I searched for land up and down the West Coast, from here to Alaska, and prices at the time were oppressive for the current economy of the late 80s. I bought a 28' motorhome for my escape from the city.
Even bad land like you find in the Yuba county foothills was expensive, where trees grow on rock with little dirt, and forget getting a septic permit, they aren't allowed because there isn't any soil.
Add to that, the land has no mineral rights, mining companies kept them when they sold off the land. (Let this be a warning, never buy land unless you retain mineral Rights, you never know what the future holds)
Oh, and creeks were sparse...
Alaska was higher priced yet, and I was warned about oppressive govt, since most of Alaska is Fed land, it's hard to find cheap land with a creek. Oh and the locals told me I was more likely to see a govt law enforcement in the wilderness than a local, so that was out of the question.
As you can imagine, Washington and Oregon were never even in consideration. Idaho was high as well too.
Then a piece opened up in the Sierra. Apparently it was USFS land. The USFS had logged a private piece of land by accident, the owner sued them and won, so the govt was forced to pay damages and do a land swap.
He got a 160 acre section of raw forest land, so I bought a 10 acre parcel for $28.000, yes, even then it was considered a steal.
Two creeks, dozens of springs, no one in the area for miles, it was paradise! An engineer friend of mine plotted it out on a CAD program using his computer, turned out since it was so steep and cavernous, it came out to more than 80 acres of land if you were to flatten it out.
There we no roads, it was heavily over grown with all kinds of varieties of plant life, with only a Bowie knife I went to work cutting trails.
In essence I was broke from the purchase, couldn't afford a real chainsaw, so it was all by hand. I cleared a space for my motorhome, then opened up a logging road that passed throughout the 160 acre parcel. Drove the motorhome to the lower third of the property near my spring.
Life was great, two dogs, a temp home, water and if necessary, there was an abundance of wild game, though I never had to resort to that.
Still busting my ass on the ranch in the foothills as a cowboy, I had a modest income, but winter was coming fast.
I knew I needed power because a generator was too expensive to live on, and hauling gas down the mountain was a pain in the ass. All I had running at the time was a 550 Honda motorcycle, and hauling 25 gallon propane tanks by hand was getting old.
From the top to where I parked the motorhome was about 500' in elevation drop and a 2000' trek over a 45 degree climb. So in comes winter, Son of a Bitch, Snow!!! I had a light panic moment with the thought of the Donner family... I don't know if I mentioned, but it was God that led me to this piece, I've always listened to God, and never once had any regret.
God does not give you what you ask for, he gives you what you need, so asking for the lottery win was out of the question.
You can imagine how I felt when all Hell broke loose. "What in the hell Did I do"? I thought maybe God was punishing me for seeking a better life ion my view. Was I supposed to stay in Sac and suffer under liberal oppression?
Nah, God was still watching over me.
Snow hits, more than three feet covered the ground. I had driven down to Sacramento to pick up more of my useless crap, dad said it was snowing up country, so I stayed the night.
I forgot to mention, I got my 1970 ElCamino running again, so I was able to take my dogs with me. Came home the next day, parked at the main road to my road, not a bad walk of a quarter mile all up hill. The sun shines on that side of the mountain. My side, not so much, I trudged through the forest because the snow was still mostly in the trees and only a couple of feet deep in the trees.
Finally made it down the mountain to the creek, looked like an easy walk, but I was wrong, I still had to get to the motorhome, about a quarter mile hike through ridiculously deep snow from drifts.
Opened the door and immediately saw a tree top sticking through the roof, the point was stuck in my bed, right where my chest would have been. Did I mention God?
Anyway, there was a 30' long section of tree protruding from the roof of my tiny abode with a six inch hole in the roof. This was only the beginning of my adventures Got the tree out, covered the hole, turned on the heat after sweeping out all the snow, life was great once again. I thanked God for watching out for me.
Note that most people curse God for these situations, but that's because they never listen to God.
I did, that's why I drove to Sac, I needed one stupid tool, a Crescent wrench I forgot to bring to tighten the propane fitting, God assured me I needed to take the trip. Did I mention how much I had come to despise the city?
Anyway, I knew at this point this was not where I should be parked, so come summer I needed to drive to the top and park. Did I mention all the damage I incurred just driving in? Busted out kitchen window, right-side mirror ripped completely off, creases all down the right side, I would not be recovering my investment obviously.
I awake to the motorhome rocking like I was experiencing a quake, I thought, Oh Hell, am I going over the cliff? To my relief it was an early emerging bear from hibernation and he was hungry.
Joke was on him, all I had rice and eggs.
I'll tell of other issues that occurred during that winter later, but on to the top the following year.
I called about getting a phone. Oops, redundant, I already wrote about my "Green Acres" experience with the phone 25' up the tree.
Well Pac Bell had contacted PG&E about share of cost on lines so they pulled in power. Despite the phone issue for a few months, I had ran 2000' of phone line I snagged out of up country that had been abandoned.
Yeah, I had a phone in my tiny abode, life was great! It's the tiny accomplishments that really make life wonderful, the challenge you face and the rewards of accomplishment.
Moving forward, I called about getting power to the property, the power was only 100' from the motorhome, so it shouldn't be an issue, Right? Boy was I wrong, they required a building, so I built an attachment to the motorhome, but no, I needed a permit, so I sprung for the $10.0 permit.
That wasn't good enough, they wanted to know I wasn't living in it. WTF? The rules kept changing, the County used power as a way of milking income off your land. A full on permit would raise your taxes to from $600/ a year to $2500.0 a year, I was pissed so out of rebellion, I decided to look into solar.
There was little information available, but I studied hard over the next month day and night, till I knew all here was to know on all aspects of off grid energy.
I found a solar distributor in Arizona called Hitney solar, Gene the owner was a great guy, I told him my plan on selling off grid energy, he not only imparted his decades of wisdom, but sold me everything I needed, no money down.
Find someone willing to do that with a person they would never meet. I guess even honesty can be projected over the phone. Thank you God...
I followed his business plan and it paid off, people appreciated my handshake style of doing business, no contracts, no paperwork, no taxes. Keep in mind, solar was extremely expensive at the time, a 75Watt panel went for over $500.0 at the time, my cost 30% less.
At the time Arco solar was selling panels, they sold to Shell, the quality improved. Since Carter had created the solar thing, the govt mandated a solar experiment at Carissa Ca, they setup thousands of panels in the desert, this appeared to work, but then they experimented with mirrors and wound up cooking the EVA layer between the glass and solar cell. These were later sold off in categories from Gold, Copper and Mud, meaning the panels worked but some not so well.
I sold these at a good profit, I bought the Gold for my own system, so now I am producing a descent amount of energy, two days worth to store in my battery bank. Unless the sun isn't shining, then you fire up the generator.
I did extremely well, and with my moderate solar system, I was glad I never got power.
I'll stop here, next up will be a bit more detail why solar is a scam for grid tie and why the govt got involved.