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Published on March 16th, 2012 | by Guest Contributor


Tipi Living

I want an award. It should say something like this: “CONGRATULATIONS TO SHOSHANNAH HOLLON FOR BEING SO BRAVE!!”

Did I mention I live in a tipi with three little girls and one on the way? Did I mention that my hands are getting used to charcoal and splinters? Did you know that living in a tipi in winter may cause pregnancy?! (That is a statistical fact…at least in Riggins, Idaho.)

I know, I know…I am actually a big whiner. Two hundred years ago we didn’t have a Laundromat with a big triple loader that washed Carhartt bibs and dirty comforters. We didn’t have two cars per household. There were no extension cords. There weren’t tubs of wet wipes on sale at the discount store. There were no bakeries that delivered yummy whole grain breads to small towns in the middle of nowhere. I’ve actually got it pretty darn easy compared to Sacajawea.

The only reason I feel so hardcore is because not many folks live like this anymore. All of my friends and family have a phone. They don’t use ESP as much as I have to. They have houses with running water and indoor toilets. These are the things you forget when you start over from scratch. You may not think of them at all throughout the day, but when they are gone, you are constantly dealing with the lack thereof. They are an expected luxury.

But, it’s worth it, living simply. The tipi has no mortgage. When we stop expecting it to act like a house, we remain content. When we step outside onto five gorgeous, virgin pasture acres we breathe a deep sigh of “oh-this-feels-so-good!” We are on our right path, and it’s okay that it’s different. I feel strong and satisfied. However, I will be the first one to laugh at the unexpected difficulties of a realized dream.

Here are some phrases we did not expect to say when we moved into our lodge:

  • “Holy wind storm!”
  • “Wood smoke actually has a flavor!”
  • “Showers are so overrated.”
  • “Put your shoes back on…your socks are getting dirty!”
  • “Where’s the flashlight? I have to go to the bathroom.”

Now, I can write about this and make it seem cool, but when you really go and do it…you have to be prepared for some inquisitive, judgmental looks of bewilderment. Or, you can just do it in your hometown, where everybody knows and loves you and says, “Oh…that’s just the Hollons. They’re always doing something like this.” And we are.

If you want to really enjoy living in a 26 foot canvas tipi then you MUST live in two little dome tents, for at least three months…with at least three kids. (If I see another zipper in the next five years, I will scream.)

This is probably documented in some million dollar study, at Harvard, but just take my experienced word for it. If you move straight from a house (or 40 foot-self-contained-surround-sound-turn-on-the-furnace-camper) you will have a harder time adjusting. It’s like going from eating McDonald’s, and drinking cheap beer, to a vegan diet…overnight. The detox itself will be harder on you than being fat and having a bad liver.

So we did it right. We all jumped into the “huge” tipi and cheered. My husband and I resisted lighting the dome tents on fire! We set up “house” in about two hours and felt like royalty. It was the beginning of the adventures on Race Creek, in the heart of our Salmon River country.

In another couple of months we will be able to say, “Oh yeah, we wintered in a tipi…no big deal.” We will sniff knowingly, cross our legs, and smile wisely, while whittling something charming out of walnut wood. We will have the seasoned tell-tale blackened hands and feet. We will laugh in the face of a nagging wind storm. We will devise ingenious ways of dealing with the little inconveniences that come with practically living in the dirt. And when we feel that life is too hard, we will get out the dome tent and look at the zippers. We will shudder, put them back in the cute little shed, and close the barn red door. Then we will make a pot of coffee and be pleased with our choices thus far.

Shoshannah Hollon is a 35 year old wife, mother, and tipi dweller from Riggins, Idaho. She married her darling hippie boyfriend that wooed her at the fire lookout when she was 19. She has three beautiful girls and one on the way. Shosh has spent the last three years traveling around the Northwest in a fifth wheel camper, following good paying hubby jobs, and homeschooling the girls. Now, after the recent purchase of five creek side acres, her family has settled down in Salmon River Country, the second deepest canyon in North America. Shoshannah loves to write, draw, sing, hike, sit around campfires, laugh, visit, cook, grow and eat produce, read, study, and spend time with her beautiful family. Her dream is to “grow up” and run a little artsy health food store full of colorful, delicious creations, on the creek. Read more about her tipi living adventures,

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3 Responses to Tipi Living

  1. First, I would like to say what you are doing is brave, wonderful and inspiring! It is hard for most people to let go of the all the unnecessary things we have now days and get back to what is important. Second, I have to ask, what are the sleeping arrangments in a tipi with 3 kids and how do you have time or space for adult time?

    • Hahaha! No kidding! Right now we are stacked in like cord wood. One half of the tipi is dedicated to beds…one queen size and three little twin sized for the girlies….right next to ours! The other half is kitchen, dining, and living. We get up VERY early and….wala! (I also have curtains that devide the “house.” This summer we are getting another tipi. So we will have one dedicated to bedrooms and the other one to general living.
      Thanks for the compliments and the comments!

  2. Cheri Grimm says:

    That is AWESOME Shosh…Congrats on the new landowner status…and a BIG congrats on the “one on the way” status!!! Miss ya girl!!

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