As VW van-dwelling “Scooby Doo” enthusiast and Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Daniel Norris recently taught us, the ridiculously large paychecks enjoyed by professional athletes don’t necessarily wind up financing ridiculously large houses. While Norris has the antiquated notion of the American Dream and all the trappings that come along with it — big house, multiple cars, walk-in closets overflowing with stuff  very much in the bag so to speak, he’s instead opted for a life less complicated, less constrained, less defined by material possessions.

And Norris certainly isn’t first pro athlete to take this route.

Seeker Stories, a fantastic new digital network from Discovery that’s recently explored the life-saving potential of fecal implants and shed light on Las Vegas’ subterranean homeless population, has released a short documentary profiling retired pro snowboarder Mike Basich and his quest to live a purpose-driven life that’s not defined by the square-footage of his primary residence.

Part of Seeker’s Laura Ling-hosted "Going Off Grid" series that “examines how 180,000 Americans a year are choosing to live entirely disconnected from our modern Internet-focused world in pursuit of a more sustainable, simple lifestyle,” the seven-minute video, much like the short films released by faircompanies, is one part tiny house porn one part examination of a life lived deliberately.

Nestled on 40 acres at Donner Summit in the unincorporated Sierra Nevada community of Soda Springs (the more heavily trafficked alpine outpost of Truckee, California, is a few miles away), Basich’s hand-built digs — dubbed Area 241 — are the direct result of him doing something different with the six-figure checks he received during his 1990s heyday.

But it’s not that Basich, who retired from competition well over a decade ago and now travels the world as a highly regarded professional snowboarding photographer, didn't initially dabble with the predictable.

He explains to Ling: “I was making about 170 grand a year. I played it pretty smart. I bought my first house, a 4,000-square-foot house – huge. I went for the American Dream, you know, I bought a big house, had a fancy car … but it didn’t do anything different for me. It just took up time.”

And so, Basich sold his too-big abode, moved into a van and began work on his 225-square-foot backcountry dream home, a self-sufficient and self-designed mountain cabin that took five years to complete. And while it may lack the conventional creature comforts — cable television, window dressings, interior doors, an indoor toilet, etc. — for Basich, Area 241 is simply the fulfillment of a childhood dream.

“I go to bed with the sun and I wake up with it. I don’t feel like I’m trying to race time. In the city, it always feels like you’re in a rat race. Here, it feels like you’re in sync with what’s actually happening,” says Basich, a 40-something described by Make magazine as the “DIY guru of the snowboarding community.”

Basich adds: “I like to think it as getting back to the basics of humanity. I like feeling connected to the Earth more than I could with the 4,000-square-foot house.”

On the topic of connectivity, Basich’s pentagon-shaped living space is, as mentioned, off-grid. A salvaged woodstove heats the granite stone cabin’s cozy interior. Water comes in the form of fresh snowmelt that’s harvested from creeks on the property. Electricity is provided by a modest a solar array.

Mike Basich's off-grid tiny house near Truckee, Calif.

“Nature inspires me. And that’s why I chose this kind of environment,” explains Basich. “I want to learn how to live off the grid, have an appreciation for nature and keep the rain off my head … and stay warm.”

This isn’t to say that Basich has gone full-on mountain man recluse, even though his impressive facial hair might suggest otherwise. There are indeed some hints of “luxury” at Area 241 including a party-ready wood-fired hot tub and a single-chair ski lift.

As the Wall Street Journal noted in 2013, the cabin, with its highly curated new age-y ski lodge aesthetic and rustic good looks, is often rented out for private parties and used as a backdrop in commercial shoots. Basich also maintains an in-town apartment. “I’ve eliminated a lot of stuff by choosing to have a small place and a big yard,” he explained to the Journal.

In addition to the profile of Basich and his secluded slice of paradise, check out the other short videos in Seeker Stories' "Going Off Grid" series. And for more on Basich, this 2014 profile from the Truckee Insider is worth a read.

Via [Snowboard Mag] via [Curbed], [Core77]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

In the Sierra Nevada, an off-grid tiny house fit for a modern day mountain man
Retired pro snowboarder Mike Basich is an expert at both shreddin' and sheddin' square footage.