We live in a small town outside of Mammoth Lakes, CA. When my husband and I met he was a snowboard bum and I was a climbing bum. Neither of us needed much and worked low-pay service industry jobs to get by. That is about all there is in a resort town, and we, like most locals, worked paycheck to paycheck to support our adventurous lifestyles.
To us, living is being free. Free from the “daily grind”. Free from the stress of a city. Free to live in nature and explore it’s beautiful places. There is something so natural, instinctive and primitive about this kind of simple lifestyle and the happiness you find amongst these beautiful places is truly endless. I see us as incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to live in such a beautiful place and to be able to raise a family here, but with all of the joy and beauty comes its sacrifices.
When my husband and I decided we wanted to have a family we knew huge adjustments were about to take place. At the time, my husband worked 2 jobs to try to support us, but we weren’t able to make it by. We couldn’t afford health insurance and were living paycheck to paycheck hoping we would be able to afford groceries. I tried to go back to work and quickly realized that the price of childcare was more expensive than any wage I could get with a standard service job. With no family in town to help us, we were going to have to figure something out. And fast.
A year later, around our son’s first birthday, we caught a break. Blake landed an amazing job on an offshore oil platform- 300 miles away! He started working a week-on/ week-off work schedule and has been commuting 600 miles every two weeks ever since. Sometimes he stays out there longer, up to 3 weeks at a time, but typically, we see him every other week.
Now, here I am a stay-at-home mom, caring for a toddler and 5 1/2 months pregnant. The closest family I have lives 300 miles away. We don’t have much help, Blake is gone a lot, and things can be very difficult at times; but when things get hard, all it takes is stepping momentarily outside the box and/or looking at a picture of the life we get to live, and I feel overwhelmingly blessed!
Sure, we don’t make much money at all living off of one income, Bodhi and I only get to see Blake half of the year, and we are very far away from all of our dear family. No, we don’t have prestigious schools or shopping malls and we often have to drive over 3 hours to get to a decently priced grocery store, but when I think of the things that are most important in life those materialistic things are not what matter.
We get to spend our days watching our son grow up and he gets to spend his days with us. We get to teach him how to navigate trails, read maps, and find beauty and joy in things that are free. To this day, he would much rather play with sticks, rocks or any animal, then sit in front of a television. (He actually never has sat in font of a television!) We never know how much time we have here on Earth, but we will happily spend all the time we have doing these things that we find most important.
When Blake gets off that platform, he comes home, and he is completely ours for a week. No distractions, no second jobs, just ours. We pack up our stuff; we get in the car and head to any given trailhead and escape into the raw and ever-so-beautiful home of Mother Nature. No TV’s, no iPads, no loud obnoxious toys; just us- amongst the trees, creatures and beauty of the wild.
People make all sorts of choices in life and we feel like we’ve won the lottery with the choices that we’ve made. There is no place we would rather be!