It’s been three months since we’ve moved into our house in Conifer, Colorado. To be honest, it sometimes still feels like we’re squatting in a vacation home. Until I have to write a check for the plumber. Or the surveyor. Or the garbage collection company, which, by the way, still hasn’t given me the bear-proof garbage can I’d requested.
You hear a lot about guarding your garbage against black bears up here. They’re basically the raccoons of Shadow Mountain. In fact, while I have seen one live black bear up here (cutting through our yard on Fourth of July, much to the delight of visiting family. As one said, “That’s a big motherfucking bear.”), I’ve only seen one raccoon — and that poor guy was dead on the side of the road.
We closed on a house last Friday. A lovely four-bedroom, four-bath — that’s two each for both of us — in the foothills town of Conifer, west of Denver. It’s up on Shadow mountain and sits on two acres of sloping pine and aspen and other assorted plants that I don’t know the names of. It’s the very picture of serenity, and the close on Friday couldn’t have gone smoother except for the LAST MINUTE FLIGHT TO AND FROM DALLAS THAT CARA WAS FORCED TO TAKE BECAUSE CAPITAL ONE IS NOT ONLY THE WORST BANK IN THE WORLD BUT IS THE EPITOME OF ALL THAT IS WRONG WITH LATE STAGE CAPITALISM IN THE UNITED STATES.
But more on that later.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. We moved to Colorado last fall with the intention of renting for a year, figuring out where we wanted to live, then buying toward the end of our lease — or even after the lease was up.
Then again, it wasn’t originally supposed to be like that either. We’d come to Colorado last spring with the intention of just buying a house and then moving. We checked out the mountain town of Nederland, which was full of hippies, had a semi-functional traffic circle, a few coffee shops and a lot of houses set on dirt roads where murderers, bears, and murderous bears might lurk. It was small is what I’m saying. And we’d just stayed at The Stanley, so maybe we were primed to think Colorado ghosts were out to get us.
We saw an amazing house in Nederland, one we considered out of our price range at the time (if you watch House Hunters, you know what kind of foreshadowing that is), and some not-so-amazing houses. But we learned that we didn’t know a thing about Colorado in general and mountain (or mountain-ish) living in particular. We also didn’t know what our work situations would be, so Nederland — west of Boulder — wasn’t going to be practical if either of us had to take a job in Denver. Also, trying to get a mortgage while living out of state seemed like it was going to be a pain in the ass.
So we found a place in Superior, a bedroom town between Boulder and Denver, and two hundred yards between the target and a massive open space with trails and amazing views of the Flat Irons.
When Ken and Cara moved from Brooklyn to Colorado, all they wanted was a change of pace, to trade the grind of long commutes and a dysfunctional city for fresh air and a slower pace of life. Maybe a little adventure. What they couldn’t have known was that just over two months after moving, they’d be trapped on a mountainside, tears freezing to their faces as they shivered, staring at their useless cellphones, the last light of day leaking out of the thin air.
Man. I should totally write one of those pieces for an outdoor magazine, shouldn’t I.
The biggest problem with this story is we didn’t die. Didn’t come close to it. Maybe if you ask Cara, she might tell you differently. She’ll tell you that, once again, I went out of my way to kill her. And the worst part might have been the indignity of it all. The scuba lessons I signed her up for came with about six hundred things that could go wrong and kill her. Swimming with sharks? Well, duh. They’re sharks. Glacier hiking in Iceland was a day of extremely high winds, crevasses and deadly ice caves.
But snowshoeing? You don’t die while snowshoeing. Hell, we’d been snowshoeing a couple of times before. It was a fun way to spend a day.
Outside Magazine writer: The two were about to make a number of rookie mistakes that often cause trouble for those new to winter sports, well-meaning people whose enthusiasm far outstrips their skills.
The last time I barbecued a brisket in New York, I spent $100 or more for what was once considered an inexpensive hunk of meat. Last week, I spent $30 on a brisket at Walmart. It turned out to be one of the best I’ve barbecued to date.
This was to be my first barbecue in Colorado, the first time I had people over, and it was all for the LSU-Alabama game. The game went about as I expected. Thankfully, the meat — brisket, ribs, and chicken — did too, despite a lot of worrying about barbecuing at altitude with variable weather conditions.
I guess I’m on a Halloween theme this week. Someone should alert Collin Nissan because this post is all about Glow at the Gardens, an even highlighting pumpkin carving and more at the Denver Botanic Gardens. After all, we know what season it really is.
Cara and I have been watching “The Haunting of Hill House.” It’s not for the faint of the heart. In fact, if anyone says he isn’t afraid of the movie, that person is already dead inside and should be reported to either the Ghostbusters or Van Helsing.
The point is, it’s a creepy show and within one episode you’ll be checking under your bed, wishing you didn’t have a basement, and contemplating a move into a newly built tiny house where you can be 100% sure that no one has ever died and where ghosts couldn’t fit (and, besides, ghosts wouldn’t be caught dead in a tiny house because tiny houses are just a hideous expression of hipster privilege and virtue signaling and if you wanted to actually save money and downsize you could have just bought a trailer).
Friday morning. About three weeks after moving to Colorado. I’d accumulated a bill and a pay stub and the other forms of identification I needed to get a Colorado driver’s license. So I woke up bright and early with the intent of getting to the DMV in Boulder the minute it opened at 7 a.m.
But alas, life happens. I got a little bit of a late start. I let the dogs hang out in the yard a little longer than I’d planned — I’m a sucker for what the dogs want. I didn’t get to the DMV until 7:30.