The Eagle Has Landed



After almost three years of looking for a house, from Ventura to Prescott to Big Bear to Ojai to San Diego to Sonora to San Pedro to Durango to Santa Fe to….we have finally bought a house in Sandia Park, NM.  The house is in the mountains just outside Albuquerque.

Yes, its as remote as it looks

Where KR and I intend to spend a lot of time having a cocktail

Last Friday we drove to Durango, CO to look at a house only to have it  sold on the same day we were to see it.  That is so typical of this market.  Then we drove to see this house (Laguna Vista Trail) that we liked enough online that we had already made an offer sight unseen, but was contingent on us seeing the place.  We arrived in the Albuquerque are a  couple of days later.

We got progressively more depressed as we drove toward the house for the first time.  Take Highway 40 east to Highway 14 (also known as the Turquoise Trail), then nine miles up to a little two lane road (La Madera) and up it for five more miles and then… turn off on a dirt road, go through a gate (by a trailer with a sign saying, “I have a shotgun and backhoe,” and then another mile on this dirt road to the driveway, which is another 300 yards long and we were there!  I was thinking there was  no way this was going to work.

Around mile 3 on the way to Laguna, this sign pretty much says it all: don’t put the trash out in anything other than battle-tested trash cans because bears are around.

The mile long gravel road …

Driveway entrance with our stamp on the sign.

Just when you think you’re there, there’s another 100 yards to go.

After the first visit, we left and went in search of a drink. We were in love with the house and truly fearful of the remoteness and change of ife style it represented. We parked on a street in ABQ, had dinner, a couple of drinks and then decided to drive “out there” to see what driving that road at night would be like.

Finally, we got to see the house for the first time in person.  Well, judge for yourselves

the living room


Dining room looking into the living room

A bar that’s not a bar

Part of the top deck. This shot doesn’t really capture the view

The kitchen

Master bedroom

Master bathroom

KR doing the deal with Nancy, our real estate agent

The most important room. I’m sacrificing with “only” a two-car garage. Current owner is a Guzzi rider, so he can’t be all bad. Weird for sure: )

Next morning, KR was still worried so we asked for another visit.  After another hour, we went to another restaurant and made the decision – we would go through with the sale.

This house represents the weird circumstances that were required for us to afford a house we liked:

  • Its remote. Very remote
  • It was designed by an architect who started construction somewhere around 2000.  He had a heart attack, died and the house sat unfinished for almost 15 years.  The current couple bought it about 2 years ago and finished it themselves (he’s a contractor/engineer and she obviously has pretty good taste).  Then their family situation changed and the wife needed to go back to Wisconsin and wanted to sell the house rather quickly.
  • Its 2500 sq. ft. sitting on 5 acres in a a small development called Canon Alegre.  It’s pretty much the highest house on the mountain

This is pretty much how I feel.

So, we signed on the digital dotted line and have now entered the escrow/closing phase that is characterized by two things:  money and documents.


We left Albuquerque shortly after signing on the dotted line and headed south toward Puerto Vallarta.   Crossing the border at El Paso was a new experience that went surprisingly well considering its the highest volume crossing in the U.S.  First night was spent on a street in Hidalgo de Parral, just south of the Chihuahua state line with Durango.  Next night was another street in the El Centro part of Durango (the city), and tonight we’re on the beach at Mazatlán.  As is sooo typical of RVing, the air conditioning unit just went out during one of the nights we could really use it.

This is where we camped overnight in Hidalgo de Parral. That’s a HUGE statue of Pancho Villa in a park near El Centro. There’s even a Pancho Villa museum. Seems strange because this is the town he was murdered in, not born. Also, after he was buried someone dug up the body beheaded it.

Another view, stepping out Thor’s side door.


Squirt and I have a beer and watch the sunset. This is a beach just south of San Blas, about three hours north of PV

9 replies
  1. Lynn says:

    Wow, awesome! Excited for y’all – beautiful house. Miss talking to you since you’re not taking trains, planes and motorcycles to foreign countries 🙂
    Love, your favorite niece

  2. Rosemary says:

    Fred and Karen,
    Amanda and I met you in Bolivia. Love your new home and the buying story. The northwest is hard to describe I fell in love with the “feel” the remoteness of that area a couple of years ago. I understand your excitement G luck! Rosemary

  3. Steve & Rita says:

    Karen and Fred,
    We’re so happy for you! Huge congratulations!
    Steve’s first thought when we first saw the house is that it’s very reminiscent of your previous house on Hollyridge in the sense of a multi-level structure facing outwards over the canyon (whereas ours essentially faces the street, rather than the canyon). The interior is really beautiful, most especially the multi-colored tile bar! That will be Steve’s first stop when we visit. And the deck is fantastic.

    Now, as for the exterior color, although it might help to locate your house from outer space, Steve is not persuaded that’s reason enough to keep it.

    You guys are truly unique and interesting!

    We send you our heartiest congratulations, love and best wishes!
    Rita and Steve

  4. FHW says:

    Karen can’t stand the outside color either! It is functional for spotting on the helicopter ride in: )) As for it being like Hollyridge, that’s the first thing I thought. If its half as good as Hollyridge was to us, (especially the neighbors) we’re good to go. And yes, I look forward to getting you guys out there. Not sure what the selection of wine is though. Check that- karen found her favorite Chardonay, which is hard to find at restaurants, in the market “down the street”, ie 10 miles.

  5. FHW says:

    How often can one say, “we met in Bolivia”! I remember well. Northwest? where exactly in the Northwest? fw

  6. Peter Chang says:

    Karen & Fred,

    Interesting that after we parted ways from the Turtle Expedition (20 years ago?) and went back to LA separately that you guys decided to move closer to us, again. La Madera is probably 20 minutes away from Tijeras, where we are right now. Send me a note the next time you’re in town. I’ll bring my single malt. Cauleen says ‘Hi!’


  7. FHW says:

    Peter! That’s great. We will definitely get together when we’re back in the Spring. One never knows where the raod goes: ) fw

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