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  • Shoshannah Hollon

Living in a Tipi

About 20 years ago we stayed in our first tipi. We were care-taking for a mountain man friend, named Thumbs. He offered us to stay in his cabin, but we opted for sleeping in the 26 foot tipi, where we could hear Wind River rushing by. It was an unforgettable experience. We were about 20 years old and had the inept ability to sleep on a rock and still feel good in the morning. We had 3 dogs, a big blue bus, and lived off of quesadillas and Oly Stubbies.

In our 30's we decided to buy our first tipi. Mortgages and jobs were starting to stress us out and a mini vacation camping in a tipi seemed like the perfect medicine. We went up the main Salmon River, about 15 miles, and set the tipi up on a huge white sandy beach. We had 2 kids, 2 dogs, and life seemed simple under the stars, listening to the girls laughing and the fire crackling.



At the end of our 30's we were living in our travel trailer and moving around for work. We had sold the start up properties and were searching for a little freedom. Soon I started longing for a rose bush. Traveling is exciting, but I am a nurturer. I need to watch things grow and relate them to other growing things in my life. "We planted that tree when you were only 3 years old! Look how big it is now!" (Understand this, and you might understand a lot of women...at least the ones that I hang out with!)

We sold the 5th wheel and bought bare land on the creek. We couldn't wait to move out there, but weren't ready to build again. So what did we do? You guessed it. We bought another tipi, put it up, and moved in.

We had 3 kids, 1 more on the way, 2 dogs, 1 cat, and 5 acres of pasture grass to run on.

Life was simple again.


Now, I am the kind of girl that gets excited over a beautiful load of fire wood, so I had no problem moving into a glorified tent! Travis does everything with style, so our tipis were more updated than their forefathers, from the 1700's. We had a wooden floor, a wood stove piped in, a loft for the girls to sleep in, and a claw foot bath tub with a fire-heated soak, every night!

Eventually we had two tipis: Tipi 1 was the bedroom, office, and bath room. Tipi 2 was the kitchen, crafting, and school room. I called them, "Bed/Bath and Beyond."

We had stepped back in time, just in time! The kids were now pre-middle school, pre-school, and pre-pre-school. It was the perfect time to train them up in the ways of the real world...and I don't mean computer class.

Raising kids is a delicate process; full of madness, squished together with tears and kisses. It was 2013 when most kids were on their iPad, spending 8 hours in public school, and then sitting in front of the TV until bedtime. Ours were now hauling buckets of creek water, raking the gravel in Tipi 2, home schooling with Mama, planting tomatoes, heating water for dishes, building forts, and rolling around in the grass with the dogs and cats.

Yes, we had electricity, a coffee grinder, a computer, a phone (eventually), and a TV monitor with VHS movies. BUT, if we wanted a bath we had to build a fire. If we needed clean dishes we had to heat water and get in that dish tub and work for it. If we needed to go to the bathroom, then we had to throw on a coat and head to the out house. (Yes, it froze our bottom half, but, "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger!"

I felt pretty hard core.

Then I saw this picture:


Life must be taken in perspective. The point of view can't help but change. The family in this picture wasn't worried about a slow internet connection. They weren't thinking about how cold their outhouse seat was....because, I'm pretty sure an outhouse was a "luxury" that they didn't know about affording. They were just trying to eat, stay warm, and stay alive. Those are pretty great goals. These people knew how to work hard because if they didn't, they didn't survive. The law of the earth is pretty basic.

We have it pretty easy and that's why I like to make it a little harder, sometimes. I like my kids to know how valuable hot water is, that food doesn't just come from the store, and that if they are cold they'd better chop some wood.





After living in the tipis for 3 years, we decided to move into a rental house. We took the tipis down and started working on a foundation for our dream house. It was time to create the next stage in our lives and get everyone out of the dirt.

We came off of that tipi train like we'd lost the battle, but won the war! We were camp dirty, our hands were scratchy, covered in lovely callouses, and we had those tipis packed up before dark. We moved in a day, the way we do everything, in "Hollon Time."

That washing machine in the rental house didn't see me coming! I washed 17 loads of laundry before you could say, "hot running water and I don't have to haul it."

My kids were fighting over who got to do the first load of dishes, because the water just "flows out of the tap!!" (I am not joking. They really had a fight about it.)

Two days after we moved in, my 12 year old daughter looked at me with a bored expression. "Mom, do you have any chores for me to do. I'm gettin' soft!"

Everyday we try and bring this perspective into our family life. I want my kids to know that hard work has a reward, I want them to know what a corn plant looks like, and to know that the stars and sound of the creek are more important than what's on snap chat.

I want the comforts that we provide to be fully appreciated. I want to encourage the next generation to get their heads out of social media and back into books, art, music, camping, hunting, mining, rock hounding, road trips, hiking, and parties where people TALK to each other instead of showing each other pictures of stupid shit on their phones!

Let's do real things. Let's get outside!

And, P.S., if you have the chance to stay a night in a tipi, take it!


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