Valentine’s Day in Estes, 2014

We picked up Katharine and Martha from Valley Center, KS, nice and early on a Friday morning and drove out for a quick weekend. It was short but very sweet.

The sunrise Saturday morning was spectacular… worth the drive!

We had ordered a console table and a couple of stools and the large box one of the pieces came in was perfectly Martha-sized. Katharine took a knife to the box and little by little it became a fantastic little playhouse.

Thanksgiving, 2013

It was wonderful to celebrate Thanksgiving here this year, especially since there is so much to be thankful for in this very place. We looked things over carefully when we arrived and other than the changes to the creek and landscape behind the house, everything looks fine. We were so engaged in enjoying our time together that we didn’t get a lot of pics this time. 🙂

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Making the traditional pumpkin ravioli.

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A bit of work, a bit of reading.

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The view north from the remains of the walking path to the south of the house.

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The view from where the bike/walking path was washed away and the new creek bed.

The Flood and Our New Back Yard

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 10.11.37 AMOn September 12th, I noticed a Facebook post from our wonderful trim carpenter about nonstop rain for the previous four days and wondered what our little tiny creek behind the house was looking like as a result.  Then I received a video from our next door neighbors that showed the creek was definitely UP.  The next email we got was from another neighbor reporting that things were getting really bad and soon afterwards he followed with some photos and video and also reported that the neighbor next to him had lost the back half of their house.  We were stunned.  That tiny little 2-foot creek behind our house had become a 50 foot wide river and it had completely changed course, knocking out sections of the road, sewer, water and electricity and flooding homes upstream.  The two neighbors who were in their homes at the time were told to evacuate over Trail Ridge Road (Highways 34 and 36 from Loveland and Boulder were too damaged) and expect not to return for at least 8 weeks.  (It turned out to be 7, thanks to amazing effort by the Town of Estes Park).

The Town of Estes did a great job of communicating on Facebook

The Town of Estes did a great job of communicating on Facebook

The Town of Estes Park Facebook Page started posting lots of information and updates, EP News and Trail Gazette FB pages became more active, and even the Upper Thompson Sanitation District (sewer) was instructed to get a Facebook Page up.  (If you look at their Facebook Page, you can see it was instituted on September 13th, 2013… very poignant.)  Someone in the marketing or public relations department in the Town of Estes Park should get an award of some kind for the impressive way they keep information flowing (and still do).

As of this writing, the sewer line repair is complete, water has been turned back on and we are out of the “No Flush Zone”!  Our wonderful housekeeper, a neighbor and our stellar real estate agent have all been in the house and all report they couldn’t see any damage.  We started hearing early on that our lower level had not been breached, but with that much soggy ground we were a little concerned about the foundation and are greatly relieved to hear it appears to be okay.

The photos below were taken by friends who were there at the time of the flood or have been there since.  We will return to the house ourselves to celebrate parents’ significant birthdays (80 and 85!!) and Thanksgiving, which will be heartfelt this year.  Considering how much damage was sustained in the area, we are truly grateful the house appears to be fine.

A Week with the Fam

We finally got to spend a week in the finished house without a long to-do list!  Heavenly.  The mornings were in the upper 60’s, days in the mid-70’s and the evenings were glorious.  Sitting on the deck and watching the sunsets was all the entertainment I needed, but we did get some walks, hikes, fishing and bike rides in, along with some reading.  And of course since we all love cooking, we had some marvelous dining adventures, all at home. 🙂  Lauren’s chicken/mint/onion kebabs were to die for, as was Mark’s pork with smoked paprika pork on the grill.  Katharine had brought blackberries and made one of her fabulous cobblers, which we had for breakfast and dessert the rest of the week.  We had brought along our last CSA share of veggies from Elderslie Farm, and some eggplant from our garden, so we were set!

A special treat was the visit on Saturday from old friends from Wichita who now live in Colorado Springs.  Cary and Susan picked up their daughter, Kiley, who lives in Boulder, and came up for a hike near Lily Lake and a nice long lunch on the deck.

Ready for Guests

After a few minor construction delays, several trips to Ikea, Pottery Barn, Target, Home Depot and Bed, Bath and Beyond (including invaluable help from Lauren for a whole week!) and some last-minute projects and cleaning, we departed the house on July 3rd at 3:30, the same time the first guests were due to arrive. I must admit, it was very strange to get the house all set up and then leave.  However, we are planning to return soon with our whole family so we will get to enjoy the finished house for the first time together.

The “Home” Stretch

Get it?  The “home” stretch?  🙂

Katharine and baby Martha and I drove out recently to nail down some decisions regarding finishes that we are were having trouble getting done from Wichita.  I am so grateful for Diane at the Loveland Design Center and Missy at Earthwoods Cabinets in Loveland for the time and expertise they gave us to get things figured out.  And our builder, Dan Smith, was so kind to meet several times to provide guidance and ask questions and generally be helpful.  I am especially grateful to Katharine and Martha for coming along to help with selections!!

Mia Marletto of Estes Park Central has also created a page for the house (and named it “Stone Bridge in the Rockies”) and some brave souls have rented the house already, despite the house being unfinished! 🙂  We are still hoping to close around Memorial Day, then park there for a couple weeks to get things set up, then begin rentals the 3rd week in June.

Ready for Drywall

The electrical and plumbing are in and they’re about to start the drywall.  An e-mail from the wonderful builder yesterday indicates they are still shooting for a May 24th closing.  We are delighted at the speed of the progress, considering the quality of work the builder and his subcontractors are doing.

Ready for Siding

We were able to get out to Estes on Presidents’ Weekend and were very happy with the progress.  It still looks like Dan Smith and his crew may be able to finish by the end of May.

There was no snow to speak of on the ground when we were there but the day after we arrived home in Wichita it started snowing and we got a record 14 inches.  Then a few days later, another storm passed through and we got another 6-8 inches, for which we are very grateful… we desperately need the moisture.  The (sort of) amusing thing is that we gave each other snowshoes for Christmas – unplanned! –  and took them to Estes hoping to put them to use.  We left them in our friends’ house for another time, not knowing we were about to get a record snowfall at home.  🙂

Front door and log posts for stairs to lower level

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The view from the master bedroom of our friends’ home a few doors down.

View of the interior from the front entrance.

Rocky Mtn Park Entrance

We drove up into Rocky Mountain National Park and bought a pass that we hope to use a few times this year. 🙂

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This is one of our favorite hikes. It’s at the base of the Lawn Lake trail, where the effects of the dam break in 1982 are easily seen and appreciated. We took this hike three years ago with dear friends from Ann Arbor days, then again with our girls and their husband and fiance two summers ago. There’s a small bridge a partway this hike that is a great spot for fishing and picnics and just hanging out.

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Ready for siding.

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We walked up the path (in the center of the photo) and then on up to the golf course to see what it looked like from up there. A couple minutes after this was taken we crested a hill and came upon dozens of grazing elk. They’re in the video. 🙂