Writer’s Retreat

travels

With twenty acres to hike, views of distant mountains and mesas in the high desert, this is a unique place. Think of it as “Rustic Camping” with the simple life of wood stoves, writing in the daytime, and a huge view of mesas and mountains. It’s a unique experience. Come out and relax at Hillend with us.

Since living here, I have written four award-winning books as well as started working as a freelance editor, writer and teacher. It’s a great place for a retreat and many have rented it over the years through Airbnb. Now though I’d like to open it up for writers and travelers.


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This is a 1948 school bus that became my home for years, and is now set in a uniquely beautiful area of New Mexico. You will be staying in the bus as your own private space. You can sit on the deck and enjoy the sunset, or cook up some hot food on the two-ring burner inside the bus and spend a quiet evening reading. Or you can drop your stuff and head across the field and down into the valley to the west. Explore safely, bring water, boots and a flashlight. The bus is cleaned thoroughly but it’s dusty here so it’s not a good fit for the clean-freaks.

The shared space is a my home, 500 square feet, an adobe with an open plan living room into the kitchen. There’s a fridge, propane stove, basic kitchen supplies that we’ll share. The bathroom is off to the side and has an on-demand hot water heater for showers and water from the rain catchment system. The compost toilets are separate and good quality and simple to use. We recycle and compost food scraps. There is a small solar power system, enough for computers, the Internet, and charging phones, etc. I’ll be staying in another building, a small studio bedroom.

Provisions: tea and coffee, basic cooking spices, oils etc., shampoo and soaps in the shared bathroom but you’ll need to bring your own breakfasts and dinners, there is a cooler here so you can pick up ice etc. in Madrid at the General Store. Let me know if you need help though.

In winter you’ll need to be comfortable making fires in an old wood-stove, huddling under blankets and wearing as many layers as possible…it’s cold when the sun goes down. In summer expect to hide in the shade of the junipers, lay around until the sun goes down and wish you could cool off.

Look up the local weather for the latest forecast for NM 87010.

 

Amenities:

The bus comes with a wood stove for heat, a propane fire pit outside and a charcoal grill outside. There is a container of water for washing, a cooler, cooking supplies, a propane two-ring burner, coffee and teas. Pretty much everything you need but for food and drinking water. Outhouse, compost toilet style, and no running water or electricity. Candles and an oil lamp. Sound good?

Madrid is a unique funky artistic town so head down there for coffee in the mornings or a beer and burger later on.  It’s a great place. I’m generally around in the mornings if you have any questions otherwise I’ll leave you to it as I’m a private person and keep to myself most of the time. You’ll want to be self-sufficient, independent camper types to enjoy this place. It’s not for everyone.

There has been a countywide ban on all campfires. You could start a wild fire and burn the trees, animals and community around. It’s not worth it. So there is a propane fire-pit that you can use. It’s pretty good for sitting around at night with the stars above. I’ll let you know when the ban is lifted.

Access:

The road into Hillend is pretty rocky so you’ll need a vehicle with higher clearance and good  tires – not a low riding city sedan, okay? Subaru, SUVs, trucks do the best up here.  Seriously – do not come up here in a Scion for example. And yes, motorbikes do great up here. I have a DR650 and I used to drive the roads on a 1980 CB750, which was slow going on the rocks but did fine.

 

 
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Sarah Leamy, MFA, is an award-winning author of both travel books and novels as well as a photographer, presenter, and a bit of a wanderer. She has lived in England, Germany, Spain, Guatemala and the Southwest of the US. She is the founder and editor of Wanderlust, a travel journal publishing international travel writing, photos and trip reports. Find out more at www.sarahleamy.com