Friday, September 1, 2017

timberon



This is a photo taken out of the galley window, of a local family that I see from time to time.
Another day, I was in the Nash working on my Mac when I heard turkeys. I looked out the back window, and there was a family. But a parent was watching me when I turned my head to look. Those of you who are familiar with wild turkeys, know that at that point, there was no chance of a photo. These birds are true survivors

Timberon is an unincorporated community 32 miles south of Cloudcroft, NM, and 15 miles south of Sunspot, the National Solar Observatory. It sits at an elevation of 7,100’ in the Sacramento Mountains. The road from Cloudcroft to Timberon is paved and full of hills and curves, so it takes 45-50 minutes to drive from Cloudcroft to Timberon.

Roughly 400 people reside in the 20 square miles of Timberon. Considering there are over 7,600 lots in the community, ranging from ½ acre to over 18 acres, and some 90-100 ranch acres, one can imagine how sparsely populated the area is. There might be 7,000 lots that have remained in their natural wooded state.


Not all homeowners live here the year round; most come up for the summer, holidays, or occasional weekends. There is very little traffic in the community and drivers tend to keep their speed down. It’s generally pretty quiet.

The community has a general store, post office, propane service, pizza/sandwich shop, restaurant, hair salon, gun shop, 9-hole golf course, airstrip, pool, and a Baptist church.
There is a bulletin board outside Roberts Realty with notices of local events (like a visiting vet) and business cards of those offering services.

The community has a volunteer fire department and ambulance service, but no gas station, grocery store, or cell phone reception, and all the pay phones have been taken out. There are a couple of bars and grills, with one being above the Pro Shop. Not my kind of places so I don’t know anything about them.

There is also no law enforcement. There are a lot of gun owners, however. Some are retired law enforcement officers and many have served in the military; all have been trained in the use of firearms. So I feel pretty safe here, well, other than for the mountain lions. Also, if this is public knowledge, I can’t see troublemakers coming here. They might not like what they find. Occasionally one will see a deputy Sheriff car cruising through the community. We are in their district and part of their route. If a resident has a problem, and a land line, an officer could be here in an hour or less.

From time to time I hear a single gunshot. I tend to think a homeowner is shooting at an animal to add to his meat freezer. I could very well be wrong. Occasionally it is followed by a second shot. If one were sighting in a firearm, the shooter would probably shoot 10-20 rounds. If target shooting, maybe 40-50 rounds. But a single shot?


The climate isn’t too bad. June was the hottest month this summer with temps into the 90s. July temps were in the 80s and a couple only into the 70s. The rains started in July with clouds building up mid-day for afternoon or nighttime rain. I hate being up in the mountains during lightning storms where there is only one good road for towing the Nash out. There is a road going out through south gate but it is not maintained and really rough and rocky. One can then head east to PiƱon or west across Ft. Bliss Military Reservation-McGregor Range to hwy. 54. But you would not be the first person to break an axle driving it.
Timberon generally gets only a few inches of snow but occasionally a storm can drop a foot. I was talking with a lady and when she and her husband moved here 9 years ago, the first storm dropped enough snow to reach their pickup’s outside mirrors. Sacramento and the two or three other short sections of pavement get plowed, but that’s pretty much it.
Some roads get real slick when wet, from the clay. Sacramento is the main paved road through the community, with two others partially paved, and most of the rest are graded gravel. And then there are other roads that you look at and think, Really? Quite a few are rocky and steep.

There was a fire in 2009 in which a couple houses were destroyed. It is thought to have been started by campers just outside of Timberon. The 2016 fire in which I believe, ten homes were lost, was started by a resident burning debris when a breeze came up. I thinned out quite a few trees and brush on a friend’s lot earlier this summer but I took it all to the area designated for dumping debris, the slash dump. No way did I want the responsibility to oversee a fire in the summer woods. Made about 15 runs with the pickup stuffed and stacked high.
There was another fire that was allowed to burn. That’s a good thing. This area needs controlled burnings to restore the forest to health. Kind of hard to do though, on thousands of small, privately owned pieces of land.
Be aware that Timberon is a forested landscape with only one good road out during a wildfire. Maybe not the best place for a house.

This is from Wikipedia’s Timberon page.
“In 1976 a missile from White Sands Missile Range went awry and landed in the middle of the community.”
I asked about this and was told the missile came down near where the storage units are located, Sacramento and Pawhuska. No one was hurt.
Oh yeah, Timberon is not a bad place to live. One just has to be ready to dodge the occasional incoming missile. And what’s it like where you live?


Janet, a friend from Salt Lake, owns a lot here and since she wasn’t going to be using it this summer, offered to let me set up camp. She knew I really did not want to head north. I took her up on it. She gave me the unit-block-lot numbers. When I got to Timberon, I stopped at Roberts Realty. I purchased a copy of the Master Plan and Michelle showed me where Janet’s lot was located. The map is the same one that is on the web as a pdf file.
Timberon is split into subdivisions (units), blocks, and lots. If one has the unit-block-lot numbers, one can find any lot. All the roads are on the map but lots are not marked along the roads.

The first two times I visited Janet’s lot, I left the Nash down in the Oliver Lee NM state park, south of Alamogordo, and drove the Dodge up to Timberon. Thankfully I did so. I spent two days cutting down small trees to clear access to the property and a place to set up the Nash. I later asked Janet if I could thin out the trees on the lot, cut down the diseased ones, and clear out the dead brush. She gave me the okay and that was pretty much my exercise, other than the hiking and walks for the next month.


Timberon started in 1969. Having spent weeks hiking and walking around and a little driving, it sure seems many people back then bought lots site-unseen. Many lots are too steep for building without a good deal of bulldozing and other work. One will see some homes however, where the uphill side of the house is on a ground foundation and the middle and downhill side of the house is supported on posts. Some were well done, others not. This photo might be of a house that was not supported properly. And many lots are more rock than dirt.

Most lots are heavily wooded with thick underbrush and need to be cleared to some extent for building. One will come across quite a few abandoned trailers, 5th wheels, truck campers, a Winnebago, old mobile homes, and a couple houses as you hike through the community. Those lots have a flat spot but one has the expense of having the rig moved out.
There are plenty of relatively flat lots, also. Timberon offers quite a range of terrain. If one wants seclusion there are roads that you need a 4-wheel drive to access the lots. There is a road of isolated lots that I like, accessed by okay roads, but I would not be willing to drive another slow couple miles or so to get to them. Remember, I do not like driving. And after a town run, I’m maxed on driving. Different strokes. This particular road is nice because there is a view in front of all the lots and no one will be building across the road from your lot since it is national forest.

Most of the time, one feels they are driving through a forest, which you are. Then there are sections of Timberon that have more of a community feel. Many level and open lots with multiple houses in view. You’ll see lawns and the types of houses one finds in the suburbs.

Some people who originally bought lots up here have died and decedents aren’t interested in doing something with it or they want to keep it in the family, and others just never got around to doing anything with their lot (and are tired of paying the yearly taxes), so there are always many, many lots for sale, as well as houses. I would imagine that these lots got bought up in the ‘70s, and they probably did not sell for much. So looking through a list of offerings, the current prices seem to be high. I mean, it’s Timberon. There are many reasons for not having property in a community such as Timberon. But then again, for others, this might be the place. It’s definitely different.

Some people have bought lots with the intention of retiring up here. I question that idea. There are a lot of retired residents here, however. The hospital is down in Alamogordo, an hour and a quarter drive, and if one is in a hurry, not all that many places to pass. I would imagine most seniors would want to be closer to a city and facilities, especially if they need frequent visits to their doctor.

This was an issue for me this summer, or rather my oncologist, down in Alamogordo. The present condition in my belly falls in a gray area. No strong argument for having chemo treatments and no strong argument for letting things slide along as they are. Since it is a gray area in regards to treatment and I’m so far away, without communication, my doctor thought about it further and decided to not start me on chemo treatments. I can understand her reasoning, but I would have preferred to be on the 3-week cycle chemo treatments. Bummer. If my condition worsens and gets out of the gray zone, things will change. So as it stands now, I will have periodic blood work and occasional CT scans. Not what I wanted.

Lots and houses are a bear to sell up here. Many are on the market for years, and some, decades. That gives potential buyers an edge. But think of what I just wrote. If you purchase a lot or house, and for whatever reason you want/need to sell in a couple years, say due to illness, you’re pretty much stuck. If one does not need the money tied up in the property, there’s not much of a problem, well, other than the yearly taxes. But if that’s not the case…

After spending a month on Janet’s lot, meeting people and spending days hiking different loops, I thought that if I could find a lot that I liked and purchase it for what I considered a good price, I might go through with it. At the same time, fully realizing I would pretty much be stuck with it. But the annual taxes are only around $150.


I came across a lot near the end of a through road. What’s nice about it is the road is closed the last 100 yards from where it T’s into the next road. The road has not been maintained and is rocky and steep; no longer a through road. There is not a house on either side nor across the road or in sight from this lot and the nearest houses do not have year round residents.
As you can guess, I wanted a somewhat secluded lot. And since I would be driving into it quite a bit, preferably one without a gnarly access road.

I can’t see me ever building or buying a house in Timberon. I don’t have as much faith in my body, its strength, stamina, and health, as I’ve always had. And I am not referring to aging. Best be closer to a hospital. But, if the price was right for a lot… Also, the covenants’ minimum square footage of 800’ in this section is way too much for me, 400’ would be nice. As to living in an RV, the limit is 180 days a year. So for a summer or winter place to reside, purchasing a lot would work.
This lot has access to water and electricity. Positive points for reselling the lot. As if that would happen in my lifetime.


This lot measures 204 feet along the road and goes back 300’, tapering in to 80 feet up top. It borders along a power-line right-of-way or whatever it’s called, at the top. This photo cuts off 90’ from the right side of the property.


This is the most level spot and it’s towards the top of the slope. It can be worked on so a trailer would sit level.
The lot has a lot of unsightly trees, as do many, many lots. It also has way too much scrub oak taking the nutrients and water from the few healthy trees. A lot of work is needed for leveling, clearing, thinning, and working on a narrow, rocky access road up to the flattish spot, including erosion control. Sure would be a good opportunity for exercise. Then there are the dozens of pickup loads to the slash dump. For joy. But it would only be for a couple hours in the mornings, three or four days a week. I mean, I do have other things I enjoy doing. Sure wish I knew an active lady with a small RV and a pair of leather work gloves.

So, the one-acre lot was originally listed for $13,500 and later reduced to $8,350. I asked Michelle (@Roberts Realty) to offer $5,000 (my one and only offer, I was not about to get into bickering) and list all the reasons I did not think the lot was worth more.

If I get a lot, and chances are I will, I’ll have a place to spend a few months each year, if I wanted to. And with the Nash, they could be summer or winter months. It’s not the repossessed ten acres I would have preferred, but I would have a small, somewhat secluded spot of my own. I don’t think it would be all that bad. But then again, I’d pretty much be stuck with it.
Whatever lot I might end up with, I’ll dig out another small RV flat spot, off a ways, in case I get the occasional visitor.


There are no hiking trails in Timberon but there are a number of trailheads along the road between Timberon and Cloudcroft. Also, there is a network of what were going to be developed into parks on the Master Plan and there is decent walking through most of these interconnecting greenbelts. I do most of my hiking and walking on the roads. I presently go for a two-hour hike most days and I rarely have a vehicle pass me. And with so many steep roads, I feel I can truly call it hiking.
From this particular lot, I would also have ready access to the Lincoln National Forest, just a 10-minute walk down the road.

The community almost has a group feel to it. When driving along the roads, most people wave. It’s a good feeling. On one of my trips to the slash dump, I met a 72 year old Hispanic man who could be cast as an old Don in a movie. I smiled as soon as I saw him. He has two acres that border on the Sacramento River, which currently has a few inches of water in it. We talked for about a half hour and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, and so apparently, did he. Like a good grandfather, he’s definitely into his grandkids. We’ll be seeing each other again; next time for a cold beer. I’ve enjoyed talking with a number of people I’ve met up here.

I do a town-run to Alamogordo every three weeks for laundry, web access, groceries, and miscellaneous errands. I leave the Nash at 6:30 to get to the laundromat when it opens (I HATE waiting for machines) and have not been getting back up until late afternoon. I am so hammered by then. It’s a long drive, or at least it is for me. Would be easier if I enjoyed driving.

Timberon surely has its pros and cons, probably more cons than most communities. I’ve learned a lot in the couple months I’ve been here. Definitely not the place for most people. But for a low investment on a place to spend a few months a year, maybe not so bad. And, it is best if one brings whatever is needed for one’s own activities and interests. This is not a place for entertainment unless one is into a simple life.

Do you think this might apply to the current White House, from time to time?
For every action, there is an unequal and opposite overreaction.


I might stay here until November this year, mostly hiking. If I purchase a lot this year, I’ll be landscaping it, working on getting it to look how I want it. I would have to come up with some creative ideas on how to use cut-up tree trunks artistically. But I also have to be aware of potential fire hazards. Think I’ll check out youtube for possible ideas.
December, I’ll be back in NM state parks, moving through 3 or 4 of them until mid February for my social fix. Then maybe meander up to southern Utah for a month. But then again, last winter did not go as I had planned.

I have quite a bit more to write about Timberon, and it will mostly be geared towards those who might want to purchase a lot for seasonal use. Photos of lots for sale, water, electricity, and sewer issues, whatever. And if my offer got accepted.

August sixty minutes for sixty years—2840 minutes
August Triple 18—pecs/delts/arms: 1865; core: 1830; legs: 2000

Kindness is the one gift that all can afford
and all can repay.
You will never have a completely bad day
if you show kindness at least once.


RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

RVwest article ‘The Spaces Between the Places’