2 Highland Drive, Chama, New Mexico, 87520
This mountain cabin was built in 2010. It was custom designed by the owners (Richard Boyle, architect/sociologist, and artist Anne Cooper). The 10-acre property located at 8350’ elevation is wooded with ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, blue spruce, and aspen. Wild turkeys, deer, bear and large variety of birds including eagles and great horned owls. And edible wild mushrooms grow within 10 ft, of the cabin (shaggy manes, oysters, and Boletus barrowsii).
The placement of the cabin is on the highest point of the property with views of the aspen forests of Penasco Amarillo to the south, the Brazos cliffs and their seasonal, rather spectacular, waterfall to the east, and a grass and wildflower meadow below the cabin.
All of the acreage was “cleaned” by a team contracted by the National Forest Service to thin the overly dense forest of second-growth trees and removed excess dead wood and bushes to protect against forest fires. One aesthetic result was to open up some meadows. Another was to create scenic views where a wall of trees existed previously. The scenic solitude of the site nourished Richard Boyle while writing his book, Realizing Awakened Consciousness: Interviews with Buddhist Teachers and a New Perspective on the Mind (Columbia University Press, 2015), and Anne Coooper while creating her art (e.g., Albuquerque Museum permanent collection).
The 9.4 acre property includes a 5 acre parcel where the cabin is located and an adjacent 4.4 acres officially subdivided into 9 tracts that features 3 desirable building sites.
The cabin is 640 sq (1br/1 full bath, kitchen/living-dining area and pantry) plus small storage shed/workshop in a separate building.
There is a portable building on the second 4.4 acre parcel that, along with a pickup camper, was used for a camp while building the cabin. It could be moved to the cabin for office or guest quarters. It is stuccoed, insulated, wired for electricity, and has a steel roof, suitable for a bedroom or small office. It is about a ¼ mile by foot from the cabin, following a trail through the woods, but accessible by a road of its own.
Private gated road; access shared with one other cabin (very good neighbors).
Working well and septic system.
The electrical system has been off-the-grid solar with PV panels, 4 L-16 batteries, and an inverter. As things go, however, the 3000 watt inverter stopped working last fall. It can be replaced for about $500, but the system itself was limited in power output and this would be a good time to upgrade. There are many choices, though, ranging from simply replacing the old inverter to a top level system. This would involve joining NORA (Northern Rio Arriba Electric Coop), laying 350 ft. of underground cable, and signing up for net metering (whereby NORA would “buy” power when the solar panels are producing an excess and “sell” it when the cabin needs more). This could cost up to $25,000, but net metering has big advantages for second homes that are lived in only part of the year – the panels produce year round but batteries can only hold so much. See separate description of the electrical situation in Technical Information writeup.
Usually reliable telephone and 4G wireless internet connection with tower in Tierra Amarillo.
Floors are poured and stained concrete, walls are sheet rock. Nine wood clad windows are on the south side of the cabin to offer views and passive solar gain.
Besides the solar gain from the south windows there is a wood burning fireplace with porcelain plaster facing and a propane gas outlet in the bedroom.
Water is from a 250’ well (water level 165’) with a solar water pump and 1000-gallon storage tank. The water is sweet and chemical free.
Visual Amenities: Pine kitchen and bathroom cabinets with butcher-block counter tops (built by Anne Cooper), solid pine doors, and ponderosa pine ceiling vigas felled, peeled, and trimmed on one side. The ceiling is t & g aspen. There are three ceiling fans.
Construction details: 9” diameter vigas (natural logs peeled and oiled) support 5” SIPs panels (for maximum insulation) with a steel roof on top. Walls are 2x6 frame with 6” fiberglass insulation, except the north side, which is poured concrete because the cabin is built into the slope of the mountain. A load of pumice was spread before pouring the concrete floor to provide floor insulation. Total of 13 wood clad windows.
There is a 250 gal. propane tank for the water heater and stove. Because heavy winter snowfall destroyed the roof vent for the water heater 3 out of 12 winters, it should probably be replaced with an electric version – see Technical Information writeup.