Monday, September 1, 2008

Off the grid in Oregon

A story in last week's NYT Escapes section featured an off-the-grid community of about 500 vacation homes in Oregon. The "subdivision" at the Three Rivers Recreation Area is near Lake Billy Chinook and the Deschutes National Forest in the central part of the state.

Here's an excerpt from the piece by Matthew Preusch:

“The lifestyle here, you can get simple or you can be real extravagant,” said Lorne Stills, whose late father, Doug Stills, started Three Rivers roughly four decades ago. The history of Three Rivers has been a trend from the former to the latter.

At first, what today is perhaps the country’s only off-the-grid second-home subdivision was just juniper and bunch grass, grazing land for cattle and sheep across the Metolius River arm of Lake Billy Chinook from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation.

* * *

Three decades later, off-the-grid vacation homes have become practical for those not inclined to tinker and jury-rig car parts or shower under empty Folgers cans. And in today’s atmosphere of climbing energy costs and concerns about global warming, what once was obstacle is now amenity.

Sometimes I find rural chic off-putting, but you can't help appreciate the resourceful and environmentally conscious approach to the second home phenomenon. On the other hand, how "chic" can they be if they're driving hemis rather than hybrids? And, indeed, how environmentally conscious?

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