If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains, you are lucky enough.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Back to the future.

I know, that is some name to come up with. But really, ever since some 4 years ago we picked the State of Colorado we'll be moving to in the summer of 2019 (yes, we will be moving and no, we can't move sooner, yet we practically know the date of it), we've been visiting the Front Range North and South and making the pick. In a funny way, life has its purpose to go in a full circle and land us at the place that was our choice #1 - and the more we explored, searched, looked into variables, veered to another place - we kept coming back to the same. This past weekend it has been locked in. Meet Loveland, CO.

It has been an awesome weekend to get away from Texas and regular busy life. Since our vacation trip to New Mexico was cut abrupt, we longed for mountains, snow, time to do things we love, and spend it together. While the local (for Front Range) ski resort still has their last weekend of skiing open, we chose to visit, but not ski this time. We simply ABSORBED all there was about the place we will call "home" oh, so soon. My 10 years "lock-up" in a hot and humid and flat state I can't reach the end of in less then a day worth of driving years done, and the end is near (nothing against it, simply personal choices).

The weather met us with 70F and sunshine, and the views hit us from the road right away. Ah, mountains, dry air and high peaks...

We drove to Netherlands, a small hole-in the wall town where Geoff Roes used to live (and where, inadvertently, his illness started, one that miraculously made him unable to run, and one that has become infamous by his talking about it - and as it turned out, a number of athletes struggled with, including yours truly). There we had a very awesome coffee and macaroon - yum!
From Netherlands to the ski are is a stone throw away - both mountains of alpine skiing and acres of cross-country. Yes!!! An hour and half drive from our future home! Score! I know which one I will pick, having been born and raised in Russia!

We took the long winding road aptly named Peak to Peak all the way to Estes Park, stopping on the way by the historical church carved out of stone.

Checking in with park rangers at Rocky National Mountain Park, it seemed to confirm that all the trails we may potentially want to hike are still under deep snow, with route finding and slow going a must. That made our decision for the next couple of days easier - and also so much better for the reason of meeting the "home turf".

We finally wandered to Loveland, checked into hotel, found trailhead of Horsetooth and Bobcat nature areas (only 15 min from downtown!!), ate at an amazing Thai place on main drag, and walked the streets of town, which busted (to our huge surprise) with life, music, art shows, theater and lots of Irish pubs.
Morning of Saturday took us to Horsetooth - a place we both ran Quadrock races (25 and 50 milers) some few years back (2012, our first indication of moving for final home this direction), and it brought tons of memories, fantastic trails with breathtaking views, dream-talking, peak-scrambling (and then gingerly getting down), 4 hrs of hiking and running on 1 bottle of water each - and NOT complaining, because what we inhaled was purely paradise. See for yourself.

Upon return, we made a quick stop at the gas station's convenience store, just like some other time when we were here, and I double-fisted on the ice-cream (pretty much the only time I allow myself to consume this extravagance, but we needed calories, and that's my excuse!).
Quickly we drove to another location that had become our favorite (and only 20 min from downtown) - the local's secret, Round Mountain, 5 miles to the top with some 3,000 feet of elevation gain. Shh, don't tell the tourists! Last time we made the full trip, this, though, after putting 12 miles on Horsetooth trails and being not in the best shape of our lives, we did the part that gave best views and gain - and allowed us to be back to shower in coherent time.

Some rest in the hotel room - and ready for dinner and more town-walking and driving around to pick the best location we want to root in as our last home, for good.

Sunday, benefits of close trailhead, before checking out, we made a dash to Bobcat nature area and the seemingly lifeless prairie front views on trails, after climbing for couple of miles, took us into backcountry - with pine trees, fur trees and single track! That was unexpected and a gift we are not taking for granted.

The rest of the day went into more checking out things locally, in Loveland, which, in words of Nick Clark (who lives near-by in the outskirts of Fort Collins, right by the trailhead of Horsetooth park, and who confirmed our wise choice of a place to come live in) "Good choice on Loveland vs Longmont BTW. Primarily because Longmont has terrible trail/mountain access (relative to other Front Range towns), but also because Loveland/Fort Collins is just a great place to be with lots of culture and great community. Longmont has always felt a little soul-less to me, but I don't know it that well. Real estate's probably a little cheaper in Loveland too.

The drive to Denver airport included a second stop in Longmont - as a town of former consideration, it still draws out attention, but now as a potential place "where folks from small villages go for city fill", as it is much bigger, has lots of useful amenities, and most importantly for me - a Yarn store!! I stop at this place EVERY TIME we come (and buy yarn), and as it opened literally months before our first visit in 2012, I met the owner, Gail, a nicest lady, and watched her - and her business - grow. We developed a relationship, the only place I seem to have been able to do that, she recognizes me by name despite once-a-year or so visits, knows and appreciates my knitting work, and is looking forward my moving to the area. We hugged, chatted for good amount of time, and of course I bought more yarn - since our first stop on Friday she wasn't there, I felt not complete in this visit and not personable enough (and my yarn has to have this feeling of personification and love and attachment to something special). "Longmont Yarn Shoppe And it was a great treat to see you this past weekend Olga King!"
Our next stop was back to Netherlands, via different, but not any less spectacular, route, and another stop at the coffee shop (we just had time to kill and loved the aimless wandering with views on Indian Peak Wilderness, another future playground to explore endlessly). Lastly, we drove to Boulder, and met with Iva, our former Austin friend who moved there - and opened a Paleo restaurant! Her business is thriving, and we followed it from the birth as well. She gave me some hot thoughts for the future to grind on, and for now I'll leave it at that.
We didn't make it home until 2 am on Monday, but it was well worth the sleep deprivation. Now, 2 days later, I am still flying high, dreaming large, and buckling up for the final 3 year "head down" life in Texas state.

And for the fun of it - seems that my closet got a knitted clothes' expose, so I was forced to buy an organizing tool to store wool items and protect them from dust mites, moths, humidity - and mess.
But on the final note, there is a thing I'd like to mention. I had moved around in my life a bunch - from being a military brat, until the age of 5, when I sort of settled in in a small village of Belarus for a whole 8 years - and called it "home" for the longest time, despite the next stop in Moscow for 11. I lived in NYC for 9 years, and NYC suburb another 2 - when life took me to Portland, Oregon. As soon as I crossed over into Columbia River Gorge, I felt I had arrived...Portland, even though technically I only had lived there for 5 years straight, forever had become "where I am from" - and the feeling never left. While Texas is already been my housing state for near 7 years, as I visit back in Portland twice a year, as soon as I fly over Mt. Hood and step on the ground and take a deep breath - that feeling of "I am home" comes back immediately. My best friends are there, my kids live there, the best climate, the rain, the mountains (but not at altitude), the tall trees, everything about it feels right for me.

We picked Colorado for our "final" living place for many reasons, but it wasn't Oregon for only a few - one of which was to start our stretch into the golden years on the grounds that didn't "belong" to either one of us. Building a second family in the middle years includes sacrifices, and decisions that appeal for both parties. As we keep coming to CO and narrowing the location of our future home, it feels more and more "near and dear" - but on this last visit, it finally felt like "ours". While I will forever keep saying "I am from Oregon" and Larry will say he is from Oklahoma (even though he lived in Texas now longer), Front Range, CO, had grown on me as a place I can see myself living in - but more importantly, loving, from the heart, not only for particular reason, but truly feeling at peace in. And for that I am grateful

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