What it’s like to live off the grid, according to a couple who moved to a fire lookout in the middle of the Oregon forest
Retired couple Alan Colley and Dabney Tompkins have chosen a rather unconventional location for their next home.
After stumbling upon a book about the U.S. Forest Service, Colley and Tompkins were inspired to move into a fire lookout, a 40-foot tower that was historically used to spot forest fires.
“It was a magical moment that the book sort of fell off the shelf to us,” Colley told Zillow. “We called the ranger district and said why don’t we rent this thing? That was the beginning.”
After renting a few fire lookouts, they decided to purchase land on Summit Prairie in Oregon, where they would build their own tower from the ground up. At that point, the couple had already downsized from a Dallas estate to a 1,400-square-foot home in Portland.
What started as a weekend getaway eventually turned into a permanent residence.
“We decided to be totally irresponsible and quit our jobs and move here,” Tompkins said to Zillow.
Living in a fire lookout — which, by the way, has no indoor bathroom — came with an interesting set of challenges.
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Lookouts were used to spot forest fires from the early 20th century up until the 1960s, when they were replaced by satellites. To this day, very few fire lookouts remain standing.
Coley and Tompkins spent a few years camping around the area before settling on their property. In 2010, their getaway-turned-home was completed.
The fire lookout sits on 160 acres on land, much of which is a meadow. As they rise above the tree line, they boast 360-degree views of the land.
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