I have just returned home after spending two weeks alone at Dos Arbolitos, our off-grid property in the Chihuahuan Desert. With the exception of a few visits with and from neighbors in the Big Bend Valley section of Terlingua Ranch, I was pretty much alone.
Screen time on my phone was down a whopping 62% — listening to music and using my Bible reading app accounting for the remainder of the time. For the most part, I enjoyed the absence of distractions and savored the opportunity to think deeply about so many things.
My goal for these two weeks was to continue working on the inside of our cabin, build an outdoor structure for a composting toilet and shower, address some erosion near our front gate, and have our solar power system installed. I am happy to say that I have checked these items off of my to-do list.
My first order of business was to frame our bathroom walls and solar storage closet and to hang the doors to each of these spaces. Once I framed the 14-foot long wall, I realized I needed help to get it up and in place, so I asked my neighbors Joe and Lisa for help (check out their Full Vegan YouTube channel).
Joe and Lisa moved to the Big Bend Valley from Minnesota and own 20 acres to the east of me in the shadow of Nine Point Mesa. They have an amazing set of off-grid skills and are always ready and willing to lend a hand. They did not hesitate to drive over to help me lift the wall into place.
Once the wall was in place and securely anchored, I decked the area immediately above for some much-needed storage. I wired in a bathroom light, added the remaining sheets of drywall, and hung the doors. Finally, I started the process of taping and floating — followed by sanding and then more floating and feathering out the seams, followed by more sanding.
With the drywall completed, I mixed a bucket of joint compound and used my texture sprayer to add a light orange peel texture to the walls. Once I got the consistency right, it took me less than half an hour to texture the walls. I am happy with the look of the texture. Later I will frame the doors and windows and install bead board wainscoting to all of the walls.
When I return to Dos Arbolitos I will add R-19 insulation to the ceiling and use corrugated tin to cover our ceiling. I will change our one-bulb ceramic light fixtures with LED fixtures and then add trim along the ceiling to wall transition. Kitchen cabinets will come next with the floor install as the final step in the process.
One thing is certain, there is never a shortage of projects in an off-grid setting. I enjoyed working from sunrise to sunset each day. I spent each night on my front porch, enjoying the magnificent Big Bend sunsets and night sky blanketed with stars from horizon to horizon. And, I slept peacefully. The solitude and silence of the desert is indeed a gift.