The Big Dig started innocently enough as most of Karen’s projects do. In fact, the Big Dig didn’t start as a Big Dig at all, as my dearest wife just wanted a hoop house (which is a poor man’s greenhouse made of plastic instead of glass), and we were going to build it on one of our few pieces of flat land. But then, we asked “How does one get water to the Poor Man’s Greenhouse?” Not easily it turns out and that’s how the idea of the Big Dig came about — let’s carve a level pad into the side of the mountain — lower than the house — and harness Mother Nature to get the water down there. Our current plan is to capture, pipe in, and store the rainwater coming off the house. I’m beginning to think this might require a water engineer with Hoover Damn experience.
More on the Big Dig in a moment.
Every day starts and ends the same way: putting on or taking off my Mountain Man Boots (in a mini-Mountain Man size). No need to contemplate which pair of Italian loafers will match the day’s suit as there are no suits in a Mountain Man’s life. No, my version of Dressing for Success includes anything that will keep the cactus thorns out and warmth in. I’ve been accumulating the necessary tools on the journey to Mountain Manhood and have a wide assortment of hand tools and power tools (with directions always near by) I’ll be armed and ready when duty calls. To those of you who may be aware of my DIY reputation, I say that old dogs can learn new tricks. We’ll see.
I often tell folks how lucky we were in finding this place and I mean it. First, how could we possibly have found a place we love and that we can afford? In this market? After literally years of looking? Remarkable. But, that’s not the most remarkable thing; the most remarkable is we didn’t have a clue Sandia Park existed before we happened on it. It’s a near perfect blend of drop-dead beauty in a far-away place that’s also only 30 minutes away from civilization (restaurants, bars, stores). When was the last time that your neighbors waived to you when driving past? This happens all the time on La Madera Road, the 5 mile long narrow mountain road leading to our place. La Madera Rd is well known is these parts as its one of the few — maybe only — side road that is paved and runs for miles. It’s like living on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood. “Where do you live?” “Up LaMadera Road”. “Oh yes, I know where that is…”
Once a week KR and I have a big night out… at the Lazy Lizard, which is our local bar/restaurant just down the mountain from our house. A cold Corona and the special meat loaf sandwich are the Sandia Park equivalent of fine dining back in LA. I sometimes eat lunch at the Shell Station just down the mountain as it sits next to the only automotive repair establishment in the East Mountains. Both the Jag and LowBuck have already visited.
This coming week promises to be another average week in the life of a Mountain Man: the plumber continues his quest to build the water supply system for the hoop house, the Roof Guy will come and repair the roof, I will chop and/or gather more fire wood, and Karen will rue the previous own’s decision not to put any form of heating on the second floor (except the fire place). (NEWS FLASH: none of these guys showed up! Which is one of the downsides of living in America’s version of a mañana culture.).
You’d think I’d be getting in better shape with all this Mountain Man activity. Yesterday (a Saturday) hunted for rocks up the mountain, then dragged the wheel barrow up to them, then loaded them in and dragged the wheel barrow down the mountain to where we need them in the Big Dig. I did this three times. Then I chopped some wood, moved it to the central wood stack (versus the outliers). The day before I had to cut a tree that our 30mph winds blew down over the Big Dig. Rather than getting bulked up, I’m just falling asleep at 8, too tired to eat my daily protein.
Our plans are evolving. We will head south to PV around the first week of December. Hang out in Mexico until late January at which point I pick up the reins of travel again and we’re off to India and other nearby places. We’re back in PV from March – April and then come back to the mountains May-ish, in time to use our new hoop house. If its finished by then: )
Here are some pictures. Take care and keep in touch. fw
THE BIG DIG
MOUNTAIN MAN/WOMAN LIVING