Sunday, July 9, 2017
Could You Live Like The Atchleys?
LIFE OFF THE GRID
Meet the Atchleys… the world’s most remote family who live hundreds of miles from civilisation with only hungry bears for company
For the Atchley family, normal life is just a distant memory after 18 years living off the grid in remote Alaska
The Atchleys are so off-the-grid that they've done away with pesky concepts like standard time, choosing instead to keep their own based on the Alaskan light.
There's no hot water unless you boil it yourself, and natural snow functions as the family's fridge freezer - which they keep stocked with two years' worth of tinned food.
Teenage son Sky, described as a "social experiment" by his dad, is taught everything he needs to know by his parents, who he plans to look after when they get old.
But for now, the family unwind with their son by smoking their way through their homegrown (and legal) supply of weed.
With no internet, the rest of the family's quality time consists of playing nerdy board game Dungeons and Dragons, although Sky also plays video games like GTA.
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But it's not all weed and board games: the closest hospital is hours away, and the family have had run-ins with falling trees, thin ice and wild animals on more than one occasion.
On David and Romey's first ever night at the cabin, their supplies were raided by a bear, and the creatures have been a constant threat ever since.
Soon after, Romey was forced to shoot one whilst David was off fetching more essentials.
She said: "Being by myself, I had to skin it, tan the hide and deal with the meat, which took a whole day".
The family's internet-free existence started in 1999, when David and Romey moved to their remote, self-sufficient cabin, after learning the basic skills they needed to survive.
David, 52, used to work in the city, and Romey, 44, was a waitress before giving it all up to live in the far-flung region.
Now with a son - and pet dog, Charlie - to support, David occasionally works in a goldmine 100 miles away or sells homemade shirts and pelts whenever he finds himself back on the grid.
Otherwise, their only contact with outsiders comes from their one month off a year, when Romey and Sky visit family in Alabama.
David said: "‘People want to know what 18 years of isolation does to you. It changes you.
"You have time to have more than two thoughts on any one subject. We spend months talking about one subject because we have time to.
"Do we miss people? Not for what you get, they’re too much work."
Ed Gold, the photographer who brought the Atchley family's unique existence to life, kept a 90,000 word journal whilst he was in Alaska.
He was lucky to even stumble across the Atchleys' strange, intensely private world, which they shared with him for a fascinating three weeks.
Whilst travelling in the area, Ed overheard a conversation about a remote family deep in the wilderness.
It took a series of five connecting flights to even reach that far off the grid, with Ed forced to repay one pilot for a particularly remote stretch by chopping firewood for two weeks in minus 40 degrees.
He said of the Atchleys: "They’re happy they’re on their own as they know they can do whatever they want.
"When Romey said one day she’d like to use the internet, David said that if she did, she’d no longer be his wife. He doesn’t want that world coming into their lives."