Tales from Off the Grid: Katie’s Bridge

A year has come and gone since I first got to share a small slice of my world away from the office—my family’s weekend home—with you. In addition to peace and relaxation, one of the gifts of our off the grid escape is the community we have found there and the opportunities we’ve had to give back to it. This story is just one of many that I get to be a part of in our canyon.

The road to our cabin is pretty much described in the Rascal Flatts song, “Banjo.” We hop in the truck, exit off the old highway, hit the dirt road, and run through a few creeks. “Sometimes, you just gotta go beyond the pavement.” In fact, the only missing piece in this scenario is the banjo playing on the porch. 

Our small canyon runs five miles after the pavement ends; and along this path lies a dozen or so different properties, all lined with the backdrop of wheat fields and forest. Each season is a joy to behold and celebrate, but the magic of this canyon is about much more than the picturesque beauty of an escape from the city life—it is about the people whose lives are shared there.

A favorite pastime of the residents is walking and/or hiking the hills and the dirt roads lining our canyon, oftentimes stopping to visit with neighbors along the way. Although enjoyed by many, it has proven to be a difficult activity during certain times of the year due to the three creeks the traveler must cross. 

The third and most troublesome crossing runs directly down the center of a piece of land owned by a neighbor, effectively splitting their property in half. For the past several years a board has bridged the creek, allowing travelers to make their way precariously from one side to the other; and for just as many years, without fail, the board has washed away during the spring thaw, making it impossible to cross on foot to the other side.

The yearly disappearance of this board sparked discussions each spring of our need for a safer, permanent foot bridge, but this past summer the dream was finally set to be fully realized.

Coincidentally, our neighbors owned an old trailer that had been stripped down to just the frame; and at twenty feet long, my husband realized it would be the perfect size to span the creek. So we began in earnest by breaking the frame apart and welding its pieces back together to create a three-foot walking width. The deck from the same trailer was then reclaimed and used for lumber. Other than a nominal fee to the gentleman who welded the frame, there was only one additional cost for building this bridge: time.

As I write this, the railings for our bridge are still waiting to be finished. Once completed, the biggest moment will be the official christening of Katie’s Bridge, named for a much-loved dog who cherished the canyon as much as the rest of its inhabitants.

In the end, a handful of weekends were given up in exchange for friendship, community, and memories of building the bridge that will provide a safe crossing to all who wish to explore our beautiful canyon. My hope for you is that you also have the time and place to enjoy community, wherever it may find you. Whether you are giving or receiving, it is always a joy to know you are home amongst friends in this crazy world we live in.

Hey, maybe I will learn to play the banjo in the coming year!

DeDe Johnson, CMFC®