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  • J.F. Rowan

Colorado! A Honey of a House-Sit!

Colorado House Sit. Look familier? "Dolce" on the deck.

We used Trinidad Lake State Park in Colorado as our “layup” for our April, Colorado house-sit. As many of you may know, our last house sit didn’t go very well from our perspective. And, when we finally left our review for the homeowners, even though we took the high road in our approach, the owners took absolutely no responsibility for the issues we had. In fact, they turned our comments around and said, “Perhaps in the future, you would do better to communicate your unique needs…” as if keeping things up front and above board suddenly fell under the category of "unique". All of this will soon be a distant memory after this particular house sit which should be the standard by whichother homeowners should follow. What a refreshing change indeed!

Lots of room to hike, no need to leave.

Even the drive up the private 1 &1/2 mile private access road was like entering a national park!

Our trip from Trinidad to the small town just south of Pueblo Colorado was uneventful. We met one of the homeowners at their local area high school so that they could guide us the rest of the way to their property. Yvette rode with the homeowner so they could get acquainted while I followed behind in the rig. The countryside here is gorgeous. Just west of I-25, there are long rolling green hills with cattle and horses that dot the landscape. Snow-capped mountains are the backdrop to it all. And I have to admit, the change in tree greenery was an awesome change to that of the Pinon and Juniper of the high desert. After a few route changes down successfully smaller roads, we turn into a gated dirt road, a common road for only seven other homes. As I pass through the gate the topography change happens quickly. Everything changes, the trees, the rock formations, it's as if you're entering a movie set of the old west. The mile and a half dirt road meanders up a canyon and at times I have to lean forward just to see the tops of the canyon walls. Fir trees line the hillsides and you feel like you’re being transported back into the days of the wild west with masked bandits hiding behind rocks as the stagecoach carries it’s passengers to some remote town.

Panorama of home interior. Even the stove they had was the same as in our old home.

"Roxy" and "Dolce" relaxing in front of the wood stove. We still miss them!

"Buritto" the donkey and "Cowboy" met at every meal.

"Major" and "Freckles". always well behaved.

When we finally arrive at their home, I have to take a few breaths as the house reminds us of our old home. A log cabin with cathedral ceilings, loft and a wood stove (exact stove we had incidentally). And then there were the pets. Two dogs, “Dolce” and “Roxy.” Two horses (Major and Freckles) and a gentle old mule named Burrito. Burrito had a buddy that would come and visit him at every meal. And when I mean “visit”, I mean this cat (“Cowboy”) would get right in his grain bucket. “Cowboy” was one of two barn cats, the other named “Cowgirl.” The oldest dog, “Roxy” reminded us of our dog Buddy who passed away about a year ago. We both had a real soft spot for Roxy who was about 12 years old, and as some dogs at that age, had slowed down a bit. But in the first few days, her age never stopped her from going on walks with us or hanging out with us wherever we were. And walk we did. Right out the back door was an amazing variety of canyon trails with breathtaking views. At night the coyotes and owls would sing up a storm, which also reminded us of home... We even put out a few wildlife “trail-cams” and the second night recorded a mountain lion coming down one of the trails about 100 feet from the house. We shared the 11-second video with the homeowners and from what I gather, the video was a real thriller in the neighborhood.

Mountain Lion, 11 sec video recorded in the backyard. Yea, you read that right...the backyard.

I’ve talked about how windy it’s been during our journey and trust me if anyone is getting sick of talking about it, we are. At first during the house sit it wasn’t too bad and we thought “Finally, some calmer weather.” Nope. The weather forecast was for strong gusty winds for about two days, the second being worse than the first. And it sure was. The wind was so strong, airborne dust reduced visibility to about 3 miles or less, our mountain view disappearing for almost an entire day. And, since there has been very little snowfall or rain of any kind, the risk for brush and forest fires was extremely high. A cigarette butt, a spark from a safety tow chain, any kind of a spark could easily start a fire that would move rapidly. We were especially alert since there was only one way out of the canyon where we were staying. But these issues were all pale in comparison to the enjoyment we were having just being able to be temporary homeowners for a week.

Roxy feeling a bit under the weather.

But as joy-filled and exciting as this house would be, it would also become one that would break our hearts as Roxy became sick after about the 3rd or 4th day. At one point we couldn’t find her and we had to search for her in the early hours of the morning. She did finally show up on her own, but very weak and with no appetite. I think what made it so hard was how very much she reminded us of Buddy in his final weeks. But, the two of us coaxed her into the house and made her as comfortable as possible.

On our final day, we stayed late into the afternoon so that we could have all the animals fed and accounted for with very little “alone” time until the homeowners returned from their trip. When they did return, they took Roxy to the Vet’s office the next day and discovered that she had lymphoma and instead of having her suffer, she was put to sleep. When we received the news that day, it was almost like Buddy slipping away from us all over again. Like all dogs, Roxy let us into her home and didn’t care where we had come from, or who we were. Just looking at her could start that twelve-year-old tail wagging as if she had known us for every one of those twelve years. And just like Buddy, would walk up to you and if you didn’t get to the task of petting her fast enough, she would lean ever so gently on your leg to remind you of your duty.

We hope to return to that cabin in the canyon. We made some great friends and loved the peaceful solitude that their home provided. And it didn’t hurt that the house reminded of our own home once upon a time. And all the animals were just icing on the cake. For better or worse, life goes on, as it should.

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