Adventure could be defined by how many times you find yourself saying “I don’t know how we’re going to get out of this one.”
We have been on quite the adventure.
After rocking and tilting, we slowed and slunk A Little Further along the narrow, jagged path to Stone Camp in remote Southeastern Pennsylvania, where Ted Carns and his wife Kathy live and nurture their completely off-grid, no-waste paradise.
And by off-grid, we mean no city sewers, power companies or gas lines. This means, of course, no bills.
However, this property does have all the necessary modern conveniences. The Carns’ compound is somewhere between a resort and a work of art with something new to discover in every corner. Hot tub, sauna, toilets, blender, washer, dryer, heat, food dehydration system, oven, stove, sugaring house — All powered by sustainable energy systems that Ted built himself.
Solar, wind, wood and reclaimed energy sources and materials provide everything they need to power their home and numerous outbuildings on this stunning mountain property. They recycle everything and tell you how you can do it too. It’s detailed in the book “Off On Our Own,” which was a great inspiration for our journey towards a more self-sufficient life.
We finally made it up the rocky road to the base of camp where Ted was busy restoring the outdoor hot tub (right next to the sauna)!
He was eager to show us his recycling center, every material imaginable, all neatly organized and stored, ready to be put to use in the innumerable inventions Ted has come up with.
He has been working on the property and its self-sustaining systems for 38 years, after discovering most of it abandoned and unused as a young man.
“The Taiwanese Red Cross just got done filming here for five days,” he says. (You can find it on the Tzu Chi YouTube channel – don’t count on western media showing you this, keeping people dependent instead of self-sufficient is too profitable)
We go through the outdoor kitchens, complete with refrigeration and cookstoves among the gardens, fruit trees, chicken coop, maple syrup processing center, a beautiful greenhouse… A wedding will be held here next week.
“The gate is just to make sure the turtle doesn’t get out,” Ted warns.
Inside the cozy house, adorned with native American blankets and artifacts, Virgin Mary and Buddhist statues and neatly organized collections of all kinds, Ted shows us an ancient herbal medicine chart and an electricity generating exercise bike.
Then it’s on to the power converting station, where sun wind and heat converge on the battery banks Ted’s built.
The photos can best show the beautiful architecture styles, with arching ceilings and turrets to the sky. Passive solar heats the living greenhouse on the south side.
“Anybody can do it, he says. “It’s unlearning is all. People comment on how much I’ve done, that’s not the case. I’ve just done one thing (at a time.)”
It becomes clear as we investigate the details of the property that this man is absolutely brilliant. His mind is always working to create, innovate, invent — The steel and concrete reinforced building blocks full of compacted plastic waste that he has developed are just one example of this. He sees the potential in everything, and turns all “waste” into something useful.
“Every day I realize something (new)” he says. “I have an epiphany every day.”
And that’s how the Stone Camp has come to be – one epiphany at a time.
This kind of thinking could save the world…
-Dave & Kristina-
Thanks to Ted Carns for the sample of the best maple syrup we have ever tasted — rich, smokey and not too sweet — and for the garden fresh cucumbers! We pickled them on the road in our Fermentation Station and they were delicious!