Here, the question, “You live here!?” is often followed up with, “I’m so jealous!”
You see, we happily called a small ranch in the southern Rockies our home, the place we welcomed guests to a beautiful hideaway. It is located in the mile high Chihuahuan Desert of southeast Arizona, in an ancient caldera. Bradford Angier, who with wife Vera wrote the inspiring, “We Like It Wild!” referred to locations like ours as the ‘back of beyond.’
When the pavement ends at Arizona Route 181, just as it bends north to the breathtaking Chiricahua National Monument, the six-mile drive on a primitive road to the ranch can build character–giving one pause to consider their travel decision. Once at the ranch a few miles later, guests breathe easier as they relax–easing into one of the most beautiful and tranquil settings surrounded by the Coronado National Forest.
It is a dramatic setting, a region of ‘Sky Islands’–mountains separated by high chaparral where an incredible multitude of species flourishes, both flora and fauna, segregated over eons by individual ranges.
The peacefulness of the area belies its violent history. This is the sacred land of the Chiricahua Apaches, final Native American holdout against the U.S. Military under the leadership of Cochise and Geronimo. There is an incredible sense of place here, wide open vistas where you can see forever down laser straight roads.
To the photographer, incredible light and colors of azure and cerulean blue make for very dramatic images both at dawn and at dusk when the shadows grow long and gentle. All manner of creatures become unique subjects.
As you might imagine, to live here requires some forbearance! The mailbox is 28 miles away through a Border Patrol check-point, “yes, I’m a citizen of this country.” The store is an hour’s drive away, and shopping excursions can be an all day affair. Rattlesnakes (especially the hair-trigger Mojave’s), tarantulas, cinnamon colored black bears and mountain lions require heightened awareness of one’s surroundings. Of course, the more mundane nuisance known as “goat heads” requires a bit of patience too. These severely sharp and pointy burrs attach themselves to everything, whether we like it or not!
For people leading complicated and stressful lives however, this setting provides a true antidote. Here one can find the balance needed to regain control of a complicated lifestyle. Savor unbelievable quietness, amazing fresh air and the long perspective of looking up to very old mountains.
Come. Ride a horse. Sit by the campfire. Swim. Walk along a very special nature trail–one that is full of nature. Remember what being still is like.
Come to the mountains. It will make all the difference.