I moved with my family from Pennsylvania to California fifteen years ago. It was at the beginning of the real estate boom. After living there and seeing the prices of everything continue to rise I thought it would be good to start looking for a more economical area to invest in for a retirement home. In my research I discovered a little town that sets at the tail end of the rocky mountain range called Silver City in New Mexico. During the Christmas season in 2005 we drove there from San Diego for a visit. I had been studying the town online for approximately 6 months but other than that we had no idea what to expect. We turned off the interstate in Lordsburg, NM and headed north into the foot hills. We knew that Silver City was situated at an elevation of 6000 feet so as we crossed the mesa looking at the lower mountains in front of us we did not understand how we were going to get to 6000 feet in the 40 miles that lay before us. It wasn’t until later that we discovered that Lordsburg was situated at 4500 feet so we actually only had to climb 1500 feet in the final 40 miles.
As we crested the final rise and looked out over Silver City spread before us it was rather anticlimactic. I think we were expecting a small community stuck to the side of a mountain but what we found was a sprawling community spread out before us across a scene of rolling hills. Our first impression of Silver City was rather disappointing.
We continued to explore the city and the surrounding area, visiting the normal tourist attractions and the area started to grow on us. We began to feel the magic, “the land of enchantment”.
Down town Silver City
Cliff DwellingsSanta Rita open pit copper mine
The City of Rocks
We loved the wide open spaces the abandon places and the memorial traces Fort Bayard National Cemetery
After spending a long week end there in the winter we felt we should visit the place again in the summer. It after all is the high desert, and Carol is not fond of the desert. We travel across the desert again for another visit in the summer of 2016. We rented a cabin at the end of a very long dirt road followed by a trip up the creek to get there,
where we spent some time with the turkeys. All and all we had a very good time and we even enjoyed the hot days and cool nights.
We both came to the conclusion that this could be a retirement place for us. We still had some years of employment before retirement so we decided to find a property that we could purchase and then rent out until we felt the time was right for us to make the move. We knew at the time that my career would be impacted by my medical condition but not to what extent. We found a property that was close in to town but in a rural setting and made the purchase.
Over the years we made several more trips out to Silver City for a visit and every time we were there we felt the magic. Two times a year the local Arts Council puts on a free concert in the park at the center of town and an eclectic assemble of people descend on the town
Every Memorial Day week end there is a Blues Festival and at the end of the summer usually the weekend after Labor Day there is the Pickamania, blue grass festival.
Since Silver City is located at an elevation of 6000 feet they have four distinct yet mild seasons. The summers are never exceedingly hot like the lower desert areas and the winters are mild and short. They may even get a little snow.
We found that there are a plethora of artist and art galleries in the area.
We also fell in love with the fauna and flora that we experienced in our travels around the area.
Here we are 10 years later and our situation in life has changed. I have been forced to retire because of my medical condition and difficult decisions must be made. With the loss of a significant portion of our income we felt that it was best to try and sell our property in New Mexico. When we listed our property for sale we had a tenant occupying the house so we were shielded from a major portion of the expenses but now the tenant has vacated the property.
I travelled there this past weekend to perform an exit inspection for the tenant and discuss the sale of the property with the realtor. Mentally I think we have been distancing our selves from the love affair we had with New Mexico and when I drove into town I felt the disconnect that had occurred in my mind. I have never really been able to quite put my finger on the societal dynamics of Silver City. It is a city that appears to be a little rough around the edges, even appearing a little run down, yet every time we go there we find some new commercial property being built. This town is by no means a dying town oppressed by poverty. When I discussed this with our realtor, Patrict Conlin, who settled in Silver City from Chicago some 16 years ago, he informed me that the population consists of business people, artist, ranchers, retirees, old hippies, and red necks; and somehow they all have figured out how to get along. I suspect it is the isolation. The nearest metropolitan areas are Las Cruses at 2.5 hours or Tucson at 3 hours. These people have learned how to make do with what they have.
As for my trip this time, I arrived early afternoon on Thursday, I spent all day there Friday, and I left on Saturday morning. I met with the people I had to see, and visited with some acquaintances that we made and like every time before the magic started to take hold. By the time I drove out of town on Saturday morning I was wondering if it was the best decision for us to write off this town. Is there any way to make this town work for us? I don’t know. But God is faithful to provide. As I see this story line of ours written on the sands of time being washed up on the shores of eternity I ask myself who are we that God should care about us. So while I made my way home across the deserts and observed the many abandoned aspirations of those that have passed this way before, I felt okay. If this sand castle, made with the sweat of our brow, is to survive it will be by God’s hand and He will guard it against the rising tide and the waves from washing it away.