In my last blog, The Big Plunge, I shared what led us to decide to quit Mike’s city job, depend more on our home business, and move to the mountains.
Indeed moving from our stable home to an unknown life in the mountains, and having to down-size over 50% has felt a lot like jumping off a cliff. I think of Bethany Hamilton (the young woman who lost her arm to a shark), and her now husband, who on their first date (this was after her incident with the shark), jumped off a 40-foot cliff into the ocean. I’m sure the experience helped to build the bond that they now share. And this life-change experience is building bonds as well, into Mike’s and my 37 year marriage!
But here I will share what the first month has been like. The life itself isn’t that much of a challenge, but the dramatic change of lifestyle into something so unfamiliar, is a bit like jumping off a cliff into the unknown.
Whoever heard of Florissant Colorado?
The official population count for the town of Florissant Colorado (pictured above) is 104. Of course, that doesn’t count folks like us who live in the surrounding mountain area and use Florissant for our address. But still, it is a very small town.
We have been amazed, however, at what this little widening in the road on Highway 24, on the way to such places as Breckenridge, has to offer: a spacious, efficient post office (essential for our online business), two super-great restaurants (one being more of a coffee shop, quaint and unique; the other offering “by scratch” food only), a cozy library with a fireplace (we got a library card and plan to use it. We long to feel real pages of paper turning at our fingertips!), and amenities like grocery stores pretty dog-gone close and convenient
We feel right on the boundary between civilization and wilderness
As for the wilderness part, wow! what a dramatic change for us! Here is our driveway where the moving truck so nearly tipped that the guys who were directing the truck ran for their lives to get out of its way. The owner of the moving company even showed up to make sure everything was going to go without further hitch. And, by God’s grace, all went well from there. The owner apologized for the incident, but it didn’t seem to me to be anyone’s fault, except the hard-to-maneuver driveway. Although, once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy sailing
We also transported Mike’s workshop up that driveway from Colorado Springs! Are we crazy? At times it has felt that way, but we were determined to get here, and we did. Here’s a pic of Mike’s shop leaving our former driveway, and it made it all the way up the mountain and to our front door.
Are we now hermits?
Are we hermits out here deep in the Rocky Mountains? Far from it. In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps we were hermits living in the city without realizing it. I thought that “neighborly” was a concept long-gone, but not here. For example:
*next door neighbor, Todd (yes, everyone lives on approximately 5 acres, but we’re still neighbors) hopped the fence to help Mike lift his air filter into his wood shop, and stayed an hour giving Mike the scoop on everything from what kind of wood to use in the wood stove to who’s who in the general area.
*neighbors Kari and Terry invited us over into their home and gave us the information on getting good phone reception. This couple lives here only in the winter, believe it or not, to get away from the snow of Michigan!
As far as real neighbors, that’s it. Our street hosts 3 families, us and two others.
We get the feeling that we are not in the middle of nowhere, however, but whereas in the city, we were surrounded by people, here, we are involved with people…like it or not. But we do like it.
*Mike, the UPS man, welcomed us heartily, even though he has had to drive up to our door almost every day with move-in and business related stuff! He knows all the names of everyone in the surrounding area, including all the dog’s names and their personalities.
*Church. We ventured off to church last Sunday. The 70’s jingle “little country church on the edge of town” came to mind as we drove up. The thing I noticed when we walked in was that people were laughing and joking with each other during the first part of the service. I liked the feeling of joy, but wondered if they ever got serious. And yep, sure enough, they did. The sermon was short but right from the Word of God, part 3 in a study of the book of Philemon. (When it comes to sermons, I sometimes think of what Mark Twain reportedly wrote to a friend, “Sorry this letter is so long. I didn’t have time to write a short one.” Sometimes, not always, with sermons, I wonder if less might be more.)
At the end of the service, everyone in the little church held hands across the aisles and sang, “Till we meet again.” Then we were invited to the following potluck by more people than I can count. Yes, we liked it.
We learned that the third Sunday of every month, the men make a hearty breakfast for the entire church family before the service begins. Mike plans to participate in that next time, and I plan to enjoy the food and fellowship. Here’s a pic of the church. Some of the cars are a little dirty. That’s because it is an exercise in futility to wash a mountain car.
Those are some of the neighborly highlights.
You can bet that these city people are experiencing some adjustments up here in these hills!
Peaceful Mountain Walks?
I mentioned Mike, the UPS man, knowing all the dogs. But dogs are not entirely a positive for someone like me who walks every day. Most of the dog owners up here are responsible, but some just let their dogs roam free.
Our first week here, Mike and I took a walk and two dogs charged us down a hill and were bearing teeth and lunging at us. Mike scared them off with our walking stick.
I often like to walk alone, and so I went on Amazon and ordered some HALT spray, reportedly the same stuff that mailmen use. It doesn’t hurt dogs, but does disorient them.
And sure enough, a few days later, I took a late afternoon walk by myself and the same dogs charged me, snarling and lunging.
I had my plan to transfer my walking stick and my right glove to the left hand and to reach into my pocket for the mace. It worked, and I sprayed the most aggressive dog right between the eyes. I’ve never used mace before! He did an instantaneous about-face and charged back home barking as loudly as he had approached. The other dog barked from the side of the road, but I left him alone.
And guess what? I’ve not seen hide nor hair of those dogs since!
No tractor for Bevy.
The temps here are about 10 degrees colder than Colorado Springs, from whence we have come. And there is more snow.
So I thought I would take advantage of the situation and point out to Mike that we need a little tractor to move the snow, etc. It snowed last night and I brought up the tractor idea again in the morning. Mike said, “Bevy, I’m going out with a broom and sweep the drive because the snow is so light a fluffy, that’s all it needs!”
He’s right. The snow falls like light, sparkling crystals that shine in the moonlight and sunlight. Here’s a picture of the moon shining in the early morning after a snowfall. This is basically our front yard.
Maybe I’ll try again for the tractor this spring when the snow is wet and hard to move. I’ve always wanted to drive a tractor.
Not so convenient
There are definitely inconveniences.
If you forgot to get the cereal at the grocery store, too bad. You’ll have to wait till the next trip to the store, and that takes at least 30 minutes one way.
We have well water and a 1500 gallon cistern. That is great except that the investor who sold us this property “fessed up” when we mentioned that the water smelled like a swimming pool, and told us that he had accidentally gotten dirt in the cistern and then poured bleach in the water to disinfect. So the water, at first, tasted like a combination of dirt and bleach. But we have been doing exactly opposite of what you are used to in the city when you conserve water. We have to get that contaminated water out of the cistern, so we flush toilets many times, let water run, do tons of laundry. And sure enough, after a few weeks, the water is now starting to taste more like pure well water that runs into the cistern as it empties. But that has been a small inconvenience of moving in…we have been drinking lots of bottled water.
I think the biggest inconvenience we feel is having no garage. We have a barn! We asked a contractor if we could convert the barn into a garage, His reply: “Not only would I not recommend that, but if there is a heavy snow, I suggest that you don’t go into that barn as the roof could easily cave in!” Well, that took care of that idea.
So, in the not too distant future, we will knock down this old barn and build a garage. But it will still be a good distance from the house.
I was recently reading an article written by a young man who noted that older people who live in the mountains tend to be more robust. He wondered if robust older people tend to move to the mountains, or if the mountains make older people more robust.
Maybe a little of both, but I vote for the latter. It’s a bit more challenging to live here, and although we sometimes long for the conveniences, it’s probably good for us to have some daily physical challenges.
Overall, a good life
Overall, it’s a good life living in the mountains. A real good life. We love that we only use our furnace at night, and that very little. The wood stove keeps us warm, and a couple electric heaters supplement when needed. Mike has taught me to make a fire, which I’ve always wanted to do. The Campfire Girls failed me on that point when I was growing up.
But here is our fireplace, not the best source of heat, like the wood stove is, but very cozy and fun. We look forward to sitting in front of it when our son Ricky and daughter-in-law Emily visit for Christmas, and again, when our former neighbors from the Springs spend the night on New Years Eve. Mike and I also cozy in front of it sometimes and watch Rick Steves who takes us to Europe.
We look forward to many good years here on our four acres, should God bless us with good health and protection for the land. We just memorized Psalm 91 together, and so we expect His good care for us, no matter what circumstances may bring.
Winter here has its own charm, but we do look forward to summer. In fact, before we knew that we were moving here, last year in late summer, Mike and I visited the Platt River, which is just a few miles from our home now, and went tubing! As you can see, this portion of the Platt is a “lazy river,” just right for tubing…just a little bit of gentle rapids and a nice relaxing float. Our tubes are in the barn, and we plan to use them again when the summer magic happens here in the Rockies.