Paradise Lost

One of my favorite YouTubers for bug out videos is a Canadian named Shawn James. Shawn’s two channels — My Self Reliance and Shawn James Off Grid are a wealth of well-produced videos for the DIY off-grid enthusiast. You can watch Shawn build a beautiful back woods cabin, with no help, completely by hand. No chain saw, no Makita drill, no Honda generator Husky-air compressor DeWalt-nail-gun carpentry here. Shawn is the real deal.

Part of the appeal are the quiet moments when Shawn makes coffee on the cast iron wood stove, relaxes with his dog and enjoys the fruits of his labors. There’s soft snow outside and a warm fire in the cozy cabin. A little virtual escapism for all you off-grid dreamers.

I’ve got a remote bug out cabin, and I still like watching these videos for escapism — when I’m in the city. Anybody with a remote cabin knows there’s a lot of grunt work involved in that lifestyle. The wood for that stove doesn’t jump off the trees, and solitude isn’t always so easy to find. A lot of my real cabin time is spent on maintenance, clearing brush, repairing gear, splitting wood and — sometimes — building cool things.

In the past couple weeks, Shawn posted some videos sure to shock longtime fans. He’s pulling up stakes and starting over. I won’t get into all the details, but suffice to say Shawn’s got serious neighbor problems. The property owner next to him is putting in a public road at their own expense and has been harassing him by blasting loud noises over speakers, filming him with trail cams, blocking his drive and other kinds of dick behavior. Police have been called in, by both parties. Doesn’t sound much like paradise, eh? I wish him the best of luck with his move. I’m sure he’ll make lemonade out of these lemons.

I’ve got a pretty sweet bug out place, but I’ve had my share of disappointments – a neighbor whose hunting dog can howl incessantly and another with a junk car collection. In rural areas you’re going to have neighbors who tinker with cars, burn shit, collect all kinds of trash, yell, play loud music, train fighting dogs, shoot guns, and cut down that tree along the fence line that you really liked. And those are the good neighbors. The bad ones deal drugs, steal things and worse. Most people I know who live in the country have a story to tell.

Looking to bug out? Get all the buffer you can. Look for a place bordered by timber company property or fish and wildlife land. Buy the property next door or across the street if it’s vacant and available. If it’s not for sale, track down the owner and make an offer. Empty lots don’t stay empty forever.

This is especially true now. Empty lots that nobody wanted are being snapped up and prices are soaring. Land that’s rocky or treeless. Steep hillsides. Brushy thickets. People want out of the cities and it’s any port in a storm.

Bad neighbors can happen to anybody and even a bright guy like Shawn can get burnt. I wish him the best of luck with his move. I’m sure he’ll make lemonade out of these lemons in his next slice of paradise.

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