[Note: This is a lengthy post as it also serves as a journal for us and our family.]
Why Grand Junction, Colorado?
We are frequently quizzed: Why did you choose to relocate to Grand Junction, Colorado? This is a good question, especially since it’s the first time in 47 years of marriage that we have no family members or friends residing in an area where we chose to reside. We know from previous moves how much easier it was to connect as newcomers when we had at least someone we knew in the new community. Of course, our move years ago with children made it extremely easy to connect with a new neighborhood and community.
Why Grand Junction? When we were full-time RVers for two years, we camped here in July 2019 and December 2019 for a week each time. During that July week it was 100 degress. Our December stay was over Christmas and we had snow! Grand Junction’s main street looked vibrant. The public art was beautiful. There seemed to be nice amenities with parks, shopping, medical facilities, etc. As we kept a list over our RVing travels of possible communities where we’d live one day, we noted that Grand Junction might be a good place to land. (As was Pullman, Washington where we lived for two years.) With its 100,000 population and wide range of amenities, the Grand Valley encompasses Palisade, Clifton, Grand Junction, and Fruita with the Colorado River a primary much-coveted waterway. Grand Junction’s name derives from the confluence or junction of the Colorado River (formerly the Grand River) and Gunnison Rivers.
We’re at 4,600’ in elevation and live in a desert environment even with the Colorado River flowing through the valley. Our townhome with grounds care is quite suitable for our turnkey lifestyle. We adjust the thermostat, hold the mail, lock the door, and travel. We subscribe to the digital version of the local paper and follow local happenings and businesses via social media, so we keep informed.
We are 25 minutes from Colorado National Monument due west, where we hike. The Monument sits on the eastern edge of the Uncompahgre Uplift, which is part of the great Colorado Plateau with its stunning red rock beauty. Some other geological wonders that share the Colorado Plateau are the Grand Canyon, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, etc. We are a 45 minute drive to the top of lush 11,000’ in elevation Grand Mesa, due east. It’s the largest flat-topped mountain in the world and Grand Junction’s primary water source thanks to the many lakes and reservoirs. On the Mesa, we’ve hiked, camped, and snowshoed. Stargazing while wrapped up in a cozy blanket feels good in August!
Due north are the distinctive Book Cliffs consisting of Cretacesous sandstone. They look very wrinkled and what we call “Wrinkled in Time”. In particular is Mount Garfield, which stands as a prominent sentinel overlooking the Grand Valley. On a hike in a canyon among the Book Cliffs, we saw wild horses. What beauty as the breeze gently moved their manes and tails! We’re also near the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway, which offers a 512-mile loop. The Utah border is 35 miles away so a big playground beckons for exploring. Living in Grand Junction, we have access to 1 million acres of public land: Bureau of Land Management, National Forest, National Recreation Areas, National Parks, and National Monuments. One simply cannot be bored!
Now for a Review of Late May through December 2022
Picking up where we left off in the previous post “Installment One”, here’s a synopsis of the remaining months of 2022.
Beginning Saturday, May 21, 2022 (the day after we moved into our townhouse), we hit the pavement running. Here we were unpacking again! We shook our heads! The two of us have a pretty good rhythm of unpacking so over the weekend, we had many boxes unpacked and some order established with belongings. This time we dearly miss extra storage since we have a slim one-car garage. For the past 13 years, we’ve kept many boxes to use for future moves. Not this time. We found that the local U-Haul store accepts gently used moving boxes, even ones used eight times. (Gulp!) All the packing paper went to the City of Grand Junction’s recycling drop-off center. During the first full week Steve took the Highlander for servicing. He was due to donate blood and made an appointment locally to do so. Diane organized the kitchen and closets. During the first week, we obtained our library cards and registered to vote. Nearing the end of May, we took a break from all things “move and settling” related to have a picnic and hike up at Colorado National Monument.
In June 2022, seeking new medical and dental providers, we researched options and by the first week of June secured appointments with new primary physicians and a dental practice. Some appointments would be in July and dental not until December as new patients. From previous moves, we knew it would take time. By mid-month, we were able to get our Colorado drivers’ licenses. As residents of Colorado for the second time, we made our first of many trips over 2022 to Denver, which is 250 miles from Grand Junction. Now that we were in our new space, we determined what additional furniture might enhance our lifestyle and made a stop at the IKEA in Centennial. As the end of the month approached, we happily voted in the Primary Election!
During July 2022, we kept busy with many walks, attending worship a couple of times, enjoying farmers markets in Grand Junction and Palisade, and visiting several coffee shops. We hiked at the Monument. We made a trip to Denver for time with family. Then, drum roll, on July 27, 2022, during a prolonged stretch of upper 90s and 100 degree temperatures, we awoke to an inside temperature of the upper 70s in our townhouse. Hmmm. Something was amiss. Our landlords acted swiftly with a call to an HVAC company. The company was out within a record 20 minutes and determined that the air compressor was dead. Unfortunately, the air compressor was not available locally and would take about a week to arrive from California. Well, being who we are with the history of house issues in Pullman and needing to quickly solve our predicament, we sought out campsites in the area.
Thank goodness a trailer once again provided a quick backup plan! Being a popular time of the year for tourists, we were thankful on a moment’s notice to score the only remaining campsite at the KOA in Grand Junction. We could stay only two nights because the weekend was booked. After our two nights at the KOA, the trailer went back into storage. We made a roadtrip to Denver and stayed two nights with Steve’s Mom. Again returning to Grand Junction after the weekend, we retrieved the trailer from RV storage for one more night at the Grand Junction KOA.
Welcome August 2022! On the first of August, we hitched up the trailer at the KOA campground and we were off to beautiful Ridgway State Park, which is 80 miles south of us. It had been on our bucket list and when campsites were available for the upcoming weekdays, we nabbed four nights. It was at higher elevation so only in the 90s for highs, plus we had an electric hookup and could run the air conditioning. While at Ridgway State Park, we hiked some trails, took in the beauty surrounding us, and made a day of visiting the breathtaking Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Our landlords called on August 4 with the good news that the new air compressor was installed and the air conditioner was working! Yippee!
One of the highlights of August was having our daughter from Denver stay with us. It was such fun to have our first company in a very long time, years in fact. We explored Colorado National Monument together and created new memories. A few days after she left, we packed up S’More the Trailer and went to Grand Mesa National Forest to camp and enjoy the cooler temperatures afforded us at higher elevation. The hiking was fantastic. The night skies were dazzling. Later in August, we made a roadtrip to Pullman, Washington for time with our son, daughter-in-love, and grandchild. On our return route home, we spent two nights in Bozeman, Montana and soaked up time with Diane’s sister, brother-in-law, and nephew. It was so good to have more family catch-up time.
In September 2022, after three years apart from much of our extended family, we made a 19-day road trip to Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Denver, and back home. What an absolute blessing! We visited our Midwest siblings and their families. We also saw Steve’s aunt and uncle plus several of our cousins.
A joy-filled few days in October 2022 had our Pullman family and Steve’s Mom here in Grand Junction. It was the first time that Great-Grandma and Great-Grandson met. The autumn colors through the mountains and across our Grand Valley were a beautiful palette of yellows and golds. The autumn temperatures were divine.
In November 2022, we joined a local fitness center. Thankfully our medical insurance supplement plan offers Silver and Fit, which covers our basic fitness center membership. We also expanded our search for a church community. One in particular really has offered a warm welcome. A Denver Thanksgiving brought more joy with family. Plus, we soaked up a relaxing visit with our daughter and son-in-love. The first snows were evident through the mountains as ski resorts were busy making snow and colder temperatures were sustaining the snow.
Throughout December 2022, we were busy with sending holiday greetings, mailing presents, and purchasing a new Roland Digital Piano for our home. Diane enjoyed tickling the keys and resuming the joy of music. Steve made many batches of biscotti and Swedish limpa bread to give to the family! We kept tabs on Interstate 70 on our Christmas trip to and from Denver. Glenwood Canyon is notorious for closures year round. However, winter weather can wreak havoc in an instant. We rung in the new year of 2023 as just the two of us from the comfort of our home.
How’s daily life in Grand Junction? We love visiting our public library. Through the library, we joined a book club, which has been very nice to be with other people. We typically engage in some physical activity daily whether walks along our riverfront or through our neighborhood, hikes, or fitness center workouts. Farmers’ markets are great in the summer and fall. We took up a new leisure sport of disc golf. Between June and November 2022, we played 15 courses in six states. Steve bakes bread using a Cuisinart Compact breadmaker and makes yummy biscotti. Diane is busy with family history, photo projects, making photo greeting cards, and writing posts for Instagram (@speedofsanity). Unfortunately, our bodies have changes and ailments that require extra medical attention. It’s a part of life and we’re grateful for our care providers.
The mountains welcome us each time we go to and fro! It’s been a gift to be closer to our Denver family. The added bonus on several trips when we were in Denver are visiting family members whose visits coincided with ours. They’ve traveled from upstate New York, New Mexico, and Minnesota. What a joy to see family after the “missing years” of the pandemic. We also have reconnected in person with Denver friends after a long absence due to living in Washington state and the pandemic.
In conclusion Okay…so this pretty much sums up the remainder of 2022 and our settling into Grand Junction. Thanks for hanging with us as we slowly bring our 12mph blogs up to date. We hope that you will stay with us as we shift our future posts to travels, camping, natural wonders, and the curiosities of life along the way! If you have any particular topic that you’d like to read in a blog post, let us know!
Happy Trails at the Speed of Sanity!
Diane & Steve