Living the dream at the Flying “L” Ranch!
We didn’t know it then, but Nicole’s accident in the hospital in 2005 when our son Dylan was born, would ultimately change the course of our lives. Years of surgeries, treatments and dangerous prescription opioids and neuro inhibitor therapies, was taking its toll on Nicole. She was still dealing with debilitating face pain and neurological anomalies, aggravated by barometric pressure changes. The almost weekly changing weather patterns would force her into incapacitating pain and misery. Not to mention the strain and ripple effect of having to be so hands-on with her healing and rearing our children, was becoming financially crippling.
Our security and investments were being strained. We began looking at the harsh reality of having to move to a more temperate climate. The truism of being tasked with having to leave our dream home and land nestled in the North Carolina mountains was ever-present. The land where we married and the home we built by hand was no longer our haven. The mountains where one day I thought I would have my ashes spread were more haunting than embracing. Ultimately, we had to look for a place to exist that was easier for Nicole to get over the final hurdle to getting healthier.
We figured somewhere out West, but still in the United States. When we first mentioned anything about Canada it seemed so far-fetched that we just laughed the idea off. For over a year we looked at many places out West, tracts of land and different remote areas, focusing on dryer more even weathered locations. So much potential, but nothing seemed to fit. Finally in 2009 through a bizarre series of events, we discovered the Nemiah Valley in British Columbia, Canada. Although it was out of the U.S. and produced a myriad of hurdles and challenges, we still had an overwhelming allure and pull to the Valley. It had everything we were looking for but was just so far away. We were waiting for things to make more sense. Over the next couple of years, we created friendships in the Valley both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous. In 2010 it was becoming increasingly difficult to service the requirements of my underwater construction company. Thus, I finally surrendered to the situation, sold and fully retired from a 25-year military and commercial diving career.
The then-current Xeni Gwet’in Chief in Nemiah invited me to submit my resume and apply to assist them with business development. The Band requested for us to move to the valley to facilitate me working with them. Although the dynamic seemed to check many boxes, we had young start-up companies and investments in the U.S. that required me to be present to see them succeed. Very promising companies, we created to assist others and hopefully supplement our losses with our current situation. We deliberated for months, weighing the pros and cons of making such a move as Nicole’s health wasn’t improving.
It wouldn’t be easy living off-grid, and our home would be a ranch that had been neglected for years, requiring so much just to get it clean and livable. What is currently a novelty, would become so critical to sustain and survive. It would take tons of work just to move cross country.
Yet alone settle in and live day to day off-grid in the remote wilderness. But with the opportunity to be in a climate that would facilitate more healing for Nicole, it was beginning to outweigh the challenges and economic risks. We could have a place to get even more intimate with the healing properties of nature, as well as the therapeutic energy of horses.
Thus, at the end of 2010, I accepted the job offer. For the next 6 months, we sold everything we possibly could. I structured matters and entrusted my investments and companies to my partners. We packed minimally and what would fit in a moving van, Nicole’s truck and a small trailer. With two small children and our house cat, the adventure began as we trekked 3500 miles across the United States into British Columbia, Canada deep into the wilderness of the Nemiah Valley.
It was a move and acclimation that challenged us all to our very core. Our first three months in the remote wilderness were immediately met with health issues, bare necessity challenges, and literal geographic and cultural shock. The crash course with off-grid living, ranching, and the Xeni People started as soon as we pulled through the front gateway.
Fast forward 10 years… Nicole has healed leaps and bounds with only a trace of what used to haunt her daily. We are still here, a bit tattered and weathered but intact and full of nearly unbelievable stories of close calls, survival, predators, wild horses, and unique relationships forged.
We have recently been featured in a Canadian docu-series called “The Wild Ones” where just a splash of our lives has been captured noting some of the trials and tribulations here at our Ranch, and our relationship with the local First Nations and the beloved wild horses “Cayus”.
We invite you to learn more about our journey, share our experiences and discover what it is like for us to succeed in such an unbridled world of high stakes survival.
Rancher – Aspiring Cowboy A decorated US Navy Deep Sea Diver with a 25 year adrenaline filled underwater construction, salvage and commercial diving career, in which 20 years I was owner/operator of my own firm. It’s a small elite group, and a career I am very proud of. It challenged and stretched me to my […]
Nicole M. Lares
Domestic Engineer and Master Homemaker Nicole is the glue that holds everything together! She takes care of the home, ranch, and our loving family. A true southern bell who prefers to be identified as a Georgia Peach. Born in Atlanta, Georgia USA Nicole is all things southern and runs her home and family by the […]
Lara A. Lares
Sous Chef, Assistant Manager, and Digital Data Manager Lara has lived in Nemiah since she was 7 years old, giving her a unique worldview and set of skills. “When you live in the remote wilderness for long enough, especially as a kid, you learn a lot about the natural world. I’ve learned quite a few […]
Dylan M. Lares
Enthused outdoorsman and Motor Head, Dylan now 16 is well versed with the offgrid and remote living life, with his own sophisticated twist. Raised in remote in the wilds of British Columbia, Canada his last 11 years, he has an unbridled passion for being outside and tinkering on anything that burns fuel. Dylan appreciates horses, […]