowned as she hung up the phone. She looked at me, turned slightly and studied the calendar hanging on the refrigerator door, looked back into my eyes.
“That was our last best lead, we’re screwed,” Darlene slumped in her chair.
We sat across from each other at the kitchen table as, like an unwanted house guest, a shroud of gloom settled over the room. Out of options, we ran out of time. Eviction day was less than 72 hours away.
Darlene’s posture suddenly changed as she sat upright in her chair as the corner of her mouth turned upwards, and a smile lit up her eyes. “Damn, can’t believe I forgot ’em,” she slapped the palm of her hand on the table and let out a laugh.
“Dennis, how would you like to live on a commune?”
“Huh?”What kinda random question is this and where is it going? Darlene’s exotic view of life trended toward the spiritual rather than the religious. I braced myself for her answer, “What kind of Hippy Village are we talking about?”
“Hippy? I’m not talking about Woodstock, my love. My friends from college are living in an off the grid cabin in the Rockies. They owe me some money, maybe we can stay with them.”
“What’s their address?” If you learn where someone lives, you can start to make good guesses as to their culture.
“Honey, they don’t have an address, and they’re not on a road,” Darlene moved to the living room sofa, and I followed.
“How far are they from the road?” This was getting interesting. The closer to the road, the more connected they were too conventional reality. I had visited many communes in my younger days, and everyone had a personality ranging from boring to batshit crazy. We sat together on the couch.
“Fifty miles give or take,” she leaned into me as she sat next to me.
“We’ve been friends for over fifteen years. We were friends back in college.”
“What kind of friends?” if they had been living off the grid for 15-years this group had something going for it.
“You know, friends who help friends. Anyway, they are heavy duty into the survivalist movement. They might let us stay with them.” Any group holding its own for fifteen years might be an answer to our current housing crisis, it depended on the depth of the batshit. Too deep would be too weird.
“Okay, you’ve got my attention,” I gave her a kiss, “Tell me everything you know. Who are these guys?”
We talked until there was no more to say, “Stay or go. Your choice. Do you want to give them a try – at least for a few weeks?” Darlene asked.
Living as amateur survivalists, her friends occupied an off-the-grid cabin located somewhere in the Rocky Mountains about 250 miles west of Denver.
The more I thought about it, the better it sounded. Living off the grid far from civilization was an attractive alternative to living in a cardboard box behind a Safeway Supermarket. Besides, I liked the high country, and I had made several hiking trips into the mountains while stationed at Lowry Air Force Base prior to shipping out for an all-expense paid tour of Vietnam.
“Hum, I’m in. Let’s see if your friends will let us stay with them,” I watched and listened as she dictated a text message requesting sanctuary for us, and shared her joy when she received an affirmative response a few minutes later.
“Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, It’s off the grid we go,” I sang, and Darlene joined in with a verse of her own, “Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, off with clothes we go,” as she turned the dwarf song into a stripper-gram for two.
More efficient than artful, she had me barefoot from my toes to my chin within a minute.
Naked and laughing we sealed the deal by morning with a wild session of lovemaking. We were going to make a new life for ourselves. We were going off the grid.
The next two days passed in a blur as we raced to pack what we needed for our new lives. Our Rav4 got a new set of off-road tires along with a complete tune-up and oil change. We sold everything we couldn’t take with us. What we couldn’t sell, we gave away. We were done with Denver.
We departed a few hours after sunrise and followed US-70 out of Denver. Within an hour we were up into the mountains, and four hours after that we hit the town of Rifle and broke for lunch. I asked Darlene to stop at the local Smoke Shop. I had learned that our new home wasn’t only remote; it was in the middle of fucking nowhere. The idea of running out of cigarettes a million miles from resupply was frightening.
I assumed our new off-the-grid home had some power, so I purchased an electric rolling machine. I then covered my bet; I bought two hand-powered rolling machines just to be safe. I then cleaned the shop out of their inventory of Zen rolling papers (three cases), along with 60 pounds of tobacco, two hundred cheap disposable lighters, and five tobacco pipes.
Darlene stood next to me as the cashier rang up the largest single purchase in the shop’s history.
“Are you out of your mind? Who spends that kind of money on cigarettes? Seriously, we’re broke and almost homeless,” she shook her head.
“Sweetheart, my VA check is a direct deposit and it just my account. Where we’re going, money ain’t going to be of much use, so, why not,” I added another handful of Bic lighters to the pile of merchandise. The total bill of $1,647.28 wiped out half my available cash.
The Zen cigarette tubes and 60 lbs. of tobacco were too bulky to fit in the Rav’s cargo bay, so I ended up securing my newly acquired stash to the vehicle’s roof. I wrapped everything up in a tarp and triple tied it down with rope and bungee cords. The car looked like a band of gypsies owned it by the time I finished.
We turned north on Route 13, passed the town of Meeker two hours later, and we turned onto a winding dirt road leading up into the mountains. About 45 minutes later Darlene announced, ‘It won’t be long now’ for the twentieth time.
Darlene was a bright young lady. She had programmed a series of waypoints her friends had emailed her into her vehicle’s GPS system. We followed the dirt road through a thick pine forest until the road devolved into not much more than a poorly marked trail. The trail shrunk down to a path as we continued onward, our path soon became nothing more than a series of GPS waypoints connected by miles of barren rock as we climbed above the tree line.
I asked Darlene after an hour of driving ever deeper into the mountain wilderness, “How long is not long?”
“We should be there within the hour,” Darlene answered.
“Christ Almighty! Your friends aren’t only off the grid; they’re off the fucking map. Do you have any idea of where we really are?” I complained.
Darlene just shrugged her shoulders, smiled, and kept driving.
Our Rav4 reached a ridge crest, which afforded us with a splendid view of a long, thin U-shaped valley nestled between two towering mountain ranges an hour later. We could see a building almost lost in the distance at the far end of the vale.
The structure was considerably larger than it had seemed from the ridge as we approached the dwelling. The rustic cabin looked like it was growing out of the side of the mountain upon closer examination. It was as much a log mansion as it was a log cabin. Solar panels covered the south facing steel roof, and a farmer’s porch wrapped around three sides of the cabin. Buck Rogers meets Davy Crockett.
The sun had disappeared behind the snow-capped mountains. Night and the thermometer were both falling fast by the time we rolled to a stop in front of the cabin. A welcoming committee of at least a dozen women had gathered on the porch. They erupted in shouts of joy and hand waves when Darlene emerged from the vehicle. The boisterous welcome turned to silence when I stepped out of the car. It was as if someone had pulled the plug on the PA system.
Also in this series:
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 2
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 3
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 4
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 5
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 6
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 7
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 8
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 9
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 10
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 11
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 12
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 13
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 14
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 15
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 16 T
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 17
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 18
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 19
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 20
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 21
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 22
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 23
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 24
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 25
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 26
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 27
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 28
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 29
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 30