High in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains: Foothills versus Mountain Living in Southern Colorado

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:

Manuel's snow tractor

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!

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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.

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.

solar water tubesWe 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. I can’t breathe any higher! We’re doing great right where we are!

memoir of retirement 2016We are newcomers to rural Colorado, so after two years I compiled a book about the total experience of moving here to build passive solar  in the foothills:  A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado Please feel free to contact me directly for copies of any of my books! MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

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The Best of Boomer Blogs, #456

Welcome to the longest-running Boomer Blog Carnival online, started sometime back in the early 2000s! This is our version of a clickable magazine of recent posts by long-term, reputable boomer bloggers.

Relax, ENJOY and click away!

abiquiu NMSummer is all about relaxation, and for some that means vacation. Veteran traveler Carol Cassara over at Heart-Mind-Soul today offers us 5 ways to have a relaxing vacation and also a list of must-packs that will come in handy on any vacation.

Tom Sightings in Volunteering an Opinion reflects on the benefits of volunteering in retirement Here he offers a few facts and figures as well as some perspective from his own experience.

Kinky BootsMeryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting says: There is nothing like a day in the city to energize mind and body. She enjoyed a day in the Big Apple recently with friends, eating and theater-going: Showtime in the Big Apple.  However, she also reminds us there is no place like your chosen home.

purple cancer cellOn The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about the first inventory of the accumulation of cancer-causing chemicals in the human body. Up to 420 chemicals known or likely to cause cancer have been detected in blood, urine, hair, and other human samples, the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research organization, found when it reviewed more than 1,000 biomonitoring studies and other research by government agencies and scientists in the United States and around the world. Biomonitoring studies measure the burden of chemicals present in the human body.

You are enoughI say whether you chose to go on vacation or stay home this summer, take a mind vacation everyday. Tell that busy, demanding part of your brain to shut up and take time to RELAX. De-stress and embrace the ‘F’ word, FUN, one of our greatest and undervalued pleasures in life.

 

Journey Back to Self, Finding Home…

richard gereI saw a great profile of one of my favorite human beings last Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning. Richard Gere has 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?

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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?

It’s a long story, one I can now share with you in my new memoir!

A New Week in a Spectacular New Home In The Southern Colorado Foothills!

So relieved to have our final move behind us!

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All I feel is gratitude for the many ways my life has changed since I decided to make love my highest priority back in 2004. I see now that if I hadn’t decided to find a way to believe in love again back then, none of my other goals could have been achieved.

First there was my fortuitous meeting with Mike in early 2005, which led to having the courage, time and energy to begin a new writing career. My books followed as Mike and I’s relationship grew.

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Then, when the time seemed exactly right, we decided to move out of the city forever and found this lovely valley to build in with 180 degree views of the Spanish Peaks and the Sangre de Cristos. But if Mike had not had the vision and the proper skills to create this home, it would have never been built.

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The peace and quiet, the chilly air in the morning as the sun comes up, this is heaven or close enough for me.

How did I end up here, feeling so fortunate?

It’s a long story, one I can now share with you!