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September 2003: Reality Complete


Mesa Verde National Park, southwest Colorado

Back to reality. (It's not as bad as it sounds.)

It's rather fitting that this update comes exactly eight years after we left New Jersey for Singapore and a life of nomadness. I recall that on the day we landed in Singapore, the OJ verdict came in. Singapore newspapers, commenting on the verdict: "That's why we have trial by judge, not trial by jury."

We've been in Denver for about six months now, and we're getting the hang of things. Denver is a pretty good city, and being right on the edge of the Rocky Mountains is a great location.

In March we had one of the largest snowstorms in Denver history. The funny thing is that just 3 days before the storm, we were driving top-down on the twisty mountain roads near Pike's Peak. After the storm hit, (shutting down business for a few days), we had to dig out by hand. (See the picture to the right - that's the red top of the Miata peeking out behind over 3 feet of snow). All in all, weather in Denver is pretty good, even in the winter. After a snowstorm, the warm weather comes in, and everything melts in a day or two.

In April we went to New Orleans for the NCAA Final Four - with Kansas losing in the finals. It was fun to be there, though!

In May we took a long weekend at Mesa Verde National Park, in the southwest of Colorado. Mesa Verde has a large number of ancient Anasazi cliff-dwellings, most over a thousand years old. It was a relaxing trip through the southwest, and back through a couple of towns that we passed through during our cycling trips through the state in 2001 and 2002. Mesa Verde was hit by forest fires the past two years; when we were cycling through on the Great Divide ride, we would hear stories about these fires.

We also spent Easter weekend in Salida, surrounded by Shelley's family, for a mini-reunion. Shelley's parents came out for a surprise trip for her Aunt and Uncle's 40th anniversary.

Our friend Joe and his girlfriend Theresa came through Denver for a long weekend in early September, and we had fun running through Rocky Mountain National Park. Joe has been with us around nearly all of our moves, and this trip was no exception.

Finally, this past month, all of the final parts of returning to the "real world" have fallen into place. When we got to Denver, we took an apartment with a short-term lease while we looked for a home, which we found and closed on in early September. We are very happy with the new place, and it seems to fit our needs perfectly. We micro-analyzed everything during our home search (an accountant and an engineer? Say it ain't so!), but it seems to have paid off in the end.

When we left the USA 8 years ago, we put our stuff in storage. Now we're unpacking, and it's like going through a time capsule. Did we ever really need all this stuff? We did pretty well without it for nearly a decade! As a result, we toss about as much as we keep, and we have the Salvation Army on our speed-dial. (Anyone need an old toaster? Coasters? A Monmouth County, NJ phone book from 1995, or a takeout menu from Marlboro Pizza? We can hook you up.)

The last few weeks have been hectic, first closing, then moving. We've been to Home Depot more times last weekend than we have in the last 8 years. It's amazing how much stuff you can fit in a Mazda Tribute, and new queen mattress sets won't fly off the roof rack at 70 MPH.

As we mentioned previously, Shelley is Director of Internal Audit for Samsonite Corporation. She's been traveling to Europe and Rhode Island quite a bit.

Steve started working for Echostar Technologies Corporation just after we arrived in Denver. Echostar is responsible for the research, development, and operations for the Dish Network satellite TV system. Doesn't everyone need 500 channels of TV?

We've been enjoying concerts in the summer, have climbed three 14,000 ft. peaks, and camped a few times out in the mountains. We're also trying to get out on the bikes every weekend, and Denver seems to have more cyclists than any other place we've been. (No more strange looks at the goofy cyclists!)

Finally, after 6 years overseas, and 2 years on the road, we're home.

Steve Casagrande
Shelley Casagrande
Denver, Colorado, USA

PS: If you're looking for a place to put your stuff for 8 years, do not consider Connell Storage & Moving, 100 Leyland Dr., Leonia, NJ - perhaps the worst customer service we've ever experienced. Ask for Frank Libone on (201) 461-8800, assuming he'll actually take your call. He's the guy who should be running this company out of business. They are associated with Allied Van Lines. We moved 4 trans-continental international moves with Allied, yet they won't step in to fix the problems we have with Connell and Libone. Of course, we won't be using Allied again, either.

(There, that should help the search engines find Connell Storage, and help some other people from trying to use their services in the future. If just one family or company avoids problems by using another storage or moving company, I've helped in some small way.)

March 16, 2003.
Warm sunshine outside Colorado Springs.

Three days later - buried by snow.
(That's the car's top peeking out behind Steve).

Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park
Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park.

Steve, Shelley and Amy on Torrey's Peak
With Amy at Torrey's Peak summit - 14,267 ft.

Joe and T
Joe and T.

Joe Elk
Colorado wildlife, New Jersey style.

House front view
Home Sweet Home
Shelley goes to work for Samsonite
Steve goes to work for Echostar


September 2003: Reality Complete