I’ve never been very good at giving the one word answer or the ‘in a single sentence describe the..”  I tend to be a little wordy.  Holly will laugh when she reads the last sentence and think to herself (or say out loud), “A little?!?”.  Often when I’m asked an important or provocative question, rather than take a thoughtful pause, I usually start talking to fill the space while my mind is thinking and formulating the right answer.  The succinct and meaningful answer.  The answer I wish I had  given after a moment or two of silence while I thought it out rather than vamping on gibberish until I “got there”.

And so it was last weekend at a friends house.  After a wonderful meal the six of us were enjoying after dinner banter and Jenny, our host, asked a great question.  A provocative question.  One of “those” questions.  Jenny and her husband Greg have lived in the mountains for many years; Greg his entire life.  Holly and I moved to the Golden K, thanks in a big way to Jenny, less than a year ago.  Jenny was lock step with us the entire way helping us to navigate the life changing journey from Suburbia to the Sierra Nevada Foothills.  And she’s still there for us and interested in “how we’re doing”.

“So what do you like most about living in the mountains?”

There it was.  Jenny asked one of those questions.  My brain started going where I make lists, prioritize the list, organize it into categories, rationalize the motivation for the items on the list, and then put it all into a spreadsheet for the beginning of an executional plan.  Yikes – I was doing it.  But this was a great question.  It meant a lot to me that Jenny asked and then I could almost hear the ringside announcer saying, “Let the rambling begin….”.

I went on to describe the people, the slower pace of life, the laid back vibe, the blah blah blabadee blah blah blah.

I woke up the next morning thinking about this question and the answer was perfectly clear:  solitude.  That’s what I like most about living in the mountains.  Not solitude as defined in the dictionary (the state of being alone) but the solitude of being in the middle of a piece of our planet that Mother Nature has shown great favor to.  A  habitat shared (mostly) peacefully by man, beast, and plants.  The solitude of the fresh air.  The solitude of the sound of the wind blown pine trees.  The walks with dogs in the middle of a dirt or gravel road.  The silence of night.  The sunlight filtered through the pines and oaks sneaking into my bedroom at first light.  The solitude of a sustained stare with a five point buck outside my kitchen patio.  The solitude of waking up to a frozen world after a night of snow.  The solitude of walking out on a cold morning, closing my eyes, and taking a deep breath.  The solitude of sitting under the summer stars with my bride of 34 years and our two Golden Retrievers, all three whom I love desperately.

So yeah, solitude.  That’s what I like most about living in the mountains.  It’s solitude that fortifies my romantic perspective of life at 3100 feet.

The solitude of waking up to a frozen world after a night of snow.



The Emerging Compound

One of the reasons we fell in love with The Golden K before it was The Golden K was the layout of the property.  It has a wonderful house, a wrap around deck that connects to a dog run that is totally contained (and safe for Kali and Kloe), plus many out buildings.  One of those out buildings was a large shed with an adjacent car port.  I say “was” because when we bought the property  we designated this structure to be renovated into my office.  I work primarily from home and rather than take up a bedroom as an office we decided to convert the shed.

Full disclosure.  There is a smaller out building that would be far less expensive to convert to an office but when one makes dreams come true why not dream big, right.  Just not too big…

My vision for The Golden K has always been that of a “compound”.  Those sprawling homesteads with guest houses, trails to explore, room for privacy if you want it, and common areas for family and friends to come together at the end of the day for meals and spiritual nourishment.  In other words, steak and wine!…

The original plan for the shed was to incorporate the area that comprises the car port into the floor plan.  That area would be a good size bedroom and the shed area would be my office that doubles for living space when guests were using it. There was to be a bathroom, small kitchenette, couch, TV, etc.  Unfortunately reality kicked in when we received our cost estimates and we prudently scaled back the project. (Reference dreaming “too big” above…)

The car port for now will remain just that – a car port and place to park my truck.  The shed will  be converted to my office with enough amenities to make it another place to hang out and watch a sporting event, play music (my piano and guitar will be prominent elements), and just provide another spot for Holly or I or friends and family to escape to for a little privacy or solitude.

And now construction has finally begun.  Seeing the contractors strip the generations-old cabinets and counters away, cut in new windows, and begin wiring for canned lights and modern amenities has made this project become very real.  While it may be slightly less grand than my original vision it is still a new and exciting element of our emerging compound we call The Golden K.




The Golden K Begins Now

When I was in my early twenties I spent a night at the house of a friend’s parents in the mountains near Lake Tahoe, CA.  I had been to Tahoe plenty of times as a kid on vacation with my parents and was familiar with the sights and smells and always enjoyed our vacations in rental homes and cabins.   But this specific trip to the mountains as a young man had an impact on me.  The clean crisp morning and night air, the smell of the pines, and the beautiful scenery resonated at an emotional level.  I told myself that one day I would live in the mountains.

Fast forward many  years and now after 30+ years of happy marriage, a successful professional life, and having raised three children with my wife Holly, as empty nesters we find ourselves living in the Sierra Nevada Foothills in a town called Tuolumne.  A dream come true ?  Fate?  Maybe a little of both.  A close friend of mine asked me how we found this home that sits on five acres covered with pines, oaks, and cedars.  My answer was simple:  I didn’t find the home, it found me and I call it “The Golden K”.


Two years ago Holly and I adopted a Golden Retriever from a rescue group in Northern CA, called True Love Rescue. This dedicated  group of volunteers parter with rescue groups in Taiwan to rescue and rehabilitate (mostly) Golden Retrievers and connect them with qualified and dedicated families in Northern CA.   We named our rescue Kali.
Within days (hours?) of joining our family Kali adjusted to our home, our lifestyle, and her new environment.  It was and is a remarkable example of how adaptable dogs are when placed in a loving environment and given the opportunity to serve and please.  Over the past two years our lives have become as much about Kali’s life as our own.  Kali’s needs have become intertwined and harmonized with our own.  Dog lovers reading this will understand how enriching and rewarding it can be to have a intimate and close relationship with a canine companion.
As we began getting serious about moving we decided that once we were settled in our new home we would adopt another Golden.  True to Holly and my nature we jumped the gun, accelerated plans, and adopted Kloe – another Golden and this time a puppy – three weeks before our move date.  Some would say were were crazy to undertake moving a household from suburbia to the mountains at the same time we were socializing and house breaking a nine week old puppy.  But thats how we roll.  When Holly and I are on the same page -which is most of the time – we’re a force to be reckoned with.
When romanticizing the idea of living in the mountains I wanted needed to personalize our mountain retreat and home with a name.  It didn’t take long before coming up with the Golden K as a tribute to Kali who has shaped our lives in so many positive ways over the past two plus years.  And also for puppy Kloe who has the unbridled passion and enthusiasm for life that one would expect from a puppy.  Kloe like her big sister Kali has quickly become another critical fiber in the  fabric of our lives.  Our new lives and my romantic perspective of life at 310o feet.