It was a dark and stormy night…
Really, it was!
It was the night that started my journey to move back to the country.
As I drove home from work in the early evening, snow was swirling everywhere. I could barely see. I had actually left work early, as I had heard that the snow was coming, and I wanted to get home before the worst of the commute hit.
Silly me. I had seen many times the effects of heavy snow during a commute on a freeway, and quite frankly I was too tired to deal with it again. On a normal day I would be home in 40 minutes, resting from a hard day at the office. Every day. Twice a day I entered into the chaos and maze we call “the commute.”
When I left the office I didn’t know that this particular night would be so different. But once I was on the freeway, it became clear that this would be no normal commute. Buses were stuck in all lanes of traffic. Semi-trucks were jackknifed in every way imaginable. A very fancy and expensive Mercedes was spinning alongside a concrete barrier, bouncing against the hard surface as it tried to regain traction and move forward. Unfortunately the car lost the battle.
As I kept going, I would stop and then move forward a bit. Once in a while I’d creep along an inch at a time. After a couple of hours, I’d traveled only two miles. I wondered if I would ever really get home that night. Or even get home safely at all.
About this time, traffic funneled into one lane, zig-zagging around stalled and stuck cars, trucks and buses. The chaos was brutal and it reminded me of several scenes in the Terminator movies. Many people abandoned their cars or just pulled over to the side and walked down the off ramps in search of warmth, food, and a place to sleep.
But some of us wove our cars in and out - and finally, after many more hours, I arrived home. I was safe.
I didn’t know how that evening would change my life and take it in a new direction - a direction I had dreamt about, but had not made any steps to realize.
It started with an email.
After a nice dinner with my wife, I fired up the computer and there it was…actually not just one, but quite a few emails from the past few days. Most of them were from our grown kids - group emails bouncing back and forth.
Now you need to know that though our kids are all very different, they also are very close.
And I have to tell you that I have 13 grandchildren - now I am dating myself - that I am very proud of.
The gist of the discussion among our kids was this: “Do you guys remember growing up on the five acres? Do you remember the rope swing? Do you remember the horse ‘Nick’ that just showed up? Do you remember our two cows that seemed to get out all the time? Do you remember playing with the other kids on the property?”
(Note to readers: When our oldest three kids were young, we lived on five acres abutted to two other five-acre parcels developed by Marie’s sister’s family and mutual family friends. The kids all had a 15-acre playground. After five years, we had to leave it behind when we moved overseas.)
The spouses of the kids we raised were equally as enthusiastic about country life. The emails continued. “Why are our kids growing up in the city?” and then, “Why don’t we get some property where we can all be neighbors?”
As I kept reading the emails, it was clear that my kids were all in agreement that this was something they wanted to do.
Then, as one of the highest compliments they could jointly give their parents, they continued, “And let’s ask Mom and Dad to come too!”
That’s how Marie and I got included in the conversation. Our kids knew we were planning to retire on rural acreage some day.
Let the property search begin!
And so the journey started. First thing was to search and find that perfect piece of heaven. And that is what these kids did. Every day, the emails flew back and forth, each showing real estate listings for farms, ranches, and lots of raw land. We looked at listings from Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and California.
This continued for months, with ongoing discussions of the pros and cons of different property listings. During this time, it became clearer what we were looking for. We also saw that that most pieces of property listed had some kind of fatal flaw eliminating them from our search.
As this continued, I became numb looking at these listings. They all started to blend together.
Our daughter Bethany seemed to be sending listings for us to all look at on a daily basis. “You need to look at this!” “Look at this one!” It took a lot of time and effort on everyone’s part to really examine all these listings.
Then, on that snowy winter night, we all received an email from Bethany: “I know I’ve said this before, but THIS ONE YOU REALLY NEED TO LOOK AT!”
It was “the one.”
Stay tuned...and we'll see what happened next!