My Year in Colorado

One year ago, I rolled into Lakewood, Colorado with only those items that fit in my 2-door Honda Civic. I brought mostly books, clothes, and dog-gear. Pam made the drive out with me, and stayed for a week while I got settled into my 641 square foot apartment. It was cozy, to say the least.

I started a new job with the same agency, but oh how different it was. And the weather? Yep, very different. I traded the swamp for the mountains but have still enjoyed seeing and photographing a lot of wildlife.

So far, I have added 38 new birds, one snake, and eight mammals to my life lists. I’ve logged 430 trail miles, hiking in fifteen areas that include three National Parks, four state parks, and four Jeffco Open Space areas. I recently drove to Nebraska to eat a meal (and hike at a National Park unit) so I could check those items off my list of things I want to do while in Colorado.

But it hasn’t all been positive. I’ve only written about 30k words, which means I’m still working on the same book as when I first arrived in Colorado. It hasn’t just been because I’ve been busy taking a ton of photos and seeing some of the most gorgeous sights in the world though. I’ve also been all but paralyzed at times when I’ve tried to write. The last year has seen many false starts and dashed hopes, but the last couple of weeks have been quite productive. Send good writing juju if you have any to spare.

Then there is the part where I miss Pam. Terribly. But we do talk, text, email, and chat on Facebook. How did we ever make things work without all these options?

Sabrina stayed with me in Colorado for seven months. She wasn’t acclimating well to the area. We thought the excessive eating and drinking was from the high altitude. Twice when she had unexplained abdominal bruising, I took her to the vet for blood work, and once for an ultrasound as well. Nothing stood out as a possible culprit. I left her with Pam in Florida for a planned two-month stay and the symptoms didn’t go away with the change in altitude.

Sabrina’s veterinarian in Florida repeated the tests I’d had run in Colorado and the new numbers told the rest of the story. My little girl was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. This is treatable, but not curable. Pam and I were devastated, but hopeful. Three months into treatment, and she is much more like the happy, energetic little darling we know and love.

That diagnosis changed everything. Sabrina is thriving in Florida and I cannot justify bringing her back out to Colorado and the cold weather. So, now I will do whatever I need to in order to return to my girls in Florida.

Colorado has been good to me. I’ve made some awesome friends, seen amazing scenery and wildlife, had some “firsts”—first concert at Red Rock Amphitheater, first Rockies game, first time watching roller derby in person, first gay rodeo, first time playing laser tag—you get the picture. It was also huge for my confidence to live on my own for a year. I drove myself places that surprised even me. I’ve learned to spend time with myself (and the voices in my head) and to comfortably eat alone in restaurants.

Yes, it was been a good year, but home is in Florida and I will be trying to get back there. It won’t be next week, or even next month, but I will get back there as soon as I can. Florida—you’ve been warned.