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It is not often that I become indecisive but earlier in the week, as I was deciding how to lead this latest book festival, I just couldn’t decide. There were too many good books, each delivering value to preppers in their own unique way. Ultimately, the winner was a book by Ron Melchiore, someone many of you may recognize as a periodic guest contributor here on Backdoor Survival. Ron and his wife, Johanna, have lived a good portion of their life together off-grid in what most of us would call the remote wilderness.
In spite of his isolation, Ron is quite sociable and remarkably witty eloquent as he shares his journey in his book Off Grid and Free: My Path to the Wilderness. This is a book about sustainable living, starting in the seventies and come full circle to today.
As Ron says in the first few pages, this book is dedicated to “off gridders, homesteaders, and other self-reliant people worldwide who dare to be different and free”. You will be inspired by this book.
With that introduction, I am thrilled to share an interview with Ron plus I have three copies of his book up for grabs in a giveaway. Enjoy the interview then be sure to check in below to learn about the giveaway.
An Interview with Ron Melchiore, Author of “Off Grid and Free: My Path to the Wilderness”
Tell me about your book. What is it about?
Essentially, my book is about how a young man born in the city of Philadelphia ended up living on a remote lake 100 miles in the Canadian wilderness.
My life has been a series of adventures. We’ve lived off-grid for 37 years. For the first 20 years, we homesteaded off-grid in northern Maine. Currently, we live so isolated, we only see other human beings when we come out for resupply twice a year.
There are no roads or trails to get to us. Float plane is the only access. We’ve survived forest fires and bears. I was even touched by a bear once. Part of the appeal of this lifestyle is the freedom it affords. As such, I was able to winter thru hike all 2100+ miles of the Appalachian Trail, and years later, bicycle across the United States.
I take the reader on a vicarious journey as I share the diversity of my experiences in an entertaining, thoughtful, sometimes humorous, at other times frightening saga.
What type of research did you have to do while writing your book?
Very little research was done since I am relating various stories and experiences I’ve personally had in life.
How long did it take to write?
I started writing some thoughts down years ago but I didn’t really get serious about it until 2015. I devoted the year to writing and refining my book.
Every book, fiction and non-fiction, includes a message. What message do you hope my readers will take with them after reading your book?
That’s an easy one. My message is simple. It’s OK to live a non-traditional life. Life is short and uncertain. If a person has a dream or aspiration, pursue it with vigor while he or she can.
It is my hope that my life and book serve as an example, that it offers some encouragement, inspiration and a measure of confidence to follow your dreams regardless of what they are, no matter how far fetched they may be.
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I’m an Outdoorsman/Pioneer, Homesteader and Remote Exploration Camp Manager who grew up as a typical youth in the suburbs. When in high school, I took courses in Industrial electronics.
I hadn’t been working very long in the electronics field when I began to question whether or not there was more to life than working it away for someone else. At the suggestion of my work supervisor, I researched what homesteading was all about. I discovered it means trying to be as self-sufficient and self-reliant as possible. That sure resonated with me and I’ve never looked back.
We’ve written articles that have been published in BackHome Magazine, Small Farmer’s Journal, and Countryside and Small Stock Journal, and we appear in Life Off Grid, a documentary film and book about people living off-grid throughout Canada. Life Off Grid aired on British Columbia’s Knowledge Network.
I currently blog for several websites including MotherEarth News.
As an author in the survival, prepping, self-sufficiency or homesteading niche, what are you personally preparing for?
There is nothing that we are specifically preparing for. Prepping is a relatively new term.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the terms homesteading and back to the land were in vogue. As part of that movement, we learned to be self-sufficient and self-reliant. To me that is the ultimate goal in prepping. If you have the ability to be self-reliant and self-sufficient, you are prepared for whatever the world throws your way and there is no need to cipher out every conceivable disaster scenario.
What would be your first prep-step if you were just getting started?
In a word—knowledge! Without some knowledge, without some hint at direction, how can one rationally make a judgment on the best way to prepare for any likely situations?
I say the following with tongue in cheek to make a point. If you live in Kansas, why prepare for the highly unlikely scenario of a tsunami if you don’t have at least basic first aid?
There’s a logical order to being self-reliant and it starts with absorbing knowledge like a vacuum cleaner. I would encourage anybody starting out to read as much as possible. Talk to those who have experience. Ask questions. There are lots of people out there who are happy to chat with others about this lifestyle.
What movie do you think gives the best portrayal of what could happen?
I confess I am not a movie buff. It is not often I get an opportunity to go to a movie theater and we don’t spend much time watching movies on TV.
Do you have plans for another book?
I have no plans for another book although I have had comments from readers who would love to read another if I cared to write it. We have also had readers who would like to hear our story from the perspective of my wife. Johanna is busy writing her side of the story.
Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?
I’d like to express my gratitude to you Gaye for allowing me to be a part of your Book Festival. I am available for questions and comments if anyone cares to reach out to me. My book is available on Barnes & Noble in print, eBook and audio versions. I have a presence on various social media platforms and I have a website where people can visit:
My Book: Off Grid and Free: My Path to the Wilderness
Ron has reserved three copies of his book in this newest Book Festival Giveaway.
A special word about the giveaway question/comment: Please read the question and respond accordingly, even it the answer is “I don’t know”. This week’s question is:
What aspect of off-grid living is appealing to you?
The deadline is 6:00 PM MST Tuesday with the winners notified by email and announced on the Rafflecopter in the article. Please note that the winners must claim their book within 48 hours or an alternate will be selected.
Note: Due to customs requirements, this giveaway is only open to individuals with a mailing address in the United States.
The Final Word
The way I see it, it takes courage and a strong belief in one’s self to abandon modern society and live in the wilderness, 100 miles away from everything. It is hard work to live off-grid and yet both Ron and his wife seem happy, fulfilled, and always on the ready for a new adventure. How many of us on-grid types can say that?
It is easy to live a bit vicariously through Ron’s book. You will enjoy it.
For more information about the books in this latest book festival, visit Prepper Book Festival 14: Books to Learn, Prepare, and Be Ready for Anything.
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Spotlight: Off Grid and Free: My Path to the Wilderness
Off Grid and Free follows Ron Melchiore’s path to the wilderness, which led him to building an off-grid, sustainable homestead with his wife Johanna. Here you will find true stories of survival, determination, and adventure. Ron’s years of experience make this book an essential guide for all audiences wanting to learn more about living off grid and surviving in the wilderness. But more than a guide, Off Grid and Free reveals Ron’s candid humor and welcoming style, which will make you feel like you’re right there with him along the way.
The book includes Ron’s hiking of the 2,100 mile Appalachian Trail in winter, bicycling from coast to coast, the terror of being surrounded by a wildfire, surprise encounters with bears, and more. For readers with an outdoor spirit, people with an off grid and self-sufficiency bent, and dreamers who want to take an adventure, Ron hopes to inspire others to “take the road less traveled.”
Published in Backhome Magazine, Small Farmer’s Journal, and Countryside and Small Stock Journal, Ron and his wife also appear in Life Off Grid, a film and book about people living off grid throughout Canada. Life Off Grid is produced by Phillip Vannini and Jonathan Taggard. See //lifeoffgrid.ca/ for more information. Life Off Grid aired on British Columbia’s Knowledge Network.