We have less than two weeks left in Colorado, this state where I’ve lived over half my life, where we got married, and where Ethan was born. This backdrop for our amazing and significant events and activities couldn’t have been better: from the glorious natural views and hiking experiences, to the dog-focused families, to the sports fanatics, to the 300 annual days of sunshine, to the plentiful ski resorts, to the festivals, art shows, and farmers’ markets, to the outdoor concerts, and the spectacular patterns of pink and orange hues that come with cloudy sunsets.
What We Are Doing
We’re spending our final weeks enjoying what Colorado has to offer that we have yet to experience, and experiencing again what we have enjoyed previously. We decided upon the following final activities, in this Centennial State, Colorful Colorado.
Spending Time with Friends and Family
2021 Wild Animal Sanctuary
This is the hardest part about leaving- we will miss our friends and family tremendously. In fact, we have missed our friends over the past 15 months or so, but recently vaccines have allowed us more freedom to visit with them again safely. Just in the past few weeks we’ve been able to join them for dinners, a walk through the Wild Animal Sanctuary, card games, hikes, and simple visits to talk and reconnect.
Our older son is 27, has a career, apartment, girlfriend and other aspects of life in Colorado, so he won’t be going with us. He’s the one person outside our household that we connected with during the pandemic, and it’s hard to imagine not being able to see him very often.
The same is true for our closest friends, Kirsten and Scott. I knew her before she met him, and they just celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. She was my matron of honor, and he James’ best man. We went on countless vacations together, some with kids, others not, some with and some without spouses.
Though we are leaving so many behind, we are keeping them in our hearts and minds, and fully expect them to visit us on Erin Skye before or after we depart for our cruising years.
Exploring in the Mountains
2021 Red Tail Overlook, Mueller
Colorado is home to beautiful mountains, including purple mountains majesty, that we enjoy hiking, and viewing, and immersing ourselves in. We have been avid campers, hikers, skiers/snowboarders, snow-shoers, and view-appreciaters, so we kept the tradition we’ve had for so many years. We scheduled a Memorial Day Weekend that mimics the way we spent most Memorial Days in the past two decades. We hiked in Mueller State Park (leaving the camping part behind this year), and toured the Cave of the Winds, probably for the 7th time. It was fantastic to breathe in the pine-scented air and stand on boulders overlooking the Sangre de Cristo mountains. and though the path we choose this time was downhill to start and uphill coming back, I’d still recommend Red Tail Overlook on any nice spring day.
Wrapping up the Day Job
The reality of this move, this change in lifestyle, really hit me today. My last day in the office is a day away, and colleagues are wishing me well, asking for last bits of advice, and noting the hole that I’m leaving. I’m sure that the organization will adapt as it does with any change, and though I will miss the camaraderie and collaboration, I will adapt as well.
It’s hard for me to fathom not having a job. I’d like to continue to contribute to society in some manner, and not an insignificant one. I’d like to contribute more directly to saving people’s lives, saving the planet, as well as leading my family in the preparation for the cruising life, which ties right into my passion for learning and experiencing new things. I’ll put together the plan to address that once we are in our new home and things settle down, perhaps about 3 weeks from now.
Taming the Stifling Stuff-Monster
We have sold or given away all but the necessities in our apartment, and what remains is packed up into boxes that will go to the boat. All of the furniture is spoken for, to be removed the day before we turn in the keys. The pictures are off the walls, and our kitchen contains only the bare minimum, with a set menu for our final days determining the utensils, appliances, and pans that are still accessible.
Our umpteenth round of culling has filled yet another few boxes to donate to charity. I’m sure we have at least 8 receipts from Goodwill since the start of the year, and this round we are looking for a bit of variety – towels to the Denver Dumb Friends League, food to a neighborhood food bank, and clothing to ARC.
Completing the Middle School Experience
Ethan during his 8th grade continuation speech
Ethan’s middle school years are now over, and he is currently at a graduation party, with a sleep-over afterwards. During the ceremony earlier today we listened to his classmates discuss how their school made them who they are today, how much they grew and learned in the process, and how much they will miss the teachers and friends they had spent so much time with over the years. It was as if they were all going out of state, but of course they are not. For them, and for Ethan doubly as he won’t be geographically close, it is a time to say good-bye, to transition into a different chapter in their lives.
What We Are NOT Doing
With so little time, there were things we considered doing, but that we decided against.
2015 in Mueller Park overlooking the back of Pike’s Peak (a 14er)
It’s a pastime in Colorado to hike up one or more of the 58 mountains with peaks above 14,000 feet. I’ve had the great fortune and perseverance to hike to the top of one of these 14ers, Mt Sherman, but I/we really don’t have a need to do more. We prefer the less technical and the more enjoyable treks through the wilderness and mountain terrain.
Going to Large Venues or Tours
I wish we could have taken Ethan to see the US Mint tour, or the Coors Brewery tour while we lived so close, but alas, it was not meant to be. Perhaps we can arrange for that on a future trip back. He’s never seen a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater either, but he’s been to the other major venues for music or sports. We’ll pass on those with the small amount of time we have left.
It’s been a tradition for our family to go camping at Mueller or thereabouts over Memorial Day, Estes Park during the Highland Festival after Labor Day, and many other places over long and short summer weekends. Usually we shared our camping adventures with wonderful friends, made campfire meals, played cards, and explored our surroundings by foot or 4-wheeling.
The personal and natural connections we made during those camping trips were unforgettable, and they are treasured memories for our family. Since we no longer own our camper, we’re identifying other opportunities to connect with friends before we leave.
2015 Conquering the Rock at Mueller
2016 Estes Park with Kirsten, Scott, Carmen, and Kurt
2018 4-wheeling with BJ and Brenda
Visiting Prior Homes
The thought crossed my mind that it would be interesting to see what our prior homes look like now, as we depart from the state. A while back I drove by the first house I ever bought (in Thousand Oaks, California) and it was a shock to see that the design and planting I did in the front yard to make it require less water and be unique, was wiped out and replaced with a lawn.
This time around I decided that I’d rather not spend the time and fuel to drive to see them all (Evergreen, Greenwood Village, Parker, Aurora, Stapleton – recently renamed Central Park, and Centennial). It’s worthwhile to look at a Google Street View of each occasionally, but there isn’t any need to do that now or by any deadline.
And now it’s time to say goodbye to all that Colorado is to us. It’s been a good run, and we will cherish these memories forever, as we build new ones to take us forward into our new adventure.