Beginnings

Welcome to the inaugural post of our collective house blog! The five of us are having an all-around excellent time here in Alamosa and have developed this site as a way to reflect upon, document, and share some of those experiences with our friends and family outside of southern Colorado. None of us knew each other before moving in together last month, but luckily we’ve been bonding rapidly over our shared love for outdoor adventures and laid-back community living. Each of us has started service placements at local organizations, allowing us to develop deeper ties within the community and better understand the complexities of the San Luis Valley. Although a disproportionate number of folks in this region struggle with challenges such as poverty, alcohol and drug addiction, immigration-related insecurities, and geographic isolation, Alamosa has a strong network of nonprofit organizations and other community-led initiatives that address a variety of social and environmental concerns. We’ll write more about that in due time. For now, here’s a snapshot of our shared experiences in the valley that we’re learning to love!

Cooking (and cleaning up after ourselves) occupies a good chunk of our time at home together. We’ve been eating remarkably well on our tight food budget of roughly $3 a day per person, supplemented by fresh produce from the local food bank, CSA (community-supported agriculture) program, and the generosity of friends in the community who have been extremely hospitable during our first few weeks here! It’s not uncommon for the five of us to wander in and out of our small kitchen for several hours on any given night, devising all sorts of delicious concoctions and picking each other’s brains for the local paper’s daily crossword. Generally these kitchen sessions dissolve into hilarity, often prompted by Elsa dropping food on herself and causing Eva and Andréa to double over with laughter. Jason and Chris, who tend to miss the onset of these events, look on with mild bemusement and confusion. Such is our eccentric and happy household.

During the past few weekends we’ve taken advantage of our newfound freedom from homework and begun exploring the area’s outdoor attractions. We’re fortunate to have two unit cars available for these outings (given the lack of public transportation in the area), so a couple weeks ago we piled into the Subaru for an overnight trip to the sand dunes. After an unexpectedly challenging hike across some dune slopes with our packs, we found a secluded spot to revel in the sand, enjoy the sunset, and sleep under the full moon. No sleeping pads required! The next morning we hiked out and drove to nearby Zapata Falls, where we ventured into the site’s rocky river cave and experienced full-body cleanses from the night’s sand!

But one adventurous weekend isn’t enough for this crew. A week later we tackled Blanca Peak, one of the closest 14ers to Alamosa (and the first 14er for most of us!). Unlike the jeeps that barreled up Blanca’s notoriously rocky road to treeline at Como Lake, we parked our car 5+ miles below and hiked in to camp at the lake with dozens of other ambitious Labor Day climbers. After some campfire-roasted burritos and a chilly night in the Goossen family’s resurrected 1978 Coleman tent, we hit the trail at first light to cover the remaining three miles. Despite a biting wind, numb fingers, and slick rocks, we summited mid-morning for some glorious views of the San Luis Valley and other peaks in the Sangre range. Among our fellow hikers we met an 11-year-old black lab who was completing her fortieth 14er! Such big hikes always offer visceral reminders of our bodies’ incredible capabilities, prompting gratitude that became increasingly relevant on the painfully long trek down. Sunburned and happy, we spent the evening stumbling around Alamosa looking for an open place to eat. When our bellies were finally satisfied, we deemed it a successful weekend. Chris (our resident photographer) has been dutifully documenting these adventures and includes highlights from both trips here on the blog.

Our involvement in the tiny, informal Anabaptist Fellowship of Alamosa has also presented a new learning experience for us here. Our household makes up roughly 1/3 of the church, which sometimes collaborates with the local Presbyterians and Unitarian Universalists to boost numbers and share resources. For some of us coming from larger home congregations, the more intimate faith community here may prove to be a welcome change of pace. Yet it comes with the challenge of sustaining worship week after week without a pastor, relying heavily on members to generously share their gifts.

Regarding small-town living, we’re learning that there’s no shortage of community or things to do! Already there’s been talk of forming a house bluegrass band, or something of the sorts. Maybe we’ll get more serious about that when the approaching wintry weather forces us to find creative ways to entertain ourselves! Regardless, it’s clear that we have many adventures ahead of us this year and are incredibly fortunate to adopt this place as our new home.

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