We came upon our new hometown by accident, on our way back from Oregon last fall. We’d spent seven or eight weeks working on farms and looking for farmland up in the Pacific Northwest, until we finally acknowledged that region wasn’t our place. We drove across Nevada on I-80 – a bleak journey if ever there was one – dropped down on I-15 when we hit Salt Lake, then took I-70 eastbound through Utah and back into Colorado.
We needed a place to crash for the night, and I had booked us an unknown Airbnb in some tiny dot on the map called Cedaredge, in the shadow of the Grand Mesa. I’m a Colorado native and I’d never heard of it; most of the people on the Front Range haven’t, either. Cedaredge is in Delta County, along with Paonia, Hotchkiss, Crawford and Delta; it’s a town of two thousand people and it’s famous for its apples. The town’s annual Applefest, in early October, brings an additional twenty-five thousand people in.
This place, and its people, captured us from the very first day we spent here. It’s a town of agriculture, of active retirees, of professional stuntmen and artists and farmers and all sorts of other interesting folks. They have town potlucks and festivals and street fairs. They have a tennis group on Thursday mornings. They’re so proud of their new arts center. And they have only one stoplight.
Apple orchards cover hundreds of acres in the area.
The extended drought hurts everyone, but farmers most of all.
Water means everything here; the weather is the main topic of conversation. You can leave your doors unlocked. Phone numbers are given with only seven digits, rather than the ten the rest of us are used to, because it’s assumed that you know the local area code. The second time we went into the bar, the bartender remembered our names and what we drank.
Lots of deer compete for limited resources…
…which means you can’t leave your carefully tended houseplants sitting outside the RV.
There is no Target here, no Costco, no Bed Bath & Beyond. If you want to shop at a big-box store, you get in the car and drive for an hour. There is no Starbucks. We met the owner of the local coffee shop because he stopped to help us when we ran into trouble with our RV. He found us sitting dejectedly on the side of a road with a stalled motorhome, barely tucked into a church parking lot, and pulled over. “Can I help you? Can I take you to dinner? Do you want to go to my house and make yourself comfortable?” These are the people who live here. We want to be part of this town.
See? Barbie is excited to live in Cedaredge too.
Unassuming from the outside, but it’s the Cheers of the Western Slope.
Deer will be an issue, water will be an issue, but the people will make it all worthwhile. We’ve spent the summer here, and this is our place. This is our home. We’re proud to be part of this community, and we look forward to building a business here.
Yes, you can buy your antiques and your local produce at the same shop. Very convenient.
Homegrown American pride is abundant in small towns like Cedaredge.
Stay tuned, friends. A new chapter is about to begin, and we cannot wait to share it with you.