Needing Some Space

So far, we’re enjoying our first seasonal employment gig.  I love the mix of people.  The team of staff here includes year round employees, seasonal employees like us, gap-year young adults, internationals on work -visas, and retirees as volunteers.  So many different people and different stories.

From what I hear from other seasonals, the living accommodations are better than average.  But it’s taking a bit of adjusting, on our part.  For starters, we’re living in a 10 x 15 foot hotel room.  That wouldn’t be bad, except that we still have way too much “stuff” from our old life.  We need to purge more, but aren’t quite sure what we need or don’t yet.  So, in the meanwhile, the room is packed to the max.  And the walls and ceiling are a bit thin.  You can hear people walking down the hallway, and your neighbors shutting their dresser drawers.

There are some good things about the room though.  We do have our own bathroom, which is lovely.  I give thanks everyday for that.  And for the seemingly unlimited supply of hot water.  I’m also thankful for the large 1970’s style bath tub.  We have a lovely view of the mountains outside our window.  And the window actually opens (not all hotel rooms have windows that open), so that we can get fresh air when we want.  Utilities are all paid for by the employer, so we have free heat, water, electricity, wifi.  And the building we’re staying in is attached to the main lobby building.  That means that when winter comes, I won’t even have to leave the building to go to work.

Our building is filled with older seasonals (45+ years old) and retiree volunteers.  There’s a pretty strong sense of community.  They gather frequently in the dorm’s rec room & watch TV or play board games together.

That’s pretty cool, and I enjoy the sense of community there.  But it also means that there’s no escaping the work community on your time off. The only way to really be away from work and to have some time to yourself, is to get off property.

That doesn’t seem to be something that’s important to most of the others there.  But hubby and I are so very independent.  We need that quiet time away.  Here’s where the van camping comes in as a huge blessing.  It gives us a way to get away without having to pay for hotel rooms.  We can camp in peaceful spots with the independence we crave.

 

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Our Favorite Quick Camping Getaway

 

There are a zillion places to camp in the national forests around the area.  But our favorite spot is on the Colorado River, and is only about a half an hour away.  We like seeing new places, but there’s also comfort in having a familiar place as our default go-to place.

campfire

For us, even just a quick campout with an evening spent sitting around the campfire does wonders to refresh the spirit and quiet the soul.  Sometimes it’s the simplest things that matter the most.

Lifestyle Goal Reminder:  Fit in More Living

Autumn Picnic in the Rockies

Even with this new lifestyle, it is still easy to fall into the old trap of comfortable routines.  It’s far too easy to choose “laundry” over life.  (Of course, I’m using “laundry” as representing any of the little things we do regularly in life that keep us from life.)  Not that you can avoid laundry, mind you… but why give it the best hours of your day.  Worse yet, why donate your precious day off to it?

We are finding that we have to remind ourselves (and each other) to get out and make the most of our time here.  There always seems to be something mundane that distracts us and provides a convenient excuse. In reality, we’re not intentionally choosing to let these other things consume our time.  We’re forgetting to choose where we spend our time.

We’d hoped that with such a major lifestyle change, the changes we’re looking to make in ourselves would come more easily.  But, we also suspected that it would take a bit of work on our part.  Old habits die hard and we still have a ways to go.

Stepping back  little from our life and looking  in, I’m a little surprised that with living in such an amazing place, we still have to remind ourselves to not make work our primary focus.  I keep reminding myself that we work to live, not the other way around.

Autumn helps us prioritize, as does the fact that we’re on a seasonal contract here.  Every breathtaking view is a reminder that this is the last chance to enjoy mother nature before the harsh reality of old man winter sets in.

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Hubby Fishing the Colorado River

So, here we are, this fall, in a place where the leaves actually turn colors and fall from the trees.  Last autumn, we were in Florida.  As many things as I love about Florida, there are some things that I missed there though too.  Fall is one of them – more specifically, the taste and feel of fall.

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View from a fall picnic spot @ Hot Sulphur Springs

One of our answers has been to spend more time picnicking.  There are so many lovely spots in the area within just a 20 or 30 minute drive.  Since fishing is so important to hubby, we usually pick spots that are fishable.  That works for me too, as I love sitting near the water.

 

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From a Fall Picnic on the Colorado River

 

*See more about my philosophy on picnicking (one of my favorite things to do)!

At the risk of repeating myself, Autumn helps us prioritize.  Winter is coming!

 

 

Acclimating to High Altitude

Avoiding Altitude Sickness

I know that most folks like to scoff at the idea of there being such a thing as altitude sickness.  Somehow, it sounds made up and akin to leprechauns and snipe hunts.

But having lived in the mountains before, I can tell you that altitude sickness is actually very real. The folks that get it the worst are those that fly in from low elevation areas and then drive up into the mountains the same or next day. That’s a huge change for a person’s body to take, and if you’re not taking precautions, you might find that you’re really sorry.

Curiously, not everyone seems to suffer from it.  According to WebMD.com on the subject of high altitude sickness, the experts really have no idea why some people are affected, and others not.  It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with physical fitness, or gender even.  But if you’re exposed to this kind of altitude change, why take the risk of ruining your trip when it can so easily be prevented?

Altitude Sickness Symptoms:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • shortness of breath
  • rapid heart beat
  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • inability to sleep
  • dehydration

People say that it feels similar to having a really bad hangover.  Like most things in life, it is far better to guard against it than to have to try to correct it.

What is high altitude sickness?

Here’s an excerpt from a helpful online pamphlet about high altitude travel that best explains it:

“So what’s different about travel at altitude? The main difference is that as you go higher the air pressure gets lower (the air gets ‘thinner’), and this means for any single breath that you take there will be less oxygen for your body. Oxygen is needed to give you the energy to move, but is also needed simply to keep your body alive – for your brain and digestion to work, for healing cuts, and all those normal things your body does without you knowing about it. As your body gets less oxygen it adapts. You breathe faster and deeper. It makes more red cells to carry more oxygen in the blood.”

See the link above also for specific advice for those with certain health conditions that can have severe reactions to altitude sickness, including those who suffer from:

  • asthma or other lung conditions
  • high blood pressure or heart conditions
  • epilepsy
  • diabetes

What can you do to prevent high altitude sickness?  First, pay attention to your body and take note of any reactions you may be having.  Take it easy.  Don’t do any strenuous exercise until you’ve adjusted.  Do light activities before taking on more aggressive physical activities.  Drink more water than usual and stay hydrated (this is key to avoiding the headaches and the hangover like feeling).  If you do find that you’re having extreme symptoms, get quickly to a lower altitude and contact a health professional.

As for us, with driving across the country, we experienced a fairly gradual change in elevation (at least until we got to Kansas/Colorado).  The drive from Denver up to Grand County was a different story, but at least we weren’t coming directly from sea level.

At 8,700 feet above sea level, the resort’s elevation was the highest that we’d ever called “home.”   We stayed hydrated and took it easy the first few weeks up there, so we dodged the high altitude sickness bullet.  Even still, we did notice that we (like all the other newcomers) were short of breath up there!

Room With A View

Wow.  It almost seems like living in a dream.  When I think about how different everything was just a few short weeks ago, compared to now, it’s a bit overwhelming.  Surreal, even.

This is the view we’re going to have every day now, until our seasonal work contract is up in the spring.

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View from Resort in Grand County

I keep reminding myself, as means of reality check, that every day, people pay to come up here and stay at the resort.  Some people save all year round so their family can enjoy a short week here.  They come from all over the country, and all over the world even.  And I get to wake up here to this, ever single day.  I don’t ever want to lose sight of that and take this for granted.

Aside from my own personal enjoyment of the area, I feel that it’s also important to remember that it’s not all about me.  I play a roll in this “chapter” as it pertains to the experience others have here.  I can (and will) have a direct impact on whether the guests here have a good experience (or a not-so-good experience).  Whether their vacation here is a treasured memory, or one they’d rather forget.

That goes for working with other staff here at the resort too.  I can (hopefully) contribute in a meaningful way not just on behalf of my employer, but also to my co-workers.  I love mentoring young people, and am hoping that I have a chance to do that here.  Every day, we get to decide if our experience can be one that enriches us, or not.  It’s up to us.  Every day we get to choose.

 

 

 

 

 

Free Camping Granby Colorado

Time for some play time!  We’d planned our travel schedule, so that we’d get to Granby well ahead of our start date at the resort.  Our reasoning:

  1. Traveling with older cars, we wanted to allow time, in case we had any trouble on the road.
  2. We didn’t really want to be on a firm schedule for the road trip.  That just adds stress!  This gave us some wiggle room so that we didn’t have to feel pressured in our drive.
  3. We wanted some vacation time before we started our new jobs at the resort
  4. We wanted a little time to acclimate to the new area before starting our new jobs also.
  5. One of our goals with this new lifestyle is to have time to play between gigs.

Free Camping in Grand County, Colorado

Pioneer Park, Hot Sulphur Springs Colorado

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View of Colorado River from Free Campsite

Before we left Florida, Hubby researched and planned out a list of free camping possibilities.  (You never know what’s going to be available or comfortable, until you get there.  It’s good to keep a list of several possibilities available, so that you’re not stuck without a place to set up camp.)

Turns out his first choice was just lovely, and had open camping spots.  It’s actually a public campground that’s owned by the local town (Hot Sulfur Springs).  You couldn’t have asked for a better camping spot.  The campground is right on the Colorado River.  Our camping spot had a river-front view and fire pit.  It was also within a very easy walking distance of a hot springs.  http://www.hotsulphursprings.com

There’s a diner style restaurant within easy walking distance of the campground.  Also, the town of Granby, CO is only maybe 20 minutes drive away.  Granby has a grocery store, Ace hardware, thrift store, auto-parts store, restaurants, and a few other odds and ends stores typical of a small tourist town.

As with most free camping, it was “dry camping” (meaning there’s no running water).  But we have a big (potable) water jug, and the town provided a place to get water in one of their nearby parks.  Also a bonus:  There were a several porta-potties in the campground.

Downsides to this location:

  • It bordered the train tracks.  There are few routes for the trains to take up in the Colorado mountains, so this was a bit of a train thorough-fare.  It did take away from the serenity of the location, but it was still worth it, and the price was right.
  • Also, weekends were a bit of a nuthouse there.  Not only was every campsite full, but some thoughtless people came up for a weekend party and stuffed 6 cars and tents to each campsite.  They then subjected everyone in the campground to their fiesta party.  They trashed the campground as well as the latrines. I suppose that could happen anywhere – and probably does.  Sad.  Don’t know that there’s much to do about it.  So the moral of the story there is to plan to enjoy your quiet time at the camp during the week.  When the weekend comes, plan to either just hunker down or  else to be away from the campsite as much as you can.

Even still, we had a decadent two weeks of relaxing by the river, campfires, fishing, and soaking in the hot springs.

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Hubby with Fresh Caught Brown Trout while Van Camping in Colorado

It doesn’t get much better than that!

PS.  We actually camped here a couple of times, we liked the location so much.  Here are a few other photos:

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