Moving is hard. It can be exciting, stressful, exhausting, and scary, sometimes all in the span of a few hours. Moves are frequently made to be closer to family or related to a job; and for lack of a better descriptor are predestined. We usually move because we have to, not because we want to. Sure, there is some flexibility depending on the area, but usually the destination is bound by some geographical constraints. Add budget into the mix and usually the search area is manageable. Now imagine you could move anywhere. Sounds great, right? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Trust us.
When we met, we were living in Vail and both worked for the local ski racing club. Forget most of what you know or think about Vail, it’s a cool place to live. Cheap it is not, but it is an incredibly fun place to spend your late 20s/early 30s and still have a professional “real world” job. We used to refer to is as “living in La La Land”. Just six weeks before we were married, the house we were renting was put on the market and sold in just 48 hours, leaving us scrambling to move. Loving where we lived, we wanted to stay in the Vail Valley; but our budget disagreed and made anything east of Eagle unattainable. So, we compromised and settled on a nice townhome in Eagle Ranch; it wasn’t our ideal location, but was still in the mountains and close to the things we enjoyed in Vail.
About that same time, we took over ownership of the winery in Palisade, a nearly two-hour drive from our newly purchased home. At the time, we didn’t have even the beginning of an idea of how all-consuming running the winery and being the sole winemaking staff would become. If we’d known that our home would be more of a nice place to store our furniture and skis than place to live, we’d never have bought the townhome in Eagle. However, since we did and we were still under the impression that we would be able to split our time between there and the winery, it seemed like a good decision at the time. Part of the “romance” of making wine is that there are no days off during harvest. In fact, anything less than a 10-hour day feels like slacking. Since our primary home was too far for a daily commute, we tried not to think about our nice home in the mountains and lived on the winery property during harvest in the nearly 100-year old former bunkhouse that sat just 20 yards from I-70 (peaceful and quiet, it was not). An experience made even more exciting during our first harvest (after having only been married for two months), as we lived there with Jay’s parents- four people, one puppy, and one bossy but loveable cat lived in a two bedroom, one bathroom, 900 square foot house together for three months.
Even though we would have the bunkhouse to ourselves come Spring 2011, we found that going back and forth to Eagle just wasn’t feasible. By the end of 2011, we’d decided to put that nice townhome on the market. If you remember the housing market in 2012, it still hadn’t rebounded to its glory days, so we lived in the bunkhouse until it sold…ten months later. While there, we spent many an evening (surely with a glass of wine or two) listening to trucks and cars drive over the rumble strips while pondering what we should do and where we should live. We didn’t want to give up being in the mountains and we weren’t interested in living nearer the winery, so we discussed fixing up the bunkhouse and making it our permanent home, and then finding a vacation home or condo someplace more interesting where we could live during the slower months. We discussed living in the bunkhouse as it was until we just couldn’t handle it anymore. We even discussed and had plans created to build a house in the back of the vineyard. Ultimately, we decided that for the best chance to grow the winery and have it succeed, buying a house in Grand Junction was the most intelligent option. Although we moved out of the mountains a bit begrudgingly, we found a nice house that was close but not too close to the winery. For those keeping count, we had now lived in four houses and moved three times in two years.
We love our little stucco ranch house in Grand Junction. It has everything we need, including a nice kitchen, parking for all our cars, views of Colorado National Monument and Mount Garfield, and a fenced backyard for our dog that refuses to use it (as being the spoiled vineyard dog that he is has become accustomed to being walked twice a day). While moving to Grand Junction was not on our bucket list or any list, we did it for the success of the winery and did our best to embrace the area. There are some beautiful trails, good restaurants, and fresh fruit and vegetables at a pretty much every turn. In fact, we used to drive by six farm stands on our way from the house to work every day (not that we were counting). We discovered that we will probably never love another tomato as much as the ones we discovered at Farmacy Farms; and that the smell of freshly roasted green chiles at Okagawa Farms just up the road is only beat (maybe) by the smell of donuts at Homestyle Bakery. We always knew that as much as we tried to love the Grand Valley, it wasn’t home for us. It just never clicked the way some other places had for us in the past. Once we sold the winery, we knew that moving would be another step in establishing our new life.
Our travels by Airstream took us all over the East Coast and throughout the South. While we knew that neither region was in consideration for areas that we would consider moving, seeing different places and meeting different people helped to provide perspective and narrow down what we liked and/or disliked about a place, the must-haves, and the deal breakers. So, as we traveled, we routinely discussed things that stood out to us one way or another and towards the end of our journey came up with a list of places that we wanted to consider for our new home. During the final stop of our Airstream trip, we toured several homes in Santa Fe and Taos; falling in love with the town and food (Santa Fe) and an amazing, though crazily designed adobe home with a fabulous lot near the Plaza (Taos). We drove around the towns, checked out the markets, ate the local cuisine, and pondered our findings. Once home, we strongly considered Santa Fe, but both kept coming back to wanting to stay in Colorado. Jay is a native, and though he left to attend school in New Hampshire for nine years, always knew that he would come back. I grew up outside of Chicago, came to CU for school and never left, always sure that I’d never leave Colorado. Here are two people with their hearts strongly attached to Colorado, yet unable to find any place in the state that they were excited about. So we spent hours looking at homes on Zillow and Realtor.com, researching demographics and weather statistics, reading blogs and travel guides, and still we weren’t sure.
Fast forward two months. Returning from our trip to Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks, we decided to spend a night each in Flagstaff and Albuquerque. Both towns were interesting and were in consideration for places that we might move. We didn’t look at any houses, but did our best to get a feel for the town in a short time (both of which we’d visited before). We loved Flagstaff, especially the stands of Ponderosa pines; but felt it was just too far from everything we loved and everyone we knew in Colorado and New Mexico. Albuquerque is a cool city, but a bit too big for our tastes. Two more cities crossed off the list and we were back to square one. Starting to feel a bit discouraged, we discussed (yet again) the places that we would consider in Colorado and came up with no real option. Then we drove into Durango.
The first place that I ever visited in Colorado when I was 16 and a place that I’ve visited many times since, Durango has always been special to me. Jay had visited a handful of times, but didn’t have a real feeling one way or another. Driving back from Albuquerque, we stopped in Durango for gas and had the realization that it could be the perfect place. Not ones to sit around, we got back from the trip, found a real estate agent and were house shopping within two weeks. Something that we pride ourselves on is the ability to make informed decisions quickly, rather than getting trapped as many do in a cycle of (one of Jay’s favorite ski coaching terms) “paralysis by analysis”. On our first visit, we found a house, put in an offer, and were promptly turned down. Initially bummed, it turned out to be the best possible thing that could have happened. We’d found a nice house, but the two things that we said we wouldn’t compromise on- enough garage space to park our fleet and a kitchen large enough to allow us to cook at the same time without tripping over one another- were the two biggest things that we would be sacrificing. After we had adamantly agreed over and over that we wouldn’t back down on those few things, we were ready to do just that. Why? Looking back now, we’re still not sure. Durango is a very cool place and offers much of what we love about living in the mountains and Western Colorado- access to great skiing, a variety of locally-owned tasty restaurants, beautiful outdoor spaces, and none of the “rat race” feeling that can come with being in a big city. But this is Colorado, and there is more than one place that offers all those things, plus those things that we want and couldn’t get in Durango. We love to cook and eat and dream of being close enough to specialty markets that we can find the obscure ingredients that we’ve, quite frankly, never had access to since we’ve been together. Once again, we found ourselves back to searching for the perfect place.
In our many discussions, there is a town that came up more than once, but was usually promptly rejected by one of us. I can’t recall how we got there; but after Durango was checked off the list, we found ourselves again considering this town. Out of other ideas and willing to entertain any place in Colorado by now, we decided to take a trip to this city and explore- no pressure, no house hunting, just a few days to see if we liked the area. We were almost successful. Since it was a significant drive from our house in Grand Junction, we decided to check out a few houses that we had found online. With a list of five houses to view, we figured it would be a good way to see what was available, should we decide this was the place. The night we arrived and before our showings, Finley got sick and we ended up spending the night cleaning up after him and eventually taking him to the emergency vet in town. Released just in time to make our first showing and having slept just one hour each, we didn’t expect to find anything. Guess what? We did. The last house that we viewed was perfect. After having looked at more than 25 homes and seriously investigating five other towns, we had finally found the place we wanted to call home. In our almost seven years of marriage, we’ve moved four times (as of next Tuesday), bought three homes, built up and sold a business, started a new one, and lived in a 300-square foot trailer for three months; and we feel like the fun and the next exciting chapter of our lives has just begun!
Where is this new home, you ask? In a few days (nothing is certain until the papers are signed), we will officially be residents of Colorado Springs! We look forward to exploring the area and embracing the life of a hometown tourist…at least until we hit the road again.