How Remote Is Too Remote, for Workamping, or Just Living?

Lake Fork Gunnison River Vickers RanchFind us a boondocking spot in beautiful country in the middle of nowhere, and we’re all over it. When we started looking for a summer workamping gig, we wanted a job in remote, mountain location. There were a couple of forest service jobs we could’ve taken, but we ended up here at Vickers because 1) it paid more, and 2) it offered us the chance to see if we’re resort owner material.

But the one thing we didn’t really consider, were the foodie sacrifices we’d have to make to live and work in a really remote mountain town with a year-round population of 500 people.

RV booze stocking upNo, I’m not whining because Lake City doesn’t have a HellMart. But I am sniveling about the lack of really good produce available. There’s one tiny grocery store, which carries a decent selection of dry goods and staples, but a miserable range of old produce that shrivels up the minute I bring it home. There are no local farmers or organic grocery sellers, and whenever I go to the crappy grocery store, it depresses me to think about how we’re missing out on the peak of the summer produce season. Nothing in that store is locally grown, even from within a 100 mile radius. If it doesn’t come on the Cysco food truck, they don’t carry it.

We were warned about the sad little store, so we stocked up on booze, dry goods, and Jerry‘s food before arriving. Now that we’re running low, I’m debating whether it’s time for a major shopping trip to the nearest big city (Gunnison, population 5k). We could make the 110 mile round trip there and back, but we’re having a contest with ourselves.

Cooking processed food in Lake CityWe want to know if we can actually consume every spec of food in our RV first, and we want to see how long we can live on the half tank of diesel we arrived with, on June 4th (today, fuel is $5.32 here). I’ve been riding my bike to get groceries, and we’ve only taken the truck out a handful of times.

So sure, we’re paying more every week by shopping locally, but the fuel cost of going to Gunnison makes it a wash.

The more iceberg lettuce we eat, the more I wonder if we could handle the sacrifices it takes to live all year in a remote mountain town, especially in light of fuel prices. Our job here is only temporary, but if we attempted to live in a place this small some day, we would just have to become year round farmers, that’s all there is to it.

Now that I think about it, I think I see a business opportunity here in Lake City.

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13 Responses to “How Remote Is Too Remote, for Workamping, or Just Living?”

  1. David, you are so right. I don’t get why people don’t do the math. When we lived in Eureka, CA it was the same way. People would drive FOUR hours so they could say they saved money by shopping at Home Cheapo in Santa Rosa. Insane!

  2. “It never ceases to amaze me that they drive in order to “save money” by not paying the higher prices at the local store. But when you do the math, they aren’t saving money!”

    They do that here in Taos too- head down the hill to eat at chains because local restaurants “cost too much” and to shop at big box stores because local stores charge too much for the same thing. Um…first of all, shopping local helps the people here, who too often complain about lack of services and the school. We need the tax money to stay in town, folks! Also, a 130 mile round trip to Santa Fe would cost a minimum of $25-$30, and that is with excellent gas mileage. But since most drive monster trucks, I imagine it would be double that.

    Sometimes, the lack of reason and logic kills me. You cannot complain about local prices and lack of services, and then head out of town to shop at chains. Really? Please…

  3. Closest thing I got was when I moved to the province here in the Philippines, it was still a city of 100K people, but the only 2 supermarkets seeemed to run out of basic stuff all the time.

    Also getting Internet connection proved very hard, in the end I moved back to civilization after about a year boondocking it 🙂

    Guy

  4. Great feedback, thanks all.

    The other day, I was reading a story about a frontier family from here, back in the 1800s. They would make the 3 day trip to stock up on things, with horse and buggy, twice a YEAR! If they could make it on so little, why can’t we?

    There are a lot of locals who make the big trip to Gunnison once a week or so. It never ceases to amaze me that they drive in order to “save money” by not paying the higher prices at the local store. But when you do the math, they aren’t saving money!

    I think the reason they do it is not because they run out of things to eat, but because 1) they aren’t creative with what they do have in the pantry, and 2) they are hungry for choice. This little store offers few choices. You get what you get. People aren’t used to that any more, and they want to choose from 10 different types of bread, they want that HellMart experience.

    So what Jim and I have to get used to in order to live in a place like this, is far fewer choices.

  5. Damn the produce!
    Hows the booze holding up?

    Man, I hope you don’t run outta that Bombay Sapphire. Keep in mind if you want me to join you there better be a place to buy a decent single malt around!

    Maybe Cisco will deliver Aberlour, or Glenmorangie 😉 If not there is always BevMo.com 😀

  6. Oh man, I would have a horrible time missing out on all the summer produce! But I like the idea of consuming every spec of food before you make the big drive for more! The other day I was trying to figure out how long I could make it on what food we have in the house. I mean, no one wants to live on dry spices and bouillon, but it’s definitely possible, if need be.

  7. We are finding out the same kind of thing here in Alaska. We went weeks and weeks without being close to a real grocery store (with produce). When we did find groceries things like bread cost $6 a loaf and produce was non existent. Alaska is REALLY remote! We almost totally emptied our refrigerator, freezer and pantry. We craved fresh fruits and vegetables and the use of fresh onions in cooking. We really like Alaska but living here would be tough. Lots of people here have vegetable gardens but you are limited as to what grows in this climate. When we made it to Anchorage, we stocked back up on fresh produce.

  8. Boy, the tech industry must really be in a slump if Cisco is now selling lettuce! Now Sysco is a different story … In my very first tech job – way back when – our company moved into an old Cisco building. Having spent a previous life in food service, when I first heard about the move, I assumed it was a Sysco building. Too funny.

  9. Just got back from your old home county. We spent a week in Humboldt County. Wanted to let you know the pot farmers are having a good year. They also deliver! We camped on some private property that had a couple of locked gates on the dirt road leading to our camping area. The owners of the property warned us (we were a group of 10) not to wonder on to other peoples property. Seems some of the neighbors are quick on the trigger to protect their profits.

  10. Cisco will deliver produce, by the case, so you would have to find someone to go in with you to split the order.

  11. Iceberg lettuce? Now that’s disgusting!

    Have you ever thought about adding a podcast, even just a recording of what you write in your blog posts?

  12. We just had our first farmers market of the season in Arnold. You do not want to hear what was there from our local organic farms. The market will run all summer. They still do not have tomatoes. It will be another week or two before there wonderful Heirloom will be available. I love tomatoes but will not buy the super market tomatoes that taste like wood.

  13. opportunist !

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