Used to be a ‘new’ Jersey Girl   : now A Colorado Girl

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Untamed

IMG 5347

For those of you who might be new to the blog, I am going to fill you in a little on our cabin in Colorado since for the next two weeks+ I’ll be blogging from there. For everyone else who already is familiar with the cabin, well, ho-hum for you! But why not read on anyway and you might learn something you didn’t know about it, okay?

We first bought the land in 1988 right before we moved to Holland. Seventy acres (or thereabout) of high sage covered prairie, deep gullies with mixed forests of aspen and pine, a beaver pond (which then had a beaver), a little creek that runs in the spring with snow runoff, and an absolutely perfect meadow for a cabin.

Stake
Rick standing by one of our property markers high above the cabin. The trees you see in front of him are on our land.

We didn’t get to enjoy it much before we moved, but while living in Europe for five years we always made a point when we were back on home leave to at least picnic on the property.

After our return in the summer of 1993 at first we camped on our land (tent style). A few years later we camped in the RV. We visited at all times of the year to take note of where the snow lay deepest and what parts were accessible in the winter and which were not so we were sure we were putting the cabin in the right spot. Sometimes in the winter we could make it in and sometimes the roads were drifted over and impassable.

We finally built the cabin in 2000. Rick kept a journal of it’s “birth” and if you’re interested you can read about it here. We had originally thought we would harvest the wood from our own lodgepole pines on the land and build it log by log ourselves, but thank goodness we came to our senses and tossed that romantic notion out.

After the cabin was built we spent every available weekend there. It was a two hour drive from our house in Ft. Collins. We also spent a full week in spring and one week again in the fall. Our spring week was always when my mom was visiting. She loved the cabin so! Here we are in 2004 with Sailor and puppy Hailey. (I personally love this pic!)

Mom

Our land lies just shy of the border between northern Colorado and southern Wyoming. The closest city (town) is Laramie. From Laramie it’s about a 45 minute drive on dirt roads which are sometimes not in the best of shape, depending upon when they were last graded. There is a cattle guard at the border and from that point on the roads are not plowed by the state of Colorado. Beyond here there be dragons. Travel at your own risk!

Stateline

We are off the grid, providing our own services. The cabin is mainly powered by batteries that store energy from our solar panels on the roof. We have a propane tank for the furnace and propane fridge and stove. We also have a big wind turbine that has been left dismantled in our absence but when it’s in operation we get most of our electricity from the wind.

The wind blows here. A lot. When it snows the roads drift over. Even when it’s not snowing you can encounter white-out conditions due to the dry top layer of snow being whipped by the wind. We’ve been in one of these and trust me, it was not fun.

The year that stands out in my memory was when we had our neighbor down the road (about two miles) plow a path in the road to our cabin. One morning he called us and asked us how the weather was at our place. Our cabin is so sheltered by trees that we had no idea a white-out was happening. He was coming to get us. We packed up quickly and thought to meet him outside our driveway. The snow was about three feet deep. When we started out we could not tell where it had been plowed at all. We also got stuck up to our bumper. We were sitting ducks until our savior, Larry, could be seen in his big John Deere with the huge snowblower attachment blowing snow like crazy. He blew us a path to follow him out on while behind us the snow filled in almost immediately like some hungry monster gobbling up the space. It took forever to make that trip and it was terrifying to see the sheer brutality of winter up there.

Several people now live up here year round and it causes some problems. One person likes to plow his way out, thereby causing the roads to drift over worse than they would have if left alone because he doesn’t plow them correctly. The secret is to go over the snow instead of through it so most people have an all terrain vehicle with tracks and park their cars over the border at a friend’s house.

What people don’t realize is that this land is untamable. Wild. It’s always been that way. It lets you know, albeit subtly, that it is in charge; not you. You need to live with the land up here and not against it’s natural flow.

IMG 5843

Some people are trying to tame it and make it more like a subdivision in town. We’re hoping the land takes charge and it never happens.

There’s a very good book that’s been written about the land surrounding our cabin. It’s called “The Meadow” and is written by a man whose family homesteaded here. It was a rough life and a good read. It’s still available at Amazon.

Meadow

One of the old homesteads along the road (but not the one featured in the book!).

Homestead

There is just something about the whole area that gets in your blood. I can’t explain it. It’s just there.

On and off we’ve toyed with the idea of selling it since we are so far away and unable to get there more than once a year, but we just can’t quite bring ourselves to do it. It is still Rick’s dream to live there for one entire year, winter and all, and I have agreed to see how it goes. Until then I can’t see us giving up our 70 acres of paradise.

Comments:

I loved this post. But I especially loved the picture of you, Mom, Sailor and (silly!) Hailey.I can see myself in Mom and in this pic you SO resemble Dad especially around the eyes. Please send me a copy. It brought tears….

Great post and even though I know all about the cabin, I enjoyed it thoroughly!  Loved the picture of you and your mom too - one I hadn’t seen before.

Big sis, I know. I saw the same thing only I didn’t really see you in Mom. I think as I get older I look more like her than I do Dad. I DO look like Dad around the eyes in this pic. Weird, huh? I will send it to you. I knew this pic existed and searched and searched in my photo albums for it and finally found it. I love how mom has her hand-picked bouquet of all the flowers she found. If I could just get her “cast iron” urn open I would scatter some ashes around the cabin.

C, Thanks!

I wouldn’t be able to give it up either—it sounds like an amazing place! How fortunate you are to own such a retreat! I love that photo of the homestead below the cliffs. Wow.

Glad you enjoyed getting to know the cabin Steve! It is amazing and we certainly are lucky. We all love it there. This homestead is one of my favorites but every year it falls further and further into a state of disrepair. It’s sad.

I really enjoyed reading the history of your special place - I can see and understand why you love it so much.  What a lovely photo of you and your Mum and the doggies.

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