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A Great Place to Retire

Grand Lake, Colorado: Another Great Place to Retire

A photo of Nancy NemecWe've made the transition from Nebraska to Colorado, and I went to a ladies’ meeting today. I can’t decide what I enjoyed more, the drive to the meeting or the meeting.

We met at the church here in town at 8:30. About 12 ladies loaded into 3 cars for the drive. A June morning with sun and little wind, snow capped peaks in the distance, cattle and horses grazing in the lowlands and water rushing down the streams from the snowmelt. The 3 lakes were calm and reflecting, inviting us to kayak or sail.

  Lupines in bloom 

But the most wonderful surprise this morning was the flowers. The lupines are in bloom! They blanket the fields and hillsides in a beautiful purple with their companion yellow flowers. Here on the Western slope of the rockies they are everywhere.

  Golden Banner in bloom 

Careful watching reveals a few clumps of lighter purple spikes, and I even saw one that was pure white. Its almost a treasure hunt.

But back to the drive. We went along Shadow Mountain Lake, where the cabins and summer houses are showing more signs of habitation. The flags are up, and the flowers are planted on the porches and patios. The Pelicans are floating in groups in the shallow water areas. We came around the curve to see Granby Reservoir slowing refilling after being “pumped down” into Eastern Slope reservoirs in anticipation of the record snowmelt. Abe Lincoln still reclines on the far side of the lake. The peaks look like he is in repose over there. Then we went thru Coffey’s Gap. The natives told me the story that says that the Coffey parents left on a two month drive to take their cattle to Denver to sell. The children were left home alone, but weren’t worried until the two months were up. When they went to look for them, there was no trace. It was presumed that rustlers killed the parents and took the cattle.

We went through the valley and up ‘Red Dirt Hill.’ Now, if you’ve been to Oklahoma, this would not be considered red dirt, but I guess for Colorado… Then we saw Devil’s Thumb. It really is a tall cylinder on the horizon sticking up alone looking like a thumb. We turned off and went by some river pools with Pelicans and human fishermen.

We drove through some meadows and onto Devil’s Thumb Ranch. This is a resort with lodge and cabins, a spa, a wedding venue, fly fishing, horseback riding, hiking and two fine restaurants. They are award winning for their ecological practices, and are one of the best ‘green’ resort destinations.

But behind Devil’s Thumb is a nice housing development, and that’s where the meeting was. Up and down a one-lane dirt road with handmade signs with arrows at each fork in the road.  A beautiful stone and log home in a setting with woodland, mountain and meadow views. No other houses in sight. There were about 30 ladies at the meeting seated around card tables in the great room with a fruit, meat, cheese and pastry spread on the kitchen island. The two patio doors were open with a light breeze and the HUMMINGBIRDS! They were so noisy throughout the entire meeting, we could only hear if we paid close attention. There was also a pink headed brown bird at a feeder that I have to get the bird book out and look up. Another neat feature was the ceiling in the dining room. It was coffered, but the coffer was outlined with peeled logs. Then up in the ‘hole’ was a branch of an aspen tree.

On the way home, a bluebird flew beside us. He was beautiful. And the magpies were sitting on the fencerows taking everything in.

Graduation Parties

A photo of Nancy

This is a great place to retire. It’s also a great place to graduate from High School!

This town has some MAJOR traditions attached to the life-changing event called graduation.

Parties, cards, checks and food seem to be the main ingredients. Prior to all of this there seems to be much pre-party preparation.

Senior Pictures: Usually taken before school starts in the fall. Many changes of outfits and many poses. Sometimes even some poses including BFF – their best friends forever.

Invitations: Photo invitations designed and printed. These are kind of like a glorified photo Christmas card. You wouldn’t want your invitation to be like anyone else’s, and you have to choose your font, your poses – one big and some small ones, and select the gummed return address label with the graduate’s name.

Video: A video including photos from the graduate’s life up to this point. These remind me of the ones shown at funerals – only much shorter! How involved the production depends on the time and the software available.

Venue: It’s kind of like a wedding reception. Will it be at their home? Their yard? Or will they go together with other graduates that have been close friends since grade school and rent a hall?

Decorations: Now, the school colors don’t seem to be the thing to do. The one we went to last year was three girls and one boy who had been friends and their parents were friends forever, too. They chose four colors of tablecloths, napkins and flowers – like turquoise, hot pink, neon green and yellow. Wow! I don’t think the moms had on color-coordinated dresses, but they may have.

Display: A table is set up with all the graduate’s honors and awards and a bulletin board with favorite photos. Also scrapbooks of varying intricacies. This way you can relive their sports/drama/speech/scholastic/cheerleader/dance/band/chorus careers and learn about the scholarships they have been awarded.

Timing: There are two weekends of graduation – the public and the Catholic schools are on consecutive weekends. That way you can go to more parties, and the out of town families are here for the event.

Menu: Now you may expect that “Mom” would make all the food. Not usually the case. Dad or Uncle will BBQ some beef or make some rib steak sandwiches on the grill. This is beef country, and the main entrée is always beef. One of the parties last year had potato and macaroni salad from the caterer here in town, and one party had these dishes in what was obviously all of the aunties’ and cousins’ biggest Tupperware containers. Grandma may make “horns” (These are the butterhorn or crescent yeast rolls) or they may settle for regular buns from the grocery store. A fruit tray, a veggie tray and sheet cake round out the menu. There are coolers full of beer and soda. And there is always too much food. My neighbors are always looking me up to share leftovers with me when they are involved with such an event.

Guest List: Now this was the topic of conversation at coffee this morning. One friend said, “If you have driven onto their place, you get an invitation.” Another said, “Every child I taught in 2nd grade invites me.” Tales were told of the grocer getting invitations because the “family shopped there.” Or the eye doctor who sold them their glasses, and they never saw them any other time. The hospital administrator receives tons of invitation. Were they born in “his” hospital? And on and on. Because we are new in town, we only were invited to 2 parties last year – co-workers of husband. This year we've only got one invite so far – our neighbor. So, we aren’t on the radar as soft touch for a check. But, seriously, some people get invited to many, many parties and just go from party to party all weekend for 2 weekends. They don’t want to offend anyone by making choices of which to attend.

Gifts: I knew I should take a card, but I wasn’t sure whether to take a gift or a check. My friend said, “Stick a check in the card and go.” So I made out a check for $20, bought a card for $2.59, combed my hair and put on my lipstick and went. But this could get a little pricey when I know more people ...

I’m glad people mark life’s milestones. Family and friends gather to celebrate and launch their new “adult.” But I can’t help but wonder where it’s going from here. They had a party when they were baptized, for first communion, for grade school or junior high graduation, and for confirmation. Then this big blow-out for graduation. Will they have to top it for a wedding reception?? What about College Graduation? Events for children just get bigger and more complicated.

But like I said, This is a GREAT place to graduate from high school, and I hope I get invited to some more parties; that way I won’t need to cook!