Time out in Tofino, and realizing Thoreau probably had it right…

This post might seem a little off topic, but bear with me! I’ve been reading Walden and I think that I may, like many people, have been born in the wrong age…

We’ve been downsizing as far as we can recently, not because we are jumping on a particular bandwagon or vogue for small living, (although this is a good idea), but simply because the timing is right. Junior is about ready to forge her own path, heading out to be independent, and we don’t want to be living in a space that was designed to accommodate four or five people comfortably. Our empty nest can be smaller than that! We sold our family house, and we are renting a little apartment until our new little apartment has been built. 

This would be fine (cedar shack in Tofino botanical gardens)

This all seems simple and straightforward enough; a linear sell one, rent one, and then buy one. Couldn’t be easier. All you need is a small mortgage from a bank, a helpful legal person to do the necessary lawyer type things, and a builder. These three can then communicate with each other, working tirelessly and seamlessly on our behalf so we can secure the tiny apartment of our dreams. And they can collect well earned fees from us… 

Kerbside appeal without the kerb

I honestly cannot go into the complications experienced in trying to get these three parties all on the same page. If I had three more lifetimes ahead of me blogging to explain how frustrating the past couple weeks have been, I wouldn’t have enough time. I’d lose the will to live three times over. I’d rather have an operation than buy somewhere to live ever again. 

Maybe we’ll abandon the house, just hit the road instead

Thoreau had it right! I’m going to borrow an axe and start on my own place hewn by my own hands. (I will have to borrow an axe – I do have a little hatchet, but that’s not going to cut it. I’d be lucky to build a doll house or a birdhouse, never mind a tiny house. And I’d need those three lifetimes from above). Now, as an almost outdoorsman, I’d probably chop off my own limbs instead of a tree limb, and the finished article might not look like the finished article. But still, if you’d been in my shoes, you’d understand the attraction, trust me. 

Tofino bird house (with lawyer perched on the roof)

I’m lucky enough to be sitting on a deck, staying in a small cabin overlooking the inlet just outside Tofino. That means I get to calm down. This is a good thing for many obvious reasons. The less obvious reason is the one where you don’t get to hear a news story about some old guy wearing plaid running around downtown Calgary wielding a hatchet and cursing the modern home buying process:

“And the police gently disarmed the apparently harmless, yet clearly confused plaid-clad old man, leading him away from bewildered bystanders and committing him to a secure institution where further tests will be carried out to determine if he is fit to have his little hatchet back. And now the weather.” 

View from the dock – just breathe, PlaidCamper, just breathe…

Just to be clear, and before anyone calls the authorities, I’m not actually going to run amok anywhere wielding any sort of hatchet – that would be silly.

All complaining aside, I do know that with a little perspective, this is simply just another invisible Western problem; I should let it go, and accept it as one of the complicated processes that make up life for the privileged few in the modern world today. An irritating downside to accompany the many upsides? I don’t know. I could stand to live in another age – when life wasn’t easier, that’s for sure, but perhaps simpler? I still say Thoreau had it right… 

Head over the next mountain, just a little further…

Have you ever wanted to build your own little home, be a little more apart from the modern world? Please feel free to share a story or make a comment. Thanks for reading – I feel better now – and keep your guy ropes secure.

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I am a would be outdoorsman - that is if I had more time, skills and knowledge. When I can, I love being outdoors, just camping, hiking, snowboarding, xc skiing, snowshoeing, paddling a canoe or trying something new. What I lack in ability, I make up for in enthusiasm and having a go. I'd never really survive for long out there in the wild, but I enjoy pretending I could if I had to...

12 thoughts on “Time out in Tofino, and realizing Thoreau probably had it right…”

  1. YES! I want to buy some land, and build a earth-bag home one day. That would be so cool, and I believe it’s actually totally doable. I’m currently still in the research phase of it. Thinking about attending a workshop, to avoid some of the most frustrating mistakes. I have been downsizing too, to be able to actually do this. Going from leasing a ranch, to getting rid of stuff I don’t need, and temporarily live in my RV at someone else ranch. …and downsizing from 16 horses…to one 🙂


      1. Yes, and we did it. Took the plunge, spent all we had on land in BC and hand built our own home for $600.00. That was 40 years ago and we are still living in that home, though we’ve added power, water and a few rooms. Let go the false security and go for it. It’s a great life.


    1. We need more living simply! Can’t get rid of all the modern ways of living, but perhaps we could learn to be more mindful about what life is really about – this doesn’t always seem to be uppermost in the minds of those connected with financial/legal institutions…the human element!
      Thanks for taking the time to read OldPlaidCamper, and enjoy your day!


  2. The author of my favorite book, Walden, can really speak to us today. Your post is a hoot, Mr. PlaidCamper. Had me nodding and smiling all through, not because your transition is face to face with mean reality, but because you’ve found a way to chuckle about it yourself (I could go crazy doing another move, and if there ever is one, it’ll be to simpler and smaller). Love that old bus, by the way!


    1. Honestly, if I wasn’t laughing at it all, I’d be crying…
      Glad it raised a smile and some recognition – never say never, but it’ll be a long time before the next move!
      Have a great weekend!


  3. this has been an appealing thought for quite some time. I’ve read some of “Walden” and there has always been something about it that appealed to me. And yet, I fear I’ve become a slave to comfort as much as I hate to admit it. What a great article and the photos are breath-taking!

    Here is a great quote from a tv show I enjoy. Your article made me think of this:

    “First time I read Emma Goldman wasn’t in a book. I was sixteen, hiking near the Nevada border . The quote was painted on a wall in red. When I saw those words it was like someone ripped them from the inside of my head.

    Anarchism… stands for liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property; liberation from shackles and restraint of government. It stands for social order based on the free grouping of individuals.

    The concept was pure, simple, true, it inspired me, led a rebellious fire, but ultimately I learned the lesson that Goldman, Prudot and the others learned. That true freedom requires sacrifice and pain. Most human beings only think they want freedom. In truth they yearn for the bondage of social order, rigid laws, materialism, the only freedom man really wants, is the freedom to become comfortable.”

    Sobering thoughts…


    1. I like your response; what you say is true! I am quite happy with comfort – the return from an outdoor trip is usually welcome. I’m happy to achieve some sort of balance most of the time, but boy, when it feels like the commercial interests of big finance and legal agendas are trampling on real humans, I dream of walking away from modern life as is…
      It’s fun to dream – I suspect any cabin in the woods I ever achieve would be full of (relative) off the grid comforts!
      Enjoy your weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ahh, my friend, I’m glad you’re getting an opportunity to read Walden. Life changing it is.

    Looks like Tofino is a beautiful place and well–suited to think through your life’s path!

    Great post!


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