This morning we had our second breakfast at the Laughing
Horse Inn, passed by Cid's Groceries (a large organic-only
grocery store), and headed to Matt Newsum's.
is the groundskeeper of
Bianco, a ranch on the
mesa (the plains outside of Taos). We drove five miles on
snow-covered dirt road to get to its
The house is entirely "off the grid" -- electrical power
that recharge 20 golf cart batteries. There's a propane
generator for cloudy days (such as today), and a gasoline
backup generator. Neither is quite working, so we may be
dining by candlelight.
The house has a well for water and a radio phone to the
neighbor's house. The septic tank only needs to be emptied
maybe once a year. The house sits on
acres of desert land
-- you can just barely see the neighbors' houses.
The ranch was the dream home of a woman who was diagnosed
with cancer during its construction. She only lived in it a
year. The husband remarried and lives in Albuquerque with
his new wife, but doesn't want to sell this house. Matt
on a tour
of the outside of the house. We saw the
now empty stables, the solar panels, the generator, the
well, and the memorial garden, where Jojo Bianco is
As the groundskeeper, Matt's only expenses are his own
groceries. Six months ago he quit his high-tech Silicon
Valley job to come here, and spends his days painting in the
art studio, skiing, reading, hiking, or biking to the nearby
Rio Grande to do some catch-and-release fly fishing. Can't
imagine a better lifestyle for him.
We wouldn't mind living like this, but we'd have to be
closer to civilization and we'd need some kind of high-speed
internet connection. Matt says that he may try the two-way
satellite links that are just becoming available. There's
an appeal to having a self-sustaining house -- for its
ecological and independence aspects. It's a lot of work and
maintenance, and being so much at the mercy of the elements
(such as amount of direct sunlight) is unsettling. It will
be very cool in a few years to combine solar power with a
fuel cell for backup power.
We loved the house so much that we decided to stay an extra
night and make up the time in Texas.