At the end of this week, I will have lived in Rio Blanco for two years exactly. It has been an interesting time, filled with challenges, boo-boos, successes, good news, bad news, good friends, some not-so-good friends, interesting news, depressing news, hot weather, cold weather and weather that is just right.
One thing that really stands out in contrast to the several years when I lived in Arizona before moving back to Colorado and into Rio Blanco County? It has four seasons. I missed that in Arizona.
While the Grand Canyon State doesn’t offer temperatures about 28 or 29 below zero, which I have seen in the past two years, it does offer temps up to 135 at nearby Bullhead City. According to locals, that was that was always the high at Bullhead because there wasn’t a thermometer that could register any higher.
Let’s just say that when you park you car, which is well air-conditioned, within 100 feet of a store and you are drenched from sweating in those 100 feet, it is hot.
When I lived there, the coolest I ever saw in 18 years is 12 above zero in my home town of Kingman. And, it seems that when the winter is over, sometime in early April, it doesn’t take long to hit 90 degrees. Also, when the summer is over, sometimes as late as November, it doesn’t take long to get down into the 20s at night.
But what sticks out to me about Rio Blanco is its people.
I don’t think I have ever seen, even in towns many times the size of Meeker and Rangely, the citizenry of those towns respond so quickly and so completely when there is a need to help a desperate individual or a cause that is truly in need of help.
Another feature about living here is the abundance of events that take place in Rio Blanco County, beginning in April and running until the weekend after Labor Day. Besides a series of one- or two-day events, there are some full-blown activities that take place over three, four and five days that involve complete community involvement and hundreds of volunteers.
The events, and yes I know there are more, include Range Call in Meeker (Fourth of July) as well as Fourth of July in Rangely, the Rio Blanco County Fair, which involves individuals from every nook and cranny of the county, Septemberfest in Rangely, and it all culminates with the Meeker Classic Sheepdog trials, the weekend after Labor Day.
Anyone who says there is nothing to do in Rio Blanco County during the summer is crazy. There is something to do almost every weekend as far as attendance is concerned, but there are also several of those events that require the volunteers to show up in volume—and they do.
Plenty of folks are always available for help, and that is truly a big positive as a sign of community cohesion and unity.
Not may larger cities and towns have as many volunteers show up to assist in community functions as they do here.
Then there are the people.
The folks here are an interesting lot.
There is no stereotype; the folks in Rangely have a different mindset than those in Meeker and vice versa.
Maybe they represent small town Colorado and small town America.
Maybe they just represent good ol’ folks.
But the people are cordial, polite, considerate and interesting, it seems, wherever they go. They are all good at make one feel at home in a face-to-face encounter.
I have found many people who agree with (those who haven’t lived here for decades or generations) that it is a tough task to break into the inner circles that exist around the county.
But while familiarity and acceptance can take quite a time, the “pioneers” are never rude, unpleasant, discourteous or mean.
It is not too tough to understand the mindset of generations of locals who like the area as it is and are slow to embrace “progress” and change.
But it is what it is, and there is much to appreciate about the pioneers, the newer residents, the scenery and even the weather.
Rio Blanco is a beautiful place year around.
And I can say I have been very happy to call Rio Blanco County my home for two years with no plan in sight to leave down the road. It took me more than 20 years to return to Colorado after I initially left, and it took me a long time to get back.
To quote a well-known transplanted Coloradan, “Gee, it’s good to be back home again.”
Much to his own credit, Meeker High School junior T.J. Shelton, all 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds of him, was named one of the two Student Athletes of the Week by the Denver Post on Sunday.
Shelton was born April 28, 1998, in Steamboat Springs, the Post reported, adding that while in high school he has wrestled (won his third state championship at 170 pounds last week and is 105-10 in his career; football (running back and linebacker, all 1-A Western State Slope League); track and field (2A 100-meter in 2013 and runner-up in 2014 and 2A 200 runner-up from 2013-14).
Shelton, a junior, carries a 3.93 GPA and his favorite subjects are math and science.
He told the Post his favorite athletes are his brother and sister, Jake and Meagan, the Broncos are his favorite team, he likes to listen to country and 1980s music, and his favorite training food is salmon and steak.
He also told the Post he plans a career in business, that he would like to visit Lake Powell and is one of five family members, with parents Janae and Robert, brother Jake and sister Megan.
Congratulations T.J.! Your family, your community, your classmates and your newspaper are all proud of you.