Thanks to the determination and muscles of family and friends and Todd’s amazing Tetris skills, we got nearly everything into one 26 foot U Haul truck on December 27. We spent the next day cleaning and some last minute loading. It was a scramble at the end to find someone to help us with the loose ends that night. One friend agreed to take our bikes (to keep, sell, donate) and another graciously took care of the pile of things that needed to go to the trash or Salvation Army. Where would we be without amazing friends?!
|Before . . . |
During . . .
Todd's amazing handiwork!
Goodbye, Greeley! Thanks for 4 great years!
Our trip south really was great. The weather was ideal for traveling – sunny, dry, not too cold. The traffic through Denver and on I 70 was what one would expect. 70 was clear, minus a very few slick spots that were well marked and very manageable. The truck handled well and the kids traveled sans fighting – that’s always a fabulous bonus.
The stunning vistas as we traveled made me think it wouldn’t be too bad at all to make this trip now and again.
We made a pit stop at a rest area somewhere after Vail. We braved the 3 degree F and followed the path to the restroom with 4 feet of snow on either side of us. In contrast, when we stopped next at Grand Junction for lunch, it was so warm we left the coats in the car! No snow on the ground.
When we arrived, we met the current owner of the property. She is as sweet and Southern as sweet tea.
|Future home of Hoffman's Mountain View Lodge|
We visited briefly, soaking up the warm goodness of the lodge’s wood stove. After an invite to join her and her son for a pot of chili for dinner, we headed up the hill.
|We made it!|
We knew the road up to what would be our house needed work so we were curious as to whether the truck and van would make it. The truck made it just fine. The van bottomed out – no damage – but it was very clear this wasn’t the best use for the vehicle!
We walked into what will be our home through an open (literally open!) door and was accosted by an acrid smell. Wood smoke mixed with . . . something. Cat pee? Air fresheners? The walls were all filthy with soot. We wandered the house and found the condition comparable in every room – dirty and neglected. The layout is great for our family with a large kitchen and island, beautiful knotty pine dining area, spacious bedrooms, plenty of bathrooms but would take a lot of effort to make it feel livable.
These walls will need some elbow grease . . . and paint!
We made a plan – to unload everything into the large room off the kitchen and to camp out together in the least smelly bedroom until we can get the place livable. We didn’t want to use the wood stove the first night since we weren’t sure it was functioning properly given the fact that obviously some part of the process had been spewing out on the walls! We watched a couple how-to-deal-with-smoke-stained-walls tutorials then all of us went to sleep in “Goodnight, JonBoy!” fashion. The bedrooms have baseboard electric units so we were warm with the door closed.
|Empty truck - mission accomplished!|
The next morning we started unloading the truck about 6am. Micah was the first kiddo up and jumped right in. The others followed suit, the eldest requiring some “encouragement” to get up and join in the fun.
We had it unloaded by 1:30 even though we had taken a 2 hour break around 9 when we had breakfast and the owner’s son came to look at the woodstove and piping. His suggestion was to start a fire and see where the smoke, if any, was coming from. After a youtube refresher video about use of the flue and banking the fire for night (how the pioneers managed without smart phones, I’ll never know!), we started a fire. It drew well, burned nicely, and NO SMOKE from the stovepipe.
After unloading the truck, we went for a walk about the property. The kids picked out spots for tree forts and Todd marveled at the deer trails, while visions of filling the freezer danced in his head! It was warm and sunny – no coats required! The kids got completely filthy which is a beautiful thing. I think I’m going to have to find cowboy boots at a second hand store for them – Catherine got a cactus tine in her foot through the boots she was wearing.
We came back to the house ready to return the truck when we were met with a “surprise” – water spurting from a shut off valve in the main floor bathroom. So the plan to return the truck turned into a Meet the Plumber event. Todd met him at the bottom of the hill to show him the way up and I went into town (5 miles) for a few groceries. I said a few because we decided we need to leave the van at the lodge at the bottom of the hill so whatever I bought we would have to carry. (It’s, I’m guessing, 3/8 of a mile from the lodge to the house). And because there is a ravine between the lodge and house, it truly is uphill both ways. No gym membership required here! J Of course that is not our long term solution – we will have to fix the road or get a heartier vehicle – or both! We will also probably get a four wheeler and trailer so we can easily gather dead fall for the wood stove.
It was good that we met a plumber because the kitchen sink was not functional. So we added bucket carrying to our daily routine.
That night the kids played board games and Todd and I started to wrangle the filthy kitchen.
Functional kitchen - CHECK!
After getting the kitchen functional, our plan was to repair/paint one bedroom at a time, gradually moving the kids out of the “one room cabin.” Then we would tackle the main area (living room, kitchen, dining room) and our bed room. We had bought a ton of paint with Todd’s employee discount at Ace thinking it we would use it at the lodge. It will be used here instead. Or at least some of it. We will also address items of immediate importance that the inspector brought to our attention – namely electrical stuff and inadequate areas on the roof. Getting the wood stove inspected was on the list, too.
Getting internet at the house proved to be a painstaking ordeal. After hours on the phone with the phone company, it was decided that a new modem would be sent. That ended up taking longer than expected because the UPS driver was a temporary replacement driver and was not familiar with the area. It took many calls and much patience but eventually the modem was delivered. Hours on the phone after that and we were finally re-connected with the outside world.
|That's our house - WAY up there!|
Because my job requires internet access, each day until we got internet at the house, I would load up my “office” into a back pack, hike down the hill, and drive into town to work at the library. Any groceries or supplies we need could be picked up while I was in town and then carried back up the hill. While I was “at work,” Todd began transforming the house.
Within that first week, we got a good solid rain. That’s when we learned the roof leaked . . .
So that first weeks were a doozy! The theme seemed to be “carrying” – carrying things off the truck, carrying groceries up the hill, carrying buckets of water from the sink. But amazing mountain views and the wildlife at our door and the hope of what hard work can accomplish kept us encouraged to keep pressing forward; to carry on.
View from the driveway at our house.
View from our front porch.