Sacked by the "downturn", an unemployed architect touring the country in a bus...

I used to live in New York City. I designed homes for the tycoons of Wall Street; Park Avenue, Scarsdale, Greenwich. It was great fun. And, after years of saving up for a down payment, I was just about to buy my own little place in Fleetwood, half an hour north of the city, when the economy fell apart. Architects are like canaries in a coal mine when the economy slows, and true to form, there were massive layoffs in firms all over the country. Devastation of the profession. So, I decided to try to find something else to do for a while. I bought a 23' school bus and I'm on the road to see if I can figure out what that might be.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gila Hot Springs

These Gila Hot Springs are four pools of mineral water drawn from a natural source in the adjacent river.  The pools are at about 105 degrees F, which is quite comfortable.  The setting is beautiful and mysterious, with high cliffs, the gurgling stream, the sandy bottomed pools surrounded with gathered stones, and most especially because of the eerie ceremonial constructions erected on the site by self taught archeologist Jim Ransom.  Jim spent an hour and a half with us, describing his radical ideas about the original use of the nearby Gila Cliff Dwellings, which Jim believes were really more of a monastery than a collective dwelling.  He noted the difficult climb for access and the problems of farming or hunting up there, among his reasons for believing the cliffs were more likely occupied by an elite group, probably religious leaders, who were supported by a larger comunity below the cliff.  His story telling was endlessly amusing.  Jim had fallen in love with the area 20 years prior to actually moving here 10 years ago, abandoning his life in Maine where he had been a building inspector  Now he studies the caves, lectures visiting anthropologists and archeologists, and maintains and rebuilds the Hot Springs pools, which are washed out by the adjacent stream every few years.  "I can't believe how much I love my life!" he exclaims between paragraphs of his entertaining monologue about his life and theories.  Click here for a Flickr slide show of Jim and the Gila Hot Springs compound.


  1. Excellent description of JIm Ransom and the Gila area, springs and ruins. And I know because I was there! Remember, Jim would say, when proposing an alternate point of view regarding the 13 century Indians, "Doesn't make it so, but it's pretty convincing." I loved his lilting story telling style and fell into his face as he was talking. He looked younger in person.

  2. Thanks S. Yes he was really great to watch and listen to.

  3. Looks so cool. I love the desert. More than a little envious...

  4. Hi Kate,

    It's pretty idyllic out here, wish you were here, too.