Donald J. Claxton | The Timberlander and A. Maycee Grace

Donald J. Claxton | The Timberlander

Donald J. Claxton | The Timberlander, a selfie from camping for 13 weeks in 2022 on the Claxton family land in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northwest of Marquette.

Hey! Thank you for joining me, Donald J. Claxton | The Timberlander, and my Great Pyrenees, Maycee, as we embark on our amazing 2023 adventures in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

We showcase the good and the bad of our off-grid living experiences while emphasizing the use of vintage hand tools for woodworking and crafting unique merchandise for The Timberlander’s Treasures Gift Shop.

Maycee and I treasure our time on family land in the enchanting beauty of the UP.

Here’s what we do: We learn and share experiences achieved by long-term tent camping, exploring and testing renewable energy methods, water sourcing, and encouraging other enthusiasts to join us. Every day in the woods, my woodworking activities include timber framing, bits of bushcraft, and to relax in the evenings, artistic basswood carvings.

My Donald J. Claxton | The Timberlander blog posts often offer reviews and comparisons of various tools and gadgets needed for off-grid living, camping, and meeting your power and water management needs whether you live in an urban environment, the suburbs, or you’re out in the sticks like us!

Since it’s impossible to plug into trees, rocks, or dirt for power, I have invested in many vintage hand tools you might also need/want to have if you’re considering going off-grid or already are there! As you may already have seen over in The Timberlander’s Treasures Gift Shop, we soon will offer cool-dog Maycee-inspired t-shirts and merchandise, wooden custom crosses, and some of my better basswood carvings.

A gallery of nature photography for licensing and use is in the works.

(Affiliate Links Disclaimer: Sometimes I include products where if you buy from my links, there is a chance that I may boost my efforts to bring you more information by earning a small commission on the sale at no additional cost to you.)

(Legal Disclaimer: The use of “Donald J. Claxton | The Timberlander” in this context is strictly intended to avoid any misconceptions of association, partnership, affiliation, linkage, or competition with the Timberland Company, a registered entity in Delaware, Connecticut, along with any of the company’s registered trademarks. It is important to clarify that my activities, which encompass off-grid living on a 40-acre expanse of dense timberland in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, involve woodworking projects, timber framing, and woodcarvings that primarily sustain my livelihood. It should be noted that I also offer a limited range of merchandise featuring both myself and my esteemed companion, Maycee, a Great Pyrenees, accompanied by a unique logo. This is explicitly aimed at transparently conveying to all users and interested parties that the aforementioned pursuits are entirely distinct from and do not contradict the interests of the Timberland Company.)

Meet, A. Maycee Grace, my Great Pyrenees

Maycee, my Great Pyrenees, is the best dog I’ve ever owned. In many ways, she and I act toward each other like an old married couple. 

She is now nine years old and I make sure to treasure every moment of every day God blesses me with her.

She loves to bark at things I cannot hear or see. But she also loves her daddy and will do almost anything necessary to protect me from what she perceives as a threat. Squirrels and chipmunks, in particular.

The Great Pyrenees Breed

Personally, I love the Great Pyr breed of dog.

We Americans apparently are the only ones who refer to them as  Great Pyrenees.

According to The Spruce Pets, in the UK and throughout Europe they are called:

the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, and in France, the breed is alternatively called Le Chien de Montagne des Pyrenees or Le Chien des Pyrenees.

In French, Chien means dog.

No matter where they live or what they are called, Great Pyrs are loyal, brave, and family-friendly.  They were bred to herd sheep in the mountains of France a long time ago. Some skeletal remains have been found as far back as 1800 B.C.

So if you get one, you, your spouse/sig other, children, grandchildren, etc. become its “flock.” And anyone who comes along and doesn’t fit in will be greeted by the dog(s).

Great Pyrenees are called “great” because they’re not small.

They are big dogs. They are not big like Great Danes big, but at one point Maycee was way overweight, clocking in at 133 pounds. We’ve fixed that to a large extent.

They also shed.


Despite her age, Maycee thrived during the 2022 summer and fall seasons in Michigan’s woods, showing improved physical and mental health.

She’s my reliable companion, alerting me to potential threats from chipmunks, stormy weather, and yes, black bears.

I’m ‘Grampaw’ to my ‘granddoggers’

As of yet, I have no human grandchildren. But I’m known as “Grampaw” to my four “hoomans” known as my “granddoggers.”

These beloved pets, from the puggle to the black lab, the German shorthaired pointer, and the golden retriever, are cherished members of the family.

Just as my three human daughters have taught me how to love my children equally, the granddoggers have extended that practice with their own unique personalities.

A. Maycee Grace in the back of the car on the land in the UP.
Donald J. Claxton, circa 1975, standing in our backyard on K.I. Sawyer AFB in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan..

   A love for the UP

My lifelong love for nature began in my childhood years at K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base, sparked by the forested expanse behind our home(s).

This passion evolved into a fascination for treehouses and tent camping and eventually led me to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan’s untouched wilderness – my true “home;” if I’ve ever enjoyed such a concept.

These experiences fuel my creativity in writing, woodworking, art, and photography.

During the last 57 years, I’ve lived under more than two roofs in Alabama, California, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, and Texas. This equates to more than 35 moves.

So when asked, “Where’s home?” don’t mind the befuddled look on my face. My typical answer is, “Nowhere.” For the time being, however, the answer is Texas.

Woodworking to support an off-grid life

Inspired by the UP’s natural splendor, my wooden custom crosses are made from maple, oak, and pine grown on our own land. (The story of how I came to start making my crosses is here.) Driftwood creations and basswood carvings also are sourced from the Upper Peninsula.

Each woodworking piece for sale on Timberlander Treasures allows you to bring the outdoors inside your home or gift the outdoors of the UP to someone else’s.

All crosses made for sale by Donald J. Claxton | The Timberlander for are sourced from timber grown in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Professional experience and application to off-grid living

Launching this off-grid adventure surprised many friends and family from around the globe.

Especially considering my 35-year career spanning politics, public relations, and education communications. 

(In the corresponding photograph, Donald J. Claxton records one side of the conversation between former Alabama Gov. Fob James and President Bill Clinton while the governor tours the aftermath of an F-5 tornado near Birmingham, in April 1998.) 

This off-grid living, woodworking, cross-making, timber framing, and outdoor adventures are a return to the person I was before my professional career.

To me, this is the logical next step. Applying the knowledge I’ve gained and applying it in ways to excite others about nature, the UP, and what they have to offer. 

This, to me, is a simpler living, though hard work, that enables me to bring the outdoors inside to you.

Testimonial letter from former Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Mike Moses.
Fob James Letter Testimonial

Leave No Trace

The Leave-No-Trace philosophy shapes my activities on our family’s 40 acres of raw, remote, and rugged timberland.

As an LNT practitioner, my commitment is to positively impact the environment and preserve the beauty of our family land.

Throughout the rest of 2023, you will see my efforts to practice and share several aspects of LNT’s principles, which include: 

  1. Plan ahead and prepare
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  3. Dispose of waste properly
  4. Leave what you find
  5. Minimize campfire impacts
  6. Respect wildlife
  7. Be considerate of others

The LNT mindset is necessary for anyone choosing to live off-grid or go camping in the wilds of nature.

Y’all come

Join us in this exciting journey by signing up for our weekly newsletter, the <Timberlander Tribune,> and receive a 20 percent discount on your first order from our wooden creations, digital downloads, and cool-dog t-shirts featuring Maycee Grace.

Join my quest for knowledge and adventure!

Maycee and I invite you to join us on our continued off-grid living journey where daily we face new challenges and explore the unknown.

My goal is to find ways to simplify our lives. One of my prime sources of inspiration is Henry David Thoreau and his classic book Walden.

I also encourage you to check out my list of educational and inspirational leaders from YouTube.

Most important of all, is to inspire you and others on your own leaps of faith.

Let’s connect online!

Embark on this thrilling journey of off-grid living and woodworking.  

Timberlander Treasures is, as the tagline suggests, a way to bring the outdoors inside. Whether that’s via merchandise for yourself or custom gifts for others.

The goal of my living this simpler life is to encourage and educate others about ways to do so.

I’ve had a life-long love affair with the woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In large part, this region of the United States remains protected by the government and clubs. But Michigan provides generous use opportunities of commercially-owned lands. 

To connect, subscribe, tweet, text, respond, comment, and ask questions about what Maycee and I are doing out in the wilds of the woods.  

Stay connected with us on:

Maycee and I welcome you to the world of The Timberlander – where we are simplifying our lives and bringing the outdoors inside to you.

Here are the best ways to join in on the fun!