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Transplanted Californian puts down roots in Colorado mountains

January 24, 2016
Elisabeth Sherwin -- gizmo@dcn.davis.ca.us

I saw my doctor in Longmont last week. He knows that I moved from Davis, Calif., to Allenspark, Colo., nearly a year ago.

"What do you call people who live in Allenspark?" he asked me.

I looked at him blankly.

"Lucky," he said.

Yes, yes, yes. He is more right than he knows.

Don't get me wrong -- I lived in Davis for more than 30 years and loved it. The university town reminded me of a little suburb outside Chicago where I grew up. Of course the winters were a lot easier in Northern California.

But I had a deep connection to the Front Range of Colorado, specifically a little town of 500 called Allenspark. My grandparents, Jeannette and Truman Redfield, first moved to Allenspark as summer residents in 1946. I spent many happy summers horseback riding, picking wildlflowers, hiking, carrying water from Crystal Springs up to our house on "The Ridge." I wrote an essay for my fifth-grade English class titled "The Most Beautiful Place in the World." Later I loved square dancing and chasing cowboys.

But jobs aren't easy to come by in the mountains, so I concentrated on living and working in California. When my grandparents died, my uncle sold all our mountain property and I ruefully accepted the fact that I would likely never live in Colorado.

Ah, but the god of real estate had a different idea.

The value of the cottage that I bought on C Street in Davis sky-rocketed through the years until I realized one day that I could retire, sell my house, and buy in Allenspark. I'd still have a few dollars left over. So that's what I did.

Once the idea of moving to Colorado settled in my mind, I could not resist. I felt like God had his hand on the small of my back and was pushing me forward. I also felt that my grandparents were nodding in approval. I had another reason for making the change. I am a fairly recent two-time breast cancer survivor. I may live many more years. I hope so. My doctor says I'm 100 percent healthy. But if I don't, I don't want to live with regret: "Gee, I should have gone for it. Why didn't I?"

So, I made the move.

I was willing to live on my own in this most beautiful place. My house sits at 8,500 feet, surrounded by mountains and pine trees and aspen, a creek, a rocky outcropping made for short hikes, a wild meadow, and a leafy copse at the bottom of the dirt driveway that is home at times to elk, moose, bobcats -- and yes, a bear walked through the back yard last summer. Well, isn't this enough for happiness? Yet there's more.

I asked a friend from Davis to come out and join me -- and help me work on the house and property. He came out in May and hasn't left yet. I hope he never does. It's what they used to call a love connection. I call myself lucky.

But I know what you're thinking. What about the winters in Allenspark? Isn't it cold, snowy and windy? My friends, the winters in Chicago are much worse.

(You can reach Elisabeth Sherwin and Michael Brown at P.O. Box 294, Allenspark, CO 80510.

-- Reach Elisabeth Sherwin at gizmo@dcn.org and watch for more local writers to be featured at this web site.

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