…while the majority of North America goes, are you effing serious??
We’ve had a super mild winter here in Colorado. The last two weeks we’ve had temps in the high 60s and even 70s in Denver, and I don’t think we’ve seen snow for quite some time. We had about 8 inches on Christmas Day, but other than that we’ve just had a couple inches here and there. But we had a good snow fall today! Luckily, I found a snow suit for Bean in a box of clothes we inherited from a neighbor and it fits her just right, so we got bundled up and went outside. She’s seen snow so seldom that I don’t think she quite knows what to do with it!
She enjoyed having some playtime out in the snow, digging out the plants in the back yard and uncovering all her toys. Now we are back inside enjoying some cocoa and watching Curious George. And accessorizing with canvas bags.
It was just about a year ago when Cameron and I drove up to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park to take in the changing autumn leaves. We were living in Fort Collins and wanted to take advantage of the cool weather and the time off together. We brought the dog and walked him around Lake Estes where he delighted in jumping right into the water and getting completely soaked. After that we hopped back in the car and took a drive up near Bear Lake to see the colors. On the way back down, Cameron said to me, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could live here? It seems like such a nice little town with the Park so close to it.” I said that it would be cool, especially since we always enjoyed coming up to hike and get out of the city.
That was on a Saturday. The very next Monday, I was at work (I worked at a local bookstore/coffee shop) and got a text from Cameron. “WE NEED TO TALK.” Which of course got me all sorts of worried. He had recently been applying to be promoted to store manager at a new store in Fort Collins and someone else had been picked. In the meantime he’d been temporarily managing a store in Cheyenne, which was a good hour’s drive each way and was going pretty poorly. So on the one hand I was immediately worried that something had come up, but on the other I was thinking, maybe the other applicant for the Fort Collins store declined the offer! So I hopped on the phone and called him back.
“Remember how we were just talking about how cool it would be to live in Estes Park?”
Long pause. Not quite what I was expecting. “Uhhh, yeah.”
“Well I just got an offer to manage the store up there starting November first. My district manager said he won’t allow me to take it unless we move up there though. What do you think?”
My immediate thought, of course, was yes. We had been talking all summer about how this was the time in our lives to go somewhere else and explore other places because how many other times would we have the opportunity to just pack up and go? And, how awesome to live in Estes Park! On the other hand, though, I thought for sure it must be terribly expensive to live up there and we had just moved 5 months before and I had only been at my job for 3 months and we didn’t have much in savings and I don’t know if I can commute and what if what if what if. I was already on brain overload because I was scheduled to have my wisdom teeth taken out the very next morning. I told him we’d have to look at how expensive it would be before we could make a decision.
So when I got home we hopped onto the computer and started doing some searching for apartments or rental properties. There wasn’t much available because it was right about the end of the season–but there were a couple promising properties in our price range. Cameron called on one and the renter gave him the details and said we could go look at it whenever we wanted as it had just come available about a week before.
Dreams of living in the peaceful mountains filled my head as I went to my dental appointment the next day. It definitely calmed my nerves. The very next day (Wednesday now) I loaded up on pain meds and we drove up to Estes to look at the property we had called about. It was a rustic 2-bedroom cabin up in the woods on the east side of the city in a pretty remote location.
It was only about 500 square feet, but had a kind of beauty to it. Beautiful wood beams and log siding. (It sure looked pretty at Christmastime.) Then again, it was showing its age for sure. It was old and kind of musty and it didn’t have forced air heating (no really, it just had a large Coleman radiator that probably was installed in the 50s), the windows were rickety and single pane and the kitchen was….I don’t even know how to describe it. Small doesn’t quite work. Miniscule. This place was built in 1925 and I have no doubt that it was at one time a beautiful cabin, but sometime in what might have been the 60s or 70s the interior was ripped out and re-designed so that, I have no doubt, it could be rented out. And somewhere along the line when they were finishing that up, I imagine the builders must have been packing up their stuff and suddenly realized “we forgot to put in a kitchen!” so they built this wall through the living room and stuck appliances in it. It was so bizarre. I can’t even describe it-so here’s a picture.
In any case, it was definitely just good for temporary existence. It was small and didn’t have much storage and it was so remote I always worried about the dog being outside because of bears. It had its silver lining though. For starters, this was our view:
I mean, how could you complain about that?
So, the very next day we went to Longmont to sign the lease. What a fast process! We packed up our condo in Fort Collins and moved up to Estes on the 15th of November. It was definitely an adjustment. Our first night in the cabin, there were record-breaking winds reaching 100mph. I remember lying awake in that house all night wondering what we’d gotten ourselves into. It ended up being a pretty rough transition for me. I had to leave my job at the bookstore, which I’d loved. It was a mutual decision–we both decided that it was going to be good for us–but that didn’t mean I automatically reaped the benefits of that move. I ended up being unemployed till almost March (this was November, remember, in a tourist town that does business pretty much only in the summer) and it was hard. I was home alone most of the time and winter is already a hard time for me. And that’s of course to say there’s no fault of Cameron’s, because he had to work and I mean let’s be real, that’s why we moved up here. I had a lot of wedding stuff to do to keep me busy, but that only went so far. In any event, it came as a real relief when I got a job in early March. I quit that job by August because the hours were just too unlike Cameron’s hours and I never saw him. But I’m much happier now where I am.
In the end, it’s really been a challenging, fun, and bumpy year for us here in Estes Park. I’ve met so many great people and I have so many opportunities in the arts. I’m part of a local theater company, sing with the Estes Park Oratorio, and I’m a member of a prominent local writer’s club. We love living here and we’re definitely glad that we bought the house. I don’t know if we’ll stay here forever, but I’m happy to be here right now. The seasons here are just spectacular. The fall colors are peaking this week and it’s just glorious. It’s quiet here (usually, unless there’s tons of tourists in town) and it’s away from the big city. Plus I get to see stuff like this every day out my window. And for that I really can’t complain.