It’s been months now that I’ve called Rocky Mountain National Park home, and much like Canyonlands and Mesa Verde, I’m finding this park to be incredibly beautiful, complex, thrilling, and full of unique challenges. Besides the greenery (which I’m loving, by the way), probably the most different aspect to living here versus my past park experiences is our housing situation. While my housing at both Mesa Verde and Canyonlands was much more remote as far as distance to the nearest town, those houses were modern and situated in fairly populated housing areas. There are only a cluster of cabins where I live now, and while it’s just a ten minute drive to town, the road is unpaved and at times pretty gnarly. It’s quiet over here, and I’m feeling that more so now than in any other park that I’ve lived in.
Wondering what it’s like to live in a historic cabin inside of a National Park? Wonder no more:
No doubt about it, our view is pretty freaking awesome. Looking over a serene valley with two meandering streams and an abundance of wildlife (the elk in particular love to linger in our front yard), it’s hard to beat a sunset from our porch. The fire ring situated just feet from the house definitely sweetens the deal (we live in a National Park remember, you can’t just build a campfire anywhere!). I particularly love the smell of the forest that surrounds our house. After a long day of working with children (who are lovely, but not always pleasantly fragranced), I find the thick pine scent to be immediately calming as I get out of my car.
Sure, I haven’t bonded with the park employees in the cabins around us the way I have with my park neighbors in the past. But there’s something to be said for quiet. The quiet here is especially pleasant. It’s not the deafening silence of the deserts I’d grown accustomed to; instead it’s very much full of sound – wind blowing flexible branches in tall trees, hummingbirds buzzing by, thunderstorms on the regular, and all sorts of other animal songs. And when I really need a dose of the human world, our radio gets excellent reception of the local NPR station.
I don’t have to move from my perch at our table to enjoy world-class wildlife viewing. Deer, elk, moose, and bear have all wandered by my window. No need for one of those fancy super zoom lenses here. I am especially fond of a hummingbird who has built her nest right in front of my window. I call her Florence. I know she loves me too.
I’ll admit, sometimes the rocky road makes me nervous – especially when we first moved in and found ourselves snowed in within hours. I particularly hate when I encounter an oncoming vehicle, as the steepest part of our road is not wide enough to make for a particularly comfortable pass. And then, having to wait in the often long line at the entrance station to get home at the end of the day just isn’t super fun.
Our cabin dates to the 1930s. Who’s to say if it’s age or shotty workmanship – either way, there are a lot of cracks in this house. That makes sweeping a constant job. I can literally not keep up with the dirt on these beautiful, original, hard-wood floors!
So, technically Austin and I are living in a one-bedroom unit. But unofficially, we are sharing this house with at least a dozen eight-legged companions. I initially waged war with the spiders when we moved in, but after waking up one rainy morning to a fly-infested kitchen, I decided to let them stay.
So, Florence is great. Our resident bear (who I have named Goldie, thanks to her blonde back) – not so much. She’s cute and all, but a bit of a point of stress for the neighborhood. She’s broken into two houses already and we are doing everything we can to scare her away so she won’t have to be put down. Believe it or not, keeping a can of bear spray by your front door is not always conducive to relaxation.
All and all though, I’m feeling enormously thankful once again to be living in such a beautiful place. And with lots of exciting adventures on the horizon (more on that soon), I’ve spent a lot of time at my window pondering whether I’ll ever have the privilege of a view like this again.
I guess only time will tell.