Would you, could you, live in a treehouse?

Living  a sustainable life often means living a life found on a road less traveled. Those who embrace a life lived in self-determination often forge these new lives in places other than sub-divisions and high-rise apartments.

A lot of voices blend in discussion as some people debate “the perfect place to live… far away from prying eyes and  everyone else”.

Some of these people are Preppers, people who believe that at some point, it may be a good idea to forge new lives lived remotely.

Some of these people are Survivalists, people who believe that life is best lived in self-reliance and self-accountability. They seek a “responsible” life.

Some of these people are just “hopeless romantics”, caught up in dreams about “a better life”.

Many of them find their way, walking majestic woods, looking up into the trees to catch that glimpse of the sky peeking through.

Treehouses5In a short documentary, The Atlantic interviewed people who build, live in and love treehouses. These are far from the forts of childhood memory, though.

Treehouses1In the documentary, Atlantic interviewed folks who built, moved into and then thrived in treehouses. They are  creations of love, of that there is no doubt.

Treehouses2These aren’t “the  simple treeforts of our youth”, friends. These are “tree-tech wonders” that cater to every dream you ever had about life lived up in the canopy!

Treehouses3These tree-cradled marvels use artificial limbs for support, boast both plumbing and running water, and look like spaces we see in those “snobby architectural trade magazines”.

“Treehouses are becoming more and more adult,” says Michael Garnier, a treehouse building pioneer. “They’re not just for kids anymore.”

Click the photo to see the documentary. It's well worth the 6 minutes. :)

Click the photo to see the documentary. It’s well worth the 6 minutes. :)

I bet you could find your “second childhood” in one… :)

Stay tuned.

Montana Mountain Dreaming…

I’ve  been traveling a lot lately.

When you’re  away from home, you dream about returning. At least I do. For many years, leaving meant just that… “leaving”.

You might make it home, you might not. You just played it hard and hoped that the stars all stayed in alignment.

Lately, I’m spending more and more time in the mountains thinking about a place so far back in the woods that the only noise you hear is the creek flowing and the trees rustling as the elk move through them.

You know, one of those places where you sit out on the deck with an old guitar in your lap and a mason jar full of frosty cold adult libations on the table.  You know, a “this is MINE” place.

Rustic Mountain HomeIt’s easy to think about settling down and focusing on pretty girls in the yard and growing things…. like kids, crops and cattle.

We’re at a turning point in American History. In my travels, I’m hearing about “America redefined” as others look in and see the rot in the core of the apple getting larger and larger. Friends we relied on for decades are becoming indifferent as policies in administrations turn friends into foes.

We used to live in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”.

Now, we live in the land of legislation that consumes freedoms and liberties with a pen stroke and the Brave stand in lines waiting for medical care at VA Hospitals that care more about paperwork and politics than patients.

So, I’m just going to carve out a place where I can go decompress as the Angus graze and the tomatoes grow tall and strong.

I mean, otherwise… we aren’t gonna have anything to cook in the kitchen.

Rustic Kitchen Concept Have you thought about what you’ll do when push comes to shove?

What do you do when it all starts to unravel?

What will your kids do when they need milk or eggs and have no idea where they really come from?

Can you bake bread? Grow beans? Milk a cow? Build a stone wall? Fix a roof?

Jobs are disappearing as fast as the Rights and Liberties that American Citizens used  to hold dear.

The economy is falling faster than Obama’s approval rating.

Something has to give. Something has to break. If you’re not asking questions, it might just be YOU that breaks next.

Here at TBE, we ask that you think beyond your yard, beyond your driveway, beyond your corner stop sign. If you’re not thinking about how you’ll get through hard times, you’re not going to get a chance to figure it out when it starts to fall apart.

Information is the purest form of power.

Please, think about your future. Think about your kid’s future. And stop by from time to time as we share “law and lore” with you.


Peek a Boo! I SEE you!

We’ve all heard about recent developments in “Civil Control”.

More and more LEOs (Law Enforcement Officers) and agencies are deploying SWAT Teams, armored vehicles and even DRONES for use against American Civilians in their own yards.

I have to tell you that I have a real problem with the idea that Law Enforcement is bringing “full scale weapons of war” into play against the American populace. In my view, there have been FAR too many abuses of this power being used to harm innocents. Remember the recent case where a full assault “no-knock” warrant was served on a house while looking for a “small-time drug dealer”. A flash bang grenade was tossed through a broken window (the cops broke it first) and it landed in the crib of a sleeping infant.

 That poor child was injured horrifically. What’s worse is that the cops weren’t competent enough to even hit the RIGHT house.  The drug dealer didn’t reside there… and never had.  The deployment of this caliber wasn’t to target someone who had committed a capital crime. They were looking for a small-town thug who peddled small town amounts of drugs. It was far too much power, wielded by those not skilled enough to administer it.

The cops response to the terribly injured little child;

“Accidents happen. It’s unfortunate, but…”

Tell that to the parents of that poor little child who is now maimed for life.

It wasn’t an isolated incident. It happens all the time. Combine overzealous, under-trained authorities working on bad intel with the use of extreme force and you’ll get tragedy over and over again.

Got nosy neighbors?

Need a way to check on the kids as they play on the “back 40”?

Want to head those pesky solicitors off before they get to your front door?

Do you believe that “The Watchtower” should always include Jimi Hendrix or it should stay the hell off your porch?

Is Amway the enemy?

Does the phrase “Avon Calling” give you chills?

Are you sick and tired of the legion of Girl Scouts ringing your doorbell peddling Thin Mints?

(UM… WAIT A MINUTE! I love Thin Mints. Scratch that last one…) LOL!

What if you just want to scout your fields looking for deer or elk to harvest for the freezer or smokehouse?

Well now there’s a way to put an eye in the sky!

No, “Uncle” isn’t the only one who rules the air. YOU can too!

But wait, there’s more!

There are even apps that will allow you to send the footage to your iPhone! That means that while you’re racing to the fences in your “up-armored Ford F-150 Pick ’em up”, you can still maintain “eye contact” with the bad guys as they look for breaches in the wire!! LOL!

Need more information?

Here’s the site link!



(This is NOT an endorsement of products discussed here. It’s simply information of interest being passed along.)

Cordwood Cabin Coolness!

We regularly take 20′ High Cube ISBUs and haul them back into the mountains to form “Remote Camps” for fishing and hunting.

There are a lot of ways of making that ISBU disappear into the foliage, but this is a way that I’m just itching to try.Okay, this is a cabin build in Denmark or the Netherlands (I’m not sure which) that’s gone viral, but it bears looking at because of HOW they used local materials to “break up” their camp.

From a distance, it appears to be an ordinary stack of firewood…… but as you get closer, you begin to realize that this is way cooler than a stack of logs.


Okay, they could have  broken up those black “seam” lines… maybe by using ornamental hammered iron, maybe…


Is it Pandora’s Box? Nope. But just wait and see what treasure it holds!


Kinda reminds me of a “modern” bunker.


Fold out “shutters” open the cabin up to the sun.


Okay, it’s not what you’d expect to see… but I can dig it.


Okay, he’s kinda overdressed for “cordwood cabin life”, but to each his own…


Okay, they got a serious case of OCD when they were building their trailer, but it IS cool…


The outside is indeed real wood. Use varying lengths and thicknesses of cordwood outside and it’d blend even better. You could even build in niches to allow for the planting of native fauna…


From this angle, it DOES look like some kind of demented deer blind. The one-of-a-kind window designs are made of steel and plastic. You could use “store-bought” windows, easily.


The hat’s a bit funky (at least it’s not one of those dreaded Seahawk beanies…) but I’m digging the vibe… with a little bit of “sprucing up”.


“Why yes, I will take a copy of the Watchtower. Wait! What’s this? This pamphlet doesn’t have anything to do with Jimi Hendrix! Be Gone! “


It’s a perfect place to grab that Strat and rock out… once I repaint the place, and reupholster. ;)


Can Grandpa shred? Does a big bear crap in the woods? You bet he can! But he does it in private so nobody can laugh when he gets his groove on! :)


The illuminated wood stack at dusk makes for a fantastic photograph, to say the least. Iconic.



This cat is as happy as can be. Wanna know why? He’s so far out in the woods that he can’t hear his significant other hollering at him about “forgotten chores”…

Image Credits: Thomas Mayer

Desert Delight Deluxe Defined!

From Curbed:

Inside the $11.5million nuclear-proof doomsday bunker that was built to look like an ordinary family home

  • The 4,200-square-foot compound is in Yellow Jacket, Colorado and has just been listed
  • The bunker comes with a 100-foot radio tower and helicopter pad
  • Reinforced concrete and steel walls make it ‘nuclear-rated’
  • It has a seven-stage water filtration system and four separate power systems

When it comes to living a life of solitude, it doesn’t get much more self-sufficient than this.

A 4,200-square-foot compound in Yellow Jacket, a desert town in Montezuma County, Colorado, has been built with disaster-ready architecture, essentially allowing it to withstand anything the world can throw at it.

The walls are made of reinforced concrete and lined with steel.

The structure is so strong it has been deemed ‘nuclear rated’, according to Curbed.

Just your average house ... with a 100-foot radio tower: This Colorado bunker, which has been deemed disaster-proof, is on the market for $11.5 millionJust your average house … with a 100-foot radio tower: This Colorado bunker, which has been deemed disaster-proof, is on the market for $11.5 million
The compound, in Yellow Jacket, Colorado, is on the market for $11.5 million or can be rented for $19,500 a month per personThe compound, in Yellow Jacket, Colorado, is on the market for $11.5 million or can be rented for $19,500 a month per person
Cosy: The interior has a homely feel, save for the metal air ducts on the roof, which are designed to close in the event of any air contamination, such as a nuclear meltdownCosy: The interior has a homely feel, save for the metal air ducts on the roof, which are designed to close in the event of any air contamination, such as a nuclear meltdown
The bunker has four different power sources and has never experienced a drop in the 10 years since it was builtThe bunker has four different power sources and has never experienced a drop in the 10 years since it was built
The house is far from any other properties, allowing for uninterrupted privacyThe house is far from any other properties, allowing for uninterrupted privacy

The bunker comes with a 100-foot radio tower and a helicopter pad.

Built into it is a seven-stage water filtration system and four separate power systems.

Among the latter is an array of solar and wind turbine set-ups, as well as propane and gas generators that are used as a last resort.

According to the sales listing, in the 10 years the house has been there, it has never experienced a power drop.

However it’s surprisingly easy to forget the military-like features of the bunker because the interior is so friendly.

In the absence of a nuclear disaster, the well-manicured grounds seem a nice place to relaxIn the absence of a nuclear disaster, the well-manicured grounds seem a nice place to relax

We could think of worse ways to see out the end of the world ...We could think of worse ways to see out the end of the world …
Dinner will be served in the dining roomDinner will be served in the dining room
The compound has no windows and relies on artificial lightThe compound has no windows and relies on artificial light

Inside the only giveaways to the house’s power are the metal air ducts that can be seen overhead.

These are designed to close off in the case of extremities, such as contaminated air from a biological hit, gas leak, etc.

The home can also be rented for 19.5K a month – but that is per head.

So in the case of any future, pre-planned natural or nuclear disasters, you and your kin can book in and be totally safe.

The compound, believed to have been built in 2003, is on the market for the first time with an asking price of $11.5 millionThe compound, believed to have been built in 2003, is on the market for the first time with an asking price of $11.5 million

The interior features were fashioned to suit the Montezuma County areaThe interior features were fashioned to suit the Montezuma County area

The house is located in Yellow Jacket, Colorado. It is not know what motivated the owner to build itThe house is located in Yellow Jacket, Colorado. It is not know what motivated the owner to build it.I mean, isn’t this just what most of us prepping families always wanted? A windowless home in the middle of the desert wearing a 100 foot communications tower as a billboard. A blind could see that thing. Wow. Imagine what this guy could have built had he hired someone who knew what they were doing!Thanks to our pal  Chris Sandys for pointing me at this bunker! :)

Frankenstein, Frankincense and… murmurings…

Many readers know that inbetween wildfires, health issues and a workload that reminds me of a Titan trying to push that stupid orb uphill…

We’re moving forward with the “build-out” on a large farm, so that the tribe will have a safe place to roost for generations.

Guess which direction the rain was falling fromGuess which direction the rain was falling from… go on… guess… ;)

It’s a war where battles are waged daily. We win some… we lose some… but we’re moving forward and perimeter lines are being set.

I get lost in this sometimes as each battle takes it’s toll. When that happens, I grab a bag and a camera and head into the woods.

It’s a way to recharge the batteries and reconnect with the land.

Who needs a vacation when you have THIS in your backyard?:

Frankenstein Fallback - Hideaway CabinOkay, so it’s just an old pile of rotten logs. Right?

Nope. Zoom OUT.

Frankenstein CreekedIt never ceases to inspire me and remind me what all the perspiration is for.

Of course, knowing that it’s “right around the corner” from THIS doesn’t hurt much, either;

Flooded Creek2Fallback, fall down, whatever… I’m content.

Are you?

Are you taking steps to insure that  your family is prepared for whatever shows up on your front porch?

Are you ready to weather the coming storms, no matter WHERE they come from?

If not… WHY NOT?

Time stands still for no man. I wish it did. I could use a few more hours in the day.

Stay tuned…


Help! I think I’m RIGID!

One of our readers asks;

Hey guys,

I’m building a small cabin on sonotube pilings out of a pair of 20′ High Cube ISBUs. This is seriously right out of your own playbook. We got the idea after reading your book. After consulting with you on the phone, our road to “Corten Cabin-life” was paved!

(Editor’s note; He’s talking about “Introduction to Container Homes and Buildings” and you can find about it in the left-hand sidebar of your screen.)

We’re doing this in the mountains of Wyoming, not terribly far from where you hail from. Would that we could afford to live in the Bitterroots! It’s so beautiful there! We’re envious! :)

We need to insulate in a big way. Lots of snow and cold in the winters, which seems to drag on into early summer. I know you can understand this, as you’re  getting “frozen” similarly.

We want to use SPF, we really do, but it’s just not in our budget. They want over a $1 a square foot, in 1 inch thicknesses. We figure that we need at least 3″ of closed cell foam in the walls and double that in the floor. Like you suggested, we’re using SIPs in the Gable Roof.

(Boy, were they expensive! I know that the lack of trusses and the ease of installation will help pay them down, but I had to sleep on the couch for a week after that argument with the Mrs…) :(

We want to heat the cabin with a small woodstove very efficiently.  So, insulation and glazing are really important.

Help us, oh “Sage of Steel”! We need help, before winter reappears!


Frozen in Frostbite Falls, Wyoming


Dear “Frostbitten”,

First, love the Rocky and Bullwinkle reference! I thought of Boris and Natasha immediately. :)

(When reading this out loud at home, my 5 year old son yelled out “Better Frostbit than SNAKE bit!” as he raced giggling out of my room…)

Second, in a cold climate, a high performance building is REALLY important, especially when you’re dependent on cordwood for heating.

SIPs really are the best way to go, in my opinion. When SIPs are topped with Standing Seam Metal Roofing (SSMR) it’s a combination that is really hard to beat. And, once installed, you won’t touch that roof again for decades! :)

Now, about your insulation dilemma;

It’s true that  SPF is pricey. It can be had for less than you were quoted if you shop hard, but in some locales, there just isn’t any room for bargaining. The insulation guy is probably one of a small handful in your region and he knows that he’s got you over a barrel.

spray foaming

Let’s go back to “the Playbook” (Intro to Container Homes and Buildings).

I PREACH the dogma of recycling, repurposing and reusing. I do it all the time. You know it and I know it, so I won’t preach that sermon again here, except to say this;

I know where you are located and actually, I have not only a plan, but a resource for you.

“Run… Do not WALK… to;

Repurposed Materials (in Denver, CO)

10220 Brighton Rd Unit #7 Henderson, CO 80640

(Technically, it’s just NE Denver. Same same…) ;)

Here’s their telephone number so you can call for directions;


I DO like these guys (with this caveat); “These guys don’t always have the greatest stuff, or even the best prices, but this time… they have you covered… literally.”

They are within easy striking distance of your cabin. They currently have “bunks” (in 12 sheet quantities equaling 384 square feet of coverage) of reclaimed 3.5″ and 4″ PolyIso (ISO) foam sheeting for sale. My understanding is that the rigid insulation is coming out of a Casino Remodel in Las Vegas.”

You want the ISO boards. PolyIso is the best Rigid Insulation you can buy, as far as performance goes. You’re  going to see r-values of r6 to r6.8 per inch, easy. When building a small cabin or bunker, (or any kind of shelter for that matter) you need all the “high performance” that you can get. So, it’s PolyIso that you need. And you need several inches of it on both walls and double that in the floor.

A lot of this rigid insulation will have a foil side, to allow the creation of a radiant barrier.

The last time I checked, the RM guys in CO had bunks of rigid insulation for sale for under $260 – $300 per bunk. In the 3.5″ thickness ($21.66 per 4×8 sheet), that works out to about $.70 per square foot for an r-value of R21+  and just a bit more for the 4″ sheets. Those 4″ sheets (at $25 a sheet) will get you pretty close to r26 for far less ($.80 per square foot) than you were quoted for SPF from that contractor! And remember that it’s in the FULL thicknesses required.

Once you get it home;

You’re going to apply it using construction adhesive, between furring strips that you apply to the outside of the container. You’ll fill the seams using SPF tubes out of a caulking gun type applicator to keep it all tight.

Your quotes for SPF were probably almost 4 times higher than that!

So go on! Git! That ISO board bunkage ain’t gonna be there long!

Happy hunting!

Are you still here? GO. NOW.

Stay tuned,

the-lexinatorRelated articles

Solid Steel Cabin on Steroids that you can build YOURSELF.

There are “boxes” and then… there are “BOXES”.

We’ve all seen the “soft-sided” pop out boxes that are getting plastered everywhere from “Fresno to Facebook”. It’s a large RV “towable concept” that folds out to form a big “hardened tent”.

Accordian Cabin Concept for ISBU ConversionIt’s not REAL yet, guys. So far, this is just a “concept”. They aren’t even in production, yet.

Here at TBE  (and over at our sister blogs RR and CHC – which is our ISBU business site) We’ve done similar things with 20′ ISBUs (shipping containers) for guys who wanted to drop their boxes on the beach or in the mountains for three-season holiday tours.

They are “vacation” boxes  never meant to be used in difficult (hard winter) environments.

But what do you do when you need a “FOUR Season” solution?

Folks, canvas or plastic just doesn’t cut it. Ever try to keep a tent warm in a blizzard? It doesn’t work, does it?

IN the ISBU realm, there are boxes called “Rapid Deployment” modules. These are used to create habitable areas that can be transported by truck and then dropped and popped… open.

Some of these boxes actually SLIDE open, allowing more space to be created in a fashion similar to those RVs we see passing us on the highway, hellbent for the nearest Good Sam’s Campground.

Using this “expansion method”, you could turn a 20′ High Cube single width box into a 24′x20′x8’6″ cabin shelter.

The Military uses similar Conex boxes to build structures. There are a lot of reasons WHY they do it;

  1. It’s an easily transported structure.
  2. It’s light enough to be maneuvered into position using farm equipment.
  3. It’s not “rocket science”. You can actually use simple diagrams to show how it all unfolds. This is particularly useful when you’re dealing with “natives” who don’t speak your language.
  4. It sets up in MOMENTS.

You deliver it to your site, drop it onto some kind of foundation (be it blocks, pilings, or a slab) and then you level it out and pop it open. About a half hour later (if you’ve NEVER done it before)… You’re ready to start moving furniture and people into that new “Corten Clad” space.

In “our” world, many families and groups want units that they can truck to site, set up and inhabit in a matter of hours. When they leave, they want to be able to secure those units from “Mother Nature or miscreant”. In most cases, these boxes are intended to be transported up into the mountains or someplace “rural” where they’ll stand against whatever comes.

And, they want to be able to “MOVE them to another location” if need be or danger arises”.

In most applications, these existing “rapid deployment” boxes are meant for arid or tropical deployment. For a cold weather – off grid solution, you have to look harder.

You can see by the video that the fold-out walls are quite “thin”. Even if you insulated them with SPF (closed cell spray foam), you’d  only get an R-value of about R15 (not inclusive of any openings you cut in the walls, which would further reduce “R-values”).

We can do better. We actually DO this better. And, we can do it without having to somehow find these “Rapid Deployment” boxes sitting on Craigslist. Folks, that’s not going to happen.

We need something with a little bit more performance. We need to be able to deploy boxes that can travel from “Atlanta to Antarctica” without encroachment.

Okay, we’re not really going to build boxes (or box systems) that will stand up to “Antarctic” weather, but we’ll easily meet and exceed the requirements for structures dropped into places like Northern Montana or “upper Canada”.

Here at RR/CHC, we’re working on a new “addition” to some of our boxes. We’re building a “side frame” that welds onto each long side, that incorporates the bi-folds required to duplicate this in “harsh weather”.

We even incorporate the twistlocks to tie this system together.

An integral winch system will allow you to move the top and bottom segments out safely, with the push of a button. Think “truck winch and a PV charged deep cycle truck battery.”

In our view, the system has to be deployable by anyone in your party capable of  being tasked with this responsibility. I’m talking a pair of men, women or teenaged children.

Because all of your “mech and tech” (bath/galley/etc) are already installed in the interior of the existing (uncompromised) ISBU -shipping container, all you’ll do is drop the sides and then move the stacked furniture out into the created open areas to set up house!

Heck, it’s easier than making a “Butterbar” look like an imbecile! :)

You can see how simple this is.

The trick is keeping the boxes narrow enough to allow them to be trailered to your Cabin or BOL (Bug Out Location) site behind a truck. There IS a way to do that. No, we’re not going to describe it here. We have to keep some of this to ourselves… LOL!

Add a PV array to the roof for power and a reinforced area built into that roof for water bladders for domestic hot water (gravity assisted, no less) and you’re off-grid in style.

Add a pop-up to the top of the original High Cube ISBU and you have a “Penthouse” sleeping area above the din of the road…

Drop this unit onto a heavy chassis equipped with twistlocks (like maybe a modified Unimog chassis that we happen to have sitting right here in the shop), add some leveler legs with ground plates to it  and you have the ultimate BOV.

Think “M-934ish 5 Ton Expando Vans”…


OR… drop one of these incredible units on TOP of another 20′ High Cube and you have a “High Ground Home” with a place to park your BOV underneath!

(Yes, it’s do-able. You can stack a pair of 20′ High Cube boxes with a pair of bucket tractors. It’s tricky, but we do it all the time.) :)

If you do it “our” way, you get a weather-hardened, towable unit that is SOLID and can stand up to the tests. The plus here is that you can do it yourself with a little bit of help. And, I’m betting serious money that our “pop-out box” is more efficient, sustainable and affordable than the RV concept that everyone is talking about, IF they ever start a production run.

We’ve got some really cool things in store. Watch and learn, Pilgrims.

Stay tuned.

This is such a great idea that we’ve already paid patent atty’s and copyright guys to protect it. So, no funny business, folks!

Pass the Hickory Chips… I’m smokin!

How many handfuls of wood chips do you use when preparing roast, smoked  zombie?

We’ve talked about the “Corten Coolness” of 20′ ISBUs before when discussing the construction of affordable BOLs (Bug Out Locations), remarking on their transportability via something as simple as pickup truck and a flatbed trailer.

But what if you took an 8′ ISBU and did something cool with it?

During Katrina, many families rented these to store goods in while they repaired their homes… after Hurricane Katrina started the remodeling for them.  A couple of years after the hurricane, we ended up with a bunch of them. In the beginnings, we really scratched out heads trying to figure out what the best use for them was.

We’ve modified some of these “almost ridiculously small” ISBUs and turned them into “walk-in” meat smokers.  We’ve turned them into “Corten Chicken Castles” to keep predatory critters out. We’ve turned them into playhouses. We’ve turned them into “guard shacks”. We’ve turned them into fully insulated walk-in Tool Storage for “terribly cold climates”.

We’ve even toyed with turning them into securable “Deluxe Guest Rooms” for when the in-laws drop in unannounced. We love that once they’re in there, we can close the doors, padlock the box and ship it back to “whence they came”… on a flatbed behind a pickup truck if necessary. :)

Oh, stop it! We’ll toss in a container or two of “Pringles” and a couple bottles of water… we wouldn’t want them to starve or die of thirst… 

But, if it was a competition, Brian Richer wins, hands down.  

Image credit: UNCRATE.COM

Image credit: UNCRATE.COM

Brian Richer at Canadian based “Castor Design” wanted a “pop and drop” sauna that he could haul up to his remote cabin property.

It’s rumored that Brian actually said: “I want a sauna I can tow up there and then plant on the ground… not one I have to waste my retreat weekends actually building…”

So,  Brian and his group of guys turned one 8′ Corten Steel ISBU into a pickup truck portable “People Smoker”.

Image Credit: GizMag.com

Image Credit: GizMag.com

From the outside, you wouldn’t know the difference. Except for the chimney, it’s just a big metal box in the woods.

He took a “perfectly good metal box” and turned it into a cedar lined oasis, complete with wood burning stove and a photovoltaic panel to power the lights.

Image Credit: GizMag.com

Image Credit: GizMag.com

Looks pretty plain, right?

But when you open the doors…

Image Credit: GizMag.com

Image Credit: GizMag.com

It looks (and probably smells) like a high end, Armani Showroom style “organizer closet” for (gasp!) P-E-O-P-L-E.

Castor is selling these for a bit over $40 grand a copy. They come with some bells and whistles, like tunes to sauna by via iPod stereo, an electric guitar hookup, a stool, a magnetic truck light, and a set of handy bronze antlers, presumably so that you’ll have a place to hang robes and towels?

Image Credit: GizMag.com

Image Credit: GizMag.com

While I cringed when I saw that poor lefty SG electric guitar perched so close to that heat… (say goodbye to the poly finish if you do that one too many times)… I’m guessing they thought it through…  Remind me to never loan them one of MY guitars… Nuh uh! :)

While $40,000 seems like a lot, you just need to decide what’s it worth to you to sit in a sauna at the edge of the beaten track, while the rest of the world does the “Sardine Samba” like lemmings in the big city?

Now, add a couple of bottles of good white wine and that’s some “Smug Sauna Saturday”, there, boy…


I’m thinking about building one of these myself. It’d be perfect in Montana, especially in the dead of winter. You could probably even find a sauna kit that could be modified to slide right in. Add a “metal shop” built woodstove (after all, I’m surrounded by welders and metal) to heat it up to “well done” and voila! I could drop it down by the river on skids (using the “twistlock cavs” as attach points) and then stare out the window at the scenery while I “relax”…

‘Course around here, some joker would probably attach a tractor to it and drag me into the middle of town…where people could stare at ME through the window…

OY. How embarrassing… :)

PS. We’re gonna give the guys at Castor Design a run for their money. We’re working with a Nashville Dad who wants to build a “Corten Clad” Space Station for his wheelchair bound young son. Post to follow…

Genesis or Exodus… We’re confused… ;)

As children, most of us were taught;

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

Now, God was a smart guy. He knew that He wouldn’t be the only guy hovering over the water and He knew the treacheries of “Wind and Sea”… so he created a manner of conveyance that would insure man’s future.

The reasons for this were legion. We can only presume that He knew, in His infinite wisdom, that man would require safety and shelter and LCD TVs from Walmart, shipped from far off ports in yet undiscovered places like Mainland China and India.

So, He said to Himself;

“Self…  before I task man with the loss of a rib so that he may find respite on the Barkalounger nursing a  sore chest, as the fruit of his now incomplete ribcage reminds him that he needs to take out the garbage… I must provide a manner by which man can survive all perils.”


It was then that God provided the FIRST ARK… built out of… you guessed it…  Shipping Containers.

You thought I was gonna say “earplugs”, didn’t you?

(Man, I can hear John Umland wailing from here… “You blaspheming SOB, you!”) :)

It’s hard for me to believe that so much of  my life has been dedicated to these large steel boxes and that from them rise family-borne dreams, happiness and joy that will survive for generations…

2012 was a year of exploration, claim-staking, heart ache (literally)  and dream fulfillment. 

It was a year of challenges as we began to lay the foundations for families yet to come, a year of progress and even obstacles…

AP Photo/Ed Andrieski

… as we were forced to cope with Mother Nature, personal issues and health challenges.  Many of you know that at year’s end, I had health challenges of my own. We’re resolving those issues now, as life begins teaching me new ways to solve old problems… like delegation of authority and diversification.

While the blossom of 2013 blooms, we shall see if you really can teach old dogs new tricks.

As we begin a new year…

Many readers know that last year I moved my family to the “Wilds of Montana”…

Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t rush to the boonies because I thought the world was coming to an end…


I moved here because I wanted peace and solitude and nature… I bought a new dog… a BIG dog… He don’t bark much and he don’t bite, but he’ll sure ram the hell out of you… :)


I grew tired of traffic congestion, subdivisions and quite frankly, poverty. Big cities are no longer the places of commerce and wealth that we remember from our youths, they are now divided dominions of haves and have-nots, jostling and even jousting for control of whatever assets may be within reach.

When most people think of “sub-divisions”, they see miles and miles of identical houses, pigeonholed into every concrete nook and cranny of the city;


When WE think about sub-divisions, we think about THIS:

Forest Subdivision

Now THAT’S planning…

We’ve learned a lot along the way…

After Hurricane Katrina, we gave “aid and comfort” to those we could reach. We ran a food bank off our front porch. We helped those who needed help, and along the ay, we learned that age old lesson once again;

You can grant aid… or you can help. There is a distinct difference between the two, trust me.

Our goal was to help those in need to learn to help themselves. In some cases, it worked splendidly and we saw our aid magnified as these individuals and families then helped others… But alas, they were the minority.

There are some people that you simply cannot help. In return, these folks reminded us that we were there “to aid them so that they didn’t have to help themselves”.

We saw this more and more, until… the fire just burned out.

My mother always accused me of having a “Messiah Complex”. I admit it, I bring home strays. It drives my family crazy. But, I have one rule;

“If you are in need… I will help you as much as I am able.  But, if you then refuse to help yourself? I will kick you to the curb faster than you can say “ex-girlfriend”. I may suffer heartache from it, but I will do it.”

In Mississippi, we considered our plight carefully. We sought the counsel of those we respected and then we applied ourselves, diligently working toward our new goal – to find and secure our own personal freedom.

To those who showed us “the new road” – (you know who you are) – we are thankful beyond measure. The “gift that was given” was priceless… they showed us the road … that led us to our freedom.

So, we hitched our wagon (in the guise of a U-Haul trailer)  to the stars and headed for a place where you could look up in the sky and actually see them.

We did it for a myriad of reasons, most of which revolved around getting to a place where life could be lived sustainably, responsibly and (gasp!) modestly, while providing all the elements required to provide happiness.

Readers of my blog(s) know that I preach the “Three R’s” – Reusing, repurposing and recycling.


We teach families to build, by reaching up into the sky… wait… that’s not it… it’s just lunch… but  it probably explains my chest pains…


We repurpose ISBUs – old shipping containers, turning them into affordable, sustainable, weather- and even (gasp!) man- resistant structures like this one…

Gawd… it almost looks “residential”, doesn’t it? :)

Relax, I can assure you that there were a lot of “Fallback Cabins” and “Bug-Out Bunkers” along the way… and there are more to come.


“Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.”

So, since we didn’t want you to get cracked on the knuckles by a ruler wielding Catholic nun…

We taught you how to reuse old rain gutters, turning them into space saving, easily tended, wall mounted gardens…


“I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”

And Fences. You need fences… Otherwise, your “big dog” will wander out of the yard… before you can get him safely tucked into the freezer…

So… we recycled PVC Pipe, transforming it into “edible fencing”…

herb ladder
and we’ll even reuse old ladders… just like this guy did to plant his herbs… because in Montana, man does not live by “home-brewed beer and beef jerky” alone… you need lots of spices for the marinades! :)

Wait… that’s “ladder framing”…. never mind.. ;)

As we lead families forward, trying to honor those who invested in us by returning that gift that we were so graciously given to others… we remind them that there are useful things all around you that can be incorporated into elements vital to the fulfillment of your dreams…

… dreams given back to each of us, usually by a handful of people that cared that we succeeded above all else. It gives us hope to know that there are still those who think beyond their own walls… as they reach over their fences to help their neighbors.

This year we’ll look at Wildcraft, lore, tools and tech… with a goal of helping you build your toolbox into something that will come to your aid whenever required. We’ll talk about your gardens, your livestock, your implements and your “hardware”. We’ll talk about dealing with emergencies and tasks. We’ll teach you how to use cast-off materials to do things that will surprise you, amuse you and even come to your aid in times of need.

We will share our insights with you and hopefully, you will share your insights with us.

No man is an island.

Regardless of how round he gets after massive consumption of beer and beef jerky, whether or not his belly has it’s own zip code… you cannot do it alone.

To grow, you need some help doing “the heavy lifting”. We ALL do. We gratefully acknowledge those who helped us… and it is because of them that we are achieving our goals and looking forward to helping you accomplish your missions, your goals in 2013. We want you to succeed in spite of those who would watch you fail.

And, we’re going to make sure it happens, as long as you do your part…

So, once again… May the New Year bring you joy, happiness and… success… beyond measure or imagination.

While we’re wishing on new stars… we have one last New Year’s Eve Resolution:

We need to build one of these…

It’s happening… now.  Stay tuned!