For this article I wanted to introduce you to one of the most amazing people I have ever met. A few years ago I had a job that involved collecting biological specimens. This job involved a lot of traveling across several states. The upside to this was that I got to meet a lot of really interesting people. The down side was that I also met a lot of assholes. Basically what I would do was drive around and ask farmers and ranchers if I could collect said specimens on their property. Some of them didn’t care, but some of them really cared. This job involved a lot of running from dogs and getting yelled at. On a side note, I want to make it clear that I always asked permission before going onto someone’s land.
The story of how I met Butch started on one such trip. I was driving through Washington when I noticed a promising piece of property with lots of trees. As I approached his house I noticed that almost every tree had a “No Trespassing” sign, which generally means that I am in for an unpleasant conversation with whomevers door I was about to knock on. However, I was in college and needed the money.
As I approached Butch’s house I noticed that he had 5 brand new Land Rovers parked out in front of his small and inconspicuous home. When I knocked on the door I was greeted by a man (Butch) in his mid-seventies. Since it was getting dark I asked if I could come back the next day and collect specimens from his property. One thing led to another and we ended up talking until 2am.
Now I’m not exaggerating when I saw that Butch is one of the most interesting people that I have ever met. Shortly after graduating from high school, Butch packed his bags and headed for Alaska. He started out working for a chain of stores before building and managing a cannery. It didn’t take long for Butch to get gold fever and try his luck at gold mining.
After spending several years in Alaska, Butch decided to head out around the word. He drove a VW bus around Australia and all the way down through South America. He also bought a small single engine plane that he used to fly around the arctic looking for old ships that had long been abandoned. He would then find his way back to the ships and salvage them. Now I know much of this might sound hard to believe. However, Butch had stacks of photo albums to back up every one of his incredible stories.
One of the most interesting things about Butch is that he loves to build thing. He has built dozens of cabins all over his land, cabins that he uses to play host to dozens of people every year. He has also built an underground bunker made from old shipping containers. This bunker in complete with a full kitchen, two bathrooms with working showers, and sleeps 30 people. The buncker also had hundreds of DVDs and a small theater with a projection screen.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about all of this is that everything is made with recycled material. Each cabin only costs him about $100 in materials. Butch has dozens of people who call him up to get rid of their scrap building material. In one instance a hardware store had ordered the wrong kind of flooring and had thrown it all out. That night Butch was on the spot with an empty truck and trailer.
Butch’s favorite building material is apple bin boxes. Apple bins are made up of corrugated wood. He takes the panels off of the boxes and interlaces them. Then he glues and bolts them together to make beams. He also uses them to make shingles, flooring, and wall panels.
Butch may be in his late seventies, but he isn’t slowing down. If he isn’t building, he is planning his next epic adventure to far off lands. The latest expedition that he is planning is to go search for gold in South America. He also travels around the West Coast going to barter fairs and festivals.