2020: A Year we Won’t Forget
As I approach the new year, thinking forward around my goals, what I’d like to focus on, I took a lot of time to reflect on the past year. This year was unlike any I’ve experienced, in beautiful and devastating ways. I wanted to take the time to document both, here in my blog. Because I truly had some eye-opening, life altering shifts that I am truly grateful for.
I started the year with huge personal goals: To get my Real Estate License! I signed up for CO Realty school and I was off. My goals, outlined here, were set and I was extremely motivated to live the best version of myself. At the end of January, we headed to Utah for a week-long ski extravaganza. And boy, looking back now, I’m so grateful to have had that time! Our 7th investment, Zephyr street, also was moving and grooving and almost ready for the market.
We came home from Utah and re-packed our bags for South Carolina to visit our newest family member, Lilly. The visit was lovely, complete with a trip to Boone Plantation and lots of time at the park! The rest of the month was filled with beer tasting, a ski weekend in Granby at a beautiful log cabin, and a work meeting where I presented a new project that would launch a number of exciting things. Our 7th investment house went on the market – we were listing it FSBO – and our first open house was on February 21st – 7 days later we were under contract and were thrilled!
This month started calmly, with fun and family. Mary & the Weber Brothers played at Zuni, we had dinner with our niece and nephew….and the next weekend Colorado was in a state of emergency. Mike and I were actually up in Fraser, skiing, when Winter Park gave the signal to close due to COVID. The world had suddenly shut down. There was a global pandemic. My work travel ceased, my co-workers were sent home, offices closed, and major healthcare conferences went virtual. We had put an offer in on a Utah mountain property (March 12) and by the end of the month killed the deal due to the uncertainty of the short-term rental market. Our own property went under contract at the end of the month, so it was very exciting as we put it up for sale by owner. Things were a bit shaky and we had to collect ourselves and pivot our business strategy. Such is life though and it taught us that nothing is certain, but staying calm and appreciating the good goes a long way.
April came and so did the Zoom meetings. A group of us started working out three times a week, as all gyms were closed, and looking back at the energy and positive vibes those workouts helped with, makes me so grateful for the group of friends I have. We also had Zoom happy hour chats with friends and family, and all of my dad’s family jumped on a call to celebrate my grandma’s life, as we all couldn’t be together in person for her memorial. As the weather got nicer, we biked to one of our favorite breweries, New Terrain, for something fun to do. Porch Yoga, walks and any activity that would get us outside. Online concerts peeked our interest too – and we streamed Keller Williams, live from his cellar, and a few older Phish shows as well. A bit of music in a weird and shut-down time. Our hut-trip got canceled (had a weekend scheduled for the Broom Hut) so that was a bummer, but we did get a credit issued for next year. I started a recipe challenge with our friends’ Mat & Lucy, where we’d pick a recipe to each make separately, then get on a zoom call to chat and taste them, and we’d swap leftovers the next day. It was super fun – and a great way to try new recipes & see them without being in person. We made homemade pasta & “meat” balls, a bahn mi sandwich, and a Philly Cheese “steak”. Towards the end of the month, we headed to Longmont to celebrate my sister Heidi’s birthday and hang with our family. Our own investment, Zephyr Street, fell out of contract in April so we had to pivot and put the house up for rent, so found software for credit checks, took photos and made the mindset shift to pivot to a rental. If this year has taught us nothing, it is to be flexible, fluid and resilient and when things don’t go your way, you have to turn and make the way yourself.
May arrived and so did the hiking – we craved the outdoors, so took to Green Mountain peak in Boulder, had some hikes in the front range (Mt. Galbraith, Green Mountain in Lakewood and Mt. Falcon in Golden) and headed to Lefthand Canyon to hike when my cousins came out to visit. Talk about going big with sea-level folks! Mountain biking came on the docket and we headed to Marshal Mesa one morning for a long morning pedal before work, then headed to Canyon City for some Desert mountain bike gang weekend shenanigans. The whole crew headed down to bike Philly Special and several trails Steve built with his own hands. We biked across bridges, grilled and broke bread with some of the best people we’ve ever met, and enjoyed the beauty of camping. Our zoom workouts continued, full force, and we rotated who led the workout to keep it fresh and fun. It was around this time my real estate classes dipped drastically – I just wasn’t being disciplined about making time for them, despite being home almost 24/7 and had actually set a goal of finishing in three months…so was WAY behind.
Our South Carolina family came to visit in early June – bringing our 3 nieces along! The red-haired babies ended up staying up at our investment property – with it being fully furnished from staging, it was a perfect fit. Mike’s mom, sister and the kids were only blocks from us, with space to spread out. We had a family BBQ, went on a hike in Boulder, and visited. I got a new mountain bike in early June, an Ibis Ripley, so had fun taking it out and about…talk about a change in my pedaling! An impromptu campaign trip to St. Mary’s Glacier with some friends was a spontaneous and fun surprise – we camped by the river, then hiked to the alpine lake in the morning. Corona was still a real challenge and we were extremely grateful to have so many outdoor hobbies and friends who loved the outdoors. Mike and I spent time up in Fraser at a friends house, where mountain biking trails were everywhere – and Mike worked on converting his garage loft into an efficiency apartment, a project that would take several months, but be a wonderful one and allow us to really get to know and fall in love with the area. Our friends lived in Granby, a town 20 miles from Fraser, and they knew the good trails, so we’d meet them after work to bike our hearts out. One of the last weekends in June carried us down to Canon City once again, with our whole crew in tow, to celebrate our Nicole’s birthday. A Weber Brother and friends outdoor concert, trip and dip in the Arkansas river, and a mountain bike/hike extravaganza to the Philly special….a beautiful way to spend time with friends, safely and outside. The pandemic was still a real concern, so many in our group hadn’t seen anyone, nor been in crowds for several months. There was plenty of hand sanitizer and socially distanced fun. My RE classes still weren’t complete and I took an extension they were giving out to extend the amount of time I had to finish.
Crested Butte beckoned in July and we loaded our bikes and were off. Little did we know that the exhaust from the car melts carbon wheels, and when we arrived, my wheel was pulverized. Mike and I spent the next two hours visiting every bike shop within a 15 mile radius, finally having to drive to gunbarrel. It all worked out in the end, and the riding the rest of the weekend blew my mind. The 401, Dr.’s Park, Lupine, Snodgrass, Strand Hill – we hit them all! We rented a condo with 9 of our closest friends, cooked family style meals and played games. A fabulous way to spend the July 4th weekend! The real estate classes were still lacking big time – I had signed up in January, so had a goal Bike gang continued, and we biked North Table several evenings with friends, followed by delicious homemade grilled pizzas. My dad came out to visit, a pleasant surprise, and we headed to Fraser for a fun weekend in the mountains. We hiked the clear creek trail, had beers around the fire, and even got my dad on a bike for a little loop we took straight from the house. We spent the afternoon on Lake Granby, refreshed at Fraser River Beer Co, and strolled around Winter Park. A really fun long weekend! The rest of dad’s visit was filled with BBQ’s and game nights. Mike’s Fraser project took us back to the mountains, where we worked and played – boating and lounging in Lake Granby. Our Amy had a birthday later in the month, so we all hung out on our back patio for an outdoor movie night, grilled pizza and ice cream. The end of the month brought us back up to the Fraser project for some digging of ditches and trenches for the mountain project piping. By the end of the month, I realized I still wouldn’t be finished my RE classes, my procrastination had truly cost me money this time, so did have to pay for an extension this month.
First weekend in August was spent in the trenches, literally, laying piping for the mountain apartment. We did find some time to mountain bike and rode chainsaw and the NW passage. More frontrange biking at North Table – the sunsets on a summer night are truly divine. Our good friend Kevin turned 40, so we headed to Colorado Springs to bike the good trails with him – Ute Valley & Stratton Open Space – it was glorious. We spent a lot of time up in Fraser, with Mike working on the mountain apartment -so I became queen of the northwest passage in Fraser, a small loop I’d do on my lunch hour that was about 5 miles and 40 minutes. Perfect break to get my legs moving. Our cousins Leah & Joe rented a house in Fraser with some friends, so I would cruise over on my bike at lunch or after work and hang with them. On the weekends, we’d hike (we even hiked up Winter Park ski resort!). We were also fortunate to spend a ton of time on Lake Granby, on our friends’ boat and we even got to spend a day celebrating our cousin Joe’s birthday (and we joked, for our anniversary – which is September 4th) on a pontoon boat on Grand Lake, a lake a bit north of Lake Granby. Highly recommend that! I finally finished my CO real estate school, literally by the skin of my teeth, staying up till midnight on the day it expired, passing the final test needed in my schooling. Hooray – and a huge lesson learned to not put things off so long it becomes more stressful then finishing them in the first place!
Our gardens this year were amazing and the harvest came strong – we had planted tomatoes out front and they were flourishing! We literally had tomatoes on every surface of our kitchen! Chuggers Fest looked a little different this year, as COVID was still quite a threat, so we had an outside only extravaganza for Mike’s birthday, where the chuggers rocked hard and the Mary & Weber’s Band even made an appearance! I wrote a song about the crazy Rona virus – it was a real catchy tune. The day after, we got up and rode in Nederland – the West Magnolia loop – and holy cow that was a great ride. My new Ibis was feeling great and we got out a ton this month, back up in the mountains in Granby Ranch and later in the month biked Morse Mountain, peeping on the leaves changing color. Nothing beats the Aspens on fire as you ride past them! My Tennessee cousin, Austin, and his friend Jackson, reached out early in the month to see if they could come out and learn about the real estate and flipping business. Letting them know we only had the mountain project job going on at the moment, we told them to come on out if they still wanted! So they packed up their truck and headed west.
I wanted to motivate myself this month with movement, and while the Zoom workouts were still on, I implemented a 1-mile a day run challenge. We were still spending quite a bit of time up in the mountains while Mike, Austin and Jackson would work on the project, and it was a beautiful, calm place to be quarantining. Mid-October brought our ballads, so I felt proud to do my democratic duty and vote – it was a horribly volatile political environment and I can say I was glad to remove myself from the noise. Later in the month, I had planned my 40th birthday extravaganza – a 10 day road trip with mountain bikes, new mountain towns, and outdoor adventure. Durango, Sedona, Grand Canyon, New Mexico were on the list and it was an absolutely amazing adventure with friends and my best travel buddy, Mike. A once in a lifetime trip I’ll never forget!
After my 40th birthday extravaganza – which was incredible and ended in New Mexico – we headed back up to the mountains for our first ski (November 13th!) and were ready and excited for winter. It was just a short skin on the clear creek trail, but it gave us the taste of winter. On the weekend, we had Holly & Dusty head up to the mountains to do some plumbing on the mountain project and then headed out to do a skin. The rest of the month was mostly spent up in the cold mountains, working on the project, which was coming along beautifully with the help of the boys, doing yoga, and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Winter comes early in the mountains, so the temps dipped quickly – I still tried to get out for walks on the daily to enjoy the crisp air. Thanksgiving plans got canceled due to COVID and we were so disappointed to not be heading to the Carolinas to visit both Mike’s mom, sister and nieces, and his dad. The virus was raging in certain parts of the country, so we didn’t feel comfortable getting on a plane or driving (which would have been over 20 hours and multiple hotels!). The holiday was spent working on the mountain project, then heading back home to Arvada to get more supplies, and have a home cooked, super laid back meal with just Mike and I. Since we were in Colorado for the holidays, we made the most of it and headed out for a long skin in Fraser – up Byers Peak trail to picnic and play in the lovely snow. The turns were small, but the joy they brought was big!
The last month of the year brought a number of holiday festivities, including a small friendsgiving, a Christmas tree-cutting up in Fraser, where we hiked into the woods to cut down our own Christmas tree. Permits are only $20 and we spent the afternoon tromping through the snow to find the best tree, then tailgating at the truck with smoked salmon and cheese. A beautiful adventure that I hope continues each year! The Tennessee boys ended up leaving December 11th, and we headed to my moms for their last supper here. What a big help they were in moving the mountain project along! Mike then headed back up to the mountains, while I stayed in Arvada to work and prepare for the Christmas Holiday. My dad came out a few days before Christmas, and we spent time going to breweries, having Christmas Eve at my sisters, spending Christmas morning at my moms (we slept over!) and then Christmas Dinner at Mike and my house. It was a beautiful holiday.
As I sit here, on December 29th, just several days away from the New Year, I reflect on what a beautiful, heartbreaking, challenging, teachable year this has been. I feel as though I learned so much about myself, what’s really important, and stretched myself in ways that were hard and meaningful. I spent time on things that matter to me and found peace and calm in a tumultuous time. It was definitely a year I won’t forget!