But we did buy a parcel of ranch land. Five acres of our very own dirt to call home. And it is a lot of dirt. But I love the fields of crops and grazing horses on our neighboring sides, with the San Juan mountains beyond. And I’m still kind of in awe of the towering Sangre de Cristos, sitting just beside us, as well.
Brisk morning drives to work are met with clouds of steam that roll across the road from natural hot springs not far from our property, and the afternoon route home takes me along and across the Rio Grande River — a now marble-esque sheet of swirling solid ice.
That’s the thing about this valley — it gets cold here. Damn cold. All the beauty and uniqueness comes at the price of about -20°F on a handful of especially cold winter nights in the lowest and coldest parts of the valley. The dry, high alpine conditions make for mild temps most of the year, but also mean cold, arid winter nights. Really, that’s to be expected when much of the area is near desert-like.
It is still very mild, though. Consistently sunny days make the majority of the winter quite enjoyable, actually. It’s just the occasional night when seeing the forecasted temperatures makes me do a double take, and heading into this winter required a bit of extra preparation on our part.
So, modifications including newly sealed and clear covered windows, a newly sealed front door, and a new propane heating system that’s made for camping and is more efficient than the Shasta’s onboard furnace, have drastically improved our confidence in coziness this winter. Exterior insulation (that we have yet to finish) comprised of hay bales and foam insulation board or weather tarp will keep the underbelly of our little jellybean Shasta nice and warm, as the minimal tarp and insulation we already have in place makes quite the difference in preventing drafts from below.
We might even practice our A-frame building skills with a tiny, and I mean TINY, new “house” for the generator.
So even with the extreme conditions, we’re pretty pleased with our new homebase. We wake up every day to one of the tallest mountain peaks in the state, and can see The Great Sand Dunes National Park from our backyard, so I’d say we’re happy campers.
And we get to enjoy a sense of community that is a bit different than when hopping all around. Sean immediately found a basketball league to join, of course, and I just adore the people I work with at school. We’ve made friends with the owner of the local Living History Museum (I think that’s how it’s phrased), which is one of our favorite places in the area and where I get all of my pretty geodes for all of my pretty unfinished projects.
Is it going to be super easy, living here like this? Probably not. Are we still young, green, and a bit naive? Probably so. Have meltdowns been had, and are there meltdowns to be had? Lord knows it. But we’re in too deep now, so here we go! Aha!
But really, with hardships and victories experienced and future-more to face, we’re invested in the journey — whatever it looks like.
And right now, it looks pretty bright…
Like literally annoyingly bright. It’s a friggin’ whiteout here today.