Where would you go to be completely alone for a year?
December 21, 2004 11:45 AM   Subscribe

If you wanted to be completely alone, by which I mean away from people, for say, a year, where would you go? The pacific comes to mind...

Keep in mind, the goal is to be alone, not to live uncomfortably. You'll want to make it easy to be self sufficient, so a long growing season is preferable, as is a warm climate.
posted by phrontist to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
In my experience it's extremely hard to be both alone and comfortable for extended periods of time. Happiness has often been equated with my ability to interact with people (this comes from much time spent alone on the NA continent).

That said, bringing stores in will probably bring you more luck. Drag a trailer out into the desert in the American Southwest or asked to be dropped off on a lake in Alaska. Yukon and NWT are also very nice. Can't comment on the Pacific, I was a poor hermit.
posted by sled at 11:59 AM on December 21, 2004

As far as the Pacific goes, you might be interested in Tom Neale's book An Island to Oneself. He did just what you're talking about...
posted by handful of rain at 12:06 PM on December 21, 2004

Best answer: Why go somewhere exotic? One year? No contact? Easily can be done in the midwest. I don't know what you mean by absolutely no contact. In that, I don't know what kind of limitations on yourself you'd like to put. You can be expected to be left alone, not see another soul outside of any metropolitan area in the Midwest. You'd have to send in property taxes and pay for electric bills but I wouldn't constitute that as communication. You'd want a natural gas tank for washing/drying which will have to be filled up occasionally (depending on tank size, I wager every six months roughly) -- but this can be done via automated billing and simply moving to another piece of your property during the short time they're there (since you're billed, you don't need to be in your home for refills, they just come and go and you only talk to them if you have a problem).

If you're willing to allow this sort of communication via mail, which is probably all automated on the other end anyway, you can get by very easily. You can even grow your own food if you stockpile enough gasoline for modern farming techniques, especially in the fertile plains.

People out in the small towns generally respect property too, especially when it is somewhat expected for the person on the other end to have a gun. You might run into some mischevious kids wanting to rob you or get drunk on your one hundred acres... but I doubt they'd do that to the guy who never leaves his property.
posted by geoff. at 12:10 PM on December 21, 2004

be a fire-watch in a national forest. Jack Kerouac's Desolation Angels comes to mind.
posted by seawallrunner at 12:12 PM on December 21, 2004

Most warm, fertile areas on earth are plentifully populated, unfortunately.

I was going to suggest northern Maine but then I read the whole "warm" thing.
posted by selfnoise at 12:19 PM on December 21, 2004

Yeah, I was going to suggest parts of Alaska or the Canadian territories. The south pacific doesn't really work any more -- the island featured in An Island to Oneself is visited by pleasure-boaters all the time these days.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:28 PM on December 21, 2004

If money is no object, you can go to one of the Seychelles islands. Most of them are hard to get to and only occupied by researchers. You wouldn't be completely completely alone but pretty close to it.
posted by karen at 1:34 PM on December 21, 2004

A relevant anecdote: A friend of mine from here in Ottawa sold everything to go and do volunteer tech work in Vanuatu for a couple of years. Surprise! I suspect Survivor was not what he had in mind.
posted by mendel at 1:55 PM on December 21, 2004

It wouldn't be a year round thing (unless you rented one - which can be done) but as mentioned fire lookouts are an obvious choice. Lots of information here. I doubt there is much chance to grow your own food though.

Northwest Territories or Yukon would be a survival experience, which might suit you. Or might kill you. And you would need to be a carnivore.

For a truly warm place - hm. The Pampas maybe. For a not-completely frozen place, one of the bays on the rugged outer coast of British Columbia - protected by reefs which fishermen seldom approach, but with good soil, moderate climate, and lots of fish and beach food as well as gardening possibilities. I suggest the west coast of Aristazabal Island.
posted by Rumple at 1:57 PM on December 21, 2004

Best answer: You can be left alone in Montana -- huge state, sparse population. As long as you don't get all Unabomber-y on us...

And trust me -- it's not as cold as you think it is -- and not as often, either. Sure, we hit -30 degrees once in a while, but it doesn't last for six months.

posted by davidmsc at 2:07 PM on December 21, 2004

I have a house in an isolated area of timber in eastern Washington. It would be very easy to spend a year there comfortably without coming into contact with another person. It gets cold there in the winter but not drastically so and there is plenty of firewood.

Now for absolute isolation I would love to kayak from California to Hawaii and back, but the best I can do at the moment is Long Beach to Catalina Island.
posted by Tenuki at 2:29 PM on December 21, 2004

How about the hills in Northern or Central California? A lot of people live off-grid all over this area (though going off-grid shouldn't be necessary), and you can be as isolated as you like. Something like the Santa Cruz Mountains would also have the advantage that you could get to things like grocery stores pretty easily, if you wanted to. It's also an ideal place for growing your own food. I've met someone who had lived off-grid in the central coast area for quite a while, and seemed to enjoy it (though it's not the life for me).
posted by advil at 2:35 PM on December 21, 2004

Buy a sailboat. Even coming up the Intracoastal Waterway I regularly went a week without talking to anyone; if I'd been really trying it would have been easy to find somewhere to tie up without being hassled, and of course you can go cruising for months offshore if you stock up on supplies. The comfort level of living on a boat is directly proportional to what you can afford to spend on it; if you can spring for a decent cruising sailboat with a wind generator, full head and galley, air conditioning, etc., you can live very comfortably.

Loompanics publishes a book called Sailing the Farm in which the author sets out a system by which he claims you can grow sufficient food hydroponically to survive on a 30' sailboat. Can't speak to his credibility.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 3:36 PM on December 21, 2004

If I had the courage and the fortitude, I'd follow in the footsteps of Richard Proenneke - as profiled in a fascinating documentary currently showing across the country on PBS - "Alone In The Wilderness".

"In 1968, Richard Proenneke (1917–2003) chose an idyllic site at Twin Lakes in Alaska's Lake Clark National Park, cut trees, built a log cabin, and became a self-sufficient craftsman, making what was needed from materials available. [Originally intending to spend a year making it on his own in the wilderness] .... he ended up recording his observations there for almost 30 years, until 1995.

There is a DVD available of the original documentary (but, check local listings as it is still showing on PBS), as well as a book on his experience.
posted by ericb at 7:32 PM on December 21, 2004 [1 favorite]

If I were a guy, I would try to get a position as a caretaker at some impossibly remote abandoned monastery (something like this, as far as situation goes).
posted by taz at 12:38 AM on December 22, 2004

I would find a mountain with a good water source, hopefully a nice dry cave and a reasonably clear area for growing food. I'd also make sure that I had at least a good bow and arrows for hunting [pratice, it's not that hard].

I might stay out the year and decide not to 'come back'. but I sure would miss this place, for a week or so...
posted by kamylyon at 6:28 AM on December 22, 2004

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