I feel like I have moved a million times in my life. One of the most memorable was in junior high. I got so stressed out on my first day of school I actually started crying in gym class. The stress was just too much when I couldn’t find my next classroom, and everyone else seemed to know exactly where they were going.
That’s one of the reasons why I am so glad my final move is finally behind me. How do I know? Because after two years here, I have finally found someone who can cut my hair properly.
Yes, one of the toughest parts of moving is lining up all the service people you will need in your new area to make you feel comfortable doing things like buying the foods you love, grooming your dog, getting a great massage, and loving your new haircut.
In a combination of two tiny towns with a total of less than 4,000 people, good services can be hard to find. That was one of my original reasons for trying to make friends here, for good referrals! Since we only have two grocery stores and one dog groomer in the entire county, that search was easy. But I had to try three different hair stylists to find one I really like.
Medical services have been much more complicated. One of the reasons we thought this area was a good choice was because there is an emergency room, a small hospital and a nursing home nearby. Come to find out the service is very good at these places, but the financial end of things is completely screwed up, to the point where many will not go there simply because they mess up the billing so badly.
If you receive a bill ever, it is usually far more than six months later, so you can’t even remember what you went to the doctor for, and they always mess up the insurance payments. We’ve started driving 40 minutes to Colorado City or even as far as Pueblo for medical care, mainly because things are too messed up here! Alas, the many things you don’t find out until after you move somewhere new.
I still haven’t found a good massage therapist around here, and I really need one! I had the most incredible one up in Loveland. She was such a good friend and master masseuse. No one else can even come close!
This morning I woke up too early, but since I was already up I went outside to take a few sunrise shots. Then we started getting ready to drive up to “Uptop” to enjoy the 2016 Welcome Gathering for the Spanish Peaks Celtic International Music Festival.
Uptop is up at the top of Old La Veta Pass. It’s a bit of a ghost town now, but still fun to visit, especially on a glorious fall day like today!
This is where the train used to come through over a century ago.
It has an cool old chapel and an old tavern where the Celtic musicians set up to play and guide the courageous ones through some Irish dances.
And since I LOVE anything Celtic it was GRAND!
I loved the harp the best. I seem to be developing a love affair with all kinds of harps.
On the way home we stopped a few times to try and capture the amazing fall colors up there. Here’s Mike looking back towards the Spanish Peaks.
It’s days like these that make me so happy that we decided to move down here.
On the way home we got in our FIRST traffic jam ever on Highway 160. Still don’t know what happened there… So we took the county road home and got in the middle of a cattle jam instead! So much more enjoyable than a car traffic jam. It was fun watching the cowboys herding the stray cattle across the road.
Want to learn more about our recent move from busy, noisy Fort Collins to this place of silence and lovely nature watching? Go here!
This week we are offering you reviews of movies, restaurants, an analysis of upstate New York versus California living, and how to get better prices on your new iPhone. Let’s hear from Carol Cassara first:
For many Americans going out to eat has become a regular pastime, a part of our lifestyle.Usually the experience is a pleasant one, but occasionally disappoints because of poor food or service quality. Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting recently enjoyed some great Mexican food with a portion of poor service.
Boomer blogger Tom Sightings admits, “I Don’t Like to Fly.” The last flight he took was round trip from New York to Phoenix in 2012. So why did he go see the movie Sully? And what does he think about it? (It might surprise you.)
Over at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, consumer journalist Rita R. Robison writes about how much a new iPhone 7 can cost you. Did you know you can save more than $1,000 by using WalletHub’s Cell Phone Savings Calculatorto compare the different ways that consumers can purchase the iPhone, evaluate coverage plans, and figure out when they’re better off keeping their current phone? Go learn more!
Me, I’ve been busy editing and formatting my new book. I will be so glad to present it to you in the next few weeks! Until then please enjoy the cover. This is a photo of Mike’s excitement one morning as he walked outside to enjoy our tremendous view.
Writer Meryl Baer says, there are all sorts of reasons people love the place they live. She enjoys her current hometown because of the ease of walking and cycling around town. In this week’s post, she lists the Ten reasons I love my walkable community.
Writer Carol Cassara says, many boomers who are otherwise living fulfilled lives, face problems with waning libidos. She explains over at Heart-Mind-Soul, there’s no need to deny ourselves the pleasure of a vibrant sex life, not when there’s a new book by boomer and midlife sex expert Walker Thornton that offers practical advice to anyone who would like to invite desire back into their life. Carol reviews Ms. Thornton’s book here.And to give love equal time, she offers her simple secret to love!
According to Tom Sightings, in Beaten by the Bureaucracy,sometimes it’s hard to appreciate what the government does for us, even if you’re a liberal. He tells the story of changing his driver’s license and car registration after he moved to a new state. What’s the solution? “Don’t move to a new state!”
Over at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, a consumer journalist, gives us a report on her bountiful garden. Robison, who went on vacation for a week, found that special something that gardeners dread finding when they return: “Surprises From My Garden.”
Just published my memoir of moving to this beautiful rural place in southern Colorado to get a ways off the grid and finally truly enjoy life! Please take a look!
In 2014 we moved from Fort Collins, with the 6th largest county population in Colorado (333,577), to the least populated, Huerfano at about 6,500 souls. Huerfano county is the home of the Spanish Peaks, seen above…
The Huerfano means orphan in Spanish, and so many of us here are orphans, because we are elders. We lived in the town of Walsenburg (pop. 3,000) for our first year here, while building a custom passive solar home to the west. As we complete our first full year of living in the foothills, close to nature, I find those who live in cities to be busy, always busy. What is that doing to their soul?
I feel I have learned so much on this topic by living close to nature for the past year. Getting far from any city has been a reawakening for me, and living here permanently is a wonder. I love to experience those unique emotional experiences which defy our habitual way of thinking. Living here has been all about defying my previous limited state of mind. I called myself “metrofied” before I moved here, but I had no idea how horribly stuck I was in “city mind.”
It is so soothing to observe how cities change us, and then leave, transitioning to a slower, calmer way of being. In my first year here I became aware of the constant anxiety level I maintained by living in cities. Then I slowly let it go. When I feel anxious now, I quickly see there is truly no reason for this feeling. Now, only when I get impatient or angry do I realize that I used to feel that way so much of the time back in Fort Collins, where the traffic was horrendous, and everyone was some form of tense.
The true change for me is the awareness that I can now live in the present. I have been seeking this experience for most of my life. Instead of worrying about the past or demanding more in my future, I can just be here now, loving my life. The down side to this new way of being? Great difficulties going back into cities! I don’t want to waste one more moment of my limited lifespan sitting in traffic and breathing city air.
I am filled with gratitude that I can now live in nature forever…
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” — Henry David Thoreau
For ten years now, the tiny town of Gardner has hosted “Hippie Days.” What’s that? A two day meeting of the minds, or as the organizers like to call it: “A NO BAD VIBES Music Festival.”
For the past two years we haven’t been able to attend. Last year we were moving the end of July, but this year we finally made it!
Here’s the first, and one of the coolest things we saw! This 1961 VW van was on the way to the junk yard when these folks picked it up for $113. It was stripped down, but they now tow it around with a water bed in the back. How cool is that?
We saw lots of booths selling hippie things like tie-dye clothes, jewelry, glassware…
… and a FREE concert all day and all night! The whole thing is free,
even the camping in the back of the venue.
This, of course, made me start thinking, my own personal addiction. How come I’ve never related to hippies? First of all I was born a little late for the whole hippie movement, and second I’ve always been too serious and scholarly for that lifestyle.
But I did LOVE that purple van with its COOL shiny crystal balls!
How did I end up here, feeling so fortunate?
I’m a newcomer to rural southern Colorado. After two years I decided to compile a short journal about the ups and downs of moving from a good-sized city to rural America to build a passive solar retirement home in the foothills:
Please share this information with your friends if they are considering similar life changes. Feel free to contact me directly to discuss any of these challenges, and to order your own signed copies of any of my books! Cheers, Laura Lee (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)
Postscript, June 2018: There was no Hippie Days last summer. New word: Hippie Days will be held on July 27th and 28th in Gardner this summer!
Yesterday was so interesting! We visited some new friends who have lived up above 8,000 feet in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains west of here for the past few years. Loved hearing their stories about living up high.
I know many have romantic visions of life up in those beautiful mountains, but remember this too:
The approach to their house is a windy, dirt road off of a major highway, a road they and their few neighbors must maintain, unlike the county road we live off of, 15 miles west of Walsenburg. Once they came home a few years ago and there was 6 feet of snow on this road. They couldn’t go home!
We heard stories about when the deep snows come, and the big state highway snowplows plow their road closed! That’s why they need to maintain snow-moving equipment themselves….imagine that!
I asked them how deep the snow gets up there, and they decided one picture was worth a thousand words!
WOW! We have had a few snows of a foot or so, but nothing like this! They told us stories of a few snowstorms where they shoveled for eight hours straight. If they didn’t have heavy equipment they wouldn’t be able to get out for weeks!
Their property includes an old straw-bale cabin on a mine site plus 100 acres. Their water comes from a spring nearby, and what delicious water it is! They heat with a large wood stove, which requires a great amount of log splitting to prepare for the winter cold. They have electric service, mainly because the costs of returning renewal energy back to the grid here requires outrageous fees and insurance requirements, and going off grid presents other problems with reliability and initial installation costs. We are stuck here until better energy storage solutions are developed worldwide.
The natural beauty of their landscape is beyond words and, did I mention, they have no water or heating bills… They maintain a number of wildlife cameras and see so many different animals around their home. Bears are so commonplace that they have named a few of them! It’s a wonderful place that requires a lot of work to maintain.
Postscript: This home was lost in the Spring Creek Fire , July 2019.
We recently built a passive solar home right at 7,000 feet and are told by our new friends that we are really saving a lot of money in the winter by absorbing the sun’s heat directly into our insulated slab, which helps to hold the daily sun’s heat within our home overnight.
We hope to add a few of these solar thermal water tubes to our home soon to increase our thermal mass and help to moderate temperature swings both in the winter and summer. Beyond solar, we depend on Cadet forced-air electric wall heaters on thermostats for all of our winter heating needs. They usual turn themselves on during the night and turn off soon after the sun comes up most days. In the summer, the positioning and excellent insulation in our new home keeps us cooler than most without the need for air conditioning. We have ceiling fans in every room.
We have rarely been “snowed in” this past winter, but we did purchase a Subaru and love how well it works on steep snowy roads. Overall, we’re glad we chose a lower elevation, especially since our home survived the Spring Creek Fire in 2018!
After 60 years of living in cities, I moved to rural Colorado 2 years ago. Here are some of the differences I have observed between those who choose to live in or near cities, and those who seek out the rural areas of our country.
The most obvious difference is a love of silence and nature. We had my brother John here for the past few weeks and he spent almost all of his waking hours sitting outside observing the birds, the plants, the bugs, the clouds and the weather. I told you before that I call him “Mother Nature’s Son” and for good reason. Rural America is only for those who greatly prefer a natural setting to high stress, traffic, noise, hustle and bustle and an incredible array of shopping options.
Our sense of time and relaxation is different here. Sure there are lots of hard-working people in the outback, but time takes on a different meaning here. The only people here who are in a great hurry are the outsiders, the locals live on a more relaxed schedule. No hurry to get on to the next task, take your time and do it right. As I mentioned previously when I wrote about the only time we went back to Fort Collins in our two years here:
“I saw people everywhere waiting for something, a place to park, a place to sit in a restaurant, a chance to go through the next stop light, an opportunity to pay for their purchase.”
My commute to La Veta….
Even today, I still find myself sometimes getting anxious when I’m preparing to go somewhere in town. Will it be crowded? Will I be able to get in? And then I arrive and there is hardly anybody there. It takes time to adjust to little traffic and no big rush.
One wonderful, interesting result of no longer sitting in traffic with my foot on the brake constantly, no more right knee pain! I injured that knee in a ski accident in high school, and was planning on treating the long-term pain with surgery before I moved here. Now, my knee is fine.
One discovery for me has been how important religion is out here in the country. I have found one of the great delineators between people is what church you attend, or if you are even religious. In discussions with new people, church almost always comes up. My religion is nature and the earth is my church. Some here can understand that perspective and many cannot. They would prefer that I come to their church.
The other important issue locally seems to be whether you smoke marijuana or not. In some cases I have begun friendships only to find them backing away when the subject of marijuana comes up.
As far as new friendships go, I would say rural people are more hesitant to welcome newcomers into their life. I have heard that they like to wait a few years to see if you will be sticking around before actually becoming friends. And then there are those who came here for the purpose of being alone permanently.
Overall I am surprised at how different rural living can be. It has certainly changed me in so many good ways. I have so much less anxiety and stress, that I almost cannot tolerate how bad I feel when I go to even small cities. I feel my anxiety level rising immediately…
I now fully embrace my love of silence and nature, so I will continue my quest for like-minded souls in this area.
At the risk of sounding slightly biased, I feel the need to share with you the art of my niece Hailey. She’s a beautiful young woman who has already fought a few very tough battles at age 20, and still she persists as a talented writer and painter.
She visited her Dad, my brother, this past April by coming out to Arizona for the first time from the East Coast. She stayed in Mesa and then drove out to Sedona to spend some time with John, at his camp along Oak Creek north of Sedona. I’m so happy they were able to get together after many years apart.
This is Hailey’s interpretation of her drive from Mesa Arizona to Sedona through the eyes of a person who has never seen such amazing natural beauty.
I love Hailey’s sense of color and movement.
Her style reminds me of Georgia O’Keefe‘s early works of the southwest after she first started traveling to Abiquiu New Mexico in 1929, where she eventually bought her Ghost Ranch. Georgia has always been a muse for me personally. Her strong sense of purpose and independent spirit inspires me even today!
We originally considered retiring on land near the orange buttes of Abiquiu ourselves. To me this land is magical. I introduced Mike to the area when I first met him in 2005 and he loved it too.
On our first trip we originally planned to stay there for just a day, but ended up spending a few days enjoying it and looking for land for sale. Perhaps I’ll share an essay I wrote about our first trip together there one of these days…
I saw a great profile of one of my favorite human beings last Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning. Richard Gerehas been a bit of a guru for me ever since he found me at exactly the right moment, in the midst of a tremendously depressing afternoon in the summer of 2004. From the television, he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Hang on, it all changes.” That was enough for me, and he was so right!
Richard now works as an advocate for the disadvantaged of the world. He recently played a homeless man in his film “Time out of Mind”, twelve years in the making. He also works to bring attention to the terrible plight of immigrants worldwide: People without a country.
I find Richard has a knack for asking the important questions, questions like, “Where am I safe in this world?” and “How did I end up here?” And then he said, “We’re all about our stories…”
fe truth I have been focused on lately is how so many of us seem to find a way to return to our original or true self through the chaos that midlife can be. For example, the constant questioning of how I ended up so unhappy with my life at age 49, led me to rediscover who I am, and what I needed to accomplish before I died.
I see now I was in search of a new sense of home and comfort within myself. I was looking for my place in this world.
What did I love and want more of in my life? What parts of my life did I need to jettison RIGHT NOW? What voices in my head were leading me to unhappiness, and which ones were wise and compassionate?
Finding the right voices to listen to has led me to this place in rural Colorado, where the birds sing me awake each morning, and…
“the sun pours in like butterscotch and sticks to all my senses.” Thank you Joni!
How did this happen? How did I end up here, feeling so fortunate?