Colorado Dream Home – Our Search to Find a Homestead

Gone Country

No way it’s been one full year since we sold our home in Glenwood Springs! This day wasn’t even on my radar. I woke up to Memory Notifications and was shocked at how quickly time flies. As my mind acknowledged the insane passage of time, my heart began to reflect. Reflecting on the passage of time, reflecting on change, on selling our home, on owning a homestead, on family, on life, on motherhood … I sat here in my bed and got lost in that reflection. I’ll save you the details of all of this reflecting save for one, the one-year anniversary of selling our home and acquiring our Dream Home.

How Selling Our Home Began

Dream Home

To be honest, it was the most insane spur of the moment decision … rivalling our 30-day sell our house and move from VA to CO decision in 2000. Let’s go back in time, if you will. It’s September 2020, we are back East primarily for Dan’s brother’s wedding. Along the way we kayak and visit friends and family. One of our first stops was to visit an amazing family in NC and see their new homestead. They had recently bought 110 acres with some amazing homes and a tavern already standing. They were building their dream home. We had dinner in the tavern, we cut, polished and made gemstone jewelry, made bowls out of clay and statues out of wood in their barn, we shot guns (BIG guns), blew up Tannerite, played with their goats, and roasted marshmallows around their firepit.

Desire settled into our hearts. This was THE pivotal moment that we started to imagine our own dream home. This experience laid the groundwork for what was to come. They had what we always wanted – room to grow, freedom, grandkids living on the land, privacy. We left their home with Dan saying, “We have a lot to think about when we get home.” I nodded, but never thought anything would come to fruition.

Another Nudge or Two

Dream Home

When we arrived at Dan’s brother’s house, again, God was whispering to us. David had 60-some odd acres in Virginia. On his land, it was “Go big or go home.” The boys chopped wood, we drove 4-Wheelers all over the land like wild banshees (I’m still so thankful that no-one got injured), and we built the biggest bonfires you have ever seen.

This was the experience that further solidified the decision. It was time to sell. And then another thing happened … we went to lunch with Dan’s best friend, Frank. Frank is a Keller Williams Real Estate Agent, a successful one, a good one and an honest one. During our lunch the conversation flowed to the possibility of us selling our house. Frank said he’d hook us up with an agent who would help us find our dream home.

Enter Travis Cox of the Cox Group!

Going the Extra Mile

Dream Home

I called Travis when we returned to Glenwood Springs and asked if he’d come over and tell us what to focus our $$ on to get the biggest bang for our buck in the flip. He said sure. I think, though he hid it well, he was surprised at the state of our home. We’d been travelling for 8 years, our city had outlawed short term rentals, so not having the extra funds to pay mortgage and travel and make the house beautiful to stay vacant, we dropped the house. Travis was brutally honest; I remember several things he said that made me laugh out loud. One, I asked him whether it was better to have a home empty or furnished to sell. He said, and I quote, “Furnished. But with this furniture, empty.” And another quip about our deck. He was brutally honest, and I appreciated it. I wanted him to help us sell our home for big money, we didn’t need an enabler, we needed results.

He said we needed to paint our great room, apparently, “Siberian Snowflake” wasn’t warm and inviting. I said I loved it. He said he’d go to Lowe’s and match the color of his Great Room. He spent a few hours driving back and forth to his house with paint swatches. He found the right one and I bought the paint and the Great Room transformed right before my eyes. “Lovely Bluff” from Sherwin Williams is the color, if you are so inclined. Travis’ commitment to us never wavered, he was always this guy, he always went the extra mile.

Hemming and Hawing

Dream Home

As we worked diligently, I still wasn’t sure if I was on board or if I was going with the flow. I’m not adverse to change, I love change. Change excites me; it’s just that this house held so much of our lives. Every corner, every room. Nearly 20 years of our life. So many memories there, good times, bad times, struggles and triumphs.

I brought 6 beautiful babies home to that house. I remember walking in the door with each one. I remember the “Red Room” and the chairs I sat in after two C-Sections. The late night pacing with a new baby. Sitting on the deck with a croupy child. Coming out of the bathroom with a pregnancy test … I was pregnant with Maddy. The Today Show. Ambulance coming twice. Prom, Homecoming, boyfriends, girlfriends, cops, laughing, crying, yelling, repos. 20 years of life in this home, probably what I considered the best years of my life.

When it came down to laying the wood floors, that was the line in the sand. Dan didn’t like the flooring, he said he wouldn’t ever put it in his house, so if he laid it, we were moving. I said, “Lay it,” knowing full well that I could actually have a change of heart at any time, he would understand. The kids on the other hand couldn’t wait to move.

Our First Move to Glenwood Springs, CO

Dream Home

Back in 2000, after we had spent a few months driving from Northern VA to NH and VT looking for a locale that would feel like home, Dan popped in a Warren Miller film and I was like, “That’s the life I want.” Within 30 days, we found Glenwood Springs on the map and we were off. Our criteria? A Catholic School and a mountain to ski. Dream home wasn’t in our vocabulary. We just wanted a roof over our head.

I remember driving across the country in Aug 2000. Dan was driving a U-Haul, I was in our Suburban. It took forever because we had such young kids, and Kenny, at 6 months had to nurse like every 1.5 hours. James, Dan’s brother, told us to drive through Glenwood Canyon during the day, so we pulled over in Idaho Springs, CO and slept in a Safeway Parking Lot. The kids thought it was cool and we were so high on adrenaline and excitement we actually slept as well.

The Canyon was beyond anything I’d ever seen. I was hanging out the window in awe, driving, for the first time, below the speed limit. Stunning. When we got to Glenwood Springs, I admit I was a little disappointed, for a few aesthetic reasons … I was hoping it would look like Vail or Estes Park, but I grew to love it, with the mountains towering and the sun always shining. It had a small town feel back in those days, no traffic, everyone knew each other and we carved out a little knitch of people from the Catholic School, from soccer, from hockey and eventually football as well.

GWS was an amazing place to raise our family. But as the years went by, it changed. We changed too. Our wants and needs changed. And now, the world is changing. So, with all these changes, it was apparent our home base needed to change. 

824 Hits the Market

Dream Home

If I do say so myself, the transformation was dramatic. Our home was beautiful inside and out. It could definitely be another family’s dream home. We did a phenomenal job and I would love to do it again, I had fun. Now, Travis was expecting to get offers the first weekend our home was on the market. The real estate market was insane! He strategically timed it so that we would have many showings the first week. In fact, we had so many, it would have been much easier to have stayed at a hotel. It was very difficult, to keep our home pristine for showings. As it turned out, Travis was right, we got an offer, albeit, a ridiculous offer, the very first day. We countered, they countered, we accepted, and the home went under contract, close date of April 15. We were assured, by the buyers agent, that the inspection requests would be kept to health and safety, so we felt confident it would go forward. When the inspection requests (for a lack of a better word) came in, we were astounded.
The  buyers wanted a new Trex Deck built on the back of the house, an iron railing, a smaller Trex deck for the basement level and the list went on and on. The result was an additional $80k off the asking price. We didn’t even haggle. We said no. They bailed. The house went back on the market. We had a few more showings and then took a week off to welcome family as we celebrated Kady’s wedding on March 25, 2021. It was a beautiful time with family and friends. The week after the wedding, the original buyers came back with the original offer, asking for the same close date. We had less than two weeks to pack and move. We signed off in agreement, of course.

The Closing

Dream Home

The morning of the 15th arrived, and I was excited, scared, worried, sad, happy, I was a hot mess of emotion. I ran around the entire house and property taking pictures and videos of every nook and cranny. When the time came to close, it wasn’t smooth sailing. There had been a miscommunication, turns out the buyers wanted the refrigerator despite mentioning every appliance but the refrigerator in the contract. Travis, however, solved the problem, with the assistance of the buyers agent, and everything worked out, I got rid of the fridge I hated and pocketed $1500.
We had planned to drive to Longmont, CO to spend some downtime with our family friend, Fr Daniel. On the drive it snowed and snowed and snowed. We enjoyed Fr Daniel’s company, as we mapped out the plan for continuing our home search. Where to start. The world was our oyster … we could have gone anywhere.

5 Months of Houselessness

Dream Home

As with everything, an undertaking such as what we had embarked on takes much time and didn’t go as any of us had envisioned. I had dreamt of touring houses in between kayaking and riding and hiking and climbing. A relaxing, exciting, fun-filled time. Dan had envisioned finding our dream home quickly and efficiently. The whole of the experience was neither relaxing, fun, quick or efficient.
Those months of being houseless, of living in the RV were different from when we actually lived (happily) in the RV (for 7 years). I attribute that to the fact that we always had a Plan B, a safety net. This time, we had nothing. We had given up something good, something OK, in order to search for something of a Dream Home. Throughout those months, there were times where we thought it was a fruitless search. There were moments of regret and fear, and emotional frailty, at least on my part. But then we’d forge forward, head to Durango, Salida, Buena Vista, Heeney, Rifle our hopes igniting and then poof … nothing was right.
 
The metaphor of these months being like a roller coaster are spot on. Excitement coupled with disappointment. Nothing we saw was right for us.

Offers on Houses

Dream Home

We put an offer on a house in Salida, it was rejected. We put an offer on a house in Mancos, CO, it was pulled off the market. We put an offer on a house in Rifle, and another offer had been made within the last hour. We put an offer on a house in Durango, but another higher offer was accepted. And then we saw it. 210 acres of beautiful land in Rifle. I fell in love.  It had a small barn for living quarters and the sheer volume of land was perfect. But it was not meant to be because: 1) our offer was rejected, 2) we would have to build and after buying the land there would be no money left, 3) no well, meaning we’d have to bring water to the property. So that’s 5 offers so far.

But then a few days later, while considering a counter offer for the 210 acres, Dan called Travis.  He’d seen the listing for what he believed could easily be our Dream Home. A house whose listing I’d seen two months earlier as pending, was back on the market. Apparently, the buyers financing had fallen through and the sellers were tired of waiting. We saw the house that day, made an offer that day and heard back the following. Accepted. The rest is history. We were very easy buyers, no hiccups except there was such a backup for an appraisal that we had to push our closing date 3 weeks.

Everything Works Out for the Best

Dream Home

Today on this anniversary of our sale, I drove buy our old house. As I was driving up the mountain, the Code Enforcement Officer and a marked police car were driving down. A year ago, I’d have been sent into a panic. I recalled the way I always felt returning home, nervous, worried about what would be waiting for me when I arrived. It was not an emotionally healthy place to live. We didn’t fit in for many, many reasons. But mostly, it was our family size and our age. I won’t delve into the specifics, but suffice it to say we had 12 kids and were pretty young. We were surrounded by neighbors whose kids had all grown up and moved out.

We tried, they (maybe) tried, but in the end we were too much and they were too little. Things went south and we were the family trying to get by, to survive and we chose the wrong territory. They were bigger, stronger, wealthier and way more connected. I used to wonder why God allowed such turmoil to always be in the background. Why He permitted such strife. I now know.

When I drive up our road to our new home, our dream home, I smile. I’m relaxed, no worries. When we are on a trip, I actually look forward to returning home. I can honestly say, returning home used to always be so stressful. I appreciate where we now live. I love it. As I write, our boys are outside riding their dirt bikes on the track they built. Dan is with Brody, Madison, Emmy and Elly buying chickens from our local Feed Store. We have a neighbor who has plowed, of his own accord, our driveway twice this winter while we were boarding. He has loaned his trailer to the boys twice for them to pick up a truck. He bought a bike for his son from our boys shop, Minty Motos, and it blew up soon thereafter. They fixed it for free.

We fit in here. These are our people. Kind, generous, thoughtful, appreciative and private. They don’t care what we do and we don’t care what they do. Everything is as it should be.

Don’t Worry, Have Faith

Dream Home

God’s plans are always better than our own.  All that worry, all that fear did absolutely nothing. We eventually ended up where we belonged. 
And where we ended up? I can tell ya, it wasn’t our doing, it was God’s. No way do we deserve, no way could we ever have imagined and brought to fruition this windfall of grace. I am so appreciative of this newfound peace in my life, I will never take it for granted. The fact that God has granted me the one wish I’ve had for our family, that should our kids want, they have the freedom to build and live on this land … I’m not worthy is all I can say. And thank you, thank you, thank you Lord. 

Important Information

Dream Home

There will be an announcement on the 21st of April about something wild and fun. Something we enjoyed being a part of, but that gives our stomach’s butterflies when we speak of it. Watch our Facebook Page for that announcement!!

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