The Biggest Adventure of All

Moving to Silver City

October - December, 2020

We know well how fortunate we are that the pandemic neither threatened our livelihood nor forced us to work in unsafe conditions. It was nevertheless life-changing. We spent the summer camping and hiking all over central New Mexico and northern Arizona. From the Mogollon Rim to the White Mountains, the Manzano Mountains, El Malpais, San Franciscos and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, we dove deep into areas we'd only briefly visited in the past. We camped off-grid in relative safely, minimizing contact with other people by packing carefully and planning all our meals in advance.

It was fabulous! We loved the lush alpine meadows and the dense Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine forests. And most of all, we loved the freedom from Tucson's hottest-ever summer. In a normal year, Tucson experiences 39 days of triple-digit temperatures. This year there were more than 100, and the monsoon never materialized. Meanwhile the Bighorn Fire tore through the Catalinas, closing nearly all hiking trails until late in the Fall. Lower-elevation trails were hopelessly crowded, with only a tiny minority of hikers willing to socially distance or wear masks. Little by little, we realized that everything we loved about living in Tucson was gone. One day in mid-September, we were rolling through Flagstaff after a particularly enjoyable week on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. And Dennis asked me, "Where would you rather live? Flagstaff or Silver City?"

And so it began. Although we loved the time we spent exploring all around the San Franciscos this summer, we quickly learned that houses there sell at California prices. And so our attention shifted back to Silver City, where we were shopping for a possible second home two years ago. But there's a strong demand for housing in Silver City, especially in the old part of town, and a full month of browsing the internet turned up very few prospects. There was one older home, a 1945 bungalow near the college, but we had some concerns about the neighborhood, plus it sold the first day on the market. In mid-October, while we were in town to check out a tumble-down A-frame on the edge of town, the bungalow suddenly reappeared on the market. We quickly drove to the area, walked all around the area, nd made an appointment to see the house that night. It appeared to be in good shape, with a standing seam metal roof, new windows, a new kitchen and an unusually large lot — big enough for our fleet of recreational vehicles! We made a full-price offer on the spot, but we had stiff competition. That night we camped at our usual spot on the Continental Divide Trail, using my iPad as an access point and VNC to pull financial documents off our computer and submit an application for a mortgage. When that didn't work, we made screen captures of all our accounts to demonstrate that we could pay cash if necessary. We were on our way to the Chiricahuas to rendezvous with our friend Dave Tamblyn when we got the call letting us know our offer had been accepted.

The Bungalow

The Bungle-Oh.

Self portrait on Silver City webcam

We were back in town a few weeks later, and made a screen capture as we posed for the webcam in Silver City, our new hometown.

Area 51 Before

Ahead of us lay many weeks of work to get our Tucson house ready to sell. Packing up the house was easy enough, since I've been earnestly practicing "Swedish Death Cleaning" for the past two years. But "Area 51" was quite another matter. It took three weeks of packing and purging, and many trips to paper and electronics recycling centers, before we finally dug our way to the bottom of the piles.

Area 51 After

And here's Area 51 after it was cleaned up, painted and staged to look like a therapist's office. Oh my, what a transformation!


We timed the first load to coincide with the closing date, but meanwhile New Mexico imposed a full-scale lockdown in response to a surge in coronavirus cases. We slipped across the border at night, camping on a pile of blankets in the back of the moving van.

Silver City closing

On a brisk and blustery Fall morning we had a very open closing, outside the title company office on November 24, 2020.

Decorative bench at Tranquilbuxx

Celebrating with coffee at the Tranquilbuzz.

Harman pellet stove

Our first night in the house, still sleeping on a pile of blankets and cooking with our camping gear, but loving the cozy wood pellet stove.

destroying the pantry shelves

As usual, I can't spend more than a few minutes in a new space without taking a wrecking bar to something. In this case, the excessive pantry shelving. staged dining room

Meanwhile staging proceeded at our Tucson house. Our realtor even created a dining room where one never existed. But while the house looked amazing, it was impossible to live there with half our furniture removed. And so on December 5, 2020, we moved to Silver City.

front of our Tucson house

Our Tucson house hit the market the same day, and sold immediately.

camping in the living room

Urban camping at it finest.

the dungeon drawbridge

Meanwhile we are getting acquainted with the new place, which is way more ... interesting ... than we thought. Features include at least six tumble-down sheds, all packed to the rafters with old tools and debris, and two "dungeons" under the house, stocked with several hundred gallons of bottle water and tons of expired MREs and assorted cookware.

Dennis and Elio

The house needs A LOT of work. There will be new floors throughout, and we may have to go down to the studs in the living room and "pantry", where the walls are covered in MDF and old wallboard, and there are two layers of dropped ceilings.

On the bridge in Silver City

But we're here now, and loving the quiet, the slower pace of life and a wealth of local hiking trails! We are next to Western New Mexico University, 20-minute walk to downtown, and less than a mile from the trails on Boston Hill!