Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tour of "Hurst" Castle

Hopefully, you'll forgive the ridiculous play on words--Our "Hurst" Castle versus the real "Hearst" Castle in California. If you've ever seen the latter, you will laugh at the silly comparison with our new little retirement RV villa in Hurst, Texas. However, at this stage of our lives, it seems just about perfect. (For now, that is.) Readers of this whole blog will be aware of our struggling with what kind of lifestyle we want as Sandy and I approach our retirement years. We have faced the dilemma of deciding what is important and what isn't, and we're still dealing with that issue. In any case, the time remaining is becoming ever more finite, and there are some significant squares that don't have an "X" in them yet.

One priority that seemed a no-brainer was the need to downsize. We have painfully recounted in these pages our progress in that regard and the turmoil that arose from it. Would we have done some things differently? Absolutely! For one thing, we wouldn't have bothered with an apartment rental while waiting on the new house to be built. Living in Homer fulltime from January through May was a thoroughly agreeable experience, but we didn't know at the time we sold the old house what a simple, inexpensive yet comfortable lifestyle that it would be. If we had known what it would be like, we would have done that in the beginning.

The move forced us to jettison a significant amount of the stuff we accumulated over the years. It has been very gratifying and liberating to have parted with so many things we thought were important yet, to our amazement, we have missed none of them! I am convinced that we could get rid of plenty more stuff, and we wouldn't miss that, either.

Our new house was designed specifically for life as part-time RVers. The RV port was designed around Homer's dimensions and, as Sandy and I can testify, people can live quite comfortably in it parked right in our driveway for a virtually unlimited amount of time. Full hookups are there for water, sewer, TV, phone and 50 amp electrical power. And, it is so nice to have Homer a few feet away when it's time to load up for a trip.

There is no yard upkeep, as the entire grounds are xeriscaped. There is no grass to mow and no need for watering the lawn. An occasional spritz with weed killer takes care of the occasional weed that dares appear. The shrubbery and plants need no care, either, as they are native species and highly tolerant of hot, dry weather.

It has also been designed for low energy consumption. Besides having a very efficient air conditioning system, we installed a small auxiliary inside/outside system just for the master bedroom/bathroom suite. We run that one only at night, saving the 5-ton central a/c for waking hours when we occupy the rest of the house. We also installed a tankless gas water heater that only fires up when hot water is demanded. In addition, the inside/underside of the entire wall and roof structure were sprayed during construction with foam insulation, which is purely phenomenal in its capability to control heat and a/c loss. The most striking feature of this kind of insulation is that the attic stays cool all the time, even on the hottest summer days. And there is none of the pink fiberglass stuff between the joists on top of the ceiling. The roof decking was also specially coated with radiant barrier material before it was installed. These energy-saving things were admittedly costly, but boy, have they paid off!

Here are a few pictures, sort of in sequence, to help give you a peek at the finished product:

1 comment:

  1. M&S,

    Very nice...we're leaving Alaska within hours and will be on our way! :)

    Thanks for the photos of the finished product. It was difficult to visualize the outcome when we visited. Juanita would still like to see a photo of the central feature of the house...the kitchen of course.

    Y'all have done a great job!!!

    Hugs from Soldotna, Alaska

    Gordon and Juanita

    and the benevolent dictator....


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