Portland State of Mind

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Transitioning to a new life, in a new city, at times, has left me feeling out of body:  Observational, but intimidated; Curious, and unsatisfied with answers; Patience, only leading to frustration; Built up excitement, then unimpressed; Incognito, but lonely; Surprised yet torn; basically all conflicting emotions that can happen were my experiences.  When I decided to “Jump in,”  “Carpe Diem” and “When in Rome” cliche it up and to Facebook-style exaggerate what is happening, I tucked my tail and went running back to my comfort zone.  Those approaches were not me.  All the million, trillion suggestions people asserted were not me either.  I had to surrender to the change and whatever catastrophe came with it.  Even if that catastrophe meant I had to slow my life down and concede that moving and transitioning to a new city takes time, its not just a romantic idea thought up in a single moment.

So, while browsing through an adorable Portland vintage shop, because that what Portlandians do, the owner offered me half price on the 2013-2014 Chinook Book because it would soon be expired.  chinook2 The contents of my Chinook Book include coupons to ONLY local grocers, restaurants, shops, entertainment, rentals, and transportation. Trying to fit in by conversing and observing and taking infinite amounts of recommendations was OVER!  (Ugh!  Finally!!)  I would take this coupon book and I apply whatever food, shop or entertainment Chinook threw my way.  No more thinking, weighing, mapping it out, discussing, deciding, comparing and contrasting agony!

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Chinook  gave me a coupon for this local, sustainable, green convenience store, not far from our home.  Using my coupon, I decided all purchases must be Portland local goods, it was a fun, new, grocery store game. I stood baffled in front of the fill your own growler Kombucha tap, and sampled fresh picked strawberries that were teeny, tiny and full of flavor like the ones I grew in my community garden in Denver.  Eventually, I took Tillamook Ice Cream, whole wheat pancake mix, single serving of Kombucha, Portland made ketchup, Stumptown cold pressed coffee, and wild caught salmon to the cash register.

juice pressProudly presenting my coupon at the register, I used my ninja-teacher-questioning techniques (also known as Bloom’s Taxonomy), to focus a conversation completely on this man’s love of Unicorns.   He didn’t mind there were people waiting in line, he just needed to express his knowledge of unicorns to me.   Filtering myself carefully, I asked the young adult, “Why on Earth did you decide to tell me about unicorns, today?”  “Because you just look like someone who would appreciate them,” he answered.  In fact, I once loved Unicorns, too!  As a child, I had an entire shelf of porcelain unicorn statutes and as a 3-year-old, I dressed up as Rainbow Bright for Halloween, complete with unicorn horn added to my pony on a stick.  Both costume and statutes were sold in a garage sale almost 20 years ago.  This guy has plans for a chest tattoo of a winged unicorn to match his sleeve of more unicorns and wizardry accents.  I took his statement as a compliment, but politely declined his offer to smoke pot with him.  Kombucha tap and unicorn conversations, still makes me smile at the odd memory.

Chinook showed me a lot of great Portland spots.  We do our fruit and vegetable shopping at the Farm Stand called Kreugers.  If we want it fresh from the farm, all we have to do is drive 15 minutes with a basket and pick it ourselves.  We have sampled several mushroom varieties in effort to learn our local mushrooms.  Chantrelles sauteed in garlic and butter are divine!  We have enjoyed more fresh caught, wild seafood like scallops and salmon!   Other enjoyable food adventures include marionberries, Blue Star Donuts (Voo Doo donuts are a sham!!), kale chips, Salt and Straw, Papa Hayden’s, Slappy Cakes and McMennamins mustard.mushrooms

I enjoyed more interactions Chinook brought me, and took note on language especially.  Now, I say things like “Oh, ‘Southeast’…errr..” and “Yea, the ‘food cart pod’ on Burnside/ China Town/ Lombard.”  I usually reference “Sauvies, Forest Park or ‘The Pearl'” when describing my weekend.  I learned to ask questions important to Portlandians, like: “Is it local?” and “What do you recommend?”

StumptownCB1Here in Portland, I learned that barista, bartender and shop girls take ownership, pride and embody their respected careers.  Also, many Portlandians enjoy careers best described as “Hustler for Life!”  ‘Hustlers for life,’ work a job, but are really an actors, musicians, artists, writers, OR (like me) teachers, etc.  One Portlandian friend I have from my rugby days is combination of paleo baker, grower, caretaker, but really she’s a rugger.  Perfect example.  Now, when people ask me what I “do.” I reply, “Yoga pant sales and professional parallel parker, but really I’m an educator.”  I keep a straight face, it’s really what I do every. day.   blue star

Many other restaurants were visited and shops were perused, but the best part of Chinook was it made me learn on my own.  At times I  felt like I knew where to find the best of something, and now I am a part of the conversation.  I can contribute a review, a recommendation, or give directions to a popular spot. Other times, I failed.  It was my own failure, not one that someone or google maps led me to with anticipation.  I recovered myself from failure and laughed at the story because really, I was learning.  I’m not any good a coupons, and by no means a coupon lady.  The value of the Chinook book is not monetary.  It is the waterfall of new ideas, getting out of my comfort zone, failing, accepting new changes, and figuring out the city of Portland in my own way.

What have you done that helps the transition from your home to a new city?

What I Thought I knew about Portland

keep pdx weird What do you think of when a friend or family member mentions Portland, Oregon?  For many, the knee jerk reaction is…. “Rain!”  Other close seconds, like coffee culture, weirdos, bridges, food carts and green scenery might come to mind. Perhaps an outsdoors(wo)man thinks first of the bicycle friendliness, then Mt. Hood, the scenic Columbia Gorge, Mt. Rainer, Mt. St. Helens, Crater Lake and the proximity to the ocean and water sports.  Maybe the business minded folks think of the Nike Headquarters, Intel Manufacturing Plant and the steel and logging industry.  If you’re an artsy type, the local artisans and music scene might be familiar to your lifestyle.  My first thoughts were of these big players as well. pdx sign During my two and a half months of living here, many Portlandians have welcomed me into their beloved city and asked me , “How are you liking it here?”  To their disappointment, I reply, “It’s a big transition….”  Wilting smiles means they all take the time to carefully explain how they fell in love with Portland and promise that I will too.  In return, I statistically deliver, “I’m coming from 320 days of sunshine to 300 days of clouds.”  From here the advice flows freely, “Get outside everyday, even if its raining,” “Take trips during the winter to sunny places,” “Invest in good rain gear,” “Buy a vitamin D lamp and use it everyday.”  One former Coloradan told me, “I just think of how brown and dry it looks in Colorado and how green it looks in Portland.”  Problem is, I love brown… deadgrass was the color of my Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Sailor, before we got Ivyn.  I’m listening Portland, and I’m grateful your friendly faces to share so willingly.  Still, the answers and advice aren’t replacing my beloved native land of Denver, Colorado. st. john's bridge

Leaning on my boyfriend, DB has a knack of many different sorts: movies, menus, physics, geology, geography and finding places to live.  He did it once in Argentina, again in Denver and, for the hat trick…Portland.  He wisely chose the safe and convenient area in Buenos Aires called Palermo Hollywood, in Denver we loved our location in Mayfair and now we live in the neighborhood known as “St. John’s.”  Still coming out of its “hood” days, there are trendy, new shops and next to decrepit, abandoned spaces.  Brand new homes (like our rental) standing next to very old homes with stray cats (our neighbors).  There are still a lack of nearby restaurants and liquor is state owned out here, so only one liquor store to server an entire peninsula.  We are on the peninsula of the city: 15 minutes from downtown, 30 minutes for DB to get to and from work, 45 minutes from farm/ wine country and 90 minutes from the beach.  An excellent neighborhood, full of fun opportunities.  DB, Ivyn and I miss Denver very, very much.  However, our home is with each other, and we are in Portland.

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Challenges of a new culture, new climate, new geography, uncovering the rules that go unsaid, but everyone else knows, faces me each time I step foot outside of my home.  For example, the drivers out here will stop any time for pedestrians.  In the middle of a busy street, the green light, the highway!  The rules for driving aren’t the ones posted in street signals or traffic signs, they are unspoken and we experience frustration for not knowing the invisible rules.  To maintain some balance, I Yoyoyogibegan my ritual of yoga in Portland and was met with different styles, none of which matched mine.  My employment applications in the education field or the flaming rings of fire while performing a monkey dance, baffled me into a time-out.   For months, my license sits in an electronic pile waiting for processing.  My boyfriend from Cheyenne, Wyoming, walked into a colleague frenzy with the large capacity of employees.  Small town kid grows up to be a lone researcher, then (poof!) a line worker in one of the highest producing plants in the world for a company that is “more stick than carrot.”  With our work so incredibly changed, our lives seem so distant and different to what we had in Denver.

I thought I would be sampling tasty boutique beer or coffee in a pair of patterned rain boots after pedaling through some mist over a bridge.  I thought every weekend would be jam packed with coastal adventures and discovery in the forest.  Mostly DB and I work, making the transition to a new city with only some time to explore.  Each evening DB claims his “5 hours of freedom,” with rest, dinner and time with our puppy, Ivyn.  The weeks go by and the work gets done, the challenges of learning a new city and life balance and  goes slower than I want.

 

It Begins….PDX Life

A major update is overdue for how DB and I are doing out here in Portland.  I’ve had many enjoyable moments of, “This will be great for my blog,” but there’s been more moments of presence and thinking only about what’s in front of me…the new life in front of me.  To summarize, we have been moderately busy.  DB jokes of his “five hours of freedom,” meaning the time from 5pm to 10pm where he isn’t inside the Intel compound, under florescent lighting, standing on an uncomfortable aluminum floor, covered head to toe in his gortex bunny suit.

Meanwhile, I job search, train the puppy and try to get the lay of the land mostly by getting in my car and getting lost at every turn.  I have found a yoga studio to continue my practice, but feel as if Portland yoga digresses 10 years prior.  At times we both miss Denver, I am missing the yoga in Denver, the easy layout of Denver, the mountains, the friends and family, the knowledge of basic daily functions like recycling and getting gas.

As true explorers, we have made a few simple trips to make the most of what we enjoy: being together, nature, coffee, beer, food.

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Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival.  Happiness abundant as the beautiful flowers.  Picturesque with Mt. Hood reaching up to the clear, blue sky.  Enjoyed with a glass of wine and the love of my life sitting next to me on the bench.

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Just being together, was all I could hope for in the world. Lucky me, we had dream-like scenery and each other.

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My farm-girl roots loving this steam powered tractor.

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Our new hood, St. Johns, has this famous, historic bridge. Underneath, Catherdral Park and the Willamette River with fresh salmon from the Pacific! (Not to mention, the Yetti families in the forest on the other side of the bridge…claims one St. John’s neighbor.)

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Happy Easter. I went to the dollar store to make this little display for a little cheer! Trader Joe’s assorted Jelly Beans, with a key on the box, for a tradition that Grandpa George always enjoyed.

 

Ivyn and I put on our bunny ears then pounced on a sleepy DB, to get him up and running for our day! She maybe doesn't like the outfit very much....maybe.

Ivyn and I put on our bunny ears then pounced on a sleepy DB, to get him up and running for our day! She maybe doesn’t like the outfit very much….maybe.

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Hunting for eggs, or critters. We’ve explored many dog parks and among all the dog owners, this one is the place to go on rainy days to stay out of the mud. I

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Garage sale treasures. Portland’s largest garage sale held at the expo center successfully derailed us from our “must have” list for house needs. A silk flower arrangement, a barnwood frame and an antique milk can. I can replace the picture for one from my collection, no prob.

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After a week of submitting applications to various retail shops and not getting any calls, 6 ounces of drinking chocolate and pistachio and vanilla macaroons are in order. Outside this cozy cafe, the rain splashed continuously.

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A shuffleboard in almost every bar, for free! My game improved on this super slippery board.

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Our adorable puppy remains fearful of water, but can do serious damage with her digging skills!

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Lots of growing. She loves her crate, and sleeping in the the way of St. Bernards, on her back.

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Lots of beer sampling out here. Vertigo brewery, near DB’s work, offered us great beer and conversation as well as teacher networking!

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Sitting outside Stumptown Cafe, one elitist, entitled, obviously over-privileged, Portlandian kid (young 20s) explained, “There’s a lot of crap coming into Portland….too many people moving here…..pieces of crap, like yourselves, move here.” DB’s reaction was surprisingly self-contained and intellectual. I have different scenarios played out in my mind, if it were to occur again.

This is what happens whenever we take her anywhere. A group of people take notice, start oooing and awwwwing, Ivyn catches on, starts wiggling towards the spectator and flops on her back to give "the belly show."

This is what happens whenever we take her anywhere. A group of people take notice, start oooing and awwwwing, Ivyn catches on, starts wiggling towards the spectator and flops on her back to give “the belly show.”

At Kelly Point Park, dogs can run off leash....humans too.

At Kelly Point Park, dogs can run off leash….humans too.

 

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Ivyn digging a trench under Dain’s legs and next to the log. Mud puppy!

 

Go, Go, Go…

Life has been blurry with the move from Denver to Portland. DB reminded me to be in the moment, love the ones your with, stop worrying and say goodbye. It was fun to see everyone and I needed all the support from hugs, children’s books, offers to help pack, money, gifts, meals, texts, FB messages, cards, alcohol and all the people who held back tears for me. Thank you.

Ivyn’s favorite little girl. She sang to Ivyn and they held paw and hands before saying goodnight.

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Ivyn likes to steal his hat and run around the yard shaking her head left to right. FB chases… hehehe…
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One last walk at Standley Lake with my mom, Sadie Angel and all the memories we’ve made since childhood.
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My yoga studio for the past 3 years. Qiflow will be missed and all the inspiring instructors!
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Packing glassware is tedious and brutal! Glad my little trickster was around to remind me to play. …and pop the bubble wrap!
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Saying goodbye to my garden and Ivyn got to “dig, dig, dig” her little heart out.

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Finally got the courage to get my Sailor memorial tattoo. Thanks bro for helping me through it! Anchor is for my Chesapeake Bay Retriever whom I still miss so much. He gave me strength, perserverance, and protection to carry with me.
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Rhubarb coming in strong. I hope someone makes good harvest of it!

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Dad tries to be tough with her, but she melts his heart. He’s a softy, we know it!
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The movers gave me total stress and a panic attack. Scammers, liars, and nightmares are how I will describe them in my report to the BBB. I hope all our worldly possessions will make it back to us. I’m glad I’ll never be a first time mover ever again in my life, it was awful!
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Thank goodness my mom took time off work to help me deal with all the trouble. This is our special lake, been coming here since I was a kid.
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Our home, the “Hoe House.” So many happy times and growing pains to move away from.
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Goodbye, Denver! xoxo

Goodbye PBA!

I had to say goodbye to my 5th graders last Friday.  Goodbye to the 80 colleagues I have spent 5 years of trials and moments of glory with.  Goodbye to the woman who has vacuumed my classroom floor for 2 years.  Goodbye to sharing a wall with the same fateful friend or 5 years.  Goodbye to my classroom, where I started as a first year teacher.

My joke for the day was to walk by frowning faces and strong hugs and say, “Summer break!”  The only given phrase that will always make any teacher or student smile….or roll their eyes.

I held my tears back until the last bell of the day.  The kids swarmed me with hugs and I had to shoo them away before their buses left without them.  My heart felt very heavy that I had to leave them before the school year was over.  I promise this, I did give them every piece of me for the time that I was with them.  I know that their substitute will have a rough time with this group, she has no idea how special they all are.  I still miss them now. 

The regular happy hour crew met me for one last “PBA FAC.”  Everyone signed an umbrella for me, fitting for Portland.   One teacher friend, “Little Lammie” gathered notes and pictures from students in all grade levels in the school.  I still haven’t opened the cards, but I appreciate everyone who helped make that day special.  I needed even the smallest supportive gesture more than you know. 

Now, one hard part, my last day at work in Denver, is over.

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Cayonlands Half and 31st Birthday

My first half – marathon experience will forever be best described as fun, positive and successful.   My friend Betty helped coach me with training, nutrition, recovery, and logistics.  She’s not the only part of our team, though.  Mr. Paul, the best dog sitter anyone could ask for, took care of my puppy on every long run.  Mr. Paul also conferred with us on pre and post – run rituals including reflection on training, evaluation of supplements and hydration.   Ivyn was my motivation and Dain Bassett, ever present in my every blinking thought and beat of my heart, supported it all! 

Race day was exhilarating.   We dressed up for St. Patty’s Day, my birthday and the completion of a journey.  Dain Bassett joined us for the finale, which made crossing the finish line so much more enjoyable.  

I loved this experience.   Plans already in the works for running another half – marathon over Labor Day weekend in Portland wine country! 

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Leaving Denver

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Family

I have deep roots being a Colorado native. My family, mom, dad and brother, live here. DB has his Grandma, brother, sister-in-law and beautiful niece in Aurora while his parents live up the road in Cheyenne, WY.  Our circle of friends includes several Denver communities and goes back 5 years for DB and 25 years for me.  Who would want to start all over after living with the convenience of family and dear friends?

A Skyline I have Loved Since a Kid

Great Match

Denver is our city, our perfect match.  We do it all: hike, bike, run, camp, kayak, backpack, swim, parks, restaurants, eating, drinking, bars, ski/ snowboard, concerts, sports, museums, gardens, events, rec centers, lakes and swimming holes, shopping.  Every activity has lead to expert knowledge on logistical details and a familiar sense of direction.  It’s easy to be an active Coloradan when you know so much and have so much fun!  Now that we know how to have the most fun, why not keep it going with all your best friends and family?

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Location

The beloved “Hoe House” (the nickname I gave to my house because we live on ‘Ivanhoe St.’) holds many cherished memories and times of pain and growth. Our blood, sweat and tears, not to mention money, went into cleaning it up after it stood vacant and foreclosed for a year.  The backyard was once occupied by high schoolers doing drugs behind the garage, forever earning it the label of the  “Meth Lab.”  Our location is within 5 miles of King Soopers, Safeway, Sunflower Market, Whole Foods and now a Trader Joes.  We are 20 minutes from downtown and 10 minutes to the highway leading towards the mountains.  Not to mention, Colfax, the longest, continuous street in the nation is only 2 blocks away with all sorts of fun to be had.  Our system for living in the house is effortless, smooth, well practiced.  Why complicate life with a new home to get to know and love?

Micro Brews another Perk of Denver!

Climate and Culture

Denver is home of the ‘Mile High’ city, it’s unique!  (Red Rocks.) Fresh mountain air breezes by the Denver ‘Blue Bear,’ ‘Demon Blue Horse’ and ‘Dancing Aliens.’  Enjoyable Denver weather is unbeatable with the best snow for skiing and 300 days of sunshine.  (Red Rocks.) Hardly, do I need a hair dryer for 3 seasons out

of the year because of NO humidity…none!  (Red Rocks). We made recent history by legalizing marijuana; furthermore taxed retail pot is sold around every corner.  (Red Rocks).  Dog friendly Denverites, who often resemble their dogs, speak easily of their pets’ recent humorous story.  (Red Rocks).    There’s ALWAYS delicious Mexican Food nearby, FastTracks, the developing light-rail system is quickly underway for greatness and it’s safe here!  (Red Rocks).  Denver is not overcrowded, it’s not loud, it’s not fancy, it’s not too young, too old, or too cool.  Obviously…..Red Rocks.

RED ROCKS!!!

The Perks!

Since living here and working here for the past five years, the morning Starbucks crew around the corner from my house knows what kind of morning I’m having based off of the drink I order.  Everywhere DB and I go, we run into a familiar faces, breweries, uptown, downtown, parks.  Colorado is usually the third from top of any online drop down-box form making any check out page smooth and quick.  I have extensively researched and found the BEST yoga in the city, I fuel up at the cheapest gas station in Denver and have finally mastered the art of parking downtown, including on game days.  When I want a sub sandwich I already know the menu at Udi’s, D’Deli, Snarf’s and a multitude of other back up places.  Happy hour choices are based on best wings, the Chinese food place is stored in my phone and top pizza places depend on how long the line is at 2 am.  I have an impeccable dentist whom I trust entirely, a massage therapist with magic healing powers, and not so sketchy bathhouse that is very therapeutic.    Finally, Ivyn is known by name at Mayfair Park and her list of friends includes Mogul, Tokee, Security Chihuahua, Riley, Cody, Bella and Carissa (human).  We’ve got it figured out, WHY are we LEAVING!??

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Home

We are leaving because home is a new concept, that is no longer a place.  The new meaning of home complies my heart and the heart of one other.  A feeling, a part of love, an instinct and a future.  My home is with my beloved DB, and with all our hearts we are explorers.  As a couple who has been together for seven years, we have never stopped exploring.  In fact, one of my favorite excuses to why we aren’t married yet is because we have been too busy traveling.  Our explorer hearts say its time and we know because we listen.

Colorado, and it’s culture comes with me.  You can take the girl out of Colorado, but you can’t take the Colorado out of the girl.  I will always be hiking, biking, running, swimming, dog walking, playing…. and apparently quite a lot of eating!  Moving to Portland will be a lifestyle change with more rain than sun, but there is no such thing as bad weather….just bad gear!  It doesn’t seem like a set back to move to a rainy climate, to me.  It’s a factor.  Just like the many times I sprained my ankle so badly there was a small, baby turtle growing out of the side.  It didn’t stop me from finishing the game, it was just another factor.

Truth is, complacency makes me more stressed than anything else.  I know all the right answers.  I love being right, by the way, but I also know I am comfortable.  I know I can push past this zone for a period of time and return later if I want.  Also, I’m excited.  I haven’t moved since I arrived back in Denver in 2008 from Buenos Aires.  In Portland, we will be a $200 round trip flight from Hawaii and Alaska.  We will live 90 minutes East of the ocean and 90 minutes west of Mount Hood.  Not to mention, Asia is a flight across the pond.  We get to make new friends, new community and expand our lives.  Last, this is not goodbye!  I fully believe in the “small world” phenomena and it only makes for more joy.  Friends and family will be missed, but growth and challenge will be welcomed.  Moving is not to say goodbye.  Goodbye, only to complacency and the symptoms that come with it.  We will always love Denver, Colorado and promise to uphold the Coloradan culture and friendliness wherever we go!  We’ll do ya proud Colorado!

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Denver Biscuit Company- a favorite for brunch!