After 34 years of marriage, I’ve learned the secret to not getting a divorce during a move is one simple phrase: “Yes, honey, let’s take that as I’m sure we can use it!” And so, we have made the move from the streets of downtown LA to the gravel roads of Sandia Park with no casualties.
One would think that moving from a 600 sq. ft. loft into a 2500 sq. ft. house would be no big deal, especially if you think about what the reverse could be? Well, I’m here to tell you that you’d be wrong, very wrong. We…
- spent 14 solid days without-a-day-of-rest packing up Factory Place
- 80+ boxes, three or four pieces of furniture, one motorcycle and one car
- Around $6800 for the moving truck, movers, auto transporter, etc.
- 1 1/2 days of cleaning said loft and two days driving to New Mexico
- We’re now in our second week of unpacking
Late on our first night in Laguna, I was sitting on the deck with a Corona in hand, gazing out at the stars and mountain shadows. There were no sounds. Dead quiet. Not of traffic, of people, music, dogs or the neighbor upstairs. I started to panic. What the f___ am I going to do OUT HERE? No going to Tony’s for a drink or the Redwood Room for dinner. No emailing Cindy and Peter to get together tonight in Grand Central Market. No Starbucks three minutes away. No saying hello to neighbors that I don’t know. No walking the dogs to the dog park next to LACI. No ….. pretty much everything we’d known for the past 11 years.
“The times, they are a changing”
Living on the mountain
We quickly learned that we live on the East Mountain as opposed to the side of the mountain facing Albuquerque. East Mountain people consider themselves different from the Other Side. There is no city civilization near by. The one traffic sign on the Main Highway (The Turquoise Trail) reads, “Congested Area Ahead” and I swear I’ve never seen more than three or four cars. Equally accurate road signs include “Fallen Rocks” (not Falling?), “Twisting Road Next Five Miles” after three miles of twisty roads, “Narrow Road, Keep Right” (what, we don’t keep right on less than narrow roads?) and “Watch for Deer,” failing to mention the wild turkeys, coyotes, rabbits and squirrels we’ve come across. We hope the “Keep Trash Locked Away Until Pickup” with a picture of a Bear is equally accurate.
The West Mountain is full of rocks and boulders, it looks arid with few trees. Views are spectacular, but of city lights, cars and people. The East Mountain is like Colorado or Angeles Crest, totally green with Pine and Junipers, closely packed with the occasional field of grass. Views are spectacular as well, but of a mountain range covered in forest, with a sprinkling of other houses tucked away down dirt roads.
Sitting in the Lazy Lizard (our favorite local bar — more about the Lizard later), it’s pretty evident that we’re new to the neighborhood. Hints include wearing a shirt with a collar, not having a beard three inches past your chin, wearing boat shoes not boots, and no baseball cap or cowboy hat. People fall into basic two groups: the aforementioned East Mountain people and what we call the Paako Ridge Golfers. Paako Ridge is rated as the top golf course in NM and just a couple of miles further up the Tortoise Trail, but a world apart. We’re beginning to fit in nicely, though I suspect people think of us as Paakos despite living more remotely that 90% of the people in the Lizard. Since there is only one bar within 10 miles, the Lizard is the mountain’s melting pot.
When we describe where we live to our fellow East Mountaineers, they say something to the tune of “You live way up there?” They look at us with a bit more respect. Yes, we’re remote. A couple miles north of the Lizard on Hwy. 14, take a left on La Madera, drive five miles up this narrow, twisty road to Canon Madera, left through the gate, and up another mile of gravel road and you’ve arrived at Walti’s Southwest Chalet. It’s a lot like Little Big Sur, on the way you’re saying to yourself “Where the f___ is it?” and then once you get there, you’re thinking “This could be good, very good.”
And it is.
Enough with the descriptions, let’s go to the video and pictures!
- The Approach. What’s it like getting there: Driving to 87 Laguna
- The House. First time as owners: Laguna Tour
- Outside Tour Start: Exploring the five acres Outside Tour Start
- The North: Lots of cacti and a bit of flat land. North of the House
- Fire Roads: There are fire roads to the north and above the house Fire Roads
- Driveway South: It’s a long walk Driveway
Life on the Mountain