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  • J.F. Rowan

Durango House Sit

Durango, CO

Our temporary home in Durango Colorado.

Honestly, if you walked up to me on the street and asked either Yvette our myself how we’re enjoying our adventure, you could get a different answer depending on the day. Most of the time, we love what we’re doing. But to be perfectly honest, there are days where we still wonder, as my wife would put it, “What the hell were we thinking?” At some point, I want to write about this very subject in detail, but frankly, I think it’s too early in the game to take enough of an objective view about it. But in the meantime, even though we never really thought it would make as much of a difference as it has, house-sitting really helps us “re-boot” and gives us time to reflect and analyze, plan and relax in a different way than we do on the road.

"Josie" was our main focus. She loved just hanging out, no matter what we were doing. Great dog!

One of our short day trips. Josie loved the water.

Our Durango house-sit did just that and then some. We arrived at our Durango house sit on a Friday, met with the owner and got introduced to “Josie”, an 8-year-old female Pyrenees mix. We reviewed our responsibilities with the owner, had dinner with her and spent the night at her home. Yvette drove her to the airport the next day and we spent the next 12 days doing all kinds of things to help us prepare for the next leg of our journey. It was a gorgeous log cabin located inside a “gated ranch” development. Each of the landowner’s homes were located on 35-acre parcels, with their own water and septic. The average home value in this community is about $850,000.00. A fairly quiet stay with gorgeous views from the patio, there were endless places to hike and explore. I walked through several canyons, and canyon spurs often packing a lunch and water for hours of hiking.

Okay, I lied. One homeowner built their million dollar dreamhouse and could never dig a successful well. He now hauls all of his water from town. To take this a step further, our house sit home owner ran out of water a few years ago and had to re-drill a well 1/4 mile from her home deep in a canyon. On the forth morning of our visit, an alarm was going off at a neighbor's house next door. Not a security alarm, a well alarm. No Water! Water, is a huge issue here.

Twin Buttes, Durango, Colorado

My favorite thing to do. Get my pack, water and a PB&J and get lost. This was my view for lunch. Twin Buttes can be seen in the distance.

The word “ranch” as it used in this community, refers to the free-range cattle that are present. Each homeowner owns 35 acres, but a fence usually encompasses only a few acres around each house to allow cattle to pretty much run free everywhere else. A cattle guard on each driveway is a reminder that the land is shared by the four-legged bovine friends. I’m sure this also allows them some sort of tax advantage as well. Here’s a statistic for you, a $700k valued home (with 35 acres) here pays about $1900/year in property taxes. Back home, that same home would pay about $15,000 a year.

Durango Colorado

East Side of Durango Home. Notice fencing to keep cattle at bay.

Among other items, we took care of was a broken generator muffler flange. I found a great welder in Durango who was more than happy to not only fix the flange but improve upon the design to help prevent a repeat break in the future. There were other maintenance items that I looked at such as a slight leak in the Tiger’s fresh water fill line. And, I spent some time troubleshooting the ongoing “minor” issues with the ESPAR furnace. It’s still working, but have not been able to get some of the older fault codes to clear. As it would turn out, the upcoming Tiger Rally in Leadville will help with this. And like other house sits, we did a little cooking and freezing and packed the freezer in the Tiger. The Tiger and Turtle got a bath and we were able to take advantage of a small shop vac.

At the end of the house sit, we planned on heading north out of Durango on route 550 but as luck would have it, a forest fire broke out about 5 days before we were to leave. Fire # 416 started out small enough (10 acres) and as I write this is currently 35,000 acres large and only 35% contained. When we leave, we will end up driving another hundred miles or so to circumnavigate the closed highway which was fine as all of these roads have awe-inspiring views! The photo I included was taken from the house-sit driveway while we were returning from town . It was only at 10 acres at that point.

Durango "416" Fire.

Fire "416" near Durango. Photo taken from our house sit access road.

Onan Generator

Generator exhaust flange was only welded on the inside.

Onan Generator

Flange was repaired by internal AND external weld. Hopefully, this should prevent another break.

As with most of these house sits, it’s fairly easy to get attached to the pets, especially dogs. Josie was no exception. She had a personality all her own and her laid-back style and quiet demeanor made her a joy to be with. The last day of our sit was a bit difficult because we had gotten attached. But, there is talk that we may return in the future, so we look forward to seeing and walking with her again.

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