I have a new retirement home in the desert, but wait a tic before you waste energy on envy. It’s a 10-foot-by-5-foot hut near the Salton Sea.
It is handcrafted by my always-interesting husband on a deserted military installation. It is, without a doubt, the middle of nowhere. He isn’t as odd and eccentric as this all makes him sound, but the man is never boring. It’s proof that he married me because I am not easily shocked, and his escapades are always good for cocktail conversation.
This is not his first wilderness home. Shortly after we were married, he purchased property in the hills of Paso Robles and built himself a yurt. It was actually a round hut, but it wasn’t covered with yak skins — just wood. It was snug, but as you might imagine, had none of the amenities I rather tend to take for granted. I visited it once.
About six months ago, he announced that he had heard about this community and was building a small lean-to there. The military base had long ago packed up and moved and the area is now home to a smattering of squatters. Most are there because they cannot afford to live elsewhere or want to stay off the government radar. Some are there year-round and others are snowbirds who come to spend the winter there. And then there is my husband.
We are not penniless (yet), so for my husband, who has an insatiable curiosity about his fellow man, I believe the whole undertaking is a sociological experiment. He finds the odd, off-the-rails, opinionated and peculiar of the world absolutely fascinating and he never tires of hearing their stories. I applaud that, but don’t share his enthusiasm. The folks out there scare me a little. I am happy to hear, secondhand, my hubby’s tales of his neighbors, but I truly never intended to go anywhere near the place — ever. Even if I did love to camp, it is a three-hour drive from North County. I loathe long car trips and always have, left over from childhood days of car sickness.
Just when I thought we had an understanding, he did that really devious thing that husbands will sometimes do to get their way. He asked me nicely. Didn’t I wanted to go out to the desert “house” with him? In spite of my contrary nature, my wifely conscience would not turn me loose. My husband asks very little of me, so when the request came, I found I was just not cold-hearted enough to deny him.
So what was it like? Well, it has been dubbed the “Silver Cube” by some whimsical neighbor, who put a sign on it, calling it the Silver Cube Concession Stand, complete with a menu. We don’t know if it was wishful thinking (Margaritas were only $2) or if it was just a cute joke. It made us laugh either way.
I will admit it was very peaceful out there, with the sun shining and the breeze carrying the smell of mesquite. The views are spectacular in all directions, as it is flat desert. I sat and read (they have an odd but well-stocked library) and communed with nature while my husband fixed the roof and chimney. I christened the ecologically sound outhouse, as well.
Will I go back? Not unless I have to suddenly change my name and leave town, or we find some way to beam me there. But I’ll admit I am glad to have seen it. Like most things my husband does, it is one-of-a-kind. My only disappointment was that he promised sightings of tarantulas, lizards and quail and none of them appeared. Apparently, this happens mostly in the dead of summer in 120-degree heat. I call that bait-and-switch.
There is a small part of me that is tempted to load up a cooler full of beer and frozen margaritas, burgers and snacks and actually open the Silver Cube Concession Stand one day, just to see what would happen. In spite of having two homes now, I could use the extra cash.
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Filed Under: Small Talk