I Found the American Dream at Smile4u

[wordpress_file_upload]Do you window shop on the Smile4u Land Sales website? I do.

I enjoy looking at what’s new or pondering a property that I think might be right for me someday. I want to live in all the areas Char has listings in!

Some of it’s merely a daydream. But, I’ve been a fan of Smile4u for years now and finally made the decision to buy my first piece of the American Dream.

Living Off of the Land

The Mayans supposedly said the world was going to end in 2012, which brought about another wave of zombie apocalypse prepping by certain segments of society a few years back.

I found the entire concept kind of cool and could see how someone needing to be frugal or was very interested in off-grid living could strive for independence by going back to the basics with the assistance of certain aspects of modern technology.

Could I “glamp” full-time? It’s certainly something that intrigued me.

A Smile 4 U and Me

For years, the idea of owning land seemed a fleeting possibility. Just a brief inquiry into the traditional banking system for land and home mortgages was (and still is) disappointing, especially for someone like me who is self-employed.

When I first started looking at the site, I was really intrigued by the fact that companies were offering usable land for a low down payment and no credit check. This was a glimmer of hope!

After a pretty thorough review, I realized there are several companies out there that own and sell land. But, there are definitely differences in the listings, presentation, and feel of the brands.

Over and over, I kept landing back on Char’s site. Her postings are from the heart and I trusted her from the very first thing I read. Yet, it was after a brief talk with her on the phone when I knew this company was definitely the right fit for me as a customer.

Go West

While there are a variety of states with listings during certain times of the year, the Smile4u Land Sales listings usually focus in the western part of the country.

I’ve looked at listings consistently in the areas of California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado. Whether remote parcels away from the city with little-to-no restrictions or subdivision plots ready for your suburban home, Char has always provided a good assortment of land options that she has explored for your consideration of potential ownership.

Just as in the variances in terrain of the mid-west and west, the properties range from high dessert plots in the Rocky Mountains to lake lots in rural Kansas.

Anatomy of a Listing

I like to look at the listings state by state. I usually start with Colorado lately, as I’ve been looking for land there. I’m enamored with the San Luis Valley.

But, when I first started visiting the site my focus was on New Mexico. Char had several listings in the Estancia Ranchettes for a while and I scoured them daily. On the state pages, you can see a good deal of information about each property.

However, it’s the detailed links that you want to click. That little link is chock full of photos and information about each listing. From due diligence information for land and water to full narratives about property and area specifics. It’s amazing!

Yet, that’s just the starting point. Char stresses that you do your own legwork to ensure that you know what you’re buying. The information is great and has made me fall in love with numerous properties on the site over the years.

Making My Decision

It takes me two days to research light bulbs online before placing an order. Imagine how much time and effort I put into figuring out which property I want.

I was just a window shopper for a long while on the site before deciding it was time to take the plunge. But, then, the decision briefly turned from excitement to anxiety.

So, I just let the listings do the talking and narrowed my search down to a few areas I was the most interested in possibly living one day. Once that happened, I knew I needed to make my mind up and act fast as I’ve seen listings go really quickly on the site before.

Hello New Mexico

Using a lot of Char’s information, I thought a one-acre plot near Moriarty was the price point and location I wanted. It took me a while, but I narrowed it down to three different listings and compared them (even with family and friends) for a few days.

Then, I sat up really late one night and thought over each property. It all started to look alike at some point but one kept rising to the top of my pros and cons lists.

I made the final decision and clicked to purchase online. It only took providing just a bit of information and the listing was marked “Sale Pending” until I could finalize everything with Amber in the coming days.

The entire process was smooth and I was impressed with how easy it was to complete.

One Giant Leap

I joked with my friends that owning the property in NM was almost like owning a piece of the Moon! I’m from the Southeast. Would I ever set foot on it? Much less use it?

I knew I would at least visit it someday. And that day happened! It took six years, but it happened.

I was able to fly to Colorado and drive down to visit the parcel. I traveled a scenic route from Denver down through the ski and art meccas of central CO and northern NM, like Taos and Santa Fe. We, then, drove down to the land in Moriarty.

Moriarty is a small town east of Albuquerque off I-40 and has a small section of the old Route 66 that wasn’t swallowed up by the interstate. The land was about 15 minutes out of town and we rolled up on the plot to find a next-door neighbor, which was a bit of a surprise.

It was off the beaten path, that’s for sure. But it is mine.

 

Andy Davis is a freelance writer and blogger covering an array of topics from college football to participating in the digital economy. He is the owner of Singing River Media and resides on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Check him out at 21stAD.com.

 

Amber’s Adventure Around Timberon New Mexico in July 2016!

Hi! I’m Amber, Char’s daughter, and it’s time you get to know a little bit about me. I started working full time at Smile4u in June of 2013 and took over keeping the office in line while my mom explores. I’ve taken a few short trips to Elko, Nevada including the Elko County tax sale and I stopped by the Las Animas Ranches in Southern Colorado in August 2015 on my way to a family reunion in Kansas. Recently, my mom has decided to let me take over creating the listings so she can focus on her other goals for Smile4u, so I guess it’s my time to shine! This is my trip to Otero County in July 2016.

We arrived in Alamogordo in the evening  and the next morning was the Otero County Tax Sale. My mom bid on the properties while I watched (little did I know she would force me to do it all by myself 10 days later at the Lincoln County tax sale).

One of our biggest competitors was also at the sale and we had lunch with after him at the Jam-ing Hotdogs & More shack in Alamogordo (5/5 Stars for a greasy hot dog!). After lunch we traveled to Timberon together to start our first combined land expedition!

My mom hadn’t been to Timberon since 2006, and by the looks of what I saw as we entered the subdivision I can’t imagine why she never went back after. It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Being a Washington native, now in the Arizona desert, the heavily treed scenery of Timberon was a nice change and made me slightly home sick.

We entered the subdivision on Sacramento Dr., a nice paved/graveled road. Mom was pointing out all the new businesses that had popped up since she was last there. The Timberon New Village Hardware and General Store had just opened up. Nonnie’s Restaurant also looked new to her, located in the Timberon Lodge near the swimming pool.

We worked our way through Units 10, 8, 3 and 6. We spent some extra time in Unit 8 and I quickly fell in love with the tall Ponderosa Pines and grassy ground. I imagined myself sitting outside on a hammock strung up between the trees, reading a good book in the sun for a few hours.

 

All the birds were chirping their hellos to us and we even got to see a few of the local wild turkeys and mule deer.

 

Even though it was the end of July, I felt the temperature was fairly mild. Having acclimated to Arizona already, I found the temperature in Timberon to be slightly chilly when the breeze picked up.

We drove around Timberon until the last of the sun’s light ran out on us. On the way back we debated driving back to Alamogordo, but soon into our drive one of the largest lightning storms I have ever witnessed hit us, so we decided to stay in Cloudcroft about 45 minutes away, which is modeled after a pioneer village. The rooms were cozy with a rustic feel – my mom mentioned how she hadn’t had a shower in a claw foot tub since her grandmother’s house!

A popular getaway in the Sacramento Mountains, Cloudcroft sits at an elevation of 9,000 feet, making it perfect for a summer getaway in the high mountains as well as a desired skiing destination. In the morning we ate breakfast at Big Daddy’s Diner. I just HAD to try their fried PB&J sandwich, which I would order again in a heartbeat.

Day Two of my journey into Timberon focused on Units 14 and 13. Unit 14 was very quiet but still had some development in it. This would be my personal 2nd favorite Unit in Timberon that we explored. Power at most of the properties and one even adjoined the National Forest!

The second part of the day was spent navigating Unit 13. There aren’t a lot of roads in this unit, however we were able to see a few of the properties. These are great properties for someone who doesn’t want to be found. One of the last properties we stopped at sat atop a hill with a view of the rest of the Subdivision to the West and a great view of the beautiful ridges of the Sacramento Mountains to the East.

 

What a perfect area for someone to go to get away from it all!

History and information about Akela, New Mexico by Las Cruces, Deming and Hatch.

Bowlin’s Akela Flats Trading Post is located on the N side of Interstate 10 (Exit 102) about 20 miles E of Deming and 30 miles W of Las Cruces. I found myself out of gas and the Exxon station sure was a welcome sight! I really enjoyed this huge trading post mostly because they carry a line of clothing that I just recently found in Winslow, Arizona! : ) I’m not much of a shopper so this kind of store is right up my alley! They even had a dressing room at the back! I’m sure a few of my girlfriends are rolling their eyes at my hillbilly ways! I browsed quickly around their assortment of desert treasures, clothing, and grabbed some food for the day while I gassed up outside. Good thing the pumps weren’t busy as that quick trip turned into about 10 minutes and a quick $60! Of course I stopped in again when I was out there a few weeks later and this time limited myself to a white sage stick! They really have a fabulous collection of southwestern and native art, jewelry, and souveniers. And the staff has been lovely!

Also at this exit to the W of Bowlin’s is the Apache Homelands Entertainment Center which has a sign on it that says Apache Homeland.

The Apache Homeland sits on 30 acres of land owned by the Fort Sill Apache Tribe in Akela about 30 miles W of Las Cruces on Interstate 25. In September 2017 the Fort Sill Apache Tribe was awarded an $800,000 grant from the federal government to help build a 3000 square foot convenience store and fuel station at its property.

I have not visited this yet and wondered what the heck it was. It sounded like a place they would take you if you got busted at a checkpoint as the only reference that came to my mind was Homeland Security. And you know how there’s all the border stops that aren’t along the border in the desert – must be the place they take you when you get into trouble at one of those, at least that’s what I’m thinking to myself – don’t really need to stop there! Ha!

It actually is 30 acres of land owned by the Fort Sill Apache Tribe. It sure looks like I should have stopped though! Their website says it’s a 24 hour diner and smoke shop (wow the food on their website looks good if you’re not on a diet) and gaming coming soon. I was thinking that I could live out here but that’s a long way to go to get milk because I didn’t see any at Bowlin’s! However I saw the cooler in the snack shop and I’m pretty sure that’s milk I spotted in small bottles – hot dog – I don’t need a lot – just enough for a pot of coffee! I really enjoy learning about the places I explore and I’m still chuckling to myself about the “Homeland Security” building!

I had spoken to someone about land out in this area when I was at the tax sale in May 2018. They were from Las Cruces and looking for land in the Akela area and mentioned they had heard the Indian Casino in the area was making headway. They had also been at the tax foreclosure sale in Las Cruces the day before the Deming sale and said prices were super crazy!

I had no idea what they were referencing about the casino so I asked a few friends in the area which led me to a news article about the tribe opening a temporary bingo hall here in 2008 and the governor ordering the state police to block access to the building. They were later issued a violation by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC). It has something to do with a federal regulatory act that largely prohibits gambling on lands acquired after Oct. 17, 1988 and this parcel was acquired in 1998. They appealed.

In January 2017 the tribe filed a motion to compel the NIGC to comply with an Order of the United States District Court which requires the NIGC to reconsider a 2015 Decision and Order in which the NIGC determined that the Fort Sill Apache Tribe was not eligible to conduct gaming on its reservation. But that’s all I was able to learn so far about the casino.

I also learn that in September 2017 the Fort Sill Apache Tribe was awarded an $800,000 grant from the federal government to help build a 3000 square foot convenience store and fuel station at its property in Akela about 30 miles W of Las Cruces on Interstate 25.

The tribe plans to pitch in additional revenue toward the project; the exact amount hasn’t been finalized, but it could range up to $1.5 million or more, according to a tribal officia.

Las Cruces, population 101,759, is a beautiful city and the county seat for Dona Ana and the 2nd largest city in New Mexico. It sits 60 miles E of Deming and 40 miles N of of El Paso, Texas. I spent some time on their Economic Development website and see they have quite a bit planned for the future including renovating the Las Cruces airport for daily regional commercial flights and a commuter rail to El Paso. The federal government is the major employer with the nearby White Sands Test Facility and White Sands Missile Range. I’ve met several people who work for US Customs and commute daily from Las Cruces to the Columbus border crossing 35 miles south of Deming.

My first glimpse at the white sands in 2003!

Las Cruces is the home of the New Mexico State University and is a very agricultural area extending to Hatch known for their world class chili’s. Hatch holds their Chili Festival Labor Day weekend and attracts over 30,000 visitors who come to sample the famed chili recipes.

I snapped this chili crop growing in Deming!

Recreation and fun in the area:

In May 2003 I traveled the wrong way from Alamogordo to Timberon for my first time using NM506 which takes you thru an old military firing range where signs let you know not to leave the road because unexploded devices may exist. And that’s where I saw an oryx for the only time in the wild. 93 African oryx were introduced here in 1969 and they’ve grown to about 2000 today.

They weigh on average up to 450 pounds and stand 47 inches tall at the shoulder. Their horns average 34 inches long! Their distinctive black and white markings enable them to hide among desert shrubs. That was one of the best wrong ways I ever took!

Native American ancestors have been found in the area dating back to 9000-6000 B.C. The Fort Sill Apache Tribe are descendents of the Chiricahua Apache Tribe whose leaders include Cochise and Geronimo. The Chiricahua Mountains are a huge range that sits about 90 miles W/SW of Deming just over the Arizona state line. It was created to protect the rock pinnacles that rise hundreds of feet into the air. The name is believed to originate from the Opata name for the mountains, Chiwi Kawi, meaning “turkey mountain” which were once abundant here.

I visited the Chiricahua National Monument in 2010. They are a huge range that sits about 90 miles W/SW of Deming just over the Arizona state line. It was created to protect the rock pinnacles that rise hundreds of feet into the air. The name is believed to originate from the Opata name for the mountains, Chiwi Kawi, meaning “turkey mountain” which were once abundant here.

In 2012 I visited Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains which sit about 165 miles W of Deming on the west side of the Chihuahuas. It is named after the legendary Chiricahua Apache War Chief Cochise who led his people in their attempt to retain their homeland.

In October 2015 I hiked into a canyon that was south of Cookes Peak and saw some fabulous petroglyphs in a cave!

Rockhound State Park sits on the slopes of the Little Florida Mountains SE of Deming. It offers trails, unique geology, wildflower displays, and a peaceful campground. Rock hounders can hunt for quartz crystals, geodes, jasper, perlite, and many other minerals. Rockhounds are allowed to take home up to 15 pounds!

City of Rocks State Park sits between Deming and Silver City. The large pnnacle rock formations rise up to 40 feet. It offers camp sites and hiking trails.

In February 2018 my boyfriend Buddy and I stopped by Lake State Park which sits 69 mile NE of Deming by Hatch on the Rio Grande. This fisherman was a good sport posing with his catch. He said he worked at the Park and spent his lunch hours fishing – right on!

In April 2018 I stopped by Bill Evans Lake which is a 62 acre lake between Silver City and Cliff. It is the home of the biggest bass ever caught in New Mexico at 15 lbs 13 oz and was 26.5″ long in 1995! This nice fisherman held up his catch for me and another let me know he was using rubber worms.

Suck it up buttercup!

I think saying “He’s not my President is one of the most unAmerican things one can say. I googled unAmerican which means contrary to the interests of the US and therefore treasonable. OK so maybe not treasonable in today’s standards when our President uses Twitter like toilet paper. I read hes twitted 2461 times (or whatever you call it) but I don’t really give a twat about them or I’d sign up.

Being a US Citizen doesn’t actually give you a lot of rights above a non resident in our country as our constitutional rights are also extended to visitors.  The biggest difference is that I can live here for the rest of my life just because I was born here. I don’t ever have to leave. I am so blessed to live within the United States borders where I feel protected and safe.

Katie, my Kansas cousin several times removed through my Grandmother, sent me some photos this morning  from a book of WWI and WWII soldiers called Service Records – Tescott Community. It was put together in the 1940’s by local businessmen and included a few photos of my Grandfathers side.

Rex L. Pruett served 31 months and was decorated with a Bronze Star, European Theatre Service Meal, American Theatre Service Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. He entered as infantry and was a captain upon his discharge in 1946.

Tescott, Kansas is the kind of place where people still live on the homesteads their families started and a walk thru the cemetery is a history lesson. My Great Uncle still farms the farm today at 88 years old and I cooked Thanksgiving dinner in the old farmhouse for him a few months ago! Big grin! I love this man and without a doubt I know he loves me!  I have memories of helping him feed hay as the suns comes up for the past 25 years. We have a big family reunion there every other year so I’ve had the chance to visit several times. I also visit when other big events are happening like it’s time to castrate the cattle! They can always use a hand and free help is never turned away on the farm! Ha!

  

   

 

   

At the edge of town is our family graveyard. It’s one of the first things we visited when I first came here with Grandma and Granddad in 1992. My whole life I had heard stories from my grandparents who lived in Seattle about their Kansas families. They kept in touch, sent photos, wrote letters to each other, and subscribed to the local newspaper. Grandma lost 2 of her brothers during WWII, Donald and Dean and she spoke of them my whole life. When we went to the cemetery on my first visit she showed me where they were and I took photos. My one Cousin Donald reminds me of my Cousin Chris, so handsome, and my brother is named after them, Donald Dean. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of showing these grave sights to my siblings. They truly mean something to us.

This past year my nephew joined the military and yesterday one of my best friends sons shipped out for basic training.  We all know what that truly means. These two young men just pledged their lives: “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”

My sisters comments: 16 years ago, I remember my three year old son asking me why the planes flew into the towers. All I could do was give him a hug and tell him that I would keep him safe. And today, he took the oath of enlistment to become a United States Marine. Words cannot express how proud I am.

I never had to take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States. I am lucky like the toss of a coin that it’s my birth right. A right that my family has pledged their lives to for many years. It’s an honor to stand in front of my flag and say our Pledge of Allegiance. I said it in grade school every morning as class began, a serious and respectful start to our day. My rotary meeting always starts with us standing to say the Pledge of Allegiance and for me it’s an honor:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

I snapped a picture of our beautiful flag flying outside the Puerco Valley Fire Department in Sanders, Arizona yesterday!

I was saddened to see football players take a knee to the flag. I thought how disrespectful to those who uphold it and think their actions are unAmerican. Needless to say I don’t have a lot of respect for those that knelt. But it’s their right to do so.

For the first time ever in my life I did not vote because I was tired of being told how stupid I was for liking Donald Trump. Didn’t I know how horrible he was? Worst real estate dude ever, bankrupt how many times. Of course I do – how could I not know right? I had studied him a bit. I watched a bit of him on TV but I didn’t really watch that much TV and don’t have one today. I did follow him when he joined Facebook years ago. I was a bit surprised to see him win as the other side was so much more vocal about who should win. I was happy with the choice. For years I have wanted to see a business person come into office instead of a career politician. We need changes in America.

On vacation in Mexico a few weeks ago, I heard someone say “he ain’t my president”. I was embarrassed for them and I instantly felt divided from this American and wanted to suggest that they stay in Mexico if they felt that way. To be an American is a privilege. There’s been a few presidents over the years that weren’t my favorite. But it’s the vote of the American people who determines the outcome and I’ve never renounced any President. I’ve bit my tongue over the past year when I’ve heard it or seen it on social media. Once when I heard someone saying it I asked if they were Canadian knowing darn well they weren’t and their husband said “see I told you to stop saying that!”

At my rotary meeting last week, standing up to say the pledge of allegiance once again, I found a joy in my heart as I placed my hand over it. When it came to the part about “indivisible” I was able to put my feelings into words. It divides us because no matter what the situation is in the United States, we respectfully stand for our flag and respect the voice of the majority vote. Our families have given their lives to defend it and others still pledge their lives to defend it today.

I really am in love with our country we live in. As I look across the desert landscape I call home this morning, I am free and safe another day. Many in the world are not. We the people of the United States voted. If we don’t like this direction we can choose to change that direction in a short period of time with a new vote. We are a great country because we are indivisible. No one has ever broken us apart. It may not be perfect but it is made on a solid foundation.

When I hear someone say not my President, I want to say suck it up buttercup, you’re sounding unAmerican and that’s not so flattering where I come from! But what I really need to do is place my hand over my heart and recite to them the Pledge of Allegiance.

Zapatos Para Los Ninos. One little day in the World, one big day in my heart!

When someone asks me what I do for a living I’m not always sure what to say…and I guess it depends on what kind of mood I’m in! I give responses that range from I invest in real estate, I’m a private land investor, I wholesale land across the Western United States, or I am a professional land flipper. And if that made you want to put your hands under your arm pits and flip them like the movie “Flipper” you’re not alone! It’s a good joke and I can handle it every single time it’s said because I’m so proud to be a flipper!

So what’s a flipper? It’s someone who buys assets dirt cheap and flips it quickly for a small profit. I’ve been doing this since 2001 and I’ve seen a lot, learned a lot, studied a lot, talked a lot, and taught a lot. At times I’ve worked for months without a day off. Usually its been because I wanted to but at times it’s been because I have to.

So here I sit with some new dreams after spending two weeks on Isla Mujeras, Mexico, the Island of Women. It’s a small island that you catch a 20 minute passenger ferry to across the bay from Cancun. I spent 3 nights in Cancun and 3 nights on Isla Mujeras a year ago when my sister got married on the island. When I got home I said I will always go back to Cancun because that’s where you catch the ferry to Isla Mujeras!

When I was there a year ago I met a gal named Brenda who had spent a lot of time raising money to buy shoes to give away to children on the island. She gave them away a few days after I left the island. It’s called Zapatos para Los Ninos, shoes for children. She has one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever met and I really wanted a chance to share in that experience. Perhaps it was selfish to want to be able to help but she welcomed it and said sure show up next year. So I did. Big lump in my throat and tears in my eyes just thinking about what I got the chance to help with.

She and her husband were able to purchase over 450 pairs of shoes and with the help of some local people and 5 of her friends we tried shoes on kids for 5 hours. We arrived an hour early and there were already children lined up for an hour. About 350 of the kids had tickets from signing up. Those that didn’t had to wait until after the children with tickets and then we tried to fit shoes on as many of those as we could. Imagine bringing your child to the shoe store today and saying we’re going to hang out here for 6 hours so you can get a pair of shoes, and there’s no food court or game room for them to go run around in!

But there was a beautiful wall along a sidewalk that had a gorgeous view of the Caribbean Sea and those kids had huge smiles on their faces while they waited ever so patiently! : ) Some of the local ladies got together and fed everyone who was there the most fabulous sandwiches you can imagine, mmm shredded chicken and onions with some green sauce! The popsicles were a big hit as well!   

 

  

 

Brenda’s friend who came to film it all! She sure had fun with all the kids and captured most of the faces in these photos!

Brenda put a lot of thought into which shoes to purchase and chose several light up shoes for the younger kids. It seemed like most of them hadn’t seen them before and you should have seen their faces light up as they learned to stomp to light them up! Big grin still! Later that evening when we were all having dinner, a little girl was sitting along a sidewalk with her lighted shoes on. She waved big and we shouted “zapatos para los ninos!” One little day in the World, one big day in everyone’s hearts!

 

The littlest Nina I got to shoe! Oh what pretty little girl! : )

So that new dream I was sitting here and thinking about is actually a dream about some day maybe I will retire! I used to think that when I retire I’m going to go to the tax sales and buy some land! I couldn’t imagine really retiring until now. I love the land game I play. It’s like a never ending game of Monopoly! But I’d sure love to be able to visit the island for longer than 2 weeks! I would love to lay in the sand for a few months, get a massage on the beach, go snorkeling, eat fresh caught fish and chicken, and visit with some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met, both the locals and the visitors who come year after year. And spend another day helping my friend give away shoes.

   

   

When my Silver Creek Rotary Club heard I was going to Isla Mujeras to help my friend distribute shoes they offered to assist financially. These are the shoes our monies help raise. I sure hope I can do more to help next year!
A celebration dinner with some pretty fabulous people! Notice Don holding up one of the light up shoes – too fun!

     

 

This tiny little island remains lost in it’s charming old ways.  After spending 13 nights on the island I cried the entire way across the bay back to Cancun and half the way to the airport in the taxi. Wow I was so sad to leave!  I’ve said a few times since coming home that money does not buy you happiness nor does poverty buy you sadness. A big thank you to Brenda for letting me be a part and to Silver Creek Rotary! Definitely a smile4me!

 Sunset off the rooftop where I stayed!

Damn girl you did it!

I’m getting bored – there I said it! Lately I find myself more interested in whose feather I found on a property than selling the actual property!

This one belonged to a turkey in Timberon, New Mexico! The turkey is a symbol of abundance and connection to the land and Mother Earth. May all our lives be full!

I felt this another time in my life after working in the banking career for about 15 years and I’ve been doing this since 2001, so 16 years! I lose track of what YEAR I started my business but since it was a WEEK AFTER 9-11 I’m reminded every year. I’ll never forget waking up TO the quiet of the morning AND feeling my heart breaking FOR America seeing it unfold ON TV. Watching that plane crash INTO the SECOND tower AND the towers crumble, seeming TO go ON forever, feeling helpless AND crying. It was so different 16 years ago. I didn’t watch it on the internet or comment about it on Facebook. And I didn’t know a whole lot about the land game.

But I was off TO research the desert AS there was a lot of vacant land there dirt cheap. ON my FIRST trip I purchased land AT a foreclosure sale IN Luna County, NEW Mexico AND Navajo County, Arizona. Those were back IN my days selling land ON eBay. I didn’t have many choices back then as there weren’t ANY other websites TO advertise/sell on. The FIRST piece of land I purchased was IN Deming, NEW Mexico, WHERE I am headed this weekend TO CHECK OUT SOME land AND hopefully STOP AND smell the roses AT the City of Rocks State Park AND go FOR a night walk AT the Gila Cliff Dwellings NATIONAL Monument. My FIRST feedback was FOR a piece of land IN Navajo County, Arizona WHERE I live today, how fitting! HAVING lived IN the Great Pacific Rain Forest we CALL western Washington, I was drawn TO the desert AND my dream of living here has came true. Note TO self…DAMN GIRL YOU DID IT!

So here I sit looking across the beautiful property that I take care of TO the mesas that pop OUT of the valley floor. The FIRST photo I took  in this county was FROM the top of the mesa behind the county courthouse because I wanted TO see what it looked LIKE across the valley AND that was the highest POINT around. Little did I know THEN that I was looking across the Painted Desert AND Petrified Wood Forest WHERE SOME of the oldest Native ruins have been IDENTIFIED! SOME of the same pottery AND petrified wood that are FOUND ON this property ! I say the property I take care of because I’ve felt since I purchased her that I was given her to take care of, to make sure she gets preserved. So no quads or motorcycles allowed, but feel free to walk to the rock outcropping and meditate or poke your nose around the sandy ruins and see what you find!

Painted and stamped pottery found on the property I call home!

When I visited Monument Valley this spring I was pleased to hear our Navajo tour guide refer to his property in the same manner. He never called it his, just the place where he keeps his animals or the place his home is. For a brief moment in time all of the pieces of land that pass thru my hands I feel responsible for. And that’s been thousands of pieces of land IN those 16 years!

I’m responsible for making sure that the right person gets to take care of the land next. That they will be good stewards of Mother Earth as well. No I’m NOT a tree hugger….well there was that ONE guy LAST YEAR who wanted TO buy the 140+ acres IN the Bear Springs Hills IN Colorado WHERE the elk bed so he could clear the trees AND graze cattle ON it – wth??? – it’s surrounded by the Comanche Grasslands which is thousands of acres of range land for cattle, the start of the Great Prairie and you want to destroy the trees the elk live in? Sorry I’m NOT going TO sell it TO you – I’d rather find someone who wants to shoot an elk once a year than destroy their home. And that makes me a good sales person!

So what’s got me so bored IF I love traveling around Mother Earth? I love going OUT AND seeing the wild herds of horses, elk, antelope, big horn sheep, eating AT my favorite restaurants I find along the way, stopping BY TO say hello TO friends I’ve met along the way and walking into a foreclosure sale and hearing “omg she’s here!” in hushed tones! There’s no friends at an auction and may the best woman win! I love the game! So what then has me bored? I guess it’s having to plant myself in front of my computer as much as I do! I spend hours on the photos and research information about each property. A property that is 1 acre gets just much effort put into is as an 80 acre piece of land. That’s made this business successful.

So what am I going to do? It seems like I’m not the only one around my age (52 next week) looking at my inner self and asking that question. It’s no longer about being able to financially take care of myself, but rather a deeper fulfillment of what I do with my time left hear on Earth.  The answer is change. If I don’t I won’t be happy. Change is hard. I’m not sure yet what the change will be. I love to travel to the middle of nowhere and enjoy teaching business and real estate. To change though I have to have someone else be responsible for Smile4u.

A big butterfly or moth was in my house night before last – flew off my bed and onto the wall. It was dark and so big that at first I thought it was a bat. But nope it fluttered about my dark house and finally flew out an open door! Tis the season for butterflies but I’ve never seen one that big and dark and definitely not in my house! Yesterday I got up and was still thinking about it and opened up a book I study called The Animal-Wise Tarot and flipped to the page about moths. It sure looked familiar and was the card I had pulled out of  the animal card deck the last time I worked with my cards. I read about the animal again and really thought about how they reflect transformation, a new birth, a new beginning. I wore my butterfly necklace yesterday as a reminder of those animals strengths. Right on I thought – keep moving forward and I’ll figure it out!

Which bring me to this morning. Last week my favorite nerd, Amber, told me she was going to a foreclosure sale – did I want to go. Nope she could do this one on her own for her first time. I’m not holding her hand this morning sitting beside her at the foreclosure sale telling her to bid higher or stop bidding like I did last year. Until I let her do it by herself she will never celebrate the joy of knowing she’s got this game figured out! And she does, she’s listened to it since she was in 3rd grade and appointed Head Pencil Sharpener! She sent me a few photos last night of the lakes that were by the properties going up for sale this morning.

 

In the current age of technology where you can now do a live stream on Facebook so the world can see what you’re doing, we still are doing things the old fashioned way! She’s texting me this morning from the auction telling me how she’s doing while Im sitting on my front porch in the sunshine. She told me there wasn’t enough spaces on her bidder card! And I think she’s got this!

So what’s next for me? For now I’m just going to worry about not falling off the side of the cliff during the night walk to the ruins this weekend! I’ll still be working on listings next week as I imagine a new beginning won’t come quite that fast!

As I was editing what I wrote above I received one more text that I thought I would add:

Holy cow Amber – 92 properties ! Dang girl you did it! I think I still have a few grey hairs to grow before that change I look forward to happens!

Sincerely,

Char : )

Head Pencil Sharpener Wannabe!

A few links to things I mentioned above:

City of Rocks State Park

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (Free with your National Park pass!)

Ted Andrews, Author, Animal Speak

Video of my vacation to Rainbow Bridge on Lake Powell and Monument Valley National Monument!

In May 2017 I picked up my high school girlfriend at the airport in Vegas and over the course of a few days we visited Zion National Park, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, the Colorado River, the Glen Dam that holds back the massive Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend in the Grand Canyon, Lone Rock Beach, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, and finally Monument Valley National Monument. These are among the most photographed places in Arizona. I highlighted a few of my favorites in this video!

Video of my journey to Peace Ferry, Arizona on the west rim of the Grand Canyon!

We took a few hours in March 2017 to view land in Meadview and made our way up to Pearce Ferry, Arizona.  Pearce Ferry sits on the west end of the Grand Canyon and is the only place where you can access both Lake Mead and the Colorado River by personal watercraft. It’s about 2 hours SE of Las Vegas, Nevada near Dolan Springs and Kingman, Arizona. Oh what a beautiful drive thru the giant Joshua Trees in Meadview! I read that they are even larger than the Joshua Tree National Park in California and wow are they ever pretty.  Those alone are worth the drive.

Oh what a stormy day it turned out to be! I asked the men in the big trucks with all sorts of strange equipment on the back what they were doing. They said they were from the Hualapai River Runners and were waiting to pull the white water rafters out that were coming down the Colorado River from Peach Springs in 45 minutes. Hot dog boats coming down the river so I spent time exploring with Buddy my boyfriend! I marveled at the ridge of the canyon, watched the sandy dirt crash down into the river and spotted a heron on a rock outcropping! The thunder got loud and I was getting nervous about the time the rafters came zooming down the river. Looks fun to me and one more thing on my bucket list!

Lived to tell.

Life is good but even I go thru those times when dang it’s hard! The sun is shining today and my best friend is sleeping in his bed beside me! Damn I love that little man!

Bud the Stud but you can call him Buddy!

I grew up on a 10 acre farm and escaped to our barn to get out of a chaotic violent house and fell in love with the animals. We had cows, chickens, pigs, geese, rabbits, and occasionally a goat, goose or horse showed up in the field. Our acreage adjoined miles of croplands and they provided excellent fields in the winter for ducks. We had 5 girls and 1 boy and since my brother had to take someone with him hunting and I was the tomboy I became his hunting partner in 3rd grade.

My brother is the greatest man I’ve ever known. He sure took care of me – took me to a hunting class in the evenings at our school so I could get my hunting license, made sure I was dressed properly which wasn’t always such an easy task to do, and off we went.

The first time he took me we had been walking with our heads ducked low down the ditches that were over my head and frozen over in ice. When we got close to where the ducks were lying in the field he told me he was going to stand up and shoot up into the air. When the ducks started flying away I was to stand up and take my shot. Ya ok I got it – I did exactly as told and found myself ass down on the frozen ditch! Ha! I don’t actually recall actually ever hitting a target but I sure tried!

He also took me fishing which I absolutely fell in love with! One summer after we were done picking berries, my brother and I went half and half on a little rubber dingy! We sure had a lot of fun on the lakes with that sucker and wow was it a lot of work to row when you’re stuck out on windy lake in Montana! I sure love trout that’s been dusted in flour, salt and pepper and fried in Crisco! Ha! I certainly found peace in Mother Nature.

We had a lot of prowlers on our property when I was going up as a kid. One time we had a peeping Tom for a few months and if that don’t freak the shit out of you. Other times we had transient people who would sleep in our field by the road, usually drunk. We always had a lot of loaded guns in the house stacked up in a corner – can’t believe that now – surprised the only one who got shot was my sister in the back by a BB gun – or was it a pellet gun?! I didn’t do it but I know who did!

I never really worried about my safety until one night 21 years ago while I was sleeping beside my husband. I was woken up by a man in a tightly drawn hooded sweatshirt reaching out and touching my bare ass. At first I thought it was my daughter who must be touching me and as I rolled over I saw this person start shrinking back into the corner and I asked who are you? I instantly screamed again “WHO ARE YOU! GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!!!” in the most guttural voice I have ever heard come out of me.

I went from 0 to 100 in 3 seconds and lept off the end of my bed and chased after him down the hall. We had a split level house and I could hear him on the lower level of stairs headed out the door so I turned to towards the phone and called 911. I noticed that my phone had at least 10 messages blinking with voice messages and I thought they must have been calling me and I missed the phone ringing?!?

My spouse was a heavy sleeper and when he woke up he raced across the hall to check on our 2 year old as I was calling 911. Oh it’s a long story. Police came, is was pouring rain, they didn’t find anything and the sun came up a few hours later. Those 10 messages – there wasn’t any. My heart was pumping so hard and my mind was racing! WOW!

Freaked out I called one of my best friend who lived a few blocks away and she immediately came over in the middle of the night. As the sun came up I went around the neighborhood and let them know to lock their doors and windows!  During the day the family assisted in putting locks on the doors and changing those that existed. I did not have a lock on the door between the garage and family room. I did not have a dog. I did not have a gun. I did not have a plan. I spent the day wondering who the hell it was.

A few days later I was still freaked out and my friend suggested I call a crisis line. OK sounded good cause man I was freaked out! The lady on the other end listened and when I was done telling her everything that happened she said “You must feel sexually assaulted. YES!YES! YES! Wow that was it! OMG I hadn’t put it together why I was so freaked out! Some freak had walked into my house and touched my bare ass in the middle of the night while I slept beside my husband!

Oprah had a show that week about how people dream things and it’s so real that they think it actually happened. I learned this from my spouse as he told me that him and his Mom thought perhaps I dreamed it. Are you f****** kidding me?!? I will never forget that mans hooded sweatshirt – I will never forget his outstretched hand – he was so clean – I couldn’t make out anything about him he had tied that sweatshirt so close around his face – but I remember how clean he was and the look in his eyes!

I worked in a bank inside a grocery store behind a locked door and I felt safe there during the day. Night time was a disaster and we got a dog and I did not spend another night in that house. I didn’t know who this person might be – someone I had denied a loan to at the bank? Maybe someone I wouldn’t cash a check for? Maybe some freak in my neighborhood? My girlfriend started coming over to sit at the end of my bed while I took a shower.  I put my house on the market within 2 days.

One of my customers who drove by my house every day said I saw you put your house up for sale. I told him what had happened and he said sounds like the Koop kid. Who’s the Koop kid? Oh he’s a kid who terrorized the neighborhood a few years ago and went to juvie for it. He had been found in the middle of the night under a young ladies bed by her father. I went home that afternoon on my lunch hour and one of the neighborhood older kids who often would stop by selling school candy or offering to mow the yard knocked on the door. I asked him if he knew the Koop kid. Oh ya – he had seen him walking thru his back yard a few times at night in a hooded sweatshirt!

My girlfriend was the editor of our local newspaper and when she received the police reports for that week she looked for mine and gave me a call. She was on her way to pick me up because it said they thought I had a dream! WOW! She took me down to the police station and I told them the Christopher Koop information. They told me know they didn’t know he was out on parole. That must have been around day 5.

The detective visited me at my office and told me they had put an electronic monitoring device on him. I was shown a photo lineup of 6 people – I had no idea. The craziness went on for 20 days. I didn’t even feel safe walking down the long corridor to get to the councelors office who was only freaking me out more asking me all sorts of questions! Hell I couldn’t even pee alone I was so scared!

That afternoon on my lunch hour I decided I was going to go buy a gun the next day and go knock on his door and give him one chance to tell the truth! That would take care of it and end it for me! Good idea!

I returned to work and my assistants blue eyes were on fire. She said Guess what happened and I said you got robbed wondering why I had not received a phone call! She said no the police called and Christoher Koop confessed and they took him to jail. Wow TYG! I’ve always to this day felt that God stepped in on day 20.

The Koop Kid, as I called him since he turned 18 a few weeks after he assaulted me, claimed that he had fallen against me while going towards the end table beside my pillow. BULLSHIT – HE WAS FEET PLANTED, HAND OUTSTRETCHED AS FAR AS HE COULD TO TOUCH MY BARE ASS WHILE SHRINKING BACK INTO THE CORNER READY TO BOLT AS HE WATCHED ME TURN OVER AND CONNECT WITH HIS EYES! I was told they didn’t think they could prove sexual assault and he was sentenced for burglary. He served a sentence of 7 months. It took a few years to get over.

Another girlfriend had a husband who helped me buy a gun and held my hand at the firing range. It had been several years since I shot a gun and we shot rifles, BB guns and pellet guns – not hang guns to kill. I needed to know how to use that gun and it sits beside my pillow.

I don’t recall how long after – must have been a year or two as I was still working at that same bank – and the father who had pulled the monster out from under his daughters bed asked if he could bring her by so I could talk to her privately. She was having a very difficult time with thoughts of suicide. He brought her by and we sat and shared what had happened to each of us. Survivors talking about the monster. We both knew just how scary he was.

A few years ago I was alerted to a prowler on my property by my dogs. I called the Sheriff but they were gone by the time they got there 20 minutes later. I walked around with a loaded gun on me for two days before I discovered a heater running outside below my bedroom window! Oh my God what a freak! But I slept because that person had to get thru how many dogs and I know I get 5 tries to shoot your f****** ass! I still love to fish but there is only one reason I keep a gun – I will kill to defend myself. I did not have a plan 21 years ago but I do today.

Big deep breath – Thank you God for always protecting me. I am a survivor – I lived to tell!

A few days ago I woke up early as I usually do and checked my phone to find a message from my dear old friend who sat at the end of my bed. It was a link to a video and her only comment was OMG. The video showed an open hole with a shovel leaning up against a wall beside a fence and the caption “Koop started to dig a grave in the backyard where he planned to bury the body.” That’s where he told police he was going to bury the body of his father he had killed 1.5 weeks ago.

I started a blog challenge at the beginning of the year and I failed miserably! Oh well there’s worse things that can happen to you in life. Today I feel so lucky. I have no other word to describe it. I feel like I met Ted Bundy in the middle of the night and lived to tell about it. There was something about the stare in his eyes that night. I feared him for a reason. And the part about him being so clean – he was albino looking.

I am one victim of his. I am a survivor. The little girl across the street whose bed he was found under in the middle of the night, I pray she feels the same way and slept like a baby last night like I did. I might sound crazy – but there’s a lot of crazy mother f***** out there!