Posted in History, photography, writing

How Much Can You Do Without?

I suspect a lot. I’m so close to ditching everything I own and moving to a trailer in the desert. Here’s a great read in the NYT on living with less. I’d head to Santa Fe if I did. I fell in love with the place a few years ago and still toy with the idea of moving down there. I have so much crap I need to get rid of, I really need to simplify my life.

(I’m…erm… borrowing this photo off the Web but it links to the source)


Yes, the dirt really is pink like that. In fact, this picture is a lot less pink than it is in real life.

I can hardly describe the sense of elation I felt while there. I drove over the Rio Grande River at one point and squealed like a child.  I’d heard the name so often in old westerns that it had taken on almost mythological proportions in my mind. Here are some shots I took in Bandelier National Monument, which is just outside Los Alamos (where the Los Alamos National Laboratory is located, and the Manhattan Project happened).

As I drove in the road wound past some smouldering, recently burned areas, some of which were flaring up. When I got to the kiosk to pay to enter the park I mentioned to the ranger there about the flames. He brushed it off, saying they had just done a controlled burn, and it would take awhile for everything to completely go out. Dubiously I accepted this and went on. Two weeks after I was there a major fire swept through that consumed the park and did some damage at the Lab. As I understand it, it was caused by still-smouldering embers from that controlled burn. Luckily I missed it.

car view

My penchant for taking photographs as I drove probably started here.


I parked here when I first got into the park. I had the place to myself for awhile, and just sat on a rock listening to the breeze, sunning myself like a lizard. Then a couple other cars came so I went on.

rock wall

Santa Fe is high desert, elevation 7,260 feet, so it’s not like Death Valley. There’s a lot of vegetation here, birds in the trees. There was a stream just behind where this was taken, I think. They also get a fair amount of snow in the winter.


Some of the ruins of a ceremonial area.


A marvelous tree.

kiva and view

Top photo is a kiva, a ceremonial a ceremonial cave, built way up in the cliff wall. Seriously, it was 140′ up wooden ladders to get to it. I wasn’t really prepared for hiking that day, I was in sandals, carrying a purse, but by god I was going up. I had no idea when I might ever be back there so I did it. I felt the elevation difference, though, it was tough going for someone accustomed to life at sea-level. The view from up there is quite breathtaking, and well worth the climb.  (these last two photos are actually postcards, I don’t know where my photos are that I took from up there). It’s nice to be reminded what blue sky looks like.

If I could find a way to support myself there I would have moved down years ago. And I’d get to use my telescope, which I hardly ever do here in rainy Oregon.


Writer of vampire stories and science fiction. First novel, "Revenants Abroad", available now at Amazon. If you like a vampire you can go out drinking with and still respect yourself in the morning, I think you'd like Andrej.

12 thoughts on “How Much Can You Do Without?

  1. I know how you feel…believe me, I do. Of all the things I’ve owned, I just have a small number of rubber totes left. As you know, I was planning to move to Portland, but fate has pulled the rug from under me…yet again. I feel like I’m living in Storybrook, MA, and as I get closer to leaving, I hit that unseen barrier. LOL!

    If you move to Santa Fe, just think how incredible the night sky will be. The Anasazi were keen observers of the night sky. Their famous painting of the supernova of 1054 AD which resulted in the Crab Nebula is awesome. I keep thinking about the the episodes of The X-Files from the end of Season 1 and the beginning of Season 2.

    Also, the art is so rich down there. You’ll have to visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum while there. That is, if you haven’t done so already. See was friends with one of my favorite photographers, Ansel Adams.

    Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the very best. You’ll be in my thoughts.


    1. I did get to the O’Keeffe Museum when I was there, it’s lovely. I was also very surprised to notice just as I was leaving they have a few pictures done by Pamela Colman Smith, aka Pixie Smith, who illustrated the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. She was also I believe a children’s book illustrator. The style is unmistakable.

      Any moves are in the future, it’s more of a pipe dream, but who knows what could happen? Sorry things didn’t work out for your move to Portland. Maybe it’s just a temporary setback.


  2. Hi D.D changed is good. Whether it is a hair cut, relationship, or moving … change is good. At first it may feel like stress until one is settle or feel comfortable. Now how much can a person live without all depend on that person. I was watching a show yesterday showing a husband and wife who live in Romania taking care of the land. In trade they live in a house with no electricity or running water. The man said in the winter time is the hardest time that they have to struggle but they love the open land and to be one with nature. It take time to get use that way of living and they will never change it for nothing.

    I too wish you the best in what ever choice you make.


    1. Hi Lora! Well, I don’t think I’ll be doing anything drastic anytime soon. Mostly I’m just working on de-junking my house. I have so much crap, it’s ridiculous. I’m not sure I want to live without electricity or running water, though, that would be tough!

      Don’t worry, spring will come! I know a lot of places here in the US just got pummeled with another snowstorm, too.


  3. This made me so homesick for the southwest! My dream retirement is a trailer in the New Mexico desert with a shaded porch, a dog, and a typewriter. Thanks for posting!


  4. Hi Nate! Thanks for coming by. I loved the area SO MUCH when I was there. I love your idea of a perfect retirement, sounds a lot like mine these days. Who needs all this crap anyway??


  5. I was there in April, many years ago. The temperature range is very similar to western Oregon (most people don’t realize eastern OR is largely desert), although they get a whole lot less rain, and more snow in the winter. I tracked their weather obsessively for years to compare. They don’t get the stifling heat that places like Las Vegas or Phoenix do. For instance today they’re heading for a high of 63, but dropping down to 30 overnight, then back to the upper 40s the rest of the week. I definitely noticed the altitude change, though, when I was working out. I really had to back down on the intensity for my cardio, the difference is quite pronounced.


  6. I would come visit you with enthusiastic regularity, but I don’t think I could live at such a high altitude – can’t get a decent bagel! My alternate hometown, Saugerties NY, is cool b/c in the space of 68 square miles, it rises from sea level (bordering on the Hudson River) to an elevation of 607 feet – nothing compared to the Rockies or even the Adirondacks, but a picturesque little mountain all the same.


  7. This makes me want to clean. I know so many people who love it there. It’s Nirvana, they tell me. Never been, but it does sound heavenly. Yes, paring down is the greatest feeling. I just sold a handbag I realized I haven’t used in 5 years. It was Prada so I held onto it like a trophy. Can’t tell you how happy I am it’s no longer here. Even a small act like that made me feel weightless.


  8. Congratulations on freeing yourself of some of the load. One of my problems is I hate to just toss stuff in the trash if it’s in any way potentially recyclable, or if components could be salvaged or recycled. I have old stereo equipment in my basement I have no idea what to do with. I don’t want to just toss it in the garbage, but don’t know where to take it. Ugh. Guess I need to make some phone calls.

    Santa Fe has a wonderful energy to it, and by that I mean sort of genius loci. It’s so OPEN, the desert just goes on for miles. And yet there were lilacs blooming all over town when I was there, which I had not expected. It’s hard to describe but it just feels good there.


Comments are closed.