MY COLORADO DIARY

Well, you all know that I gave up the good southern California life to start anew in Colorado.  Many of you probably wondered why I would leave such a great place like San Diego.  I know, it was hard, especially because I was born and raised in SD, and have never lived any where else.  But I felt as though I needed a change.  My beautiful hometown of San Diego has grown SO much since I was a wee lad, and it's just TOO big for me now, and too expensive, and too crowded.  I originally moved to Julian so that I could have the best of both worlds.  I love the mountains and the outdoors ~ I love to be out in nature hiking or biking, and I love peace and quiet and sometimes I just need to be away from the rat race.  Julian was perfect for that for quite a while, and I really enjoyed living there.  I was living in the mountains but still close enough to San Diego to be able to enjoy the benefits of the big city.

    

But then came the fires!  In 2002 and 2003 we had two devastating fires in a row up there, the Pines fire and the Cedar fire.  Not only was it very traumatic to live through, but it absolutely destroyed the beauty and character of the Cuyamaca Mountains.  It was so very hard to drive or hike around up there after that.  All of the big old pine trees were burned down, most of my friends lost their homes, and on top of it all, the weather was getting dryer and hotter every year.  So all of the beautiful streams and waterfalls were turning into dry, dusty creek beds.  So my choices were to either stick it out and put up with the "burned down" mountains, or move back to the city, or move away.  At first I considered moving back to the city, but I soon realized that I could no longer afford to live in the city.  I couldn't even afford to buy a house and then keep the high mortgage payments up unless I got a different job or worked a LOT more.  So I started looking around at other places to be.  Luckily, my ex-wife Bethany and her husband Greg were looking to move away also, because they were also "burned out" (pardon the pun) on Julian.  Since neither of us could leave the area without an agreement or a court battle (due to our divorce decree), we decided to try to find a place that both of us would be happy living in, so that we could both move and not have to hassle with the legal side of things.

After looking at various places throughout the southwest (neither of us wanted to leave the West), we mutually agreed that the Rocky Mountains would be ideal for us all.  Through mutual friends, we discovered Estes Park.  It is a spectacularly beautiful area on the east side of the Rockies, just 1 1/2 hours north west of Denver, and only about 45 minutes out of Boulder (which is a really great, fun town).  It is very similar to Julian ~ it is a small mountain community that is isolated enough to be peaceful and simple, yet close enough to Denver and Boulder for us to enjoy the benefits of the big city once again.  Going down the hill to Boulder for fun is very similar to me going down the hill to Carmel Mountain Ranch or Poway from Julian.  And going to Denver now is about the same as going into Downtown San Diego from Julian.  So it is like a different version of the same lifestyle for us.

    

For me, the move would be easy because I work out of my home, and as long as I have high speed internet and technology, I could literally work anywhere.  For Bethany and Greg, they decided to try their luck at opening a Pie shop/Bakery here.  After living in Julian and seeing the huge success of all of the Apple Pie bakeries in town, and then seeing that Estes Park, which is very similar to Julian (but bigger) did not even have ONE Pie shop, they saw a great opportunity and jumped on it.  They opened in early June, and have had a great successful summer so far.  The "Estes Park Pie Company" has become a very well liked business and is now an established part of this community.

Estes Park sits in a high mountain valley on the east side of the Rockies at 7200 ft. elevation.  Since it is on the east side, it is in the "rain shadow" of the Rockies, and therefore it gets much less snow than all of the famous ski resorts of Colorado, most of which are on the west side of the Rockies.  So the rule of thumb, they say, is if you get "4 FEET of snow in the west side, then you get 4 INCHES of snow on the east side".  So even though the winters will be cold (and longer than I am used to), getting snowed in is not really a problem.  The roads are almost always clear and passable, and hardly anyone uses snow tires or chains.  So it is NOT a ski town.  Rather, it is a very recreational town with just about everything else to do that you can imagine, no matter what the season, including hiking, biking, fishing, climbing, kayaking, golfing, sightseeing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, etc.  You get the picture.

    

Estes Park is also the "gateway" town to the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP).  The two main east entrances to the park are located at the western edge of the town.  It takes me about 10 minutes to drive to the entrance.  And I must say, RMNP is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life.  There is not an ugly spot in the whole park.  Every where you go, no matter what trail or what road, just amazes you at every turn.  I have spent most of my time so far just exploring as much of this paradise as I can.  It has been exhilarating to say the least!  And the peaks are very high ~ there are 55 "14er's" in Colorado (Peaks over 14,000 feet elevation).  One of them, Long's Peak, is very close to my house, and it will undoubtedly be the first "14er" that I will climb.  Maybe next summer.

    

Now we are changing seasons.  Everyone told me that autumn would be something to see here, and they were right!  The leaves are changing and the colors are unbelievable!  Anyone who grew up in the east will know what I mean.  The reds, golds, oranges and browns give everything quite a colorful glow, that's for sure.  I'm not used to this because San Diego just doesn't have quite enough of the season changing to really get this colorful.  I am really enjoying this.

Now that the days are getting shorter and colder, it is time to get back in the musical groove.  It was so nice to just have free time, especially weekends, to really get outside here and see everything during the summer.  Now Jason and I are ready to hunker down in the studio and start recording and playing music again.  When next summer rolls around again, we can be ready to play some gigs.  There are all kinds of outdoor events and festivals here during the summer.  This past summer we watched many other bands and musicians performing all over.  This time we are going to be ready to be a part of that scene.

    

Finally, Spring has sprung!  We had a very wet winter this year, so everything is extremely green!  It is so spectacular right now ~ there are flowers everywhere, lots of green grass, and rivers, streams, lakes and waterfalls in abundance!  The weather is warm (in the 70's & 80's) and we get afternoon thunderstorms just about every day for a short time ~ just enough to keep everything fresh and green.  It is truly paradise here!

    

We feel very blessed to live in such a beautiful place on this planet.  I have found my place to be!  Every day brings a new experience and new scenery into our lives.  We spend as much time outdoors as we can, as it is very hard to be indoors when the weather and scenery outside is so amazing!

         

         


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