Tuesday, May 31, 2011


We arrived home from our house hunting trip several weeks ago. The minute we hit the road for home, with the mountain ranges in our rearview mirror, I knew that the fun part was over. Somehow the long roads home were mile after mile of mental lists, while the long roads out to Colorado had been mile after mile of excited anticipation.

On the drive west we came to appreciate living in states that have beautiful scenery. I give full credit to the farmers who keep our grocery stores stocked with foods, but I have to say I’d have trouble living in the land of wide open fields. Acres of scrubby grassland stretched on for miles, occasionally dotted with cows. We passed a few large corporate feed lots, making comments about the origins of our last McDonald’s hamburger. But there were also plenty of smaller farms, and many fuzzy dots curled up in the shadows of mama cows, indicating that spring breeding had been successful.

We took the northern route, not having time to stop along I-70, where most of our friends and family live. Across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska, the roads go on forever. It was common to see turkeys on the side of the road, who seemed unaware of the inherent risk of hanging out next to a path of zooming vehicles. Signs for the Pony Express popped up along the way. Rest areas were way too far apart to be entertaining and we counted it as a personal victory when we could find a small Subway sandwich store tucked into the back of a truck stop.

Then suddenly, after three long days in the car, we were there. We rounded a corner and there was civilization. First a smattering of houses, then a full fledged town, on the east side of Denver. Before we knew it we were in the middle of the city, practically giddy with relief that we’d actually survived the trip. A quick stop for drinks, then it was back in the car, to keep driving west. Denver’s great and all, but our sites are set on some mountain towns outside of the big city.

We oohed and ahhed at the wide highway that took us up in altitude, toward white capped mountain peaks. We teased my husband, that he’d have such a ‘horrible’ commute every day, up and down this strikingly beautiful corridor. We soon went into full camera mode, meaning the cameras and cell phones with cameras were never again put away. Around every bend was something new to capture.

We began to notice some themes. Every vehicle seemed to have a dog riding along. Every stoplight had at least one vehicle with the word Jeep on it. Neighborhood after neighborhood had wildlife running rampant. Elk, foxes and deer were as common as squirrels and chipmunks in my neighborhood. Early on, my boys started a game where each animal got a number of points assigned, depending on how rare they were. Deer were low points. Porcupine and skunks got higher points. I was impressed with their game until I realized that points actually translated into punches. If the animal ended up in our grill, there were even bonus punches to be given. Did I mention how much I missed my daughter?

Another common sight, which seemed sad and ironic, was the number of lost cat signs hanging on utility poles. As we roamed residential areas, through thickly wooded areas and switchback roads that led up the mountains, we saw sign after sign. Each had the familiar plea, “Lost Kitty!” and an adorable picture. Cats of all ages, all colors, seemed to have been rounded up and taken away. Considering the number of wildlife we witnessed in these same neighborhoods, many of which are carnivores, it seemed obvious to us that most of the missing felines would never make it home. It led us to believe that the people of Colorado are a very optimistic group, indeed.

After spending five days roaming the area, we really aren’t that much closer to finding the house we’ll call home next fall. We drove almost every street and road in the two towns we’re considering and have a better feel for the area, but finding a specific home is tricky. Many great homes, comfortably in our price range, with amazing views, are perched on lots that are almost impossible to access. The endless switchbacks almost make me woozy at times. Other homes, with easier access to the main roads, are in remote, rugged areas that would make a bike ride after school almost impossible for my boys. It will be a trick, once we physically arrive in Colorado, to find a place that has everything we need, and that we can afford without winning the lottery.

But I know it will be there, waiting for us, right when we need it. With every move we’ve had the same concern, finding the right house in the right location. So far we’ve done very well, and every house has felt very much like home. The long trip out to Colorado was the first step. Getting the scenes of our new town swirling around in our heads helps the process along. Now we’re back, and it’s time to wrap up this great life we’ve created in New York.

Because way off in the distance we can hear it. Colorado’s calling us back, wanting us to come home.

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