Saturday, June 23, 2012

A City Girl's Trip down Reality Lane or Livin' The Dream (NOT)

City Gal’s Trip Down Reality Lane (Part 1 & 2)

Ten years before we retired (which was three years ago) my husband, Jim, and I bought 54 acres of land in rural NW Arizona.  As Jim’s job as a jet ski mechanic was seasonal, he spent those ten years of winter, building our retirement home.  I was somewhat concerned as he had never built a home and though he was a wizard with mechanics and electricity, this could be a very costly experiment.

He assured me that he had read everything he needed to know and it would be.…fun.  Well the “fun” started right from the get-go with the layout of the house.  Where was my walk-in closet and walk-in shower?  The bathroom is too small, the bedroom is too small, do we really need a kitchen, and so on and so on.  I’m not proud to say I had to use the phrase – “If you want me to live here…..”  Not one of my finest hours, but sometimes we women do what we need to do!

During the years of building, I worked for a school district, therefore; I could only come up on weekends.  Jim lived in a very small travel trailer.  The stove worked, the oven did not.  There was no heat and on cold days/nights you could see your breath IN the trailer.  I was a city girl, through and through!  He does own a mink blanket from Korea that was a Godsend.  It was deliciously warm.  I can’t tell you how many times I thanked the good Lord above I only had to be there one or two nights.  Okay, let me get back on track!

Unless it came out of a can Jim cooked all his meals on a campfire.  We would sit out there in front of a fire, in the cold, while Jim talked about how much he loved our place, and I listened to what sounded like 500 coyotes, ready to attack at any minute.  Have I mentioned the part about “city girl”?

The bathroom conditions were a whole different can of worms and it is a subject I have tried very hard to wipe from my memory.  Let me just say, we had already had out septic system put in and since the bathroom in this trailer didn’t work most of the time, Jim whipped up a system that included one of the clean outs in the septic line, a metal chair with a hole cut out of it and big funnel with three pieces of plywood surrounding the area, which blew over half the time.  I’m starting to scratch just thinking about it! 

That’s enough for now about my trip down Reality Lane.  I will be visiting with Kevin Hopson on his blog,, on June 29 and I will have more to say about “livin’ the dream”.  I hope you will join me.

One of the first things we did after purchasing our 54 acres in the middle of nowhere was sink a well. But before that could actually happen, we were told, by the gentleman drilling our well, to hire a witcher to find the best spot. There was no joking smirk, or even a look of amusement. This guy was dead serious and gave us several names to choose from.

So I call one of the names, from this point on he will be known as witch guy, and he comes right out. I got to say; he looked just like any ordinary Joe Blow on the street. He’s holding a slim 2-foot metal rod in each hand and starts walking our property. The story goes when the rods cross each other, you’ve hit pay dirt! He stops at a spot, not far from where we are planning to build and declares, “Here’s your water.”

I’ve never been a person to hide my skepticism and my expression must have spoken volumes. “You don’t seem convinced,” says witch guy. “Do you want to try it?”

I took the rods, held them so they layed lightly on my finger tips and walked over the area. Like magic, those rods crossed on their own. “Did you go to witch school for this?” He patiently explained how he had been an apprentice to another witcher and learned the craft that way. (Folks, they do walk among us!)

“Do you want to know how many feet you will have to dig to hit water?” witch guy asked.

Well, of course we did. He proceeded to rest one rod across his finger and let it bounce on the ground. That rod bounced 300 times. When all was said and done, we hit water at 275 feet, but they dug to 320 feet. $10,000 later, we had a hole dug, a casing with a pump installed and a 1500 gallon water tank. I am sure, without any water bill, we will have that investment recouped in an easy 50 or 60 years. I will say this – the water up here tastes unbelievably good! As a side note: We had the water tested and there were no chemicals or any kind of bacteria found!

Over the years, the trailer Jim was living in became a hostel for every mouse within five miles of our property. Let me say here and now, I HATE mice! One weekend when I was there, Jim woke up to me throwing tiny water bottles at a mouse that kept running back and forth on the kitchen counter. He grabbed his gun (which was loaded with snake shot) and aimed. The mouse ran under our tiny futon that we slept on. Jim was looking under that when I noticed the mouse was walking up the screen door. I whisper to Jim, “Look, here he is.”

BOOM! It’s true! Snake shot and mouse guts all over and in the middle of the night! The song, “You Know You’re a Redneck When” by Jeff Foxworthy was probably written for my husband.

It took about 4 years (or winters) for Jim to lay 2,000 cinder blocks, install windows and doors, have the trusses and roof put on. Glory Halleluiah! Jim could move out of the Mouse Palace into a completely enclosed block shell. It was indeed a day of celebration!

1 comment:

  1. Joanne Hyduck HopkinsJune 29, 2012 at 7:34 AM

    How well I know the process of camping out to four walls! Well done!
    I still don't have running water but I have an under shelter 1600 gallon water tank which catches water from the gutters----great water. I do have a septic tank, however! THe old, pour water in the toilet tank routine,,,hahaha! later! Joanne