In November of 2003 I purchased a small part of an old family ranch in Guadalupe County, New Mexico. I had been looking for property in the West for about six months and I considered prospects in Lincoln and Union Counties in New Mexico as well as Las Animas County, Colorado, and also in Texas all around the Big Bend area. I've always loved Big Bend Country, along U.S. Highway 90, the Sanderson-Van Horn axis, especially around the town of Alpine, which is rather like heaven, I think. Unfortunately they know what they've got there and they're not giving it away, that is to say, nothing anywhere near my price range. I'm sure you can find something affordable in town, but I was looking for acreage. Also I came to feel the area was not practical for someone in my position, in that it's not on the way to anywhere, except when going from El Paso to Laredo, or the reverse.

The ranch I ended up with was one I found initially on the Internet. I was unimpressed with the pictures presented on the web site: nice trees but it looked kind of flat, with no view of anything. I kept returning to study the place over time because the location near Interstate 40 seemed very good to me. Problem was, they were selling 20 acre lots and I wanted more land than that, so I began to think in terms of multiple, adjacent lots. When I got around to contacting them officially, there were no such adjacent lots available, although I liked the pictures they sent me much better than the ones on the web site, which I kept checking over the next few months. One day a new sales plat was shown, with only 3 lots, but 2 were adjacent and the price was right. I called immediately and they emailed me pictures of the two lots and sent out a full description in the mail. Based on what I saw, I put a sales hold on the 2 parcels.

I planned my "official" inspection visit for mid-November, but I conspired to sneak out to the place in advance, because I don't like surprises. I only had one chance to stop there before the official trip and it was late in the day, but I made it. I remember thinking, "gawd, this place is out in the middle of nowhere," 8 miles down the crappiest dirt road I'd ever seen, and everything looked so plain. When I finally crossed the last cattle guard which marked the start of the ranch, everything changed. I turned the corner onto the road where "my" place was, and stopped in the road when I thought I was there. I was at the top of a rise in the road, and the view was stunning! It was a view of Mesa Leon, the highest point in Guadalupe County. Nothing in the pictures I had seen had hinted at anything so grand. I stepped out and verified a corner marker... this was the right place. I walked around in the late afternoon light and I remember thinking "it's nothing but sand!" but it did have really big trees. I walked as fast as I could and found the back corner of the place, nearly a half mile to the west. It was getting dark fast, so I hustled to get back to the road before I got lost in all those trees. In my quick assessment I could see it wasn't "just sand," but was in fact quite varied in terrain, with low grassy areas, rocky hillsides, and yes, sandy hilltops. I sat in my vehicle as it got dark and slowly fell in love. In love with the silence of the place, the sweet pinion/juniper scented breeze, and the fact that I couldn't see a single artificial light anywhere on the horizon. As the moon came up, the ground around me lit up with the light of it, so strong it cast a shadow. That was it... I wanted it.

When it came time for the official visit, we visited on 2 different days, once in the afternoon and the next time in the morning. Both times it felt Right. We saw much wildlife. There are very large mule deer in abundance, as well as antelope (less abundant), rabbits (cottontail and jack), and bobcats. We saw a bobcat the first day as we were leaving; he was trotting down the middle of the road. On the second visit, I was walking along the back line of the property and stooped to go under a low juniper branch and heard a sound. I looked up to see the bobcat I had nearly stepped on, just a few feet away, giving me an indignant look before turning to run away from this stranger. It was after that I decided to name the place Bobcat Hill. It's Spanish name would loosely be Rancho Leoncito, a bobcat being a "little lion." There is also a pair of mountain lions that roam the area, as yet unseen by me.

Since that time I aquired a third parcel just south of the first 2, to make a 64 acre place that is roughly a square in shape. I have been there many times, picked out a home site, and built a road to the building site, which is also where I camp when I am there. I have some wonderful neighbors there and that's probably the best part of it all, the people around there. A mix of families that have been there for a hundred years or more, and recent arrivals who are eager to share their time and knowledge. I feel blessed to have found a home in the West.