Off the grid: NM author shares story of living 12 years in the wilderness
July 16, 2019 10:37 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — From the rushing water of the Rio Grande to the mountains that stretch for miles, the freedom in New Mexico's beauty was enough for one man to give up a career in music decades ago and raise his family off the land.
One of his children is sharing their family's journey through the wilderness.
Just outside of Cuba, New Mexico – up the winding mountain roads near the small town of Lindrith – that's where you'll find the property described in the book, "The Soulful Child:Twelve Years in the Wilderness."
Chloe Rachel Gallaway is the author, and one of six children who called that place home.
The wild flowers and weeds have taken over what used to be rows and rows of vegetables. But the originality is still there, in every twisted twig, twine and tire that forms the fence line.
All her father’s idea, he left society and pushed away from the path of musical stardom for the freedom of nature.
Food was kept in a root cellar, an old shack that gives way to underground storage. It was a life that revolved around the rising sun and changing seasons.
“From the moment it comes up to the moment it sinks,” said Chloe Rachel Gallaway. “So all of that, I feel like I was having an adventure and nature was seeping into my bones if you will and I think I was pretty happy in the early years of my childhood."
Gallaway and her siblings were born in nature. No hospital, no social security cards, no birth certificates – all for her father's belief that true freedom was found in the falling leaves and beyond the skies above.
“I look at it like ‘man, my dad sacrificed for our freedom,’” said Carey Gallaway, Chloe’s brother. “Is really where it lies. He came out here and lived this really hard life so that we would be able to have freedoms in our own minds and souls.”
The family learned to farm and gather but had no formal education.
“When I was 14 and I'm at a friend’s house and his little sister is asking me to read her a book and I can't read it at all, all of a sudden, not so good. I know mom tried to teach me. I always rebelled so it was like work or play,” said Gallaway.
Carey Gallaway said he wasn't the only with a rebel spirit. Their oldest brother John longed for an education and wanted to be part of the world that their father was so against.
He left the woods as a teenager and found himself on the streets of Albuquerque. It was a late night when he was hit by a car in 1984 and spent time at UNM Hospital, until doctors told them there was nothing more they could do.
The tragedy, the loss of a loved one, started what would ultimately cause this family to break.
After spending 12 years living off the land, the Gallaway kids were taken by the state and put into foster care.
For the first time, joining a world they didn't know. A world with people, school, and shopping stores.
“There were a lot of moments in life where I felt cheated in my earlier years and then the whole coming home to accept your story is to realize what you really got from it,” said Chloe Rachel Gallaway.
Her story is far from over. You can pick up a copy from Bookworks on Rio Grande or on Amazon.
Right now, it's an International Book Award finalist.
Updated: July 16, 2019 10:37 PM
Created: July 16, 2019 09:48 PM
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