Yard Moose Mountain 2

A little while ago I posted a cryptic little comment on Facebook. “I just bought a mountain.”

Then there were several hundred guesses about mountain of what, or pics of the big dude on HBO, or guesses about my secret volcano lair. No actual mountain. Okay, here’s the deal. We just bought a bunch of acres of mountainside several miles from our current home, and we’re going to be building a compound… err… I mean house. Yes. House. Like normal people own. We will be building a “house” there.

We’ve been looking for the last year. This was a real score, but I’ll talk more about that. It will still be called Yard Moose Mountain, of course. We’re still in the same county, across the valley on the other slope. We’re only seven minutes further from the city than we are now.

We scored our current house right when the economy tanked, and a bunch of developers had lost their butts and were trying to move lots for cheap. At that point I was a successful accountant who needed to be close enough to the city to commute (I was just starting my writing career) but we were still living in the little house in the SLC area we’d picked up out of foreclosure on my entry level accountant’s salary and repaired over seven years. We sold that house for way more than we bought it for, and used the money to build this one. (seriously people, debt to equity ratio, learn it, live it, love it).

When we built our current house it was all open fields around us. There were houses near, but we had a little room to breathe. I’m a country boy at heart. I don’t like people all up in my business. We even had a moose come and live in our yard. That’s why we started calling it Yard Moose Mountain. He just kind of camped out under my son’s bedroom window, then he’d wander out and eat our neighbor’s trees, but he never messed with my trees. Good moose.

It was really nice.

Over the last five years our area slowly filled in, until one day I woke up, and realized that rather than living in the country anymore, we were living in a small neighborhood. Sure, it was a nice commuter neighborhood (I’ve got 12 doctors in my ward, no joke) and the people are about as nice as you could possibly ask for, but it was still a neighborhood.  We landscaped and put in a fence for privacy, but it has lost its charm. Add to that, I’d retired from my finance manager job a few years ago to just be a full time author, so I no longer needed to be close enough to the city to commute.

Being a failed D List nobody hack pulp writer with an irreparably damaged career who will never be a *real* author and who can’t even manage to get measly five hundred people to a book signing, my income had still somehow gone up dramatically, but we’d not really changed our standard of living (well, except for more guns and minis, but those don’t count). Plus, because I have a pathological hatred of debt I had been making lots of extra house payments, to the point that I’d knocked 27 years worth of our 30 year mortgage payments out in 5. Because screw debt.

So last year we decided we wanted to move, and this time we were going to move someplace where we’d never have to move again. The problem is, I really like the county we live in now. To me it is the best place in Utah. Problem is, lots of rich people agree with me. So property is in demand.

For those of you who haven’t been to Utah you’ve got to understand what it is like. This state is huge. We have vast swaths of desert nothingness (I used to live in Delta!). Out there, land is super cheap. But you’re a million miles from everything, and in lots of those areas the weather sucks, freezing winter winds, and then summer is hot, dry, and windy, when it isn’t on fire, and I really hope you like sagebrush. But it’s big, affordable, and it certainly isn’t crowded.

Almost all of our population lives in a narrow strip of valleys between Provo and Ogden. This is called the Wasatch Front. This is where most of the jobs are. The problem there is that it is a dense city. Despite how the media portrays Utah as a bunch of bumpkins and our women are wearing butter churning dresses and floral bonnets, we’re actually one of the most urbanized states in the country, because everybody lives in the same damn place. It has all the negatives of city and suburban living, with other humans everywhere, lousy traffic, no space, shooting off your porch results in a SWAT call out, and land isn’t cheap. It’s all small lots, I’d guess quarter of an acre average, or maybe an occasional acre sized plot for way too much. Anything bigger gets subdivided.

Now, to clarify, when I say way too much money, I mean way too much by Rocky Mountain state standards. By some parts of the US standards, all of Utah is cheap. The equivalent to our current house in my wife’s home area California would be in the four or five million dollar range, only we couldn’t actually price that out because there are no lots the size of our current lot listed in Santa Clara county.

I used to live on the Wasatch Front. The worst part is that during the winter we experience what is called “The Inversion”. Now, you might be familiar with that winter weather effect, where because of the difference between the warm and cold air, the air in the valley will get stuck there and not circulate out, but in Utah, where we decided to stick two million people into what is basically one skinny valley, for a few weeks every winter we get to have the worst air quality in the world. Suck it, Bejing. If you have asthma like I do, it’s like sucking hot death through a straw.

So, expensive, crowded, and a few weeks a year the air is made of poisonous gas. Yay.

But there are a few sweet spots in Utah near the population center that aren’t desert, but rather pretty mountains, that aren’t all crowded, which are above the inversion, or better, on the other side of the Wasatch where the air is clean and all our pollution gets blown down to Salt Lake every morning. Now these peaceful mountain valleys were originally owned by farmers, who then figured out they could get stupid rich by subdividing it out and selling the land to ski resorts and movie stars.

That’s how you get Park City. Where the super rich go to ski, and Quentin Tarantino might yell at you over a parking space at Starbucks. Oh, it’s snooty, but we shopped for land there too. Last year we even seriously contemplated buying a piece of land there but then Katherine Heigl would have been our neighbor… I’m not making that up. Only I don’t want to raise my kids in the kind of neighborhood where people who make romantic comedies live. Next thing I know they’d be hanging out with Seth Rogan or something.

I don’t want to give you a bad impression of this part of Utah. It isn’t all imported snoots. It is also normal people, who are holding onto their farms in anticipation of selling them for absurd amounts of money to snoots. There are several smaller areas on the opposite side of the Wasatch that aren’t as developed, but still have the perks. Yard Moose Mountain is one of them.

So we started shopping for land in our region, problem is, so is everybody else, because it is still on the long side of commutable to SLC or Ogden. We hired the same realtor who found our current place for us, and gave him our wish list. My wife wanted privacy, and a good view, and no HOA (because HOAs can go to hell, and if I want to put up a concrete manatee as my mailbox, I’m going to put up a friggin’ concrete manatee as my mailbox). My list was I want to shoot off the porch and I don’t want to hear the highway.

If you’re in Utah, and you need a realtor, hire Cade Erickson. You’ll thank me. Dude moves houses like crazy. If what you want is out there, he’ll find it. He sold my last house in ten days for more than we thought we could get for it, right after the housing market fell apart. And when stuff goes sideways during the negotiation, he’s on it. Every oddball county regulation or water right or whatever, Cade is on it.

We looked at a bunch of properties. One nice thing about having your house paid off is that it gives you leverage and the ability to move quickly, so we could afford to be picky. Because I hate debt, I also skipped a bunch of things that were super nice, but would have required me to sell my existing house to finance building the new one, and I’m sorry, I’m never going to do the Sell a House/Rent an Apartment While You Build a House thing ever again. When you’ve got a bunch of kids and work from home that is a pain.

Then a few weeks ago, bingo. This one was one of the biggest plots, priced right, good location, same schools, the works. Score. It was perfect. We made an offer that same day. There were some complications because after we’d put down our earnest money and signed, the farmer selling it had misjudged how much land he needed to keep for himself in order to keep enough water shares. Rather than be jerks about it we just gave back enough acreage so he’d have no problems with his rights (even if they’re further away, you still want to be a good neighbor). It was all final this afternoon.

Score!

Questions I got on the internet so far:

How much did it cost?

It cost none of your damn business.

How big is it?

Pretty big. It isn’t the whole mountain. I was being facetious. Utah mountains are very large, and I’m merely a poor D List author (to be fair, in Alabama, this would totally be a mountain). However, my new lot is now 88 times larger than my current good sized lot. So we’ll get by.

Put it this way, first time I walked around it in the snow, I got really winded. And I’m not that out of shape. Next day tried to tackle the tall part with the kids straight up the middle, only to realize that the drifts got to be about four feet deep on the slope. So you’d climb three feet up, slide two feet down.

But the flat part we’re going to put the house on? It is gorgeous.

Will it have a shooting range?

Yes. My goal was to be able to shoot long range off my back porch. I can theoretically shoot a thousand yards. However, the lovely Mrs. Correia wants to put the fortress compound house in the middle.  So the way it is shaped, off the porch I’ll only be able to shoot about 500 yards, unless I make friends with the farmer below us, because if I could put some targets across his pasture I could get out to about 2,000 yards. I’m actually thinking about using one corner and pushing up some berms to make a couple hundred yard enclosed bays too.

Can I come shoot?

Only if I personally invite you. Don’t be that guy.

Does it have an abandoned missile silo?

No. Though since I don’t have an HOA I can totally put one in if I feel like it.

Does it come with moose?

Haven’t seen one there yet, but probably. Every time I’ve been there I’ve seen between twenty or thirty deer. We’ve got some small copses of trees on our plot, but there are forested ravines all around us. The moose around here seem to love those.

Will you name it Mount Hoooon/Wendell Peak/Some other manatee based name?

Nope. If it stays Yard Moose Mountain I don’t have to change the family logo or stationary. Wendell understands. Aquatic mammals are fiscally responsible. And besides, he gets a cool mailbox shipped all the way from Florida.

Will it have a secret base inside of a volcano?

If I told you that, it wouldn’t be much of a secret base now would it?

Will the secret volcano base have lava?

Only if the Yellowstone Caldera explodes. Then we’ll have all the lava we could ever want about two minutes later.

Are you moving now?

We’re not moving anytime soon. We are planning on taking our time. We’re going to have to put in half a mile of driveway before we can do anything else (Yes, it will be called Yard Moose Mountain Road). There is no rush. Mostly I just wanted to find a good piece of land and lock it up. The plan is build the new one, then move in and sell the current one.

Anyways, that is one of my big secret cool fun projects that has been sucking up my time. I’ve got a bunch of crazy things going on right now, a few of which I can’t even hint at. This is going to be a really exciting year.

RIP Twitter
My short story, Detroit Christmas has a full cast audio drama on Audible

106 thoughts on “Yard Moose Mountain 2”

  1. Oh, yeah. Shooting from off the porch. Preferably seated in a rocking chair, with gongs set at various distances, each tuned to a different note. A Winchester 94 for the 100 yard shots, a Remington Rolling Block in .45-70 for the distance work, and sidearms for the close-in shooting. Live the dream, Larry.

    1. As I’ve said to a friend who’s place isn’t quite in the country, “If you can’t shoot skeet off the back porch without the cops showing up, you’re not really in the sticks.”

      1. I am *so* glad my in-law’s neighbor moved… no one else had a problem with our shooting, but *she* was from Massachusetts (as she loved to tell everyone) and they apparently don’t cotton to that sort of thing over there. The officer was very apologetic.

        (I don’t exactly know who she was trying to impress–we’re all in New York. Maybe Massachusetts doesn’t have redneck parts?)

        (Otherwise, I think the total response we’ve gotten is the kid from across town bringing his heavily-accessoried AR and asking if he could play, too. My eardrums ended up resenting it (dunno why, but it was way louder than ours), but of course the answer was yes…)

  2. That’s awesome! I’m kinda jealous. I’d love a bunch of acreage and the mountain valleys of northern Utah are super pretty. Congrats on Yard Moose Mountain.

  3. I’m not a Mormon, but I certainly look to Utah as my Promised Land the way Mormons do. One of these days…. One of these days….

  4. Oh, Larry, Larry. I’m happy for your land and all, but then you have to say this: “I’ve got a bunch of crazy things going on right now, a few of which I can’t even hint at. This is going to be a really exciting year.”

    Why, why must you torment us so?

    1. Larry didn’t want to tell you, but they’re using digital animation to bring back the young Meat Loaf to play Owen Pitt. VH-1 is co- financing.

  5. Only 88 times larger than your current lot? A real author would have gotten a property 500 times larger. /sarc off. Congrats on the purchase. Keep up the great work and we will keep buying enough books to fund the not so secret missile silo.

  6. Next thing I know they’d be hanging out with Seth Rogan or something.

    Ah, that explains wanting to shoot off of the porch. I get it when it comes to HOAs too – they’re the bane of every ham radio operator’s existence. Which reminds me, your compound is going to need secure comms that doesn’t rely on government-infested infrastructure. I can recommend some stuff if you’re interested.

    1. I don’t understand the HOA issue with antennas. They’re like those crazed little dogs that chase motorcycles. Full antenna freak-out.

      1. An antenna “spoils the view” (or whatever the high-falutin’ way of saying it is).

        The FCC already has rules to require municipalities to accommodate amateur radio antennas in their zoning laws, but they can’t require the same for deed restrictions or HOA rules. There’s a bill in Congress now to try to get HOAs to make the same accommodations since ham radio is very useful in disasters, but it’ll be a while before it ever comes to a vote.

    2. When we moved to Plano TX 10 years ago, my one condition for the realtor was “If it has an HOA, don’t even ask.”

      1. I’m in AK as well. It’s enormoose.. and a great deal of it is un-buyable because of owned by state/federal and always will be. Statistically almost as bad as Utah 66.% vs 61.8

        *Edit: Sorry I hit my own hot button. Read below if you care, if not, move along.

        But the raw numbers are what matter even more. Note this is just Federal land.

        I’m in Juneau and its ridiculous how tied up the land is here, over inflated because of it.
        Utah
        Total state acreage: 52,696,960
        Total federal land acreage: 35,033,603

        Alaska
        Total state acreage: 365,481,600
        Total federal land acreage: 225,848,164

        Source among many:
        http://www.deseretnews.com/top/2318/49/Utah-From-03-to-811-What-percentage-of-each-state-is-owned-by-the-federal-government.html

  7. That is freaking awesome. Dr. Wife and I drove through that part of the state last spring, heading from Moab to SLC; I thought it was absolutely gorgeous.

    She and I just bought 40 acres from some out-of-state cousins of hers, up in north Tuscaloosa county. Not much of a place to build on, but it’s a fantastic place to hike around for an out of shape IT nerd. The only downside is the feral pig infestation. Luckily, my AR seems to be a magical talisman against them; I haven’t been treed since I started carrying it.

  8. Wow, congratulations. It must feel really good to have taken a chance and come out very successful. As for a D list author, I think not. I devour your books the minute I get them. So, thank you for the awesome stories and please keep them coming. You’ll keep getting my money.

  9. Be sure to lock up primae noctis for the surrounding area. With all those old polygamists who started Utah, there’s got to be something in one of those dusty old law books. You don’t have to actually make good on it, but it can be nice to hold over the head prospective neighbors when they start complaining about the noise from the shooting.

    1. It took me a second…I first thought you were referring to “right of first refusal” by using an old latin term for…well, you know. Then I figured it out. You owe me a 55 gallon drum of brain bleach. Seriously. Ew. Primae Noctis…yeah, ew just about covers it. I did laugh while I recoiled in disgust though, I must admit. But it was a shocked kinda laugh, so I decided it didn’t count. Now, about that brain bleach… 😛 😈 (that’s supposed to be a grinning devil emoticon. If it didn’t work…well, WordPress delenda est.

  10. You’re making me miss Utah even more. Nice people, beautiful country, and Lee Kay, Kaysville, Hendricksen and the west desert. Paradise. Enjoy your slice.

  11. This is such a fantastic story. Congratulations on the smarts, focus, discipline and drive which made it happen. The fact it seems to have been done with fun, family and friends along the way makes it all the more appealing.

    1. Watch Towers are so 20th century. Tethered solar powered drones and heliostats with a thermal imaging, GSR and ground pressure sensor net on the ground, slaved to the M2/Mk19 track bots.

      1. Personally I prefer the classic aesthetic of watch towers, though they may be passe by today’s more technological standards.

  12. Congrats. Wish we could do the same, but health issues means a home on a lot in SW Florida. Had big acreage, just couldn’t maintain it. Just consider that being a D-list author still pays good enough that you can afford it. And go FU to the hoity-toity A-list authors…who wrote ONE BOOK.

  13. The concrete manatee mailbox ? You KNOW you have to do it. Otherwise you’ll never hear the end of it from that spawn-camping bastard of a CFO of yours. . . (grin)

    Seriously, congrats, and even more seriously, do it!

  14. I have to ask. Why mono red? If you’d bought a plains and an island, you’d be more versatile, plus folks hate playing blue manipulation with a passion.

    1. It’s more Red/Green, by the sound of it. Either the show or the MTG deck.

      …and I’m now reminded that there’s a Red Mountain in the Birmingham area that our host might remember. “Mountain” by Alabama terms at least.

    2. Whaaaat? Mono red? Blue manipulation? Plains and an island? What do any of these words have to do with one another? What the heck is “blue manipulation”? …so confused.

      1. Magic is a trading card game, like Pokemon, Cardfight Vanguard, or Yu Gi Oh. Except without the anime. In Magic the card factions are White, Red, Black, Green and Blue. These draw power from plains, mountains, swamps, forests, and islands respectively.

        Each flavor in Magic does some things well, and others poorly. I guess that manipulation is a strategy viable in blue, which people hate playing against, and which Larry would have access to if he bought islands instead of mountains.

        Of course Larry is more known as a player of L5R, which is apparently less accessible than Magic, hence higher on the nerd totem pole. So Yard Moose Mountain 2 is an upgrade of Yard Moose Mountain that can be used in Crab Clan decks.

  15. Congratulations, Larry! You are living the American dream and I am so pleased for you. I agree with the HOA aversion. I attended out annual meeting last night, and one of the complaints by the board was too many shell casings being left behind by shooters ignoring the ‘no shooting in the development’ fatwa. Of course, being Texas, the property owners yawned collectively and mumbled something about getting right on that.

  16. OT, but MHI minis! Dude! Every monster in the series (okay, we’d pay a lot for Arbmunep or Management, but … we WOULD pay a lot for them), MCB redshirts, foreign Hunters … I am on the phone to employers for a second job to afford them all!

    It’s the shipping that’s the killer, though. Right now they’re being shipped from Dreamland. Can we see if they’re available in The Future, which is closer?

  17. Now you have to buy that Barrett, Larry, or at least a .338 Lapua with the MilSpec Leatherwood scope.

  18. Cool, I’m very happy for you guys. You thinking about sandbag walls covered in shotcrete for walls? Similar to rammed eartf. Gives a lot of thermal .mass…

  19. and now I can’t get the scene from second hand lions where they are entertaining themselves by shooting at traveling salesmen out of my head. that land sounds like pure heaven – congratulations!

    1. Love that movie! I get dust in my eyes every dang time I watch it, it’s uncanny! Sorcery, I tells ya! It’s sorcery!

  20. I could not be happier for you Larry. Absolutely awesome. Congratulations! Lordy, you’ve certainly earned it!

  21. Larry, my condolences. It sucks that your writing career is so in the tank that you couldn’t buy the -whole- mountain.

    By the way, colour me jealousy green that you can even shoot on your own land, much less off the back porch. I might get away with an air rifle here at Chez Phantom in rural Ontario, if nobody noticed. Real rifle? ETF visit. (That’s Emergency Task Force by the way, because even the use of the word “weapon” in an acronym would give half of the province the vapours.)

  22. GOOD call on avoiding Park City et al. I used to do security work in BH, Bel Air, Brentwood, Westwood, etc. Never saw a client’s kids out there that weren’t FUBAR beyond all description.

  23. You had me at, “shoot long range off my back porch.”

    Depending on the terrain, the target trolley system could be a heck of a zip line.

  24. Congratulations — you’re living my dream. Poor health is keeping us from doing that. Our next move will probably be to a 2x2x6 plot. Getting old is the pits. Getting old and disabled isn’t even worth talking about. . .

  25. Definitely sweet news on the house. I bought an hundred year old place in town a few years back, and have been repairing/upgrading it since. While I have no idea of what debt/equity is for a person, I’ve only got the one debt (mortgage), and have been slowly whittling away at that principle whenever I can. Much agree, debt sucks. Once this debt is in the can, I’ll think about that little thousand acre plot in the county back up by the national park…

  26. I can see how shooting off your porch could be fun once, maybe twice.
    But after that, the repair and reconstruction work would get a bit tiresome.

    Congrats on the D list authors’ dream lot purchase.

    Edited to add:

    What are your plans for zombie mitigation constructions and/or facilities?

  27. Larry, if the Yellowstone Caldera explodes, that sucker better be vacuum rated, so you can have a moon base with minimum fuss. 😎

  28. Congratulations. My advice is skip the manatee and go for the missile silo, but whichever way you go you sound like you have found a great spot.

  29. Congratulations. I can only dream of being able to convince the wife to move far enough out that I could have my own shooting range.
    OTOH, I remember the joys of having a house built. Love the end result, hated the process. That part you can have.

  30. Awesome news, Larry! 🙂 It occurs to me that one of the differences between conservatives and liberals is that conservatives like to see other people do well, and liberals… do not (because they think when someone wins, they must have cheated).

  31. We bought our country place about 8 years ago and it is nice to be able to go out on the back porch and shoot from the comfort of your own home, not to mention an easy place to get some javelina, venison or dove for a good fresh meal. I like our neighborhood in the big city too, but it really is nice to have a place separate from the world. And just to boast, we can shoot out to a thousand yards on our own land, but that is going to be it even with a neighbor’s cooperation because of the hills. In my part of Texas we don’t worry about water rights, we have two spring fed creeks on our land that feed one of the local rivers, but we are fierce about making sure we keep the ag exemption for taxes. That’s why I’m officially a goat herd, with my oldest billie having survived many a year despite being named Cabrito.

  32. So happy for you! Living the dream! (And yes, we want to do the same; but the measurement we’re looking at are sized in hectares. Doubt we’ll get feral camel since those are more central-Australia, but if there are want to go hunting?)

  33. Ahh, yes. The famous Utah inversions that inspired Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn. Congratulations on escaping them!

  34. I live in Orangeville, UT, about 30 miles south of Price. I’ve enjoyed the Monster Hunter books and the Son of the Black Sword. Looking forward to more.

  35. Reminds me–the Statler brothers had a song that went something like: “How much money do you make? How many children do you have? Why’d you let [forgot his name] grow that beard?”
    “None of your business. Fourteen, and it’s probably time to stop. (Fourteen and it’s probably time to stop.) To make up for what he’s losing on top.”

    Enjoy your new place when you get it all fixed up.

      1. Hmm. Curious.
        My expectations were that you would take over Zion Canyon with an army of insane dwarves and burrow madly into the cliffs to build the Correia Lair of World Domination, with River View.

  36. Do you need an architect? I’m not licensed in your state, but I could find find someone through AIA connections.

        1. Will he blow up the house if his creative integrety is thwarted? Sometimes, Ayn Rand could get a bit nutter …

  37. We were visiting my daughter in Taylorsville during the last inversion. I know whereof you speak. Took a week back in Boise before my lungs cleared.

  38. There are many things that I love about my home state of California (most of it about the outdoors(, but one thing I dislike is that quarter-acre lots are called LARGE around here.

  39. Mr. Corriea
    Since you are building a new home, I wanted to throw out a stone you could use in your building. There is a stone Company named Montana Rockworks and they have a stone people use for decorating their homes, fire places, and in your case shooting range. The stone that they make, and I am not making this up, is Moose Mountain! I figured if you are going to build a home and call it Yard Moose Mountain, why not decorate it in Moose Mountain. Just figured I would mention that. Oh and hurry up with the Son of the Black Sword series! I never buy series until they are complete but I made an exception with this book and now I am waiting for the next one. I know you got another Owen MHI book coming out soon, so I won’t gripe about that, but I need more Ashok! Please keep being “not a real author” so I can continue to be a “wrong fan!”

  40. “Put it this way, first time I walked around it in the snow, I got really winded. And I’m not that out of shape. ” If you don’t patrol it, you don’t own it.

    Congrats.

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