La Kiva Aerial

La Kiva Ends Topless Experiment

The La Kiva flirtation with being a topless bar has come to an end.  Jack Sullivan, (Porter Construction our long suffering prime contractor) in a desperate attempt to avoid being thrown under the bus again, (private joke but Jack knows what I mean) decided to put some tin on the roof.  When the tin was half on and the other half just had a waterproof membrane we had a spectacular, if brutal, hail storm.  Inside, La Kiva stayed mostly dry.  True there was a bit of wet inside, at the ends, but considering the beating we had just taken, it wasn’t bad.  The very next day Jack and his crew put the other side of tin on as well as the cap over the ridge.  Wow.  That night we had heavy rain and there was not one spot on the main body of La Kiva that let in rain.  That changes the game considerably.  Diners will no longer have to complain about watery soup.  People at the bar will get full strength drinks, all the time.  Water will be upon request rather than dependant upon where you stand.  This is truly a new era.

Old Roof Over The Outside Bar This was before construction started.
The Decayed and Rotting Roof. Yes it really was that bad.


The New Roof (unfinished)


Old Roof (Finished as in done, kaput, ended, past it’s sell by date etc.)

Friday, the new air conditioning units arrive.  I studied air conditioners carefully before I decided on a course of action.  I then went out for quotes.  One quote was ridiculous, $65,000, and then, without me saying a word I got a new quote for $10,000 less from the same guy.  Wow, thought I.  He can knock $10,000 off without me saying a word?  Hmmm.  I think someone thought they were going to the Bahamas for Christmas.  To keep everyone honest I got a second quote from a highly recommended vendor.  This quote came in at $85,000.  It seemed to me that this one was not only going to the Bahamas for Christmas but he was spending the whole winter there along with his extended family.  I got annoyed and did the calculation for the heat load myself.  It came to 10.5 tons of cooling.

You may be wondering what a ton of cooling is.  I found out.  It is the amount of cooling that would be provided by a ton of ice over a 24 hour period and it is equivalent to 12,000 B.T.U’s per hour(if you really want to know what a B.T.U is come into the bar some time and I will give a physics lecture that explains it all).  So, to cool La Kiva down on the hottest days, I would need 10.5 tons of ice per hour or the equivalent.  Looking at the hottest time of year being any month where the average temperature is above 80 degrees that takes us from April to October or 210 days.  Now 210 days times 10.5 tons times 10 hours per day is 22,050 tons.  Calculating the cost of shipping that much ice down from Wisconsin (where the ice is free, in fact they will load your truck for free if you will just haul it out of there) I concluded that we couldn’t afford to use ice as the cooling medium.

Josie in front of a northern snow pile.  This stuff is free.  They let you just take it.
Josie in front of a Wisconsin snow pile. This pile would last about three weeks. It’s free and they will let you just take it. It’s the shipping that kills you.

Swamp coolers are cheap and they work great.  Except when it gets hot and the monsoon starts (so when you really need them) they quit working.  They do add to your misery by ensuring that it is so humid you can’t evaporate sweat.  Instead, it just sits on you making you wetter and more irritable and encouraging mould to grow on you.  I found the most modern air conditioning units out there and they sure aren’t cheap.  They are called mini split heat pumps.  Buying three of these beasts and having a local guy install them, I discovered that I can get my 10.5 tons of cooling bought, paid for and  installed for just about $20,000 dollars.  OK so that is still a lot of money but that includes reverse cycle heating in the cooler times of the year and it less than half the price of the cheapest quote I got and less than a quarter of the more expensive one and a great deal cheaper than hauling free ice from Wisconsin.

The walk in coolers and freezer were ordered on the 14th of April with a five day shipping.  So they should have been here a long time ago.  Yesterday I got irritated and pulled up my purchase order and was about to call the manufacturer and have a very serious discussion with him when the phone went.  It was Old Dominion Trucking in Billings, Montana.  The dispatcher had figured out that Terlingua was on the Mexican border not the Canadian border.  Yeh well, that was an oopsy for someone.  They are now enroute to Dallas and then on a different truck to Terlingua.  Finally.  Then, on Friday the 15th of April, long after everyone had gone home, a truck arrived.  It was too soon to be a truck from Billings but it did contain a cooler.  There was no heavy piece of equipment that I could use to help unload this 2,000 lb behemoth.  I rushed next door to my friend Lico’s establishment and found a lone person, just getting ready to leave for the weekend.  He came round with a large forklift and unloaded my cold room (this is the important one, it’s the beer cooler).  Thank you Lico Miller and thank your driver as well.

This gets monotonous.  I called the people supplying the exhaust hoods for the kitchen.  When I finally got through to the right person he acted as though I was from Mars or something.  He tried to tell me that I hadn’t ordered anything from them so I gave him the invoice number and explained the money went from my account weeks ago.  “Ooops”.  He actually said that.  So that’s another snafu that is now, hopefully, fixed.

This is beginning to get interesting.  We have most of a waterproof roof with gutters, a cold room with another one on the way, the AC is en route, the hoods for the kitchen will soon be en route, the electrics are coming together, the final structure for the bathroom is being completed, the ceilings are being sheet rocked in the kitchen and bathrooms.  We are almost ready to finish off the septic system.  Looking promising.


9 thoughts on “La Kiva Ends Topless Experiment”

  1. Seems like it’s all coming together John. It’s amazing though, how incompetent some of these service companies are . As far as the dispatcher confusing Terlingua being on the Canadian border; I guess all that legal weed is already having effects, as he didn’t have enough common sense left to Google It- lol

    1. “Where is Terlingua? Anyone.”
      “Sure. I know. It’s out west, right on the border.”
      “Great. Thanks.”

      Knowing which border would have helped.


  2. So glad to hear things are finally starting to move at a faster pace…looking forward to being there for the grand opening.

  3. Hi John,

    Congratulations on your progress so far.

    We really like what you are doing to the place and can’t wait to see it finish.


    1. It was being wired in today and will probably run for the first time next week. Now there is something to get all excited about.

  4. Four of us will be in Big Bend the second full week of October. I’ve been anxiously keeping up with your progress and hope you can open by end of September. (Yes, I’m a little selfish.) This is all pretty exciting!

    Continued best wishes and blessings upon all your efforts.

    1. We are all pushing as hard as we can but we still keep getting tripped up by vendors. The latest is that the hoods for the kitchen have arrived but half of the parts don’t fit. They have been manufactured to the wrong roof slope and I still don’t have the compressors for the cold rooms even ordered. The dealer (second one) is messing me about. Aaaaargh. It’s as though they don’t want the business. I even offered to pay cash and collect them from the factory myself. Thank you for your kind wishes and blessings.

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