Exit stage left and it did.

Milky Way over La Kiva courtesy of Molly Dumas, photographer. Photobomb Courtesy of the International Space Station

I love cryptic titles.  The huge performance stage was deemed unsafe and there did not appear to be any enthusiasm for keeping it.  It was invited to make an exit and, with the help of a large bulldozer, it did.  So now the title makes a little more sense.

We need the space.
We need the space.
Fred The Stage Manager
My new home site.
My new home site.

That was quicker than attacking with a hammer and crow bar.

A few incidents with the swamp cooler have convinced us that it is time to retire that noble piece of equipment in preparation for a major upgrade to the roof.  We don’t yet know how we are going to tackle that problem, but we are looking at it.  You can be sure that it will not involve a large can of black, sticky stuff nor duct tape.  This will be neither quick nor easy but it is necessary.  Work is scheduled to start this Monday.

A disagreement has arisen.  The old concrete floor has degraded.  If this was a World War II prison camp, the escape committee would have found out that you could cut your way through parts of the floor with a teaspoon.

Escaping Using a Spoon
Escaping Using a Spoon


Josie wants to redo the concrete floor, possibly by skimming the whole floor with new concrete and a high quality sealer.  I want to put in slate tiles, or at least stone tiles.  Pitch in with an opinion or an idea.  Keeping it the way it is does not satisfy the cleanability requirement.  Josie thinks that concrete is more in keeping with La Kiva while I think that stone tiles will still fit in but will look better and last longer.

I have heard stories about Gil having a hot tub but dismissed them as exaggeration.  Ooops.  I am glad I never said that out loud.

The Legendary La Kiva Hot Tub
The Legendary La Kiva Hot Tub

Going through the archives (aka the dump) I found this gem.  So it looks like all those tall tales were true.  This is the original Jacuzzi hot tub and it is still in pretty good condition though I doubt if we would be allowed to put it back into use the way it was originally.

Earlier in the week, Monday I think, I went in early.  Josie arrived a half hour later and gave me one of those looks (all you married guys know the look I mean).   She then went on.

“Aren’t you going to do something.”  I was on my guard straight away and I had a witty answer that I shot back at her.

“What?”  I said without a moments hesitation.

“The leak.” She said as though that explained anything.  Once again I responded with my rapier wit.


Big sigh, major eye roll.  “The kitchen is flooded.  Didn’t you hear it?” She said.

What ensued was a half hour of frenetic action as item after item was removed from the flood zone and moved to the patio.  I eventually dug down deep enough to find the leak and execute a temporary solution but not before amassing an impressive pile of stuff on the patio including two freezers, the kitchen sink, a wire shelf and a stainless steel worktop as well as pots, pans and miscellaneous detritus.  So now half the kitchen is cleared but that is not a particular problem as we were going to strip it anyway.  With the plumbing exposed it is pretty clear that we will need to do some upgrading there and the floor drain is also blocked.

Stay tuned for exciting new developments.  This coming week is the week of the inspections.  Health, septic, electrical and roof as well as completing the planning for the new cold room, freezers and refrigerator.  Hearing this is music to my ears though what I am most likely to hear is the tinkle of cash registers.

The First Week

It’s been our first full week since we bought La Kiva and we have been busy.  I found the original plaque that had been affixed to the long table shown in the above image.  I remembered it and was thrilled to find it.  It says the table was assembled in Terlingua of Redwood that is 3,500 years old and was from the Russian River in California and weighs in at 1,000 lbs.

Of course the first thing you have to do is set up all the utilities, for without them, nothing works.  Telephone, internet, water and electricity are a good start.  UtilitiesThe mail service may well say  “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  In truth they don’t say that, it’s actually a translation of Herodotus from around 500 BC but whatever, it’s still a valid sentiment.  The mail carrier can’t even aspire to that unless he has somewhere to deliver to, so a trip to the post office to get a post office box  was in order.  Yay.  Good news.  The kind lady at the Terlingua post office had kept the old PO Box for us so we are still PO Box 146.  The same with the people at Big Bend Telephone Company, they were super nice and they gave us the old number back so we are still 432-371-2250.  While the telephone people were here they also hooked up WiFi so now we have a fast (12 meg down 1 up) WiFi system.  One of our visitors suggested that we make it so that when anyone logs on, the message reads “Buy a beer and we will give you the password.”  Though he used more colorful language than I did.  I smiled but decided we are not going to do that.  The WiFi is open to all, we just ask that you be responsible users and don’t use it for any illegal or improper activity and you all know what I am talking about.

GTO Septic System Picture
A typical septic arrangement.

The existing septic system seems to work fine but the regulations have changed since it was built.  The old system was grandfathered in and as long as it stayed in the family, no changes were necessary.  There was a sale and we purchased La Kiva and not being family that was a triggering event.  So now we are required to upgrade the septic system.   Irritating and expensive as that may be it will be nice to be assured we have a sound system that will handle our needs going forward.

Other things were triggered by the sale and one of them is the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act).  We must make La Kiva handicapped accessible.  I feel certain that it has always been handicap accessible in the past and that a few strong, friendly arms would have got anyone inside.  That won’t work with the inspectors though as neither customer access nor the restrooms were compliant, so, we will have to build new restrooms and do some work on the ramp leading to the patio entrances.  It’s not all bad, it will improve access for the delivery drivers at the same time and we will retain the old restrooms just as they have always been.  Access to the Cave Room may still be a bit tricky and I hope they don’t ask me to put in an elevator from the dungeon to make it ADA compliant.

All in all a very good week and we feel as though we have been able to make good progress.  Thanks for being such great people and for all the help and support.  After many years of travelling we feel we are finally home and that is a good feeling.

La Kiva Has New Owners

We first came to the Big Bend during our Christmas Breaks in the early 80’s.  This was shortly after Gil opened La Kiva and at a time when the Penisaurus had one more bone than it does now.


A few of you will remember and will be grinning at that comment.  This was at the time that Gil was stamping all the paper money that passed through his till with “La Kiva”.  Cute trick and it got our attention.  We fell in love with that wacky, underground  bar that did the good barbecue and so we ate there frequently when we were in the area.  We were living in Oklahoma at the time, so it wasn’t too far away.

Hiking the high Chisos
Hiking the high Chisos

It took us two days to make the journey because we had young children (you should see them now).  We camped, backpacked  and hiked all over the National Park.  It was heaven to us.  Warmer than Oklahoma City in winter, more interesting wildlife and much better scenery.  Add to that the wacky bar, good food and interesting company and you can see why we have been going back, at every opportunity, for over thirty years and now our children are taking their children.   In the mean time, my job dictated that we all moved

La Kiva oldto Minneapolis and that is a lot further away, but we still managed to hit Big Bend fairly often.  The last time was last year when we worked for the winter as volunteers at the Big Bend Ranch State Park.

La Kiva 010I was in Corpus Christi when I heard the news about Glen.  That incident haunted me for weeks.  I used to lay awake at night pondering what may have happened.   As soon as the initial shock had faded, my mind turned to the future of La Kiva.  I started to think that I may buy the place and reopen it.  I immediately dismissed the idea from my mind as impractical foolishness, but it kept sneaking back uninvited, usually late at night.  Weeks turned into months and still no sign of La Kiva reopening.

I came across comments on various websites that speculated that La Kiva may never re-open.  In alarm, I checked with a good friend who lives in Terlingua.  He told me that the bar was for sale, so I started investigating more seriously.  Making a long story short, I made a bid for it and failed.  A few weeks later I was contacted by the realtor saying that the bar was back on the market.  I went ahead and bought it and now I can say with some authority that La Kiva will open again.

Having got this far in the narrative you are wondering who this dude is that  bought the beloved La Kiva.  My name is John Holroyd and my wife is Josie.

All hat and no cattle.
All hat and no cattle.

I am an engineer and my wife is an artist.  We presently live on the western edge of Wisconsin close to the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.  We are both English and we moved to America in 1980 with our two children.  We hail from the county of Yorkshire, named after the city of York and the origin of my nickname, Yorky.  We are retired, though it looks like that just ended.