A Las Cruces Recess

Seeing as the Santa Fe Habitat construction site would be closed for Thanksgiving break, I decided to use a couple of my vacation days for Tuesday and Wednesday to build with Mesilla Valley Habitat in Las Cruces. As most of my long-time readers know, Las Cruces is a place where Tom and I have spent a good deal of time building and, consequently, where we’ve made many friends. Our plan, in addition to building and visiting friends, also included arriving a day early to hike in the milder temperatures of southern New Mexico.

Deciding which hike wasn’t too difficult since Tom and I happen to have the same favorite trail in the area, and so the morning after we arrived at our friend Rick’s house we set off to do Baylor Pass. I’ve blogged about this hike on a few other occasions so I’ll spare you the entire regurgitation, but the trail from west to east rises approximately 1,600 feet and 4 miles up Baylor Canyon to the Pass over the Organ Mountains, drops down 900 feet and 2 miles to Aguirre Springs and then returns the same way for a total of ~2,500 feet elevation and 12 miles. The views from the Pass are spectacular. Like most of the trails in the Organ Mountain Range, the route is rugged and includes a good bit of rock hopping on granite which adds to the beauty, but makes it more difficult than the statistics of the hike might suggest. In addition to the gorgeous rock, the trail also features the pale, wavy grasses and tall yucca characteristic of the highlands in southern New Mexico, set against the jagged profile of the Organ Mountain peaks.

Of course I took a slew of photos despite hiking the trail numerous times; I won’t spare you those. Plus, Abby was having an excellent portrait day:

The following two days we volunteered with Habitat, working alongside some of our favorite Care-a-vanners to frame and roof two of the houses being built this season. I spent the first day nailing off the roof decking on Juanita and Ernesto’s house and the second day building, raising, and top-plating walls on Erica’s house, but there were many other tasks going on including soffit, fascia, and window installation. On Thursday – Thanksgiving Day – we joined the other Care-a-vanners for a potluck dinner and game night. It was there that (Construction Supervisor) Pete said he’d be out on site the next 2 days laying out the slab for the fifth house and shingling… if I’d be interested in shingling. Um, yeah! And so we got to spend 2 extra days shingling Juanita and Ernesto’s house, the first day with Tom and the second day with Pete and Darnell after they’d completed the layout. It was the perfect vacation – spending time building houses, catching up with friends, and hiking – and was just what I needed.

Mike, Tom, and Darnell nailing off the roof decking

Tony trimming out windows

Building interior walls

Michael and Mike decking the roof

Janine using the reciprocating saw to cut out bottom plates in doorways

Darnell framing out the furnace stand

Care-a-vanner Thanksgiving potluck dinner

Me shingling

Tom shingling the valley

Darnell shingling on a sunny Saturday morning

Darnell’s shot of me preparing to bring down materials at the end of the day