Why I Like 13 Below Zero

By Mike Johnson

It's 13 degrees below zero in his world, 70 degrees in mine. He's built for it & his breakfast buffet is already open. He's a late arrival. Six inches of fresh snow makes him appreciate the free meal.

Warmth, comfort & a hot beverage makes me appreciate living in the midst of wilderness. We call this gazebo our inspiration cottage. Midwesterners would call it a 4-season room. It's a freestanding, 6-sided little fortress positioned seven steps off our front porch.

The trees mark the border of the Shoshone National Forest. It's the first & largest National Forest in America at 2.5 million acres. It connects to Yellowstone & other national parks, national forests & wilderness areas, creating 12 million acres of connected public lands.

In theory, I could follow that deer for a walkabout that touches four different states without seeing another human.

The front of the property faces civilization. It's sparsely-populated, rugged & majestic, but still holds some things of man. It's good to have some neighbors when you live deep in the boonies.

Folks out here respect privacy but happily help if asked. Margie is in her social element connecting with neighbors as she manages the many aspects of the community snow plow operation.

People adapt to limited services. The mailboxes & trash dumpsters are two miles away. We have electricity & indoor plumbing but it's best to fill your woodpile & propane tanks before winter. The dirt roads are steep & narrow enough in summer to ever expect big rigs to navigate them with snow & ice.

It's a different pace up here at elevation. A few neighbors work the 9-5 but not many. Some are just summer residents. So it's quiet. Peaceful. You can actually hear bird wings beat against the air. You can see to infinity at night.

Town is 25 miles away, population 10,000. That's large by Wyoming standards & enormous by mine. I've gone weeks without leaving the mountain. No kids to haul, no activities, no commitments, no schedules.

Pace is virtually paceless up here.

There are many ways to live. I'm eternally grateful that we selected this way.


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