Gearing Up for Living in the Sticks

After spending the last year or so downsizing, decluttering and not buying, it doesn’t sit quite right to be in a phase of getting and spending. But the stuff we needed in the ‘burbs is so different from the stuff we need out here in the sticks. For example, I’m working right now on my laptop as it recharges. Had to turn the generator on to do that. I used to totally take electricity for granted.

Anyway, one of the things we wanted (I consciously use the word wanted over needed) was new cell phones. Despite my old, cracked iPhone being doctored with red duct tape, I kept it because it worked just fine. Out here, though, our old carrier doesn’t work. Could we do without? Yes. Am I worried about too many wireless waves we don’t know the long-term effects of? Yes. However, for now, I do rely on my cell phone for work and for modern, efficient communication such as texts. Our neighborly mountain folk advised us that another carrier got the best reception out here, so we decided to switch carriers and upgrade to faster phones. We found out pretty quickly that even that gave us just one bar. There is one spot behind the RV that gets good reception with our new phones. The view is amazing. Just don’t budge one step to the right or you’ll drop the call:


There’s actually a solution for this, which is quite amazing. Back at the cell phone store, we got a gadget called a microcell, which, as I’m sure I’m understanding incorrectly, acts as a mini cell tower. It’s $200, but we got it comped for free, after explaining that we just dropped a bundle on switching carriers so we could get their better service. With our new microcell, suddenly, one bar is five bars. I do so love technology when it fixes a problem.

Next up on our must-have gear for the sticks was a pick-up truck. We will need to haul a bunch of lumber and building supplies, which isn’t so easy in a minivan that also has three kids in it. So after combing reviews for the best used pick-ups that hold up over time, searching on Craigslist, and test-driving three different trucks in person, we plopped down $2500 cash for our new ride. It’s a 1994 4×4 V8 gas guzzler with 168,000 miles on it, but we’ll only be using it locally for trucking in building supplies. Love the paint job and that there’s no logo on it. And that it’s paid for. I  feel like a badass driving it.


Finally, we’ve been wanting to get the kids boots for running around on the land. We know there are rattlers up here, and we’ve had extensive discussions and practice with what to do in case of an encounter. But since bites commonly happen below the knee when a snake is accidentally stepped on (according to internet research), we felt like boots would be the next preventative measure. Would have preferred to get used, but opted for efficiency and a one-stop trip to our friendly Mexican store.


No sooner had we gotten the kids their new kickers than Giovanni found this gopher snake hanging out near a rock next to the creek during our late afternoon swim.


Before you freak out, Mom, it’s a perfectly harmless and even beneficial neighbor to have. One of the most common California snakes, they eat rodents and don’t hurt people. This one was amazingly docile and allowed us to get up close and personal to take pictures and talk about why it was a gopher snake and not a rattlesnake (narrow head almost the same width as rest of neck, glossy scales instead of dull, pointed tail with no rattle).

Giovanni: “Can I catch it, Mom? Can I catch it?”

Stella: “He’s beauuuuutiful.”

Me: “No, Giovanni, not until I’m sure you know how to tell it’s not a rattlesnake.”

“Yes, Stella, he sure is.”

All geared up.

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