Monday, December 10, 2007

Evolution of an Idea

Its time for some honesty. In January 2000 when I first thought of purchasing land a sustainable lifestyle did not even enter the picture. I was living in Denver and tiring of the city life. Don’t get me wrong, I love Denver, it is a great city with a large and diverse gay population. I was really quite happy there. But being somewhat of an introvert I longed for solitude and seclusion. I wanted a place where I could run naked, have trees, a mountain view and no one around. They tend to frown on that running naked thing in the city.

So the criteria list of was a short three items: naked running in the trees, located close to Denver and reasonably priced. Well, there is no land close to Denver that is reasonably priced. After broadening the search I happened on Bear Ridge in the San Luis Valley and fell in love with it.

That first night camping on the ridge was incredible, I had never seen so many stars. There was a warm tent, a roaring campfire; I was naked, alone and it was great. After a few hours nature called. As I was squatting there chuckling to myself about a bear shitting in the woods I made a couple of life changing observations.

First, I wanted to live at Bear Ridge not just on weekends but full time, this was to be my home. Second, I would need a few modern conveniences because that whole squatting thing would be old real quick.

Over the next couple of years I built a super little cabin on the hill side with a stunning view of the mountains. During that time I learned a great deal about designing and building in a self sustaining manner. The cabin is completely off-grid and yet very comfortable with many “normal life” conveniences such as running water, a shower, lights, a stove/oven and even small hot tub out under the stars. The cabin is heated with wood and passive solar the power is generated with solar panels.

Now I did not set out to build a self sustaining cabin, it just evolved out of necessity. Had I planned self sufficiency from the beginning I would have chosen land that was flat, close to power, had shallow well depth an unobstructed southern exposure and employment opportunities. Also soil quality would have taken precedence over privacy. As it goes I am on the northern slope of a very secluded ridge at the end of a lane five miles from the nearest power with a four hundred foot well depth. Additionally, Costilla county is one of the poorest counties in the country with no industry other than potato farming, which I admire greatly.

Even though my little patch of mountain paradise is not exactly easy to maintain I would not trade it for anything. I now see the benefits of the sustainist movement; from the land, to the cabin, to me it all has to work together if a self sustained life experience is to be realized.

It’s the challenge that makes this whole life project interesting and fun. Check out my cabins website if you are interested.


The Hermit said...

And a beautiful cabin it is... and it's fun to watch you grow in your pursuit of sustainability. It's a path I'm traveling on, too. Keep the faith!

Alpine Acres said...

LOL... I'm searching for the words here...

OK! If Yogi can squat in the woods, so can BIG BEAR!

Running naked might scare Nicole a little or she may like it. Who knows?

At least out here, nobody really complains!

Being self-supportive is a fine art and when mastered, the benefits are priceless!

You're doing it right!

BigBear said...

Yes but Yogi is used to squatting in the woods, BigBear is not. Especially in the snow :) I have a very nice composting toilet but since the bathroom is not completely insulated yet its about the same as going outdoors.

Nicole is a great neighbor and I would not trade her for anything.

I am learning that being self supportive is a very fine art. It really makes me admire the people who homesteaded the prairie and crossed the country in covered wagons.

Alpine Acres said...

the original homesteaders had it rough for sure. I like my solar power to run my saws, my air nailer and toys of today's world. Can you imagine how hard it was to make a simple 2x4 board? Then building a log home and at the same time, planting a garden for food. They had life hard but I sure wish I lived it with them because I often times think I do not belong in this era.

BigBear said...

Mountain Tracker,

Have you every read anything about Richard Proenneke. I saw a PBS documentary about him a few years back and was really impressed. Anyway in the late 60's he built a cabin by hand in Alaska. I have taken a lot of inspiration from him, he truly was a man out of place. I think you would enjoy the documentary.