Tuesday, April 04, 2006

End of a dream

A black day in the Sulphur Hills

Well things have been fairly quiet here, still plugging away on the various projects like accumulating the sand and gravel for the concrete, planting watering and so on. A couple of days ago we noticed someone over on the adjoining land, which is not too unusual since we have seen the realtors over there plying their trade trying to sell a piece of land without much luck. There are reasons for this too, the very same reasons which attracted us to this spot – the roads are not maintained at all (they were officially abandoned by the county years ago) there is no electric power or any kind of utility, even the UPS will not come all the way here as it is quite remote. (They call and we meet them out at the paved road, which is 4.4 miles away) The electric company would run in power lines, at the price of $7.50 a foot, which adds up to quite a lot for 4.4 miles of line. No power, no phone (except for cell or satellite) no services of any kind; the land even looks “barren” to some folks as I have heard, even though this is not accurate as it is covered with grasses, mesquite, Mormon tea and even a scattering of Prickly pear cactus – all of which is brown as it would be at the end of winter but now slowly starting to come up green. In fact in the more than three years since we bought this land, not a single person has moved into the Sulphur Hills whatsoever, it has remained very much remote and empty of humans.

The one thing that would ruin this place for us is to have people move in close by. We were of the opinion that this would be extremely unlikely due to the factors mentioned above – furthermore it is a great distance to any large city and chance of employment, more than 75 miles. The realtor who sold us this place was of the same opinion, even said it is difficult to sell this type of land as no one wants to live in the remote places with no services. We had discussed the probability of people moving in, and thought at worst it would be a number of years in the future, and would be preceded by seeing homes built in from the pavement like a cancer, so you could track the progress of being transformed into suburbia well ahead of any of them trying to move in close to us and allow us time to start packing and looking for a place even more remote and inhospitable to people. We both like people, but in small doses and not on a daily basis, and the farther away the better. There are a number of reasons for this attitude, one of them being that I love to shoot and don’t care to be hitting people or their houses.

Then we noticed, after the latest visitor to that parcel had left, that he had put up orange tape, and it appeared to border our land! So we drove over (too lazy to walk the quarter mile) and sure enough, he had taped the location of a survey pin, right on the corner of the junction between our 40 acre piece (the eastern part) and the 60 acre piece (the western part). Since we knew that they were advertising a twelve acre parcel, and we could see the other end of what he had marked a full quarter mile away, it appeared that he had gone off the boundaries of the 12 acres. Besides, when the realtors had been over there, they were always up on the ridge and quite far away, not right up against our land.

We have neighbors, in fact from up on the hill you can see the one which is about two miles away as the crow flies – but you cannot see it from where our house goes and have to make an effort to go see that place. The other neighbors are farther away, and mountains stand in the way of seeing them at all. Our “neighbor” to the south is a large cattle ranch, and on the other side is also a cattle ranch. About once a week the rancher to the south can be seen riding by on his horse, checking fence, but he does not cross onto our land and has never bothered us nor remained around for more than the few minutes it takes to ride by. In fact there have been very few vehicles to even appear in this part of the hills – only one strange incident which I believe led to the current situation.

That cold morning (it was quite early, before sunrise) a pickup truck drove up to our old campsite, and sat there. We both looked at him and could see a man wearing a cowboy hat inside. Finally he drove up past our home and Beth stepped out to ask if he were lost and offer directions if he were – but he immediately took off. We discussed it and figured he might have been just a thief looking for what he could steal, or perhaps a rancher looking for lost cattle. (this area is all open range, cattle can and do wander off and seemingly disappear) He may have been a hunter looking for some javelinas; the last thing we thought he might be would have been a realtor…

Well back to our discovery of orange tape on our corner marker. Beth emailed the realtor and asked if they had made a mistake. The realtor wrote back and said no, that parcel does border ours but only for a short distance. Apparently it is twelve acres laid out in a long, narrow shape. Furthermore, she said, that parcel is sold, for more than $24,000, and is in escrow. She asked if we might be interested in it, if the deal were to fall through. Beth wrote back and said “yes” we might be interested, but in truth we would not – certainly NOT for that kind of price but this way we will find out if the sale goes through. After several more emails Beth was able to learn that the new potential neighbors have many friends in the area, and are “well thought of” and are indeed planning on putting in either a retirement or vacation home.

The one thing that ruins our dream place has come to pass, and only four months after getting here. True, there are a couple of places on our land where we would not be able to see the new neighbor, but they are not good places to build and do not have the same kinds of vista-views as where we already excavated for our home. The way it stands, in the front of our house where we were planning on putting in larger windows so as to be able to enjoy the beautiful mountain vistas, now will have a large part of the view looking directly at the new neighbor. Needless to say, we are both quite depressed with the state of affairs, and have not done much more work on the place. It seems pointless to continue to build a home which will have a lovely view of the asshole who moved in to the worst parcel of land in the entire Sulphur Hills (it is definitely a flash flood area with roads so washed out that even a 4 WD cannot pass) but they are “well thought of” so I guess we are supposed to be happy about that. Beth asked the realtor to learn the intentions of the new neighbors, if they are going to run electric lines in etc and also told her that we may be looking for a realtor. It is a good thing that I did not contact the realtor, for my choice of words would not have been very nice to a person who would destroy another’s dream so that they could turn a profit.

So we have been discussing ideas how to handle this problem – for one should we even bother to build the house, as it is we can actually load the steel building parts into the moving truck and haul it to a new location for instance; we could plant hundreds of fast growing evergreen trees (like the Thuja or Austree) along the northern boundary and block out much of the view of the new assholes. This will not entirely block it out as the road way runs through there and you cannot plant trees on the road, and it does also then block out almost completely our view of the gorgeous Dos Cabezas mountains. This degrades the property, in my opinion.

I am sure that most of our friends and relatives would not understand how there could be a problem in any way, simply from the fact of someone moving in next door – and assume that there must be underlying problems like living in the Moon-like barrenlands so far from our ever-loving land of wet, Pennsylvania. For that matter some thought we had it “good” at that place we left, with three acres and all, with frontage on two roads etc, along with the incredible difficulties of trying to grow anything there, the frigid and wet winters, terrifically high taxes and constant flow of people “dropping in” on an every single day basis. The house never looked really clean and straightened up, for if we began to do the ordinary household chores, that would work like a magic talisman to cause someone to drop in. Further than this, we had neighbors on all four sides, so it was actually unsafe to fire any kind of firearm in any direction except for one path, which was about 10 or 12 degrees out of 360, and this involved firing across a road!

So what are we to do? So far in our discussions, it looks like we are stuck here for the moment, praying that the sale of the neighboring property falls through and it might be worth our while to continue to build the house, put up fence etc but not to go any farther in planting anything like a cash crop unless it is of the annual variety as this does not add to the sale value of the property. A house and fence round the perimeter does increase the value, but if you put in ten acres of nut orchard and two of vineyard that does not add to the sale price. I am very glad we bought a moving truck instead of renting now, and the fact that a lot of our stuff is still unpacked may well prove to be a boon for moving faster and easier. It will take time, perhaps a lot of time to find another remote place which appeals to us both, and we may end up moving to Alaska to escape the frigging moron people who seemingly will move in next to you simply because you are THERE. Personally, I would live on a slab of solid rock, teeming with rattlers, killer bees and scorpions, so long as it was relatively warm, dry and especially remote from neighbors.

Speaking of this, I think the pickup truck which behaved so strangely was up here looking us over, because it was only a couple of days later that a “For sale” sign went up on that 12 acre parcel, followed by the occasional visits of realtors in brand-new king-cab pickup trucks with prospective buyers. We even saw them looking over at us here, pointing in our direction and perhaps marveling at the wind generator. So in a way, simply by being here we are partially at fault since these morons could look at US and say to the buyers, “Look, they are living here, which is proof it can be done”.

Does this mean that we have to buy many square miles of land to be free of crowding idiots? No, but we have to be very selective – there are plenty of remote places left out there which are in varying degrees of in-hospitability. I will not post the results of our new search for a remote home with plenty of privacy here, for surely someone would decide to buy the adjoining land. At any rate it is now extremely unlikely that we will remain here as a permanent home, barring some miracle that causes the sale of the neighboring 12 acres to fall through. I have no desire to live in a place where I can gaze upon some ass, 24-7-365 regardless of all the other features which attracted us here in the first place and Beth has very much the same view of the situation.

That is it for this edition, apologies for the dark nature of the post but it would be dishonest to pretend that all is well. Will post an update soon.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a bummer. But if they build it that doesn't mean people will neccesarily come.
Too bad I didn't buy the property. As a neighbor I doubt if you would ever see me.

12:33 AM  

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