Relocating to Colorado Springs

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Colorado Springs Farmers Markets 2018

Updated June 1, 2018

Well, we’ve had a strangely dry and not so cold winter. Seems like summer has come early in some ways with no big late spring or even Mother’s Day snow storms. And so that means we are in full summer swing around these parts and it is time to start thinking about enjoying time on your favorite trail in town…taking in a picnic or some reading at a local park…spending time in the mountains…running a summer race…catching up on some DIY projects around the house…and yes, finding your way to your local Colorado Springs Farmers Markets.

Hopefully, you enjoyed relaxing during the recent Memorial Day holiday weekend. I know I did manage to get some time with friends and get outside in between showing some clients houses and getting one set of clients under contract. Yay! That’s a big deal in our current market, especially in certain price points and areas.

Whatever you plan to tackle this summer, make sure you find ways to enjoy… ALL THINGS SUMMER! Can I get a big shout out!?!

 

Summer in Colorado Springs

Summer in Colorado Springs is grand. I’m not one to have a favorite season. I love them all for the wonderful and distinct features they each offer. In summer, I love getting outside as much as possible. I crave time in the mountains and on lakes throughout the state. The long days and cool nights are the best! I’m sure you have your favorite things too.

And one of the VERY best parts of summer is access to local produce and other Colorado local products available at Farmers Markets all around the Colorado Springs area. We have some fantastic markets in nearly every corner of the Pikes Peak Region. You could hit up a different market every day and get a tour of the town. How fun!?

Make it a fun summer bucket list – visit all of the available farmers markets in town!

 

Why Farmers Markets Matter

Why not just hit up your local grocery store? Besides getting a chance to combine being outside and visiting different parts of town, it’s also incredibly valuable to support local farmers and other local merchants! Did you know that your dollars go further in our community’s economy when you shop and eat at locally owned business?

Another enjoyable part of the Colorado Springs Farmers Markets is the chance to meet friends and neighbors. Whether it’s just you or you bring the whole family. What a fantastic activity on a Saturday morning or since the kids are out of school…any ‘ole day of the week. You can hang out in your own neighborhood in town. Or enjoy visiting another area and its local parks, restaurants, and coffee shops before or after your time at the market.

 

Other Thoughts on the Value of Local Farmers Markets

A trekkie fav as well as book worms all across the land, LeVar Burton over at Reading Rainbow would say, “You don’t have to take my word for it!” So here are some thoughts from folks around the community about why farmers markets are a valuable part of our community. And why making time this summer to visit your local farmer can be not only fun but incredibly important.

 

“Farmers markets help to connect rural and urban communities and thus are an invaluable piece of civic architecture. They are a vibrant spot for our neighborhoods, they signal the value that Coloradoans put on local food, help to keep these dollars in our state, and preserve our precious farmland. Moreover, having these markets helps community members who may have difficulty accessing fresh fruits and vegetables through programs like Double-UP food bucks, where every dollar becomes 2 when spent on meat, produce, etc. at these markets — this is not available at grocery stores.” Michelle Larkins, Ph.D., Food & Environmental Sustainability Researcher, Colorado Springs Food Rescue

 

“I like spending Saturday mornings at the market with my kids. They gain a better understanding of where our food comes from and why it’s valuable. Meeting farmers and planning our meals based on what’s available keeps us grounded and in touch with the realities of our sustaining resources. It’s real life, real food and real people. We need bits of that in our modern world. The farmers markets are gifts all over our city each summer for those who will go out and enjoy all offer!” Niki Parks, Local Colorado Springs Resident, Gleneagle

 

“Farmers market season is exciting because we get to experience the bounty of our local region. From the Pueblo chile to Rocky Ford melons, we have rich and diverse agriculture in southern Colorado. By buying local produce, you are supporting family farms and strengthening our community. Palmer Land Trust partners with farmers to ensure our region has a vibrant local food base, resilient farming communities, and protected land and water resources.” Rebecca Jewett, Executive Director, Palmer Land Trust

 

“Shopping at markets that sell locally sourced food provides a valuable outlet for farmers who are mostly small, family operations. Their fruits, vegetable, cheeses and other products retain the flavor and nutritional value that is lacking in supermarket products. Do something good for yourself, your family and your community and buy locally produced foods.” Matt Heimerich, Lower Arkansas Valley Conservation Director, Palmer Land Trust

 

Go Meet A Farmer!

So, get outside this summer (and into the fall at some markets!) and meet a farmer. Enjoy a slow Saturday morning picking out some Palisade peaches or finding that perfect Pueblo chile or scoop up some local honey. Yum!! And at every market, you’ll find local and regional vendors offering other creative, unique products for your kitchen as well as your home in general. Right in your own neighborhood!

 

Colorado Springs Farmers Markets Schedule

Here’s a rundown of the markets offered throughout the Pikes Peak Region. Some markets opened this past Memorial Day weekend. while others will be opening throughout June. Some only go through the summer, while others will run through the fall. So, make sure to check the links, if provided, to get more details on dates and to stay in touch as markets will make last minute changes for holidays, weather, etc. Hope you find your local, neighborhood market! And enjoy the adventure of another neighborhood’s market features.

And when you make some fresh salsa with all local ingredients give me a call! 😉

Monday Farmers Markets

Wednesday Farmers Markets

Thursday Farmers Markets

Friday Farmers Markets

Saturday Farmers Markets

Sunday Farmers Markets

Other helpful links to get information on farmers markets in the Pikes Peak region as well as around the state.

https://www.springsfarmersmarkets.com/

http://www.colorado.com/co/food-wine-beer/farmorchardsfarmers-markets

Hope to see you out choosing tomatoes or picking up farm fresh eggs or whatever you need to make a great summer meal. Happy shopping!

Colorado Springs Farmers Markets Schedule Summer 2018

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Searching for the Right Schools!

What are the Best Schools in Colorado Springs?

As real estate professionals, we are often asked to help find the “best school” and while we cannot steer you in the direction of a certain district, school or neighborhood for a variety of reasons, the truth is the “right school” is different for every family and student. I have a friend with 6 students in different schools/districts; they did the research to find what’s best for each of their students! I’m here to help you find more information so you can make an informed decision.

Once you have selected the right school or district for your student or family, try out our Springs Homes awesome new search-by-school-district capability.

School district map

Here is a brief summary of all the local Colorado Springs area school districts, with approximate area descriptions, websites, mean SAT Scores, Median Home Price in the District and the Student Enrollment.

(Data courtesy of the MLS, gazette.com and SchoolDigger.com)

Colorado Springs School Districts

Academy School District 20 – https://www.asd20.org/

Located in the north end of Colorado Springs, including a high school on the Air Force Academy, hence the name.

Median Sales Price $493,669. Student Enrollment 24,578. Mean SAT Score 1092.

Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 – www.cmsd.k12.co.us/

Southwest Colorado Springs, west of Hwy 115.

Median Sales Price $455,000. Student Enrollment 5,148. Mean SAT Score 1153.

Colorado Springs School District 11 – https://www.d11.org/

One of the oldest school districts in Colorado Springs. I’ve always mistakenly thought the largest acreage, but it is probably the highest population. It is the “central” school district, mostly downtown and areas surrounding, all the way up to Woodmen Rd.

Median Sales Price $235,000. Student Enrollment 28,332. Mean SAT Score 966.

Ellicott School District 22 – https://www.ellicottschools.org/

More rural schools located east/southeast of Peyton, Colorado.

Median Sales Price $225,000. Student Enrollment 1,072. Mean SAT Score 932.

Falcon School District 49 – https://www.d49.org/

Eastern Colorado Springs out toward Peyton, north of Peterson Air Force Base, east of Powers.

Median Sales Price $160,000. Student enrollment 15,478. Mean SAT Score 927.

Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 – https://www.ffc8.org/

Southern Colorado Springs to Fountain, Colorado, including schools on Fort Carson Army base in southwest Colorado Springs

Median Sales Price $237,000. Student Enrollment 8,120. Mean SAT Score 967.

Hanover School District 28 – www.hanoverhornets.org/

Rural east/southeast of Fountain, Colorado

Median Sales Price $220,000. Student Enrollment 260. Mean SAT Score 812.

Harrison School District 2 – https://www.hsd2.org/

Southeast Colorado Springs, west of powers, East of Hwy 115 to South Academy, portions in the Widefield area

Median Sales Price $203,000. Student Enrollment 11,441. Mean SAT Score 945.

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 – https://www.lewispalmer.org/

Located in the Monument, Colorado and Palmer Lake, Colorado portions of Northern El Paso County.

Median Sales Price $445,000. Student Enrollment 6,207. Mean SAT Score 1129.

Manitou Springs School District 14 – https://www.mssd14.org/

Located in Manitou Springs, west of downtown Colorado Springs.

Median Sales Price $495,000, enrollment 1,458. Mean SAT Score 1044.

Peyton School District 23JT – www.peyton.k12.co.us/

Rural district Northeast of Colorado Springs
Median Sales Price $349,000. Student Enrollment 622. Mean SAT Score 1004.

Widefield School District 3 – https://www.wsd3.org/

South Colorado Springs, North of Fountain
Median Sales Price $249,900. Student Enrollment 9,283. Mean SAT Score 942.

Woodland Park School District Re-2 – www.wpsdk12.org/

Located in Woodland Park, Colorado and surrounding communities, west of Colorado Springs, up Ute pass to the west

Median Sales Price $203,000. Student Enrollment 2,495. Mean SAT Score 978.

Researching Your School Choices

Within these districts are some Charter School programs that, while in the public school system, have a different operation, websites, etc.

When we enlisted our boys in public school, we visited public and charter school open house nights, investigated programs available, location, etc. There is so much importance in your child’s education, so whether you are looking for a house in a school district or trying to “choice” into a different school for your child, do a little (or a lot of) research!

Good luck with your school research. I’m here to help if it’s time to move!

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Colorado Springs Best Coffee Ever

Colorado Springs has it all in the way of places to shop and eat. Chain stores pepper the city from North to South selling familiar goods like clothing and dog food and Starbucks coffee.  But we also have the specialty boutique stores, independently-owned and locally run offering unique, high-quality goods which you cannot get anywhere else.  I’m talking about Colorado Springs-based shops like the Wimberger Bakery which bakes its finest German breads right here, or the Ranch Foods Direct meat market which offers hormone and antibiotic free, Colorado-raised beef…or one of my personal favorites, Colorado Coffee Merchants which locally roasts and sells the best coffee I’ve ever tasted.

HOW IT ALL STARTED

Founded in 2004, Colorado Coffee Merchants opened for business in a quaint stucco building on Filmore Street located in the central, and what-used-to-be more industrial part of town. The owner, Eric Umenhofer, claims his store and success was completely unintentional.  A former firefighter, he had a passion for good, well-prepared coffee. As a result, he and some of his work friends developed a hobby of roasting their own coffee beans.  Eventually, they landed this location, a commercial building where they could install the giant roasters with tall metal stacks venting through the roof and roast to their heart’s content. They had no idea this “hobby” would draw such local interest. And before long, they had a cult following of committed coffee drinkers insisting to buy some. What began as a hobby evolved into a thriving coffee shop, offering single serves or beans to go as well as scrumptious eats from local vendors.

WHAT MAKES THIS COFFEE SO GOOD?

I am told it’s the combination of the air roasting method plus the finest quality imported beans from trusted growers all over the world which makes this coffee taste so darn good. The coffee brand is called Umpire Estate Mountain Roasters. The beans are imported in select batches from places like Guatemala, Ethiopia, Italy, Mexico and even France.

A GOOD FEELING

Step inside and you’re immediately warmed by familiar smiling faces, the heavenly smell of good coffee and rustic atmosphere. This local store is always buzzing with loyal customers greeted daily by the staff or owner himself. Yah, he knows everyone by name. How he remembers everyone I don’t quite know. But I guarantee you’ll feel welcome. And if it’s roasting day, you just might leave with your clothes and hair smelling of great coffee!

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Hiking the Pikes Peak Region North to South

It might seem a bit silly as the weather turns cooler to talk about hiking. However, Colorado’s 300+ days of sunshine lend to year-round hiking (and golfing for that matter)… plus if it’s too snowy, I’ll just throw on snowshoes and “hike” that way. I am certainly not an expert on all of these trails, but I will try to give a brief description or the terrain and length.

Notes: 1) for most trails dogs must be “on leash”, 2) pretty much all trails I’m discussing are powered by muscles, not motors (horses, people. bikes, etc… just no motorized vehicles).. oh, and 3) prepare to see wildlife (mostly deer, squirrels, rabbits, maybe fox.. and occasional bear, snake *yes, there are rattlesnakes here*)

Hiking North of Colorado Springs

Let’s start with my favorite (ok one of my faves) SPRUCE MOUNTAIN – just north of the El Paso / Douglas County line, north of Palmer Lake. Primary trail is a 5.6-6 mile loop. Difficult uphill, switchback trail to top, then loop around the top.

Also in Douglas County is the GREENLAND TRAIL – access off Hwy 83, 8.2-mile loop, varying difficulty, light traffic

Just into El Paso County is the PALMER LAKE RESERVOIR – moderate 4.1 miles out and back, trailhead in Palmer Lake

MOUNT HERMAN – 2.2 mile out and back, trailhead on the west side of Monument at the edge of Pike National Forest

Jump over to the east side of I-25 for FOX RUN Regional Park – with a variety of loops to make your hike longer or shorter, with several access points off Roller Coaster Rd and Stella Rd. (Dog Park available) I love this one, because it’s near my boys’ school and I can knock it off right after school drop off.

Also nearby are BLACK FOREST REGIONAL PARK 2.9-mile loop and BLACK FOREST SECTION 16’s 4-mile loop, one I do often since it’s near my house.

All along the west side of I-25 is the SANTA FE Trail – I believe it’s at least 19 miles from Palmer lake trailhead to downtown Colorado Springs. It’s out-and-back as far as you can stand to push yourself… with stops all along the way (Palmer Lake, Baptist Rd, Air Force Academy Northgate entrance, Woodmen Rd, near Criterium bike shop, Gossage Park, Monument Valley Park, etc.)

Hiking in Central Colorado Springs

Another out-and-back in town is the COTTONWOOD CREEK Trail with many paved portions from at least Austin Bluffs/Woodmen intersection to Academy Blvd just north of Dublin. Great trail for kids on bikes, with a quick stop-over to play at Cottonwood Creek Rec Center and Park.

Recognizable from all over Colorado Springs is PULPIT ROCK. (near I-25 & N. Nevada) I chuckle at this one because I know there are a couple loops, but seems friends and I always get off track here and end up scaling the side of the hill either up or down. We have been all the way to the top, and kids climbed the rocks (scary moment as a mom!). Views of Pikes Peak are particularly phenomenal from here!

GARDEN OF THE GODS has a bunch of different trails from fairly easy & mostly paved simple portions “inside the loop”, to longer options outside the driving loop. This is a great place to drive through and stop for some great photos of the red rock formations, with visitors or your friends and family. Kissing Camels is one of the most famous formations, from the Garden of the Gods Club up the hill, the camels which appear to be kissing frame Pikes Peak.

Another favorite of one of my hiking buddy’s favorites is PALMER PARK – again, multiple trail options depending on difficulty and length you desire. Also, awesome views from many spots!

One I don’t often think of is the HOMESTEAD Trail – located near Powers Blvd, it runs through neighborhoods from Old Farm to at least Constitution. Sidebar- It would be difficult to mention all of the neighborhood trails in one blog, as Colorado Springs / El Paso County has always been very intentional about creating parks, trails, open spaces all over the place. I feel like every neighborhood has a trail or several!

Back to the west side, on the edge of Pike National Forest and south of the United State Air Force Academy is BLODGETT PEAK – 3.5 miles out and back with pretty steep grade climbing the mountainside.

UTE VALLEY trail is also another friend favorite, on the west side of town, off Vindicator. The most heavily trafficked portion is a 3.5-mile loop, however, you can turn off in several places to shorten or extend that. Be prepared to see lots of mountain bikes here… popular trail!

One I’ve never visited is the ROCK ISLAND Trail – 11.8 out and back from Nevada to Powers along Constitution.

Hiking in East Colorado Springs

If you trek east of Colorado Springs/Peyton several miles, a really fun place to explore is the historic CALHAN PAINT MINES – you can do out and back or a loop, plus explore the amazing rock formations created by water and limestone over hundreds of years. WOW!

Way back over to the west side in Manitou, Colorado – for those who really like to push themselves, the INCLINE is a vertical climb up the side of Pikes Peak. I have done it a handful of times, it’s tough! Most hike up it and go down Barr Trail. You can also take Barr Trail up past the top of the incline for most exploration toward the top of Pikes Peak.

Hiking on the Westside of Colorado Springs

I love to explore the west side of Pikes Peak by driving through Woodland Park, CO and hitting the CRAGS Trailhead. The views from the top are amazing!.. and there are more options to include “bouldering” the side of Pikes Peak.. maybe next time. 😉

The PIKES PEAK GREENWAY Trail will take you from downtown Colorado Springs to Fountain, CO, considerable portions paved.

The southwest side of Colorado Springs offers SO many options, I’ll try to touch on them all. First BEAR CREAK Park, trails, nature center – sports, probably the largest and most popular dog park in town, plus trails and open spaces to enjoy.

Next.. RED ROCK CANYON Open Space – Red Rock Section 16 is one I’ve done several times, also popular for mountain bikers. I know there are parts of the area I haven’t seen.

Hiking South of Colorado Springs

I am going to lump together two multi-trail spaces… STRATTON OPEN SPACE & CHEYENNE CANYON – These areas encompass so many trails it’s hard to list them all –

* Gold Camp

* Cheyenne Canyon Columbine Trail

* Mister Twister Loop

* Seven Bridges

* Mount Muscoco Trail

* 7 Falls

* Buckhorn Loop

* Silver Cascade Falls

* Mays Peak

* Garfield Trail

Some of these trails are definitely not for the faint of heart or the physically unfit; please always remember to bring water, snacks, protective gear.. especially if you are traversing a different altitude. Colorado storms can be sudden and dangerous!

To discuss and find trails I’ve never done, I used an app and web page called All Trails… check it out at home or on your phone when it’s time to hit the hills for some fresh air and physical fitness! There are so many trails I didn’t even touch on, so much Colorado to get out there an explore… enjoy!!

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Academy School District 20 Boundary Changes

If you want to stir up some controversy, start a discussion about schools; if you really want to get people excited, start a discussion on school district boundaries. Academy School District D20 is proposing some boundary changes for the upcoming school years. One of the first things people ask is about changes to external boundaries (those bordering other districts). The answer is NO, those will not change. It would take an act of Congress or God to change those. 😉 I met with a parent volunteer on the Boundary Committee this week to try and understand details (since I couldn’t make the open house discussion nights).

Changes to District 20 Boundaries

When the bond issue passed in 2016, Academy School district 20 began contemplating new schools, and with that comes a lot of tough decisions. We all see the growth around the district! The team that worked long hours to adjust and add school boundaries is made up of board school district board members and about 25 parents who volunteer to help “redistribute” thousands to students. I can’t imagine the difficult task of understanding the growth, school-age students per household, etc.

The PROPOSED plan is spread out over the next 5 years, and I will try to lay out the details to include map links. (below).  There will be a Board vote going forward in October.

D20 School District 2018-2019 school year

1) Elementary #20 (yes, they will be renamed) – SEE MAP 1 – new school in the Southeast portion of Wolf Ranch development. Research Blvd Is in the process of being extended east to Black Forest Rd to allow for access. This connection will not be open until right when school begins for the ’18-’19 school year, as they don’t want people speeding through that zone and re-adjusting to school speed limits.

Details: This will be the neighborhood elementary for the following:

* the eastern “half” of Wolf Ranch, primarily from Wolf Lake Dr (portions go as far west as Valemount or Wolf Center) to the east to the eastern district boundary, north to Old Ranch or Wildflower Rd (again, please see maps)

* southern filings of Wolf Ranch from Research south through Cumbre Vista to Woodmen Rd

* Forestgate, Silver Ponds, eagle Wing Estates communities

* Innovation Learning Center will eventually be at this site as well.

2) Redistribution at northern part of ASD20 (Discovery Canyon Campus, Antelope Trails, Da Vinci Elementary Schools) – (MAP 3) goal is to increase population at Antelope Trails Elementary and take population load off Da Vinci and Discovery Canyon Elementary Schools

* Northgate Estates and small surrounding area (just north of Northgate Rd & Voyager) – neighborhood elementary will be changed from Da Vinci Academy to Antelope Trails

2019-2020 school year – (MAP 4)

1) Middle school #8, location northern portion of Cordera. Distribution details (yes, confusing, consult maps and the district)

* take the population pressure off Challenger and Timberview Middle Schools

* neighborhood middle school for all of Cordera

* neighborhood middle school for Wolf Ranch, Cumbre Vista, Forest Gate, Eagle Wing Estates, Silver Ponds

* east, northeast of Powers, south of Old Ranch Rd

2020-2021 school year –  High School Realignment Scenario C – 1 year after opening of middle school #8 (MAP 5)

* Cordera and western Wolf Ranch to Pine Creek High School * this is a change

* Eastern Wolf Ranch, Cumbre Vista to Liberty High School 8 * this does not change neighborhood school boundary

* Rampart boundaries unchanged

2021-2022 OR 2022-2023 school year (TBD) – Elementary School #21 (MAP 6)

* location in North Creek near Pine Creek High School

* move western portion of Cordera to new elementary

* move students from south of Shoup, east of Hwy 83 to new elementary

* move students from west of Milam, west of Howells (from Edith Wolford Elementary) to new elementary

I would love to hep you understand these boundaries and changes, as it relates to selling or purchasing a home in the Academy School District 20. This is historically a strong district with high test scores and personally, expect nothing less as it continues to grow!

Academy D20 Proposed Boundary Maps

** NOTES:

* Students transitioning within same school level will be polled and most likely be allowed to stay to keep original neighborhood school where maps otherwise indicate a change would be required. Please consult district for details.

* Opinion – I am personally excited about the growth and forethought the district has to plan for the population growth.

* This is not a final and conclusive decision, please reference the district website or call them.

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Choosing the Right High School

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Well, I am about to enter completely unknown territory!!!!  My only child, my son, will start his 8th-grade year and subsequently his last one in middle school.  Time to get down to business and start thinking about what high school he will be entering this time next year. (Uh, YIKES)!  Time to start preparing a checklist, or at the very least, a guideline, for what his Daddy and I will use to help make this next big step in our son’s life that much easier.  I thought I would share my family’s personal checklist for choosing the high school our son will attend. (Disclaimer, this list is prioritized first to last in what we determined, as a family, was most important for our own son).

Are any of his closest friends attending the same high school? 

As our son has gotten older, we have realized that the quantity of friends is not as important to him as the quality.  He has three or four close friends, but he has always put one particular friend above the rest. If he can have this type of strong, loyal, intense friendship with this other boy all the way through high school, he will have more than most.  (I am actually friends with the Vice Principal of one of the two schools we are considering, and I ran this sentiment by her.  It was a relief to receive her affirmation of how important this type of friendship will be, for both my son and his best friend, during their final four years as a child).

What kind of academic programs are offered

We like the idea of schools that offer both AP (Advanced Placement) and IB (International Baccalaureate) course work.  Since his Father and I both took Advanced Placement courses in high school, ourselves, we are more familiar with them and love the way these courses focus relatively intensively on one particular subject. But with IB courses, we were also intrigued with the more holistic approach that a particular subject may be given.  In the end, both schools we are considering offer a beautiful mix of classes that use the IB and AP curriculums together, which will hopefully allow our son to benefit and grow from the strengths of both programs.

What extracurricular activities are offered

For my son, his most important extracurricular activity is sports, so we made sure that both schools we are considering have programs for the three sports he has played since starting elementary school.  Other programs we looked for the schools to have include arts, volunteer work and community service, music, governance, and clubs.  It is very important to us for our son to be involved in character building activities outside of the classroom, and regardless of his first passion, it is very important to us for him to have the opportunity to explore other extracurricular options BESIDES sports.  Diversity is definitely key, here.

What is the overall school culture

After speaking with parents of high school graduates and teachers and administrative staff, the consensus was that the only way to really get a feel for a school’s culture was to “get in the trenches”, to actually go to each school and physically walk the halls while a school day was in session, and do this as many times as necessary, with and without our son present.  The goal is to get a feel for what we expect the school to teach our son about life beyond academics and the classroom, itself.  The goal is to see how students and teachers interact with one another in the classroom setting, to see if students and teachers greet each other personally, to see if students and teachers greet parents, to get a feel for student mood and how students treat each other whether they know each other or not.  The goal is to just get a sense of if the school has an overall feeling of joy and hope and happiness.  No science or numbers or stats involved here….just going to give it a go and trust that Mama intuition!

What is the graduation rate and what is the college attendance rate of the school

This was our last priority as a family as we are not the kind of family to base our decision on what high school our kid attends based on numbers alone, but, alas, numbers DO (kind of) matter! Plus, certain stats can suggest how successful a particular school has been at bringing our children to the next most important stage of their life….adulthood. 

This list is not inclusive, obviously, and may not even be any of your own priorities, but hopefully, it can at least serve as a jumping point for your family’s own list if you, too, have a son or daughter who will be entering high school next year. This list for us, though welcomes balance, a concept we try to practice and live by routinely and day to day. We simply hope that addressing these five issues, as we choose a high school with our son, will create the ultimate opportunity for balance for him.  

Good luck and Happy High School shopping to you all!  See you in the trenches!

One final note:  It is too cliche’ to even think about, much less type into words, but when I was growing up, I do not remember my mother having the option of choosing where I went to high school. Oh, you live in Hixson, Tennessee?  Yes.  Okay, your child will go to Hixson Junior High School and then Hixson High School.  And so, I did.  Regardless, I am grateful that, in this day and age, parents have the luxury to live in a certain area of Colorado Springs, (a city I have now called home for 25+ years) and choose for their children to go to school in a completely different area!!!!     

 

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Colorado Springs Bike Trails: Pikes Peak Greenway Trail

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With the warmer weather, I have been excited to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. With my bike, I have been exploring some of the great Colorado Springs Bike Trails and I stumbled upon another one. The Pikes Peak Greenway Trail is one of the most popular bike trails in Colorado Springs.  I like it because it’s paved, located in the heart of town and is gently sloping.  It winds through the city, but you’d never know you were in one.  The trail parallels streams, rock formations and even crosses over some old, wooden bridges.  At certain points, you can even see a train which runs daily.

Pikes Peak Greenway Trail II

The Greenway Trail is multi-use and runs north to south across the whole city of Colorado Springs. It connects to a number of other trails with multiple trailheads and is easily accessible. You can decide how far you want to go and how much time you want to spend on the trail.

On the north side of Colorado Springs, the Pikes Peak Greenway is connected to the New Santa Fe Trail which runs through the Air Force Academy, through the town of Monument and ending up in Palmer Lake. Unlike the Greenway, the New Santa Fe Trail is a gravel surface.

On its southern end, the Pikes Peak Greenway continues on to the Fountain Creek Regional Trail at the El Pomar Youth Sports Park. The trail follows the Fountain Creek all the way to the city of Fountain and is mostly paved the entire way.

If you combine all three trails you can ride one way 40 miles from Palmer Lake to Fountain – mostly downhill!  How you get home is up to you. If you want some more tips on where to ride your bike, let me know!

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Scenic Colorado Springs bike trails: Biking USAFA

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Colorado Springs is unique in that we’re a sprawling city at the base of the mountains. Nature and wildlife are abundant here, and the mountains are our backyard. Woven throughout the city are trails for biking, hiking and running. And it’s easy to lose yourself in the outdoors. To really capture such beauty I highly recommend visiting the Air Force Academy.  Located near the Northgate area of Colorado Springs, the Academy was built right in the mountains and occupies 18,000 acres of land.

This weekend I took my new road bike to the Academy for a scenic ride. Minutes from my house I was immersed in pine trees, riding the gently curving roads which weave through the mountain. I passed some wild deer grazing, which is common for our town.  In fact you can often see deer, wild turkeys or herds of antelope at any given time. The Air Force fighter jets known as the Thunderbirds were practicing this weekend, in preparation for their upcoming air show for the graduation ceremony next month. I could see them flying in formation then splitting off into various directions. It’s fun to hear their jet engines as they speed by the backdrop of majestic mountains.

No wonder Katherine Lee Bates wrote the lyrics to America the Beautiful while in Colorado Springs. It’s by far the most scenic, beautiful place to be. I wouldn’t trade it for any other city! Want to know some of my other favorite places to go? Give me a call and I would be happy to share them!

View biking on USAFA

View while biking on USAFA

 

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Steve’s Picks for a Nice Weekend

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My family and I moved to Colorado Springs in the Fall of 2008 and we quickly fell in love with the lifestyle, the abundance of year-round outdoor activity, fresh air and lots of sunshine! Oh, and plenty of snow just to make things really exciting. This area has so much to offer no matter your season of life. But if you are like me, married with kids, you will soon appreciate the variety of life-giving recreation just minutes from your door! So, here are a few family favorites.

Hiking – You could literally spend a lifetime discovering new trails, rock formations and mountain peaks nestled among the amazing Rocky Mountains. One I highly recommend is Mount Herman. Located just west of Monument, CO this trail takes you up to an elevation of 9100 feet, and can be accessed from Mount Herman Rd. halfway up the mountain. It is given a skill level of moderate and is a 2.2 mile out and back trail. On a clear day you can easily see downtown Denver and downtown Colorado Springs. Pack a lunch and plan to relax for awhile to take it all in!

Zoos – One of the area’s treasures is Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It is located Southwest of Downtown and is sitting on the side of Cheyenne Mountain. There are dozens of exhibits and animal species represented and you can even feed the peacocks as they roam around the grounds freely. Annual passes are available at an affordable price so that you can go as often as you like! A real favorite for kids of all ages.

Shopping – You can find 100’s of shops scattered around the area featuring local craftsmen and artists. I highly recommend taking a drive through Old Colorado City and into Manitou Springs. A tourist destination located to the west of Colorado Springs and just next door to Garden of the Gods, this area boasts many restaurants, boutiques, Bed & Breakfast Inns and an old-world Arcade! While in town you can take a ride to the Summit of Pike’s Peak on the Cog Railroad. Check the calendar for a vast array of events including farmer’s markets and street fairs.

Whatever you are into, The Springs area is hard to beat. Come for a visit…you may decide to stay for the rest of your life!

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Year-round Hiking Adventure at The Paint Mines in Calhan Colorado

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Colorado is notorious for its fluctuating weather patterns…. snow possible in areas 10 months out of the year, but 300+ days of sunshine! This week is a fine example of this… snow and wind today, but we’ll be back up to 60 & sunny by Wednesday/Thursday. That being said, for a girl who loves outdoor adventure, I try to hike year round. 

One of the most unique hiking adventures we’ve enjoyed is “Paint Mines Interpretive Park” in Calhan, Colorado. My pictures will be worth much more than words in this case. It’s hard to explain the natural beauty of how the water and other weather has cut through the land, revealing seienite clay and jasper in an awe-inspiring display. I’ve heard about this place for years, but finally ventured over in the summer of 2016, so these photos are from the summer months. There are some paved walk ways, and dirt trails in & around the natural carvings. Calhan is east of Colorado Springs about 20 minutes. It definitely feels like you are driving into the middle of nowhere, and even if you park at the first marked parking lot and trail head, you can’t quite imagine what you’re about to see. Don’t worry, it is a quick hike in.

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Be forewarned about weather!! We were here on a cloudy day, but I have heard the formations and rock can really hold onto the summer heat, so be cautious if you go on a particularly warm day. As with any day in Colorado, pack extra water! We enjoyed the clouds, but those summer storms can roll in surprisingly quick, so we ended up making a very quick jaunt back to vehicles before getting poured on. The Paint Mines are incredible to see and it makes you wish you paid more attention in geology to understand the origin of the beautiful colors.

Here is the El Paso County description and directions to the park…  http://adm.elpasoco.com/CommunityServices/ParkOperations/Pages/PaintMinesInterpretivePark.aspx

Enjoy!! 

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