It’s easy to find YouTube videos on how to winterize your house, car, or even RV, but there’s nothing on how to winterize your psyche. We’ve had four snowstorms before Thanksgiving so it’s no longer surprising to get up in the morning to 13F degrees. Karen grew up in New York and I lived there for seven years, yet I think its the 30+ years in Los Angeles that our bodies remember.
I tell myself this is part of the journey to becoming a Mountain Man. Mountain Man-ess includes knowing your way around Tractor Supply, Ace, Western Feed & Grain, and Harbor Freight Tools along with the normal Costco, Home Depot and Walmart. The days of Whole Foods, Restoration Hardware, and any of twenty restaurants or bars are over.
I’m reconciled with this new life, made all the more appropriate because we chose it, no arm twisting took place, and I was pretty much alcohol-free during the real estate closing process. Man-up to Mountain Man-ess is my new mantra.
Karen has adopted a three-layer “lounging” outfit strategy while buying four different types of electric heaters in the pursuit of the perfect portable furnace. She’s become even more proficient at building a fire faster than a speeding bullet. For my part, I no longer have to be told to go get more firewood (not from Home Depot, by the way). Bogart and Squirt have matching sweaters, of course:)
OK, enough with the weather! It’s everything else that really defines our new, life-style.
For example, we only venture down from our mountain hideout for supplies. About once a week, we roll down the one mile gravel road, then the five mile twisty mountain road to main Highway 14, then the ten miles to the Interstate 40 and then another 15 miles to the eastern edge of Albuquerque. Then its Smiths, Home Depot, CostCo, Harbor Freight, CVS and either lunch or breakfast at The Owl Diner, made famous by Breaking Bad. On the way back up we’ll probably make a final food stop at Triangle Grocery, the local mountain food store, to pick up what we forgot. Ace Hardware is right across the street so that’s a probable stop, and since both of our vehicles get 10 mpg, we’ll hit the mountain-top Shell before heading home. You can’t do this trip in less than four hours.
The biggest change in our life style is the amount of time we spend outside. Even when its cold, this place is beautiful 90% of the time. And wait ten minutes and the weather will change. Much of my outdoor life is chores related; cutting, gathering and hauling wood is a big time suck. The Hoop House project (more about that later) means doing my small part in making it happen, and generally fixing stuff around the homestead which seems to be never ending.
Where else can you walk out your front door, turn left and hike as far up the mountain as you want, not seeing another soul? There are still parts of our five acres we haven’t set foot on yet, offering new surprises on each walk about. Trying to determine what type of animal tracks are in the snow is a new experience. All part of being a Mountain Man and Woman I suppose.
We live in Sandia Park, a small “community” near the top of the East Mountains, which doesn’t even have a town. There are no stores of any kind. There’s a high school and a fire station. The rest are homes of various sizes and shapes, literally sprinkled around the mountain. Our neighbors vary widely, from Sandia National Lab folk, to lawyers and other “white collar” neighbors, located next to a farm or ranch with the assorted single/double wides in between. Driving down our driveway or La Madera Rd (the main road through Sandia Park), it’s not unusual to see a deer, wild turkeys, dogs, sheep, the occasional cow and horse. Passing cars more often than not wave to each other. I don’t remember getting a wave driving down Alameda in the Arts District. As I said, this place is different.
Here’s what mountain life looks like in photos.