The Journey to Our Land

Kevin Stevens is a Class C certified Contractor living and working in Colorado. He is also working on his own tiny house project in Northern New Mexico. He has been following various aspects of the tiny house movement for years.

The quest for our land was a quest to find more seasonal balance in our lives. Nederland has been good to us: it has a slower pace then the “flats”, what we call Boulder and the surrounding front range, but also gives us ready access to the culture of a larger city when we feel the need for it. We still wanted to experience four seasons, so a place that still has a winter was a desire- just not 9 months of it! 

Last year we had snow just up the hill from us in the middle of August. We have also watched the fireworks on the 4th of July from inside the living room as a light snow was falling. It is one of the hardships we endure by living at over 8000 feet. However, the mild summers, 300+ sunny days a year and hearing cougars and coyotes on a summer night do their part to make up for it.

View from our ranch at night 

Both Tori and I have been attracted to the desert, me for quite a few years more. Road trips to Utah and points further west developed a longing for the scent of sagebrush on the wind after a rainstorm. But the intense heat of summer steered us away from places like Moab, and most of Arizona. Creating art is a big part of our lives and artist like other artists, so we thought of desert areas that are supportive to artist. Naturally this led us to northern New Mexico: Georgia O’Keeffe spent many years there. Years ago I had traveled through Taos and admired the landscape, the architecture, the food and culture. Sagebrush is abundant there along with pinon, and Juniper, a lot of the locals simply call it the PJ. I have often bought pinon and Juniper incense to recapture the scent from campfires there. 

Our land searching began online with some local real estate listings. A few months of looking gave us an idea of what was available, we printed some listings, found them on maps and with Google Earth looked to see what the area landscape might be. I also got in touch with a local real estate agent there. In November of 2009 our quest took on some more texture via a road trip, on the way also checked out some areas in Colorado north of the Taos area. Armed with a digital camera and a GPS we explored about half a dozen listings, one that was at the top of our list based on the online pics, turned out to be a disappointment. The lot itself was great, the soil was sandy in some areas, had some good mixed tree cover and important to us had some great rock outcroppings and diversity of terrain. 

The price was in our budget, and the community was interesting  (We spent an afternoon at “Poco Loco” the local market / hangout for a neighborhood post Halloween celebration.) Unfortunately the entry to the lot had some “trashy” neighbors. The road in, which would be our future driveway, had huge piles of junk near it, bottles, cans, misc. construction stuff, old building projects etc. We could just not bear to have to drive past that every day.  We spent that night camping nearby on some forest service land. I called up our agent and arranged to meet her the next day for some more property tours.

After hooking up with Liz, we toured some more vacant land and also some homes located on some area parcels. Late in the afternoon we hooked up with Gil and Deb for a tour of one of the four, twenty-acre parcels they had for sale, they were friends of Liz from years past and had not yet officially listed these lots.

The lot that we had the most interest in was the one furthest from the highway and it had some rock outcroppings along the southern edge. We liked it but were not that impressed. The 80 acres they had for sale was part of their larger ranch there- about 720 acres total.  After we looked at the end parcel Gil wanted to show us the Petaca which lies just east of their square mile. On the way to the overlook we saw an interesting smaller side canyon and I asked if we could check it out. We hiked up through there and were very impressed with it.  We threw the idea out there that we liked that area more. Ater touring the overlook we took the ATV’s across the road and back into some cool nearby forest service land. (I forgot to mention that nearby access to public land was also a selection criteria for us).

They wined and dined us that night in one of their cabins across the road, put us up for the night and let us borrow the ATVs again the next day. This time with the aide of their old but somewhat accurate property map we checked out the area that impressed us the day before. This area was quite a bit larger than we were originally thinking, about 40 acres (the first “trashy” place was only 7 acres- one of the earth ship properties was 12; Gill and Debs other lots 20) The beauty and peacefulness of it took hold of us.  We had found our place!  We believe that certain areas have a type of magnetism for some people: Tori and I call this “The Magic of Place"- we spent the later part of that afternoon working with Liz to write up an offer. 

Well, as they say in the movies the rest is history! We now own just under 42 acres of diverse: PJ with an abundance of Sagebrush ; ) 

Stay tuned for more on Kevin and Tori's project! 

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