Continuing the Trajectory to Transformation…
We used our free lease-back months to take a more gradual approach to moving from Texas to Colorado, rather than trying to make it in “one fell swoop.” For one thing, we had so much to cast off rather than pack up. . Not everything would be coming with us, that was for sure. We’d owned 1701 Dexter for over 26 years, and for most of those years, we had a one-way front door: many things, large and small, would come in, but only rarely would anything leave. When you add in the inherited furniture and keepsakes from both families (and other relatives as well), we had mountains of treasures, plain old stuff, and just plain crap all piled in together, more or less. It felt like we were peeling back layers of accumulated possessions
We decided on a 3-phase move. First, we would take the car and whatever small items we could cram into a car-top carrier when we closed on the house at the end of March to “establish a beachhead” in the house itself. Phase 2 would be driving a rental truck one-way there ourselves to take most of our non-furniture items, then flying back from Denver, maybe more than once. For the final phase, we would hire a moving company to handle all the furniture while we packed up our car-top carrier, stuff the cats into crates, and drove to our new home.
No, most people would not do it that way. We are not “most people.” This approach fit us much better.
We also needed to check out a flatter approach to our new home nestled up near the mountains. Raton Pass is spectacularly beautiful — and daunting enough in an overloaded car, much less an over-stuffed rental truck. So, for our first run, we headed straight north from the Texas panhandle across the Oklahoma panhandle to enter eastern Colorado and turned left at the Arkansas River. Though we made the same elevation eventually, the climb was much longer and significantly less severe.
The morning after we arrived I Cañon City, we got a rude awakening with a phone call from Austin: someone had broken into 1701 Dexter that morning. Our next-door neighbor saw someone pull into our driveway just before dawn, run up to the porch and then heard the door kicked in. She called the cops at that point. The thieves were inside only about 5 minutes before she saw someone running out with a drawstring grab-bag. Mostly, they were confronted by rooms piled full with boxes. They did grab a few things — a Playstation 2, some watches, and a jar of change — but missed other more valuable items nearby.
From 1,000 miles away, there really wasn’t much we could do. A neighbor nailed the door jamb back together so the front door could close at least, and took a few of the overlooked valuables over to her house. Our biggest concern was our cats, but they hid out unharmed the whole time. If they hadn’t been freaked out about all the packing activity before this, they sure were now.
Mostly, it felt like Austin kicking us out the door.
Back in Colorado, we had a day of dealing with details in preparation for the closing itself the following day. If you’ve never been through the process of “closing” on a house — or even if you have — that whole process can be quite confusing, and seems to consist almost entirely of signing multiple copies of many papers, most of which you understand — but not all. Then at the end, everyone smiles, shakes hands, they hand the keys, and you own a house.
We drove over to our soon-to-be home. Empty now, its rooms loomed larger. The bold paint jobs upstairs now stood out even more. We pulled out the folding chairs we’d brought and enjoyed a celebratory bottle of champagne while gazing at the mountains from our front porch. With no bed to sleep in in our new house yet, we returned reluctantly to our hotel room that night.
The next day was full of the many mundane details of “setting up house”: establishing utility accounts, unloading the car, and shopping for a few staple items, like toilet paper and trash bags — and coffee, of course. In between, we would simply stroll around inside our House of Many Colors, marveling at the wonderful funkiness, even as we discovered multiple minor flaws, small oddities, and a couple of odd scrawled messages.
The next day, we set out for Austin to prep for the next phase. At least, that was the plan when we started out. But by the time we stopped for gas in Pueblo, a cold wind had whipped in, making it difficult to stand outside while pumping the gas. We hit I-25 and started southward, noting the first few snowflakes drifting down. Like before, we just kept going, but this time, the snow was different. Large wet flakes drifted thickly down, accumulating on the roadside, slowing us down a bit, along with every one else. Soon, the traffic was slowing and jamming up — and then we stopped entirely.
By now, there was about a foot of snow along the roadside. We realized they had just closed I-25 and were detouring all traffic into the nearby town of Walsenberg. We wanted to find somewhere to pull off and try to wait out the storm, but with the roadside now deep in slush, we did not feel confident with our little sedan with no snow tires, and simply stayed in the slow-moving lane of traffic.
Finally, we saw a convenience store where we could park in only a few inches of snow, and I ran in to check it out, only to find all the power was gone there, in town, and in fact, in the whole region. I-25 was shut down both south and north. Seeing a hotel across the road, we decided to seek shelter there even though it was just barely noon.
We snagged one of the few rooms not taken and just hunkered down there for the duration, despite their lack of power,. That kicked back on a few hours later, and we feasted on all the snacks we had saved for the trip and took the day off, figuring conditions would probably improve by morning. Sure enough, when we got up, it was clear, temperature was rising up into the mid-30s already, snow was starting to melt, and people — including us — were up and on the move again.
Now, some might consider that sudden snowstorm delay a harsh welcome to our new state. I saw it as quite the opposite — Colorado was insisting we stay.
Sorry, not just yet — we still had a 2-day drive ahead of us before the next round of moving.
To be continued…