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Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
This is also the area where Earthships originated, and the home of the Greater World Earthship Community. Earthships, however, are for the wealthy eccentric, which I am not. The Earthship community is on the one side of the highway; the ragamuffin scattering that is the Mesa, is on other.
I'm about to buy land on the Mesa and build a home.
It all came about during a recent conversation with my oldest daughter, June Amber, and my 13-year-old son, Graeme. June Amber spent the entirety of last summer out on the Mesa and loves it. She made an assortment of friends, and Graeme went out there with her a few times, and he loved it too. It turns out he really wants to live there, which is something I didn't know until the conversation in question happened.
I've wanted to build an off-grid house for a long time, and started researching straw bale construction several years ago. For various reasons, the building dream got shelved, but when Graeme said he wanted to live on the Mesa, something clicked loudly into place for me, and I just immediately knew: It's time.
The thing is, I don't have a lot of money. I'm a single mother with four kids and I'm a freelance writer and teacher. So buying land has seemed a dream beyond my means. However, Mesa land is dirt cheap, I guess because it's TOTALLY off the grid, and because of its association with an eccentric population.
I had never really thought about moving out there for a couple of reasons: 1) It's not my ideal landscape; I like trees, and 2) I'm not really the pot-smoking-dreadlocked-hippie type (which is what I thought was the only kind of person out there but have since found out otherwise). However, during this conversation with my kids, something shifted in me. The lease at my rental house is up in June, and I had been trying to figure out what to do next, as I know I don't want to stay in this house. Rent is expensive in Taos, and I've been daunted at the lack of affordable options. I've thought more and more about buying a house, but my credit's not good enough to get a mortgage (and I simply don't have ENOUGH credit as I've avoided credit cards). And so what I've realized is that I can deal with the sagebrush and the hippies if it means I can actually own my own land and build a house with my own hands.
I've been doing oodles of research about house-building, off-grid considerations, and life on the Mesa, and have come up with a plan. Step One is to buy the land, of course, and that's what I'm currently looking into.
So that's where I am, right at the beginning. I invite you to follow along with me as I move through what is certain to be the adventure of a lifetime.