Working by Weekday and Getting Away by Weekend

Sunrise over the Organ Mountains, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Before I knew it September had rolled around and we had returned to Las Cruces so I could start preparation for the build season. The (nearly) 4 months traveling was refreshing but I truly felt the itch to get back and start building again…. until I was reminded of the reality of working in triple-digit temperatures. Luckily most of the prep work involved reviewing and comparing bids, arranging for equipment and tools to be delivered to the construction site, and checking on subcontractors building the rock walls, putting in forms and foundations, and roughing in plumbing – all of which did not involve too many concurrent hours outside under the desert sun. I also spent time quite a bit of time in the office reviewing my takeoffs for the new floorplans I’d created and double checking bids against my projected costs since this was my first go-round with this stage in the process. My goal for the year was to build a total of 5 houses using my 2 new floorplans (one of which was a 3 bedroom and the other of which was a 4 bedroom) both of which would be larger and offer more features than the previous floorplans – but with a cost reduction of $15k-$20k per house. Hence, I did a lot of double- and triple-checking of my material lists and the bids we’d received.

As soon as the work week was over however Tom, Abby, and I escaped the heat by heading to the mountains. Our first weekend was a restful one, spent in the town of Ruidoso 2 hours to the east. Arriving late morning on Saturday, we decided on a shorter 3 hour walk on the trails near town, which was perfectly relaxing and pleasant – until we got caught in a monsoon hail episode. Despite being pelted with icy stones and cold rain for an hour in the midst of the walk, it was beyond wonderful to be walking amidst the tall pines, smelling the sap and caramel that wafted from their bark. But that precipitation did create a chill so directly following our walk we retreated back to town to the Tall Pines Beer Garden for a couple hours of loafing in the sunshine.

The next morning wasn’t quite as bright or sunshine-y as the day before and it became less so as we drove up to 10,000 feet and the trailhead adjacent to the ski resort, but that hardly dampered my enthusiasm for walking in the high meadows and clusters of fir trees. Nor did the fact that we’d be again walking through burn scar from the fast-burning 2012 Little Bear Fire which torched a large portion of the high country here. Grayed skeletons of once-majestic conifers still remain upright in the less windy drainages but blowdown is also quite prevalent, making for a somewhat adventurous hike depending on the route chosen. This trip we mostly stuck to the open meadows before linking up with an old forest road that would up to a communications site on Buck Mountain. We ultimately veered off from Buck at the last second, and scaled an adjacent peak from which we had incredible views of Sierra Blanca to the south standing tall at 11,981 feet. Ascending through the waving grasses towards the skyline was an incredible traverse, and I appreciated every moment, striding up the incline, feeling as though we were scaling to the highest peaks. It was a fitting conclusion to our weekend in the mountains.