I found this rental in a small town called Boulder Creek, in the Santa Cruz mountains.
It was perfect – the one bedroom cabin sat atop the mountains at 1700 feet. The view, in the image above, is from the deck.
This cabin was off-the-grid, well water, solar electricity, and three miles of dirt roads connecting to the main road. It was 30 minutes from town, one way.
The majestic redwoods, oaks, and madrone trees provided shade and homes for an abundance of wildlife. There were deer, raccoons, skunks, bobcats, the occasional mountain lion, jack rabbits, squirrels, and other rodents, lizards, quail, finches, skinks, salamanders, snakes, scorpions, and of course, spiders.
I moved from Santa Cruz with my three dogs: Beastie, Gwenyth, and Bradley Pitt, and my six cats: Snoball, Kit Kat, Caviar, Spritzer, Gris, and Sequin.
The house itself had wooden floors, but the bedroom (located upstairs) was carpeted. There was a half bathroom upstairs at the end of the walkway/closet, and a full bathroom downstairs, off the living room.
There were no doors inside of the house. No doors to either bathroom, and no door to the bedroom. The only two doors were the front door with no dead bolt, and the sliding glass door to the open deck. Open because there was no railing, and there was a large board connecting the deck to the ground. No stairs.
And the yard was huge! It was about 6000 sq ft! Lots of land for the doggies to run around and play in.
There was exposed wiring that the landlord said he would fix. The floor boards didn’t meet up to the walls, and the windows didn’t have frames around them. The steep staircase inside of the house didn’t have a railing.
And looking back, all of these are code violations, but I had no idea about this at the time.
There was also no heat in the bedroom. (This would take about 8 years to be remedied.)
The winters in Boulder Creek are downright close to freezing. The temperature in my bedroom would be about 40 degrees… I had fleece and flannel sheets, sleeping bag, electric blankets, and two down comforters on my bed, just to keep me warm enough.
But despite all of the problems with this house, it was home. It was the longest place I had ever lived in, in my 48 years of living.
This winter was by far the worst – after nearly four years of being in a drought, the rains pummeled the earth, causing major landslides, sink holes, downed power lines and trees.
The image above is Bear Creek Road, the main artery from my home… this part of the road took me to town. It was closed for weeks.
And due to another major landslide on Bear Creek Road, heading the opposite way… I was unable to travel.
This is Black Road… the road normally traveled when Bear Creek Road is closed. 🙁
My cat, Abygayle, had fallen ill and needed to be seen at the veterinary hospital, but I was unable to travel with her for a few weeks. She had gotten closed up in a drawer. I couldn’t find her for almost a week. (She’s not the kind of cat to meow loudly.)
It was night time when I was finally able to drive to Adobe Animal Hospital in Los Gatos. It was very scary to drive. The rain was pouring down on us, the roads were partially covered in multiple landslides, and the fog made it almost impossible to see.
This image is the road I had to drive to connect to Bear Creek Road. Part of the road was washed away, down the cliff. And of course, it was extremely muddy and slippery.
The first time I drove it, I was white knuckling the steering wheel. On the drive back, I prayed the rosary and when I got past the scary part, I literally started crying. I was terrified. (Now, imagine I had to drive that at night to get my cat to the hospital.) 😮
Looking to Move
As the years went by, with no real work being done on the cabin, this rental became a hazard. And the rent was going up and up.
My friend from many years ago came to live with me temporarily as he had just relocated from Florida. He got to see this home of mine in its worst state ever: ripped up floorboards, crumbling plaster, exposed wiring (still), sliding glass door could be opened from the outside, and the sewage smell…
It was hell. The septic tank was overflowing into the backyard. I had already told the landlord about this, and his local “handyman” was to come out and dig a hole for the sewage company. The hole was full of sewage and the smell permeated the air 24/7. It was disgusting.
It took months for the septic tank to be emptied, and even then, the hole that was dug continued to leak sewage into the yard.
Summer 2017 – Solar Eclipse
My landlord and his wife, who lived down the road from me, went on vacation. This same time, my truck’s clutch went out. The “handyman” (Rob) was actually an automotive technician. He was working on my truck when the generator to my rental blew.
Temperatures soared into the 100s, like they did every summer, but this time, there was no electricity due to the downed generator.
And without a vehicle, I was unable to escape the heat for both my pets and me. I was constantly dunking my head, and my pets in water to keep us cool.
Usually when the generator dies, it takes less than 48 hours to fix it.
Rob was working on fixing the generator without luck, and also trying to get my truck repaired. I was told it’d be less than two days to have my truck back, but because of the generator, it took much longer.
My friend was still living with me, and was also working in town (30 minutes away.) I’d drive him to and from work, but without a vehicle, and no bus line, he had to rely on Rob, and Rob’s wife.
The long hot hours strung into days, still no electricity, still no vehicle. The food in my leaky refrigerator/freezer went bad.
I depend on electricity to sleep. I have severe sleep apnea, and need a machine (CPAP) to help me sleep. And what’s worse is that I also have bipolar disorder. Without the necessary sleep, my brain cannot shut off… and then I end up going into a hypomanic state.
So, yeah, that week was when I decided I had had enough. I wrote another letter to the landlord regarding everything that still needed to be fixed, and also deducted off the amount of food in my refrigerator and freezer that had gone bad due to the week long power outage.
My landlord wasn’t happy about my letter, and was extremely unhappy about the deduction for the food. I had just gone to Costco the week before and spent close to $400.00 on frozen and refrigerated food items, not to mention all of the other food that was in the freezer that had defrosted.
He, and his wife came to the cabin, and told me that they weren’t going to accept this as my rent. They also told me my rent would be increasing another $400.00/month, as it was just increased $100.00 a month prior. And if my friend wanted to continue living with me, we would have to pay another $300.00 to have the septic tank pumped more regularly.
Next up: BEAR FIRE