Craig and I recently marked our 30th anniversary in the same Santa Fe Bed & Breakfast where we celebrated our silver anniversary five years earlier. At that time, I was recovering from a fall on the ice that broke my back and wrist, and grieving the loss of my friend and mentor, Sam Hamill. We found solace in the NM landscape, the Santa Fe architecture, galleries and art, and this B&B. Their mattresses are the perfect blend of soft and firm, but Craig had to help me in and out of the tall bed where I slept on rolled towels to minimize the pressure on my spine. I had forgotten that. What I did remember was the kiva in the corner of our room where we built a fire and watched the light and shadows flicker across the rustic beamed ceiling, and how each room was decorated with art the innkeepers had collected on their world travels. I remembered our hosts’ warmth and hospitality, the fresh fruit on our table, the beautiful common rooms, and gourmet breakfasts.
The trip to Santa Fe this spring for our 30th again came at a time of major transition. In this case, I had just turned 61—the age my dad was when he died of bladder cancer—when I learned I had melanoma and squamous cell skin cancers. Days after the last of several small surgeries, Craig was laid off without warning after 26 years with the same employer. As we drove south through that sacred land, we were both a bit shell-shocked. El Farolito B&B was the perfect place to collect our thoughts and plan our next steps.
Years ago, Craig and I dreamed of buying a fixer-upper on the Oregon coast, and opening a small B&B where writers and artists could find inspiration. That dream reemerged when we moved full-time to the mountains. We envisioned a place where writers could come to hike and fish, or watch the birds and wildlife. A place where they could find solitude and nature. It’s my idea of a writer’s paradise.
We bought the little cabin on Spokane and started updating it with the thought that we could stay there while we did the renovations on our home. We hired an architect, tossed all of the balls in the air, and then began running into challenges. It turned out our first architect wasn’t reliable. There were also easements that needed to be addressed, and county codes that downsized our initial vision. But Craig’s “early retirement” has turned out to be a blessing because he has the time now to devote to these projects. As a result, we found a wonderful new architect who solved problems we didn’t even know existed. The plans are beautiful.
When it’s all done, our basement will house a comfortable and welcoming B&B with a view of the Panhandle Creek. It will have a private entrance through a covered deck and another deck over the Panhandle Creek with a hot tub and a gas firepit. The Spokane cabin, looking out over the Roosevelt National Forest, will be a two bedroom, two bath retreat with the tiny log cabin for a private writing studio. Like our favorite B&B in Santa Fe, we hope to provide a place where guests can draw solace, find peace and quiet, and heal, while surrounded by natural beauty.
In anticipation of future writing workshops and retreats, as well as helping other writers’ dreams materialize, we founded Panhandle Creek Publishing. I’m very excited about our beautiful first book, Kunterbunt, which will be released this year. I look forward to sharing more about that in coming days.
The path to our Writers’ Haven hasn’t been easy, but we are beginning to see our dream materialize. It’s a long shot, but we are hopeful that we can break ground and get the foundation, walls, and roof up before winter. I’ll keep you posted.
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