I can’t remember the last time I did a triathlon. Two. Three years ago maybe. I haven’t been on my road bike since we left Florida … almost a year ago. I’ve been in the pool once … last week. And I’ve been inconsistent at best on the run. Seemed reasonably sane then that I should register for a triathlon that’s a mere three weeks away. Right?
Evergreen Lake is what made me fall in love with this town the first time I stumbled upon it two years ago. It’s a small lake but it’s always full of life. Summertime sees the water covered in paddle boats and SUPs and winter turns it into an outdoor ice skating oasis. The 1.4 mile trail that runs the shoreline is a favorite for dog walkers. Though on the average day you aren’t allowed to swim in it (unless you oops off your paddle board that is), turns out once a year you can … for the Evergreen Sprint Triathlon. How ever could I resist!
It’s a 750 meter swim (wet suit required given the water temps). A 12 mile ride the first seven of which are uphill (ugh). And a three mile run. What could go wrong?
In 1909, in Evergreen Colorado, the Westerfield family built a small cabin on 160 acres but two years later, a harsh winter forced the family out. In 1913, Edwin Welz, an Austrian immigrant and his wife Marie “Riggi” Welz, heard about the abandoned property and rushed to homestead the land. Hanging on the old cabin door they found a rusted nail loosely holding a wooden sign that read “Brook Forest”. The Welzes had always dreamed of living in an Alpine oasis and this new world provided them the opportunity to create their own.
In 1919, after building the first of many small guest cottages, the Welz family officially opened the Brook Forest Inn. Though far outside the hustle and bustle of the city, the allure of electricity and running water in an elegant yet rustic setting brought visitors from near and far. On a boulder along the rockiest trek to get there, Edwin painted the words “The road to heaven is not smooth, either” and to many the escape into the mountains was truly heaven.
Over the next 15 years, the Welz’s expanded the Inn to an 18-room resort and one by one built guest cottages including a Swiss Chalet style lodge pole pine cottage with a white quartz base named The Daly Cottage. The Inn saw illustrious guests such as Theodore Rosevelt, Molly Brown, Willy Nelson, Liberace and more. And though the inn changed ownership hands multiple times in the decades to come, it remained a thriving destination and only recently shut its doors.
Check out these old articles and images I found. Hopefully I can track down more!
In 2019 in Evergreen Colorado, Don and I walked into the Daly Cottage with the listing agent. We knew little to nothing of the history it held inside its walls. All we knew was we wanted this house. The original wood beam living room ceiling and 1932 light fixtures, the red brick bedroom floor, the funky quartz steps leading up to the wraparound deck. I’ve always been drawn more to the character of older houses than the cookie-cutter and I was in love. Even Don, the ever-minded-real-estate brain of “a house is just a house” felt connected to it in ways I’ve never seen, and I think surprised even him. By that evening we had an accepted offer.
Here are some of the photos from the original real estate listing.
I’ve never been a history buff. In fact, history was the class I often slept through out of sheer boredom. But I’m intrigued. Curious. It’s rumored that Jack London wrote The Call of The Wild perched atop the large rock cliff behind the house. I desperately want to know who slept here, in the Daly, in what is now our bedroom. And I often catch my glances lingering out the kitchen window towards the abandoned Brook Forest Inn across the street wondering if the occasional light in a window is a keeper of the inn or a darker guest come to stay.
Here are some pics with our decor and colors.
In addition to its history as a vacation getaway destination, the Brook Forest Inn is well known for paranormal activity. The Inn is rumored to be haunted by at least three spirits: Carl, a stable hand who murdered his lover Jessica after learning of her infidelity. After strangling her in a bedroom of the Inn, Carl returned to the livery where he hung himself. Jessica is also said to haunt the Inn though Carl is known to be far more active. The third ghost is that of a young boy who is suspected to be the son of the Welz’s who died of pneumonia. Though the ghost stories are relegated to the Inn and not the surrounding cabins, we can’t help but wonder what, or who, time may reveal.
Want to know if we’ve had any unexplained experiences … I’ll tell that story in another post.
It’s hard to believe we’ve been Coloradans for almost ten months already! Though things are far from settled and seamless, I’m starting to feel like I’m able to get a little bit of a routine in place. Sort of. Maybe. I hope.
I know I mentioned in my last post that not long after arriving in town, we bought a small local business. We figured it was a good way to keep ourselves busy. And that it has. In fact, probably more so than we had hoped. We’re here too often, dealing with one thing or another, and have yet to really feel confident in the business’s owner’s (pipe)dream of a being an absentee owner.
I also mentioned the new family member we added to the pack. After losing my border collie Kiva to Cancer in November of 2016, I knew that some day I would have another BC but the time never seemed right. Especially after we foster failed with Quesa, our American Bulldog Boxer mix. But in February, Relic came home with us from a small working farm in Florida. I’m going to give him his own post soon but here’s a teaser pic of my handsome little man!
The most exciting news as of late is that we bought a house! Since getting here last August we had been renting a basement apartment from friends. Though a great temporary place to be, we knew we wanted and needed our own space but after five multi-offer situations that we lost every single time, we started to give up hope. But after a change of strategy, we finally won multi-offer number six and it was well worth the wait. I’m saving pics and details on the house for another post since it truly deserves its own story.
I wish that I could say the business, house hunting and new puppy were the reasons for my lack of running and the ever growing gut I’m sporting. In early March I ran the Antelope Canyon 55k (maybe one of these days I’ll actually finish the race report I started before I forget how it went) and since then I feel like my mileage has taken a nose dive! I can use every excuse in the book — I haven’t found a lot of people to run with yet. I’m embarrassed how out of shape I am and don’t want to run with people. I’m intimidated by Colorado trails and the lions and tigers and bears oh my — and though all of the above have some truth to them, in reality I’ve simply been lazy. I’ve been dragging my feet on committing to any races but a friend reached out a couple days ago and asked me to be a Ragnar Snowmass last-minute stand in for an injured teammate and I jumped at the opportunity. That gives me three weeks to get my ass in gear!
In spite of the crazy, I can’t complain. I wake up every morning still pinching myself that I am here living the dream.
Yup. Fell out of the writing routine … again. Oh, and the running routine. Come to think of it, I fell out of almost any routine. It’s not that I haven’t been busy in the seven months since we moved to Evergreen. In fact it’s been quite whirlwind. We bought, re-branded and are building a business. We’ve been back to Florida a few times to handle work needs there. We had friends visit. We added a new puppy to the pack (way more on him later). But I simply haven’t made a super sincere effort to keep up with me. I know I say this time and time again but I’m going to try getting back to it. All of it.
We leave tomorrow for the Antelope Canyon Ultras in Arizona. I registered for the 50 miler before we left Florida but given my limited training I decided to drop to the 55k. A-typical to me to play it smart but I’ve got some plans for this year when it comes to racing and running so the goal is to stay healthy and injury free. Don is doing the half marathon which will be only his second race at that kind of distance. Ever. And he’s going in far more untrained than I am given he’s got super bad plantar fasciitis so it should be quite the adventure.
This will be our first time back in Maive, our camper, since getting to Colorado. And this will be our first time boon docking. I’m not 100 percent sure we’re ready. There’s a lot do to today. But we’ve been working towards this ability to hop in the camper for long weekends with little to no worry about business, home or dogs and it’s almost surreal that I think we’re there.
Running saved my life. Well not literally but if you are one of the few lingering people who used to read my original MySpace blog (yup MySpace) you know I started running at a time I needed something for me. I was still somewhat newly divorced, with joint custody of my daughter, and desperately trying to figure out who I was if not a wife and full-time mother. I was numbing all my kid-free lonely nights with happy hours, bad dates and vodka. Lots of vodka. And I was getting far too complacent with it all when a friend’s fork in the road led me to the pavement.
Fast forward a decade. I’ve run multiple marathons and ultras. I tried and loved the tri thing and worked my way up to a half Ironman (a full is still bucket list!) I joined running groups and made amazing friends that turned running into happy hours and best of all somewhere on the trails I found me.
When we decided to move to Colorado, I was excited to find a running group and explore what I knew were going to be endless trail options. Running has no doubt become my social existence and it’s a great way to meet new people. But a couple years of not really giving running my all, followed by a last few Florida months of limited trail time led to my westward arrival a tad bit out of shape. And of course we have hills here! That I have to run UP … with almost no oxygen. I knew I needed to get over it but I admit I was embarrassed. Mortified to met up with a group only to have to walk way more than I could run. I got out on my own a few times but I was playing it safe with meadow trails and I really wanted company.
A few weeks ago I put a post on a local trail group looking for someone to help me keep from getting lost! Slowly. I got a lot of “welcome to Colorado” comments and one offer from a girl who lives nearby who was willing to show me some of her favorite local trails. I met up with Sarah a few days later and was thrilled that she didn’t mind humoring my need to hike most of the up hills. Since then we’ve run together a few more times and even got Don and Ellie out there with us one morning!
Today Sarah and I met up with the Denver Trail Runners. She’s run with them a couple times and was really eager to run the trails they were running. Though the group introduction was brief and the time it took before 90 percent of the group had left me in their dust even briefer, the run was amaze-balls! Seriously gorgeous. I can’t even begin to explain how much I love it here.
That’s me in the front. And when I say front I mean only in front of the couple people who were nice enough to bring up the rear with me. We were going down hill at this point. I know because I was actually running and not sucking wind trying to get up hill.
And this is me pretending that I’m running up the mountain and actually having fun doing so!
I know it will take time before I acclimate to the different environment but I’m done being embarrassed! I may be the caboose for awhile but it’ll definitely be worth it.
I’m going to try to catch up a bit on some of the awesome that we’ve experienced since we moved to Evergreen about a month ago. It seems there is always something to do and by the time I’m home and settled in I’m too tired to think.
Small town life has such cool little events and, so far, one of my favorites has been the Evergreen Dam Duck Derby. What is a duck derby you ask? It’s an annual festival put on by the town of Evergreen during which a firetruck drops thousands of numbered rubber duckies from above the Evergreen Dam. Then, as spectators run along side the creek, the ducks wind their way through town. Duck wranglers (awesome volunteers with rakes and sticks) wade through the waters ensuring ducks navigate rocks and branches to successfully reach the finish line about half a mile downstream. Each numbered duck is sponsored by a town residents or visitor alike and the winning ducks bring cash prizes and gifts.
So much fun!
Seriously, I was so excited about this adorable event that it played into my planned arrival date. I wasn’t going to actually insist we rush the road trip but it was in the back of mind for sure. Thankfully, we got here with days to spare and there was no shortage of ways around town to be sure we could participate! From local stores to online, we were able to buy a duck package last minute.
The Duck Derby itself was just part of a small street festival that was more kid-catered than applied to us so we prefaced the drop with a couple local brews at Cactus Jacks, a cool creekside restaurant. We may have popped into one of our new favorite places, Revival Brews, for another as the ducks, and crowds of people, made their way downstream as well.
Our ducks didn’t win. Maybe they stopped for a drink along the way as well. lol. But I can’t complain. We supported our new town and had a great time doing so!
Watch the video I created (and forgive my absolutely horrible video skills!)
I grew up in Washington, DC. A small city, in many ways, but a city nonetheless. I had museums and monuments. Restaurants and bars (that I started going to way too young I might add). But most of all I had culture. A melting pot mecca of art, humans, music and more.
Moving to Tampa in my early twenties was an adjustment. It was a city but it wasn’t. Downtown after 5 p.m. was a ghost town and the Florida suburban sprawl meant most people just commuted back to their little cookie cutter subdivisions complete with self-contained nightlife. I never felt at home in any of the areas I lived in with the exception of the small town feel of Davis Islands.
I have to admit, the plan to move to a town of 9,000 made me a little nervous. Though I was in love with the beauty of Evergreen from the moment we stumbled upon it last summer, living here was bound to be a tad bit different than I was used to and I secretly kept the mere thirty minute drive to Denver in the back of my mind as emergency escape. We’ve been here right about a month now and it’s been a whirlwind. If I was worried I’d be bored, I was wrong to be. From the abundance of incredible trails to the surprising calendar of town sponsored events, we’ve been pretty much nonstop with no need to go “down the hill” to the big city.
Over the next few days, I’ll be catching up on some tales of what we’ve seen and done. From the Dam Duck Derby to moving the teenager into her CU Denver Dorm I’ve been anything but bored. But first today we’re heading off to the Evergreen Fine Arts Festival for just another beautiful day in small town America.
A couple months ago I registered both me and Don for the Evergreen Town Race 10k. We weren’t sure exactly what day we were going to get to Colorado but our goal was early August so why not? Personally I thought it would be a great way to see our new town from a slightly different vantage point and maybe even meet a few people as a bonus.
I’ve run twice since getting here a week ago, both just short four mile trail runs, and holy hell! I knew the elevation change would be an adjustment but I had no idea just how tough it would be. Evergreen sits at about 7,600 feet to start and the hills … Good God! My first run had about 800 feet of elevation gain and the second about 600. Nothing drastic really but in Florida I typically registered in the single digits. But the Evergreen Race was positioned as being all downhill. How hard could that be right?
Runners park at designated areas; one for the 5k’ers and one for the 10, and get bused to the respective race starts. We had about 45 minutes to kill after getting to the start but the weather was gorgeous, high 60s and overcast, and the surrounding area beautiful, so we just walked around a bit and chatted with a few people until race start.
I don’t usually run a lot of road. I far prefer the beauty of trails. But for a road race I can not complain at all. It was gorgeous! All downhill but nothing drastic. Just 453 feet of decent over the 6.2 miles (6.37 actually on my Garmin). Beautiful views and incredible houses with neighbors road side cheering us on.
All downhill was a little harder than I expected it to be. I definitely struggled with breathing. I tried to take most of the bigger downhills at a decent pace but walked from time to time as well. I came in a little over an hour. Serious SUCK. But I was lazy my last few months in Florida and now I’m lazy and oxygen deprived so I’ll take this as a starting point. Don, my non-running boyfriend beat me by about six minutes. Go figure.
We finished right by Evergreen Lake, a small lake right near the center of town where you can paddle board or kayak during the summer and ice skate come winter! I just still can’t believe that we live here now!
I have only one complaint from the day. I pre-registered with a shirt size selection. Small. But when I finally got to where we picked up our shirts at the finish, I had only medium or larger as an option. Not a huge deal as I really don’t often wear race shirts but I actually like this one! A cool retro design to reflect 40 years running.
We will definitely do this race again next year. Probably every year for as long as we live here. I’m curious to see how much we will improve after a year at these altitudes.
Damn, it’s been a crazy past week or so. The last couple of stops on our cross-country journey found us with no wifi and extremely limited cell service so I wasn’t able to write much. And then, after just one day in Santa Fe, we had a scare with one of the dogs which, coupled with the fact that we were exhausted, led us to decide to cut the trip short a few days and just head to our new home. It sucked because Santa Fe, and New Mexico as a whole really, was the number one reason we took the route we did but it’s only a five hour drive so we will plan a vacation, sans pups, in a couple months.
We got to Evergreen Friday evening — At least I think it was Friday. It’s all a tad bit of a blur — And I’m already in love with this town. And it’s not just because I’m already wearing sweat shirts and keeping windows open! It’s just quaint enough that I don’t feel like we’re in the boonies and close enough to Denver should we feel a need for city lights and nights. We already found what may become “our bar”, at least one of them, and today I definitely found what will be our grocery store. Good God the vegan options and Kambucha sections alone were enough to make me giddy. There’s still so much to see and figure out and I’m probably the most impatient person ever but I seriously can’t wait for this all to feel real!
To start, we are renting a basement apartment from friends. Though I don’t doubt we did, we want to be sure we picked the right town plus we kinda’ need to decide what we want to be when we grow up and we’re not 100 percent where exactly that may land us. But until then, we couldn’t ask for a more perfect place to call home. Great friends. A large apartment. Five acres. A pool. Horses. Hell, if they aren’t careful we may just rent this place for the rest of our lives! lol.
We’re still pretty much living off of camper supplies. The rest of our stuff doesn’t get here until Wednesday. But it’s nice to be on solid ground and be connected to reality again. We’ve got a hell of a lot of cool stuff coming up in the next week or so; The Dam Duck Derby, the Evergreen 10k and the teenager flying out to join us plus I have some serious trail exploring to do!
We’re just outside of Amarillo Texas tonight at a place called Palo Dura Canyon. It’s the second largest canyon in the country and we are in awe of the natural beauty. It’s 104 degrees out still (at 8pm) and we drove 500 miles today but we couldn’t resist pulling over and hiking up to a small cave and taking in sunset. Cell signal is spotty at best so I may not post a lot over the next couple of days but I simply had to share some pictures.