She thought about it for a minute and then told me a remarkable story about her relationship with technology during the last 40 years living up the mountain a bit east of where we stood. She did not exactly answer my question, but made a point nonetheless.
“I pretty much stayed on the mountain. There are no phone lines. There is no electricity,” she said. “I have my iPhone and I can get 3G and I can get what I want and I have a little solar panel and propane and candles. I’ve been off the grid forever. Now, I have the small solar panel and I can turn on the light and charge my cell phone. I’m not used to it. My daughter tells me, ‘You can plug things in!’ And I say, ‘I don’t have anything to plug in.’ Blow out the lights, not turn out the lights, is my thing.”
Her boss, the chef Michael Jones, filled in the rest of Liz’s story on his blog (punctuation all his). “Liz lives in a trailer on the mountain with no power and no water…two horses, a goat and two dogs. Cats don’t count. She carries water in plastic buckets to the critters….and to her own self,” he wrote. “She pays child support to a scumbag in Missouri or one of those other M states or square states…..Her daughter that I know is an honor student at Davis…….Because she has no power or water, Liz hangs with us after working her 10 hr shift at The Store. We are her TV.”
I’ve ridden my bike out past Cachagua Road and I can attest to the beauty and isolation of the area. It was very near Jamesburg that, climbing a long hill, I passed a man in a cowboy hat and boots, his back to me, urinating. The two cyclists coming down the hill had a much better view and the man made no attempt to stand behind cover.
This particular excerpt reminds me of the photos I’ve seen and the stories I’ve heard about my mother-in-law’s family when they lived in the mountains above Big Sur – a kind of lifestyle that seems almost extinct.