About Us

  • Why am I here?
  • A new direction
  • Vision Statement
  • Where are we?
  • Unique qualities
  • The director

Iyucca_morningn December of 1997 my husband Lance was diagnosed with cancer.  At that moment our world changed forever.  Up to that point we were just like most people, working and playing.   There were stressful situations in our lives but not more than the happy times.  But suddenly on the afternoon of December 22, 1997 we embarked on a journey that explored sadness, love, faith, loss and healing from many aspects.  We traveled to the Dominican Republic, Tijuana Mexico and Los Angeles, California searching for “the cure”.  We tried mostly alternative medicine treatments and a few Western medicine approaches.  During this journey I was aware of how different many of the places and protocols were and I was acutely aware of how they made Lance and me feel.  This was not just in terms of the pain from his illness but the vibration and energetic quality of the space, place and people.

My job as I saw it was to continue to research healing treatments, help Lance find his way through those countless treatments and finally to try and use my love and God’s grace to help him heal, whatever that meant.  The story I wrote in my head was that Lance would get well using natural remedies and write a book about it and help lots of people.  That was not the story.  I learned that we do not write the story.  We are just part of it along with the web of life within and surrounding us.  I also learned that many things heal us and the healing can be of our body, our soul or our spirit. 

Lance’s journey on Earth ended October 3, 1999 after two days in the hospital in a slow departure coma.  Hours before he died, unable to communicate through the usual channels I heard his voice in my head say, “ I will help you write it”.   He made his transition and I was left to contemplate all that I had received by our short time together.

In the fall of 2000 I stayed in a rental cabin at a ranch in West Texas owned by a woman named Cathey Carter.  It was one year after that night in Los Angeles when Lance left this lvista_viewife.  I wanted to think about things and try to continue to piece together the thoughts and writings I had done over the last three years.  I knew that there was nothing to fear in this life, that our spirit and our soul live forever.  I could feel Lance’s spirit around me.  At the end of my two-week stay I knew I was “supposed” to buy some land from Cathey and I was “supposed” to build a retreat center there.   That stay in the high desert bathed me in healing and calming energy.  Staying in that environment I had such clarity and faith.  I didn’t know how I would do it but I did know that I would have all the help I needed to find a way to share with others one of the keys to healing ourselves.  That was to stop the noise and find a way to reconnect to that which we have forgotten.  I believed that this place I had been brought to could serve to facilitate someone’s connection to that place of clarity and faith so that he or she would know what was the next step in their personal journey whatever the circumstances.  I wanted to help them “remember”.

Since the fall of 2000 when I purchased the land, I have worked to make this place in the desert a comfortable haven for connection.   I have been blessed with the talents and generosity of many friends who have helped me plan, build and celebrate this jewel in the desert.  Each one helping me add chapters to that “book” that Lance continues to help me write.   The exciting part is that I always know the next step to take even if I don’t know the ending.

The mission at Soaring Hawk Ranch is the creation of a retreat facility consisting of housing, classroom, meeting and dining space within the unique expansive environment of the high desert of west Texas.  Guiding this mission are the following:

  • vision_statementBe impeccable with your word
  • Clear and truthful communication
  • Respect the balance of nature and divinity in all life
  • Creation of Community

 Currently, Phase 1 of the project is complete and consists of 4 vintage trailers serviced by full electricity, water, wastewater and gas, additional bathhouse with toilets, showers and tub, laundry facilities and a 1000 s.f. covered pavilion.   There is a 200 s.f. wall-tent with wood floor for addition meeting or sleeping space.  The ranch includes a large stone-lined Labyrinth and hiking within 1000 acres of high desert terrain.

Future improvements will include additional remote cabins and a 3000 s.f. multi-purpose building which will provide opportunities for indoor dining, kitchen, bathrooms and meeting space.  This building will include 1600 s.f. of covered porch and adjacent landscaped outdoor areas.

Slocationmapoaring Hawk Ranch is 403 acres and is located approximately 26 miles south of Marathon Texas and only 20 from the boundary of Big Bend National Park.  Both the ranch and Marathon are located in Brewster County, which is the largest county in Texas and one of the least populated.  Brewster County, with a population of 9048 (2006) comprises 6,169 square miles of largely rough and mountainous terrain, with elevations ranging from 1,700 to 7,825 feet above sea level; the latter elevation, the tenth highest in the state, is at Emory Peak.  The 900,000 acre Big Bend National Park was established in the 1930’s and has become one of the best-known tourist attractions in Texas, with an average of 350,000 visitors a year. www.big.bend.national-park.com

The location of SHR allows for numerous day activities for patrons of the Center.  The following sites are within an easy day trip.

Big Bend National Park – (20 miles) hiking, birding, nature walks
McDonald Observatory – (90 miles) Sky Watch parties, building displays, telescope tours
Marfa – (90 miles) Art galleries, Chinati Foundationdark_skies
Rio Grande River – (90 miles) rafting trips

One of the advantages of Soaring Hawk Ranch is it’s location in the region with some of the darkest skies in the United States.  The University of Texas’ McDonald Observatory is located just 90 miles away in Ft. Davis.
Night skies at the ranch make it very unique from comparable facilities.

yogaThe remote location of the Center provides for the ultimate retreat from our everyday lives.  The fact that cell phones do not work here will attract those that truly want to get away from the stresses and distractions and focus on the class or activity for which they have come.  Teachers and event organizers want a place that will provide an environment for shifting perspective so that something new is learned and taken back to each participants home life.

An ecologically-based design approach has been used for locating the buildings in order to preserve and enhance views and integrate the natural environment into the space.  The future building will be oriented to take advantage of solar heating and cooling while using construction materials that are sustainable and eco-friendly.

Laura L. Toups is the owner and director of Soaring Hawk Ranch.  Laura, whose career started as a high school Earth Science teacher in Austin Texas went on to get a degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Texas.  Upon graduation she began work as a civil engineer in Austin and currently is managing partner of Urban Design Group, a civil engineering and urban planning company located in Austin. www.udg.com

A life long love of herbs and cooking brought Laura to study raw food, macrobiotics and herbal treatments when her husband was diagnosed with cancer.  She has brought that bathhouseknowledge and love to her role as the chef at Soaring Hawk Ranch.  This role is celebrated each year by a large Thanksgdrillingwateriving event at the ranch and she provides the cooking and food service at scheduled retreats.  Menus for retreats can be raw, vegan, vegetarian or wholesome gourmet. 

Over the last eight years Laura has managed and developed the infrastructure at Soaring Hawk Ranch.  This includes the drilling of a water well, the construction of patio, trailers placement, running underground water, wastewater and electric and the construction of the bathhouse.