Although COVID-19 has cut off the possibility of travel for people around the world, the time will come when we’ll be scanning for flight deals once again. For UK couple Chris and Sharon Lodge from Northamptonshire, this won’t be a reality for an even longer time. Both are business owners and care for an elderly dog with disabilities. Between their domestic responsibilities and their busy schedules, the dream of a vacation was just that - a dream.
But Chris had a plan. The 44-year construction worker decided to put his skills to good use. If the couple couldn’t go on vacation, then perhaps the vacation could come to them. And so Chris spent the next two years building a $43,000 travel destination - in his own back yard.
Putting His Construction Knowledge to the Side
The couple had not been on vacation for six years, spending most of their free time looking after their pooch named Dice. Craving the need to relax, they decided to bring the vacation to them.
While Chris had plenty of experience in construction, the art of landscaping was new to him. He had the grand dream of building a tiki garden for his wife but needed to start at square one to get started. Both partners spent hours planning how they would transform a part of their property into a dream destination.
The Inspiration Behind the Dream
The fact that the couple hadn’t been on vacation for six years was something quite unusual. The pair loved to go on trips and escape their regular lives for a bit of relaxation. However, Chris had recently started a new job and their elderly dog had become more dependent on them for care. As a result, a vacation was not a reality.
But all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and Chris knew that he needed some form of escape if he wanted any form of balance in his life. In addition, he wanted his wife, Sharon, to be able to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. And so, he decided to transform his idea into a reality.
Their Travel “Destination” Needed to Host Three
Even if the couple did manage to get some time off from their demanding schedules, they still had another responsibility that was holding them back - their beloved dog, Dice. As an elderly dog of nine years old, the canine suffered from sporadic seizures. This made Chris and Sharon nervous about leaving him at home alone for long periods of time.
A vacation wouldn’t be very relaxing at all if they were stressing about their dog the entire time. Whatever plan Chris had up his sleeve, it would need to include Dice if the couple wanted to enjoy their time.
Chris’ Free Time Was Put to Good Use
Although the couples’ work schedules kept them very busy, there were moments of downtime where they could potter around and spend time on their hobbies. Over the course of the next two years, Chris spent this free time working on his new project - building a vacation spot in his backyard.
Spending time on his tiki garden was a fun activity, but it didn’t come without its challenges. As the project was outdoors, Chris had to endure all sorts of weather conditions to have it complete. His heart was for his wife to relax, but in order for her to do so, he needed to complete his project as soon as possible.
The First Step to Creating Their Tropical Haven
It wasn’t only Chris who was investing hours in making his business work (while spending his spare time in the garden). Sharon, his wife, was also a business owner and spent just as many hours working on building her empire as her husband did.
This made Chris even more inspired to build the tiki garden. He wanted a space where both he and his wife could kick back and get some time out from the daily grind. Setting out his plan for backyard transformation, he put his mind to tackle the first task on the list - cutting out all of the grass.
Research Was the Key to Building a Tropical Paradise
If you’ve ever been to the United Kingdom, then you’ll know that country experiences far more rain than sunshine, making the dream of a tropical paradise a challenging one. But Chris had set his mind to the tiki garden, and he was going to see it through to fruition. In order to do so, he needed to put a lot of effort into researching certain details.
Firstly, he needed plants that would thrive in the garden all year-round. Without any landscaping experience, Chris spent a lot of time surfing the internet for reviews and tutorials. His little patch of the garden was going to be the most tropical spot in the country!
Chris Became a Man on a (Solo) Mission
They say that if you want something done, then you need to do it yourself. Chris had the perfect plan in his mind and didn’t want anyone else interfering and risking his vision. Determined to do everything himself, Chris gathered all of the materials that he needed for his tiki garden.
The backyard version of the tiki garden was going to have a rope bridge made of timber and driftwood. As it turns out, this would be the biggest challenge that Chris would face. Dedicating his hours after work, the British man succeeded in building the exotic-looking bridge. Now, he could begin setting the scene with the plants.
Chris’ Inspiration Was Very Close to His Heart
You may be asking yourself what inspired Chris to put so many hours of hard work into creating a tropical getaway on British soil. And the answer may surprise you. Sure, Chris worked very hard, and yes, he wanted to be home to look after his dog. But Chris’ true inspiration was his wife, Sharon.
Chris knew how happy a tropical escape would make his wife. It was this thought that motivated him to create a place where she could feel that she was on vacation. The homemade tiki garden was the best plan that he could think of.
The Total Value of the Tiki Garden
Chris started his project in 2017 and worked tirelessly with dedication and focus over the course of the next two years. Although he knew little-to-nothing about landscaping, he put in the time and effort to fill in the gaps of his knowledge.
After two years, Chris had invested at least $43,000 in creating his little piece of tropical heaven. By the end of the time, the paradise escape was not only beautiful but also included a bar that they used to unwind with a cocktail and entertain guests when they came over.
Their Garden Had Been Magically Transformed
One day, the Lodge’s garden was an average British backyard. The next day, it had been fantastically transformed into an exotic tiki garden. Every time that the couple stepped out into the back, they were transported into a different world.
Chris had completed his goal. He aspired to create a place where he and his wife could escape their everyday life in the UK. Now that his project was complete - they could do exactly that. The couple didn’t have to pay for an expensive flight to the tropics. They simply had to step outside.
The Philosophy “The More the Merrier” Was Never More Valid
Chris and Sharon still spend their days working tirelessly at their jobs, knowing that they can relax at the end of the day. But their tropical garden is not only for themselves to enjoy. The couple loves to host family and friends in their lush paradise.
In the words of the renowned tiki garden maker, Chris says that the garden is the ideal place for people to go “if they’re having a bad day or feeling down.” It’s the ultimate spot for people to “just get away” from all of their troubles.
Saving Loads of Money in the Long Run
The garden escape wasn’t an overnight success. It took two years of hard labor and a dedicated investment of $43,000 to create a tropical paradise. However, Chris claims that every cent was worth it - even if just to see the smile that the garden puts on his wife’s face.
In addition, the revamped garden allows the couple to escape and find relaxation without forking out for a flight. Essentially, Chris’ project has saved them a lot of money in the long run. The best part of it all is that now they don’t need to leave their dog at home in order to enjoy a taste of tranquility.
A Home Renovation Jump Started the Garden’s Redesign
Had you ever heard of a tiki garden before reading this? A tiki garden is a South Sea Polynesian-themed garden, decorated with carvings, inspiring thoughts of a personal retreat. When Chris and Sharon decided to renovate their home of 15-years, Chris decided to extend the renovation to the garden.
Looking at their garden, Chris’ eyes fell on the old willow tree that gave the space a tropical mood. It was this willow tree that inspired Chris to create a tiki garden. And once the thought hit him, there was no going back.
Chris’ Fingers Were Painted Green at a Very Young Age
As mentioned, Chris is a construction worker who had no experience in landscaping before the tiki garden project. And while Chris admits to having had to learn about plants, it wasn’t the first time that he had a go at "gardening".
When Chris was a young boy, he cared for a small group of cacti and succulents that he kept on his windowsill. But this small amount of experience was not enough to create a tropical escape - especially not in the UK. If Chris wanted to make his dream a reality, then he had a lot of research to do.
The Willow Tree Became the Centerpiece of the Garden
It was the willow tree that inspired the theme of the tiki garden. Chris was mesmerized by how the branches of the tree hung down to create an ethereal, tropical scene. If Chris’s plan to create a tiki garden was to happen, then he needed to accentuate the willow.
Chris knew that whatever plants he added to the garden, they would have to complement the willow tree. In order to create a believable tiki garden, he needed to strike the balance between tasteful and exotic. After doing his research, Chris placed the order for the perfect plants. And not long after, the foilage arrived.
Creating the Garden Was Surprisingly Fun
Chris was under no illusion that creating the perfect tropical garden would involve a fair amount of blood, sweat, and tears. But what he didn’t expect was the amount of fun that was to be had. Chris admits that he “was hooked” as soon as he started looking into the different types of plants and landscaping tricks.
His interest in learning came as a bit of surprise to Chris. Throughout school, he had suffered from dyslexia, but all of his struggles disappeared as soon as he dedicated his time to the project. His enthusiastic focus and “good eye for detail” were key in making the tiki garden happen.
Come Hell or High Water - Chris Was Committed
As much as Chris loved learning about landscaping and plants, there were some days that were slightly tougher than others. Over the course of two years, Chris put a lot of elbow grease into transforming his garden. Doing this while working a full-time job was no easy task, and some days required more dedication than others.
But Chris pushed through the difficult days and developed a “passion for gardening”. Building his new tiki garden became “addictive”, especially when he started seeing the project come to life.
The Garden Is a Constant Work in Progress
As with most addictions - good and bad - Chris could never get enough. The thought of adding to the garden excited Chris and Sharon, knowing that the tiki garden is a constant work in progress that always has room for improvement. As a perfectionist, Chris doubts that he will ever be satisfied and will constantly find something to add.
This gives the couple the best of both worlds. On one hand, they have a place to escape and unwind. And on the other hand, Chris has something to keep him busy and inspired.
The Tiki Garden That Sparked a Flame of Inspiration
The Lodge household is now a tropical escape for both themselves and their loved ones. Everyone who comes over to their house is both amazed and inspired by what Chris has managed to achieve in the garden.
Today, the couple has their perfect backyard. It’s a space where they can relax and get through stressful times, without having to go too far. In addition to making their dream a reality, they have also inspired countless other people to find their own patch of sunshine under the gray skies of the UK.
Richard Aiken Turned a Shack in the Woods Into a Home
Richard Aiken is a man who had a dream and turned it into reality. Lots of people enjoy hiking in the wilderness. Some even fantasize about leaving behind the struggles of daily life in the big city and retiring to a cabin in the woods. But Aiken did more than fantasize. He started with a run-down cabin in the woods outside Springfield, Missouri, and, after a lot of hard work and dedication, ended up with a dream cabin.
His family could hardly believe what he did. Starting with only $100, he made his dreams come true. He didn’t know exactly what he was getting himself into when he bought a run-down cabin from a friend. He just knew that he wanted to live a simpler life. He demonstrates that with effort and perseverance, anything is possible. Here is the remarkable story of Richard Aiken and his cabin in the woods.
He Was an Accomplished Man Before It Began
Richard Aiken is a well-respected scholar in several fields. He is a mathematician and a physician who has taught and lectured all over the world. He has a psychiatry practice in Springfield, Missouri, and has taught at institutes and universities in Zürich, Switzerland, Stockholm, Sweden, and various other locations in Europe. He has been published in several peer-reviewed journals and has written several books.
His main area of interest is in studying how a natural and healthy lifestyle can positively influence one’s physical and mental health. He advocates eating a vegan diet, which he claims is more natural to human beings, and promotes better general health. He says that “junk food = junk mood” and also promotes exercise and meditation as important aspects of living a healthy lifestyle. He calls himself a “vegan hillbilly”, and is very proud of that moniker. And with all his success, who could argue?
He Also Loved the Wilderness
He felt that part of a natural lifestyle was having a connection to the natural world. While living in Park City, Utah, he developed a love for the mountains and took many happy and successful trips to the backcountry there. “It was just so wonderful to be out in nature at a very simple shelter,” Richard told a national magazine in April 2021. “It just seemed very basic and psychologically pleasing and fulfilling.”
Once settled in Missouri, he began visiting the Ozarks. As he began to spend more time in the forested hills of Missouri, an idea began to grow in his mind. He wanted a simple cabin in the mountains where he could get away and live as simply as possible. He knew he would keep his main house for his family’s sake, but he began to think more and more about getting a cabin in the woods.
Searching for His Dream Cabin
Aiken started looking for his ideal cabin in the woods. He wanted some kind of historical cabin, and he didn’t want to spend a lot of money. He began placing ads in local Missouri newspapers. At first, he had very little luck. “Those that were in really good condition were quite expensive,” Aiken said. “Since this…wasn’t going to be my main home, I wasn’t looking to put out tens of thousands of dollars.”
Eventually, he got a call in response to one of his ads from a man named Billy Howell. Howell had a small log cabin that had been built way back in the 1830s, but it was in terrible shape. It was falling apart and filled with junk. So Howell told Aiken, "You can have it for nothin' if you haul away the junk". Aiken insisted on giving him 100 dollars for it, and the deal was struck.
Good News and Bad News
Richard Aiken had found his dream cabin, an old, historical log cabin located in the forests of the Ozark Mountains in Township 32N Range 15 Section 33, in Wright County, Missouri. But the cabin was in terrible shape. “This place was not used for 30 or 40 years and was in total disrepair,” says Richard. “The ceiling, the roofs, and everything was caved in. They even used it as a trash receptacle.”
And Howell insisted that although Aiken could have the cabin, he couldn’t keep it in the same place. It had to be moved. Richard agreed to clear out all the junk and detritus that filled the cabin, after which he would move the cabin himself. He had never done such a thing before, though. He began doing research and soon realized that the first step was to remove all the junk and debris inside and around the cabin.
It Looked Like a Pile of Firewood
When he first started working on the cabin, it looked like nothing more than a big pile of firewood. The first step was to remove all the excess debris to isolate the cabin itself. Even though the cabin was falling apart, he could easily distinguish the original wood that was used in construction from the mounds of rubble in and around the cabin.
Once he cleared the site, he realized that even though the cabin needed a lot of restoration work, it had great potential. As he remarked later, "It was two stories, with a very large 'pen' of about 21-22 feet square," and that "The material was massive white oak beams, hand-hewn and squared with half dovetail notches. Most logs were in excellent condition." On the west side there was a window, and on the east side was a hole where a fireplace used to be.
How to Move an Entire Log Cabin and Reconstruct It
Once the cabin had been cleaned out, he could see what he was up against. Many of the original planks were in decent shape, but many more, especially the ones near the bottom of the cabin, were not. He began to consider how he could move the cabin from one location to another. He couldn’t lift the entire thing whole, because it would immediately fall apart.
He realized he was going to have to dismantle it and find a way to transport the individual beams and logs. Then he could carefully put it back together in its new location, replacing whatever logs needed to be replaced, putting in a new fireplace, and rebuilding it better than ever. It was a huge task with many steps, and Richard would need some help. He enlisted a Native American friend known as "Two Bears", who was a member of the Sioux Tribe.
Each Log Was Meticulously Labeled and Categorized
Before he could dismantle the cabin and prepare it for transport, he knew he had to carefully mark each log and its location in the cabin. “We had to label it in a way which showed how many logs up it was,” said Richard. “What was facing east and what was facing west. The joints were so specific that you had to put them together in the same way. It’s not like Lincoln Logs that are generic.”
He developed a system whereby the location of each log would have to be carefully noted and each log would have to be labeled with the side it was on, how far up it was, and what direction it faced. He wanted to use as simple a system as possible, so he used the cardinal directions and a simple numbering system. He then affixed signs to each log that marked its location and orientation.
The Professor Describes How He Kept Track of the Location of Each Log
As he describes on his website, “Every log was meticulously labeled. The front was assigned to the north, the back, south, and the other sides accordingly although that was not their true orientation it would be exactly their magnetic orientation at the new site. The system I chose was in two directions, first the side on the north, south, east, and west, and secondly the direction that log was ‘pointed’ to. Then the order of the logs from 1 on up.”
His system allowed him to carefully note the location of each log. “For example, shown here ES 7 means the seventh log on the east side pointing at this end south.” In this way, he could dismantle the entire cabin and be prepared to reassemble it as soon as he found a new location. He then grabbed his wife and began to search for that location in the beautiful green hills.
Finding a New Home for the Cabin
The next step was to find a suitable location for a new spot for the cabin to be rebuilt. For this step, Aiken enlisted the help of his wife and family. They had up until then been supportive of his dream, but when they saw the cabin, they were a little shocked. After telling them about his plan, however, they agreed to help choose a new locale for the cabin. There were several important criteria they had to satisfy.
First of all, he knew he wanted to be near water, but the cabin had to be clear of any swampland or marshy areas. It needed to be close to water because Aiken wanted to keep the cabin traditional, and that meant no plumbing. A nearby creek would provide water for washing, cooking, and drinking. Even better, a spring might provide drinking water natural enough not to require purification.
Other Site Requirements
In addition to aquatic considerations, there were several other factors that were important in determining an appropriate site for the new location of the epic log cabin. One was aesthetics. It was important for the front of the house to have a grand, sweeping view of the surrounding land, preferably from a somewhat elevated point, for, as Richard put it, “enjoyment of the land and its flora and fauna”.
He also had the idea that he could hunt animals from his front porch and planned to install a railing at a suitable height so that rifles could be comfortably rested on them. As far as orientation, Aiken chose to build the house with the front door facing directly towards magnetic north. That way, it would be easier to ensure the cabin was rebuilt perfectly square. Additionally, the location would have to have enough trees nearby.
They Found a Site That Brought His Wife to Tears
Richard Aiken, along with his wife, began searching rural Missouri for plots of land that were for sale which would be an appropriate location for the soon-to-be rebuilt log cabin. The land was cheap because it was undeveloped and hard to build on. There was no infrastructure like electricity or water, and most of the ground was swampy and marshy. Although that’s not ideal for commercial development, it was exactly the kind of land that the Aikens needed for the new site of their second home in the woods.
Before long, he found a promising plot of land in an area in the rolling hills of the Ozarks. He brought his wife to take look and she immediately fell in love with it. As Richard recalled later, “My wife was looking around and saw this area where the site is at and she started crying because it was so beautiful.”
The Cabin Was Moving to Amish Country
The land that the cabin was to be moved to was in the middle of Amish country. Although many Amish sects settled in Pennsylvania and Ohio, in 2020 there were almost 15,000 Amish in Missouri. Most came from Switzerland and were very conservative. They spoke a little English, but mostly a Swiss dialect of German. Fortunately, Aiken could speak some German, so they could communicate that way. They wouldn’t buy battery-powered power tools, but they could use them, so Aiken provided them with some.
Many of the Amish were tickled that this outsider wanted to live on their land and build a cabin by hand using the old-fashioned techniques, so they decided to help him. A few Amish families provided him with labor and expertise, and they became an invaluable addition to the construction project. He later expressed his gratitude, admitting it would have been far more difficult without them.
The Nascent Lake of Joyful Tears
The plot of land was located above a marshy area and had a relatively open grove with dense forests nearby. Richard began surveying the property and found the ground to be wet. He dug through some grass and found wet bedrock underneath. That meant that a new lake could be built there, fed by the marshes and held in place by the bedrock. With hard work and a little help from his wife and children, as seen in the picture, a new body of water was built on the site.
Richard named the new body of water “The Lake of Joyful Tears” after his wife’s initial reaction to the site. He was also able to find a spring nearby, and he was able to dig a well and tap into the fresh spring water. Thus, he had water for bathing and washing as well as a separate source of drinking water.
The Site Was Prepared for Construction
The next step was to prepare the site for construction, which meant clearing away a few trees and constructing the building’s foundation. Richard regretted having to cut down a few trees, including one that had a heavy branch that overhung the spot where the cabin was to go. But it was a necessary evil, and he figured the good that he would do to the land by clearing it out and forming a new lake and spring would outweigh the bad.
Still, as a naturalist, he wished he didn’t have to remove any trees, and he did so as carefully as possible. With that done, he began to construct the foundation. The bedrock that would form the bottom of the lake would also be a suitable place to construct a foundation, so after digging a little, he flattened out a small area and laid out the footprint of the cabin.
The Concrete Was Poured and the Cornerstones Were Set
To build foundations, most commonly, holes are dug on all four corners, and stones are set to form the base of the foundation. However, in this case, the ground was quite firm. As Richard explains on his website, in such a case, “the stones may be simply placed upon the ground; this was the most common way the foundations of the early log cabins were constructed. This was the original technique used for this cabin.”
He continued to describe the construction as follows: “We drained accumulated water, waited for dry weather and then started to lay the foundation upon the bedrock”. Forms were built on the bedrock itself, and a concrete foundation was poured. It was designed in such a way that a basement could be built above the foundation, and the cabin could lie on top of the basement. This would protect the cabin if the marshy land flooded.
It Was Time to Dismantle the Cabin
Now that the new site was fully prepared, it was time to take meticulously take apart the old cabin and prepare it to be transported to the new location. All the logs were carefully labeled, but still, a great deal of care was required to dismantle the structure without damaging any of the beams that were in good condition. He turned to his old Native American friend Two Bears for help.
Two Bears suggested that they remove the 20 foot long, 12” by 12” oak beams from the top down, using brute force if necessary. Richard had his doubts. "Just poke them down", said Two Bears. "But what if they break", said Richard. "If they break, that means they were too rotten anyway", exclaimed Two Bears. The method worked, and only a few beams broke. The cabin was taken apart without the use of cranes or heavy machinery.
The Reconstruction Process Began
After carefully transporting the beams of the cabin, the painstaking process of reconstruction could begin. First, floor joists needed to be installed. The original ones were not viable, so Richard and some Amish friends took a walk into the woods and identified eight straight white oak trees that they could sacrifice for the project. “Processing each one and dragging them to the site was an arduous task,” Richard recalled.
The trees were cut and trimmed, but not milled flat. They were nearly the same diameter, and the slight differences could be evened out by using shims to make the floor perfectly flat. Fieldstones were placed on the foundation and masoned to form little walls, and the eight-floor joists were placed on top of those stones and squared up. The joists were measured to lay about six feet above the foundation to leave room for the basement.
The Floor Is Put In as Construction Continued
On top of the floor joists, they used a heavy composite wood floor base, and then on top of that, they used locally milled white oak boards. The original floorboards were useless, but they could keep the floor consistent by using local wood and old-fashioned milling techniques. After the floors were securely installed, it was time to begin replacing all the original wood beams into the correct positions.
Instead of using heavy machinery, they used a simple heavy-duty material lift, which was operated manually, to lift each beam. Originally, the work was done with a team of men using brute force and manual labor, but they didn’t have the manpower to do it that way. Still, they were able to lift the heavy beams without the use of engines. The material lift used simple machine force-extension such as screws and planes that have been in use for centuries.
The Cabin Started to Come Together
Slowly but surely, the cabin began to take shape. The beams were lifted into position one by one. A few of the beams were new replacements, but most of them were the original timber from the 1830s, and they were coming together stronger than ever. The original roof did not survive, so Aiken replaced it with new floor joints and created a second floor. Above that, a gable roof was built, which created attic space.
Aiken remarked that “The articulation of the roof elements was quite challenging,” but they were able to raise new beams into a triangular shape to further enhance the new, improved cabin. Split cedar shakes were used for the roof, and when it was time, Richard Aiken and his friends climbed on the roof to carefully lay the shingles down one at a time, carefully overlapping them and nailing them by hand using old-fashioned square nails.
He Could Have Lived Without the Basement
After construction on the cabin was completed, all the exposed surfaces were coated with linseed oil, which acts as a preservative and enhances the natural look of the wood. Richard loved the final result but might have made some changes with the benefit of hindsight. Firstly, the cedar shakes, a specialized kind of roof shingle, were extremely expensive, costing about $5000, and they won’t last forever. “Eventually it’s going to be high maintenance and start going all at once and I’ll have to replace it,” said Aiken in an interview.
He also wouldn’t have gone through all the trouble to build a basement. As he reflected, it was “something that I thought would be cool and it is, but took a lot of extra work.” It would have been easier to simply build the floor directly on the bedrock. Still, he’s glad he has the basement, as it’s cool.
A Front Porch That Doubles as an Amphitheater Stage
Aiken is particularly proud of his front porch. As a semi-professional singer (the man is a jack of all trades), he wanted a porch that could be used as a stage to have little acoustic concerts in the forest. There was a natural bowl that proceeded from the porch that could provide great acoustics to an audience without the need for electronic amplification (which was good, because as we’ve seen, there was no electricity in the cabin).
Just after the cabin was finished, he revealed his plans to a national economics magazine: “We’re going to put on some real shows and barbecue and have pretty good shindigs there.” The porch was supported by two white oak logs that rose from the foundation and also provided beautiful views of the forests and local wildlife. That was Richard’s first dream when he first got the notion of a cabin.
He Built a World-Class Fireplace, Too
There had been a big hole in the wall opposite the porch and front door, and it was perfect for a fireplace. The original fireplace was completely gone, and the chimney had totally collapsed, so he had to start from scratch. Aiken took advantage of the opportunity to design and build an incredible fireplace that would be the envy of any million-dollar house in Beverly Hills.
He created a kind of tall, shallow fireplace known as a Rumford fireplace, originally described by Sir Benjamin Thompson, who was known as Count Rumford. Aiken took months to design it, knowing that “every little aspect of every geometric angle had to be precise,” as he put it. The fireplace featured smooth curves that allowed the smoke to follow its natural progression up the chimney. It also used widely angled and gently curved molding in the corners to better radiate heat into the room.
He Still Chooses Simplicity
There can be no doubt that Richard Aiken is a remarkable man. He’s a family man, with a devoted wife and three loving children. He has two PhDs, one in chemical engineering and one in mathematics. He has an MD and is a respected psychiatrist with a private practice and a university presence. He’s an author of several books on health, well-being, and veganism, and he’s an opera singer. As if that weren’t enough, he recently admitted that he “returned to competitive sports at 65 years old, multi-sport including triathlon.”
He also shared his theory about living in a simple shelter: “Simple is almost better,” Aiken said. “You can have a mansion with…all the conveniences of modern living and on the one hand, it would be just wonderful.” On the other hand, he went on to explain in his own words, it keeps you away from being in tune with nature.
What Lies Ahead for Richard Aiken
After building his own cabin, it might be hard to find something else to do that would meet or exceed the thrills and rewards of his latest accomplishment. But Richard Aiken is not a man to sit on his laurels or slow down. He’s currently working on his next book, a “hodgepodge” (as he puts it) filled with historical memories of rural Missouri, the pioneers, vegan recipes, traditional techniques of shelter construction, and more.
He continues to teach about veganism, especially as a self-described “hillbilly”. As Aiken explains, “You take a hillbilly, you think of all these good old boys up there hunting possum and whatnot — killing animals. That’s not what we’ve done most of our existence as primates. We’ve primarily have been eating plants.” In many ways, Richard Aiken encourages us to go back to our roots, to enjoy a simpler, happier life even in these modern times.