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From the Editor: The High Rockies

By Mike Rosso

I recently returned home from celebrating my Mom’s 91st birthday (Dad is 96). Most of my family, me being the exception, have settled in Sonoma County, California. It’s a truly stunning countryside there. Rolling hills of grass and stately oaks. Miles and miles of vineyards stretching above and beyond the horizon.

The ocean is nearby, and coastal drives to places like Point Reyes and Bodega Bay reveal a pastoral countryside of farms and ranches that seem to defy time. The annual climate is temperate, the biggest extreme might be the rainy season in winter, but otherwise, you can count on nice days year-round.

It really is no wonder that it is home to so many. There are jobs. California was recently named the fifth largest economy in the world, recently surpassing the entire United Kingdom. There is shopping. You want it? Chances are you’ll find it in the North Bay. Recreation abounds; hiking, boating, golfing, biking – it’s all there.

There is also traffic, skyrocketing housing prices, crime and an increasing homeless population. Paradise to some, not so much to others.

Whenever I touch back down in Colorado and catch that first glimpse of the towering Sawatch Range, I feel grateful to call this home. We all need the occasional sojourn away from the familiar. It helps us appreciate what we do have.

[InContentAdTwo] I was taking some mental inventory while on a hike with some friends recently and blurted out about how extraordinary Chaffee County is. It is home to some of the most popular commercial river running in the nation. The newest national monument is within its boundaries. The largest number of 14,000-foot mountains in North America call Chaffee County home. The Continental Divide passes through it, and 77 percent of it – 1,015 square miles – is public land: BLM, U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Colorado State Forest Service.

It is no wonder people want to move here. We’ve got two distilleries, four bike shops, a drive-in, four micro-breweries, seven kayak play holes, miles of mountain bike and hiking trails, gold medal fly fishing, two wineries, an amazing frisbee golf course and two fairgrounds – and there are not quite 20,000 of us living here. (What we don’t have is live rail. Lake County, our neighbor to the north, has a functioning train. So do Fremont and Alamosa Counties. Maybe someday – we do still have the track!)

We’ve got new homes popping up across the countryside and more traffic than last year. Also an increase in homelessness. Prices are going up but it is a long way to the nearest Ikea or Sam’s Club, so most shopping is done locally or online.

This issue of Colorado Central touches on many topics unique to Colorado. We also give a nod to our home town, Salida. Many of our contributors this month call it home as does the cover artist. From FIBArk to Art Walk, June is an intense time for us. We roll out the carpet and welcome the tourists (and their much-needed dinero). But a lot of us escape to the high mountain lakes and creeks – staying cool and enjoying the blue skies and fresh air of the high Rockies.