Blog post by Jeri

The view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains as you are driving west toward Westcliffe on Highway 96 is spectacular.  I have never seen anything like it. Every time I come back to Westcliffe it brings tears to my eyes, so last time I came back to town I finally stopped to get a picture of the mountains at the point where you first see them after coming out of the Wet Mountains. I got out and walked up and down the shoulder of the road to get the best angle – my daughter had urged me to think like a photographer, so I was giving it my best shot. (Please see my previous blog post for the resulting photo and let me know how I did.)

I was just walking away from my vehicle when a car stopped. Then another car stopped.  Both drivers just wanted to make sure I wasn’t having car trouble. When I told them I was fine and appreciated their concern, one of them shrugged and said, “It’s what we do out here.”

It’s the truth. I have experienced an incredible amount of care and friendliness since arriving here in November. On my first Sunday at my new church, Community UMC, I told people that Cathy and I were becoming innkeepers. The next day one of the members of the congregation stopped by with a B&B cookbook and two of her favorite breakfast recipes. (Sarah Smith’s self-proclaimed Best French Toast in the World is in fact the best French toast our friends and family members have tasted. Thank you, Sarah!)

At a recent town meeting I introduced myself to Kathy Taylor, who reminded me that we had met before.  When I was hazy about the details she reminded me that we had talked one night after she played in a bluegrass band at Chappy’s, a local saloon.  She had been walking down the street carrying her stand-up bass to her car, and I had been walking home after listening to the band. I remembered her once she reminded me, but mostly my memory from that night was of following a woman carrying a stand-up bass down an almost empty street. I loved it that she remembered me, and that we had that moment in common.

Hermit Road heading northwest from Westcliffe. Not as snowy as the day of my story, but still looking like a long road through wide, empty spaces. .

One more anecdote: Shortly after a big snowfall early this winter I went for a drive out on Hermit Road with a friend. A slight misjudgment on the location of the (invisible) edge of the road took us straight into the ditch, buried up to the wheels. We got out and started shoveling, when around the corner on the hillside above us came a big pickup, slowly negotiating the icy road. (In my memory, the music from The Lone Ranger starts playing in my mind at this point.) The woman driving the truck pulled up and, as a matter of course, positioned her truck to tow us out of the ditch.  When she was done she waved off our thanks and drove on.

Moving to Westcliffe in the off season means we are experiencing the relatively small population of folks who live here year-round. These folks take care of each other; it’s what they do here.