For the last two years, Jeffery-James Halvorson, a 33-year-old used-car salesman, has been preparing his property outside Arlee, Montana, for the end of America as we know it. “Progressive taxation has failed,” he says, and when the dollar finally collapses, and the shelves at the Piggly Wiggly sit empty, and the oil companies sell every last drop of sweet American crude to China, people will migrate to the Big Sky en masse—and Halvorson believes his compound, where he lives with his cat, 4 dogs, 9 goats, 18 chickens, and an assault rifle, will be perfectly positioned for a new role as a refugee camp.
Fears of impending societal collapse are nothing new in northwest Montana. But Halvorson’s home is noteworthy for what it has become in the interim: the Orange Acres Dharma Station, a safe house, inspired in part by the television series Lost, where travelers passing through—or looking for work, or sightseeing, or just killing time before their Social Security check comes in—can find a soft bed, a warm shower, and some mini-golf, at no cost for three days. Longer, if they’re willing to put in a little work.
Our reporter spent three months sleeping on total strangers’ couches and lived to tell the story. Meet the “hospitality junkies.”