Wednesday, October 27, 2010


SHE REALLY GOT AWAY FROM IT ALL --FOUND HERSELF--ENJOYS LIFE. Got hot in Phoenix---will go to the cool---out there--about a hundred miles--to the Mogollon plateau--(pronounced mug--e--ahn); 7 and 8 thousand feet elevation. RVers learn early that elevation cools at the rate of 4 degrees per thousand feet. (Phoenix is 1 thousand and thus the plateau at 7 will be 24 degrees cooler--on average) Way way out there, I have a friend who long ago went up there in her RV and never came back. I will go find her and give you a report.
There it is--the famous Mogollon rim (edge of the plateau) Zane Gray wrote up there--his novels are sited there often. My friend is up there.
From the rim looking down----aaaahhh--delightfully cool---this spot is a favorite of mine--8000 ft. Stayed two nights.
And then a chilly mist moved in---I'll go find my friend--about 80 miles further in.
Way Way out across this landscape---beyond the city of Show Low--(cute name--interesting story--will share sometimes)
And then Way Way out this gravel road--up there somewhere.
Way, way out this cinder road--hidden among these cedar trees. You are looking at the carcass of a HUGE failed development of 10 square miles and thousands of one and a quarter acre lots, now selling for a song (2-3 thousand) to folks with gumption-----you see, there is no water or sewer and spotty electricity. Perfect for RVers who really don't need either. (in large amounts) folks with gumption come here and thrive---others scurry away.
I discovered that she lives at the end of this trail.
In this cute and efficient house which she designed and largely engineered herself. Water is precious here--she catches what the rains provide. (the amount collected from this roof will surprise you--the formula is .67 gallons per sq ft in a 1 inch rainfall--that amounts to about 300 gallons from this roof in a 1 inch rain.
Here's the front view--note the many windows. Ah but dear readers--prepare yourself for a wonderful surprise---inside is a delightful secret---and to my mind a useful life lesson---I was moved to poetry. I ask you to judge for yourself.
Can you see what she's done? Built her house around her trailer. She sleeps, cooks and bathes in it. Here's the story in rhyme.


Taylor, weary of life on the road
decided to take her mobile persona
uphill to live among some friends
in northern Arizona.

She shivered all winter in her fifth wheel trailer
swearing that misery would end.
Come spring, she built a wall all round
to block the freezing wind.

A roof and porch came the following year
thoroughly enclosing the trailer;
a house within a house, all warmly
wrapped around miss Taylor.

She built a legal septic tank,
and to make her house drought-proof
she built a system that collects
rain from off her roof.

Then big windows came this spring;
lets the glorious outside—in.
No fairy has a brighter home;
no bear a cozier den.

How different is Taylor's way from those
who mire themselves in debt;
paying and paying for thirty years
and are not homeowners yet.

Note the genius of Taylor's house.
It rose by evolution.
The old was never cast aside,
just tweaked for new solutions.

That's how monkey rose to man;
how microbe became mouse;
we tweaked our way to bigger brains
like Taylor built her house.

Meet Taylor---a long time friend and an inspiration. In a long conversation, I asked what you would have asked: What's it like to live alone in the wilderness?--what does it do to your head? ---and heart? Her answers dazzled me! I will share with you a few of her insights.
1. She felt "led" to this spot---invited! Almost instantly desiring to settle here.
2. The sparcity of High desert makes everything an "event"---a flower--an elk---and the nights are stunning. Is in love with big sky, space, sun, quiet!
3. She feels blessed---comfortable---letting life "happen" to her.
4. Moving forward by gently pushing on doors! Some open--She enters--some don't--she moves on.
4. Most are afraid of the quiet--because it strips us of our identity markers.
5. I should not be you! I should work very very hard to be me.
6. Lots of people have the urge for this--- finding a lifestyle that fits their personality---but don't know how to achieve it.
7. The kind of loneliness she feels is the desire to be known.
8. Would like a mate--to know and be known-but realistically assesses the "compound probability". (nice phrase)
9. Personal space requires some protection---not always easy to do tactfully.
10. Living is investment---she chooses to invest in experiences rather than Wall street. The dividend that experiences pay is character. Business is a distraction.
11. "Stuff" does not enduringly entrance----is often nice but not necessary.
12. Happiness is not having what you want but wanting what you have.
13. Says of herself that she is an Introvert--is intuitive and senses oriented.
And much much more. We read together what Kahlil Gibran (The Prophet) had to say about houses. (much recommended reading)
A wonderful interview as you can imagine---I went away with much to think about.

UPDATE!!! 10/24/11---Taylor has decided to sell her cozy estate---(now has electric, septic, internet)the whole shebang--trailer, house, land (2and1/2 acres) and all---to go do something else.  She, like Thoreau---"leaves for as good a reason as she came"--she has many more lives to lead and cannot spare any more time for this one.  If you might be interested e-mail her at
(asking $35,000---will carry a contract)

UPDATE 10/31/11--- Taylor has advised that she has received an acceptable offer and will vacate her little shangralai in two weeks.


Sarah said...

Great post, great woman! I admire her very much. Thanks for sharing with us.

Rustedgranny said...

My kind of lady. All that peace and quiet. Brave too.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Randy. Great story!

Robyn said...

I am so very proud to call this woman my Mother. Thank you for sharing!!

Josh said...

How do you capture that much water? .67 gallons per square foot for 1 inch rainfall? One square foot is 144 square inches, times 1 inch of rainfall, is 144 cubic inches. A gallon is, by definition, 231 cubic inches. 144/231 = approx. .6234 gallons. I would think that if you could capture 100% of the rain that fell on the roof, that is the maximum you could capture. Of course, you can't capture 100%. Some will be lost do to absorption in the roof, and some lost due to evaporation. From what I've read in other places, I would think you might be able to capture 85% of what falls - putting it closer to .53 gallons or so per square foot.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I just don't see how it's mathematically possible to gather .67 gallons per square foot. (And I'm assuming we're talking about square footage with respect to the floor area, not actual surface area of the roof. Actual area of the roof would make the amount gathered even less, since the roof is sloped, causing more surface area, but the rain falls straight down.)

Oh, I should mention - aside from the math, I LOVE IT! :)

Stephanie said...

Have heard all about the place, so nice to finally see it! Fun & fascinating story!

Debbie said...

Wonderful and oh how I admire you Taylor for doing this!!

Thank you so very much for sharing :)

Loved it!!

Anonymous said...

Is this near Concho? My mother used to live there and my bro has an 8ft x 8ft box on stilts that he camps in near there.

Dixxe said...

I envy you for having the opportunity to visit this lady! She is doing many of the things I know can be done and am considering doing here on my little "ranch" in time--when only the very wealthy can afford such things are clean water! What a fine example of self sufficiency-and the build around, is very cozy!! We have 2 small rain barrels that each hold 30 gallons, they can fill easily in about 5 minutes of rain...I want to install a 500 gallon tank much like the one in your photo.
(for the curious look up Michael Reynolds Earthships in Taos, NM, they put the water storage UNDER the house and it helps with cooling as well)

RobertTheGreyBeard said...


You are right, she is a fantastic person, alive, awake and connected. I have yet to discover how to get there, but mostly, would like to somehow help my daughters 'get there' too. I'm still trying to figure this all out...

Rob said...

If you find yourself really interested in rain water harvesting and you want to find out about it past what you learned from this blog try these two downloadable publications.
The Texas Rainfall Harvesting Manual and Guidelines for Rainwater Catchment systems for Hawaii

sally said...

Great story about a great lady, my neighbor, Taylor.

Jim said...

Looks like she did a fine job of enclosing her trailer, but for those inclined to wander from time to time, do a search for "RV Chalet." It's an option which allows all the comforts of home AND one can remove their RV via "invisible" doors which have windows and are sided to match the house.
If laid out properly, someone can live there even when the RV has been removed -- like having a small house with a LARGE garage.
I hope to build one in five years when I retire.

Anonymous said...

Is there a pattern here? After years of listening to the damn IC engine rumble, bouncings, oil changes & ruined tires, familiarity with places two and three times over, RVers settle?
It takes alot of internal resources to live 'by your self'...and of course, we can now have the Global Village of Marshal McLuhan where we tie in with others as much as we like, electronically.
A small piece of dirt can give water, electricity, some food for almost nothing except an investment of time and attention.
I think the electronic village is transformed into biosphere conciouness.
Is this the eventual result?
I'm asking.

Anonymous said...

Hi,I'm looking for a wife just like that,I'm 59,retired trucker,jack of all trades,and deciding how to live on $800 a month.That could work what she is doing or I might get a casita for the back of my 4 cylinder S10 and travel and live in it blm land etc. Good job girl !!!!!!!!! George 360-953-2184

MarieA said...

I love this lady's independent spirit and relationship to the natural world (and her poem, too) She reminds me very much of my daughter, who, as a writer/artist/naturalist is seeking a place a some solitude and is not afraid of an independent lifestyle.

I would very much like to correspond with Taylor if you could pass this message on and if she is willing. I can be contacted through my website.

Thank you. It is always a pleasure to read of your adventures.