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BackCountry - Wild at Heart

Mom, I’m bored. (Said no BackCountry kid ever.)

by | June 23rd, 2015

Okay so that’s wishful thinking, but it’s no exaggeration that BackCountry is an incredible place to be a kid. You see it in the way children ride their bikes freely and play in happy little packs, roaming from yard to yard and house to house. (Gated communities where people know each other promote that kind of easygoing vibe.) And naturally, the Sundial pool and abundant parks and open spaces are huge kid magnets in the summer. But BackCountry’s child-friendly planned events also play a critical role in keeping the young’uns busy, physically active, and connected with each other year-round.

BackCountry boasts an exceptionally active HOA, guided by full-time Lifestyle Director Britany Chambers and a committee of residents. Together, they plan special events that target the interests of all kinds of residents, including the young ones. Case in point, this kids-only science event featuring exotic animals and cool experiments that use everyday items.

backcountry science snake

backcountry science experiment

Or annual Easter Egg hunts with a special appearance by a very popular, cotton-tailed guest.

BackCountry Easter Bunny

BackCountry Easter egg hunt

Or an afternoon of star-struck hobnobbing with Rapunzel and Spiderman at a Superhero and Princess Party.

BackCountry Superhero and Princess party

BackCountry Rapunzel and Spiderman

So what’s on tap for kids this summer? Below, you can read about a couple of annual favorites followed by a complete summer calendar of activities planned with BackCountry’s youngest residents in mind. Get ready. It’s going to be a fun-filled summer for children at Backcountry.

PATRIOTIC BBQ & COUNTRY MUSIC CONCERT
Saturday, July 11, 5:30pm-8:30pm
This is high-quality family time, listening to live music, dancing and sharing good food in the BackCountry Amphitheatre with the gorgeous foothills as your backdrop. Performances include Chris Daniels & The Kings, one of the hottest country rock bands to hit the Colorado scene in years, and a real cowboy uniquely talented in rope-spinning tricks. Kids, get ready for pumpkin seed spitting, lasso jumping, and more fun activities to enjoy.

“DRIVE-IN” MOVIE
Saturday, August 1, 6pm
Far more picturesque than any drive-in parking lot ever, the Amphitheatre is the ideal summer evening setting for watching the Tom Hanks classic, Big. The movie starts at 8pm, but the pre-movie entertainment (including a real-life “Zoltar” machine offering silly fortune telling a la the movie), root beer floats, and popcorn will begin at 6pm.

Other summer events include:

  • Snow Cones & Pool Games, June 8
  • Ventriloquist, June 11
  • Family Concert at Amphitheatre & Food Truck, June 18
  • Tween Pool Party, June 23
  • Snow Cones & Pool Games, June 25
  • Reptile Show, June 29
  • Snow Cones & Pool Games, July 7
  • Kids Painting Event, July 14
  • Tween Pool Party with Water Wizard, July 21
  • Snow Cones & Synchronized Swim Team, July 23
  • Kids Educational Event, July 29
  • Back-to-School Party, August 6
  • Labor Day Luau, August (date TBD)

 

BackCountry Summer Concert Series

by | June 23rd, 2015

BackCountry’s first summer concert of the season featured the Doobie Brothers tribute band, Black Water. Residents enjoyed great music and delicious food from Gusto’s Food Truck.

Read a book. Make a friend.

by | June 16th, 2015

Once a month, between 10 and 14 women gather at the Sundial House—ostensibly to talk about the book they’ve read, but more importantly, to deepen their sense of community.

Danni Holland, the founder of the BackCountry Book Club, wants to make clear that the doors are wide open to everyone in the community.

“We usually have one or two newcomers each meeting,” says Danni. “And we’d love to keep growing.” No intellectual posturing required—this is a friendly group open to all BackCountry residents, where the time splits naturally between book chat and pure socializing. Books usually don’t get overly lofty, and include both fiction and nonfiction, since one of the goals of the group was to help lure each other out of their reading comfort zones. They vote on book selections every couple of months.

Sundial House great room

The group’s diversity makes it all the more interesting, says Danni. “Our members range in age from mid-30s to 80s. The difference in life experience and perspectives adds so much to our discussions.” She says the book club has also very much facilitated friendships. In fact, she met her closest BackCountry friend at the first book club, not realizing that she actually lived just four doors down from her. Others have experienced the same, forging friendships that include walking together and other get-togethers. Not too surprising, given that “there’s a lot of neighborliness at BackCounty in general,” says Danni. “We have lots of outgoing, friendly neighbors around us,” she says. “I think people move here because they want to live in a neighborly community. The kind where there aren’t fences and there’s a good level of trust.”

If you’d like to drop in sometime and make a few new connections of your own, the book club meets on the first Wednesday of each month from 7pm-9pm in the Sundial House community room. Look for the blurb in the monthly community newsletter that lists the current book title. (July’s is The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower, a nonfiction account of the lives of the people who serve those in the White House.) Bring a bottle of wine or appetizers to share around the fireplace. (Occasional field trips also occur. One time a member hosted the club at her house, serving a French meal in honor of the book choice, The Paris Wife.)  And don’t stress if you don’t have the time to finish the book. As Danni says, “We come together around a book, but we stay together for the friendships.”

Image courtesy of Amazon.com

Image courtesy of Amazon.com

Cherokee Castle & Ranch: A castle for us commoners

by | June 9th, 2015

No trip over the pond planned this summer? That’s okay. Now you can skip the jet lag and still feed your obsession for all things British with a mere 25-minute drive down to your local 15th century Scottish-style castle. Yes, BackCountry residents can easily access this truly stunning blend of European elegance and Western charm—and sample fun and educational events.

This 3,400-acre sanctuary in Sedalia is home to secluded open spaces, wildlife, and 22 historic structures, including the iconic stone castle, a 1920s landmark with echoes of 1450s Scotland. The 24-room castle features towers, turrets, gargoyles, eight fireplaces, soaring wooden arches, and intricate cut-stone walls. Historical paintings, furniture, and other accessories are on display, along with drawings by Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. An expansive terrace offers breathtaking views of the Front Range, stretching from Pikes Peak to Longs Peak and beyond.

Photo courtesy of Cherokeeranch.org

Photo courtesy of Cherokeeranch.org

In addition to ogling all the fine art, architecture, and views, plan to take in some of the castle’s countless events. From June to December, a performing arts series features the work of Colorado Symphony Chamber Music, Denver Center Theatre Company, Denver Brass, and the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music. Other performances showcase local and regional talent, while additional events include castle tours, fancy afternoon teas, and educational programs that focus on culture and the arts, environmental science, Colorado and Western history and heritage, wildlife, and ranching. Possibilities abound with onsite resources like 13th century Indian caves, an 1840s mountain man trail used by trappers and traders, mid-1860s homesteads, and more. See the event calendar here.

On a castle tour, you can learn about the history of the property, which stretches back to the late 1890s, when it was divided between the Flower and Blunt Homesteads. The land was put to agricultural use then, growing potatoes, wheat, and sorghum, and grazing cattle. In 1924, the castle was built by the Johnson family, who sold the property to Tennessean Mildred “Tweet” Kimball in 1954. (Just one of the place’s many interesting stories…Tweet took ownership of the castle after her ex-husband told her he’d buy her anything as long as she stayed west of the Mississippi.) Tweet lived at Cherokee Ranch until her death in 1999, and thanks to her vision and generosity, the property is now under the watchful care of the Douglas County Open Lands Coalition. Very good news for all of us living south of Denver…and far west of the Old World.  Learn more here.

Long days, light hearts: June in Colorado

by | June 4th, 2015

The summer solstice is coming up on June 21, a happy reminder to squeeze in more hours of fun on our long, gorgeous Colorado days. So now’s the time to let your inner kid out for good behavior and take advantage of these events—several of which will keep you nice and close to your BackCountry neighborhood.

Sundial House View

Senior Adult Fun at the Park-June 9, 9am-noon
Parks aren’t just for kids anymore. Seniors, try something new or revisit a favorite activity, such as Zumba, gentle yoga, bocce ball or cornhole, and stop by educational booths, all at nearby Redstone Park.
This event is hosted by the Highlands Ranch Metro District, Highlands Ranch Community Association, and 50 & Better Together. For more information, contact Jodie McCann at 720-240-4922 or jmccann@highlandsranch.org.

Colorado Renaissance Festival-Opens June 13
Entering its 39th season, the Colorado Renaissance Festival offers eight weekends of engaging time travel to the rowdy festival days of 16th century England, full of authentically costumed (and interactive) jousters and jugglers, hearty fare, and seven stages of performances. Pick up BOGO tickets for the opening weekend at Wendy’s, or hit the Royal Ale & Art Festival (with free ale samples) on June 20-21, or check out the Celtic Festival (with men’s kilt contest and hard lemonade samples) on June 27-28. Held at Perry Park in Larkspur. Learn more.

Colorado Renaissance Festival

Empty Nesters Summer Potluck-June 25, 6-8:30pm
For BackCountry residents only, this summer potluck offers a sweet opportunity to hang out with your neighbors while enjoying a delicious meal. Bring a dish to share that will serve eight, as well as your own beverages. Log into www.backcountrylife.org and RSVP by Friday, June 19.

Denver Museum of Natural Science Free Day -June 29
If you haven’t visited lately, it’s time—especially on one of the museum’s free days, which give you license to stay just as long as you’d like. You’ll have plenty of reasons to linger, of course, between all the permanent exhibits and the current Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids. You’ll explore stories and uncover the truths behind the myths of the aforementioned beings, along with kraken, giant squids, flying horses, and the ever-popular Nessie and Big Foot. Learn more.

mythic-dragon-Denver Museum of Nature and Science

BackCountry’s Red White & Blue Celebration at the Sundial House

by | May 29th, 2015

Residents kicked-off the summer with high energy and interactive games during the Red White & Blue Celebration.

Two months, eleven parties

by | May 26th, 2015

Ten days after Larry and Val Hay moved into their new BackCountry home, while most of us would be struggling to unpack, they hosted their first party. And within two months—from November 1 to January 1—they had hosted eleven parties.

What’s that all about? While you’d never accuse these two of being introverts, apparently there’s something about BackCountry that makes people want to throw parties.

Friends at BackCountry

Val says, “We were never this big on entertaining before. But BackCountry is extra-friendly. It’s gated, so you know everyone you see is a neighbor. It’s just so easy to say ‘come over.’”

Larry agrees. “People walk by all the time, or we’ll just wave when people drive by and half the time they’ll stop to chat. Before you know it, we’ve invited them in and we’re sharing a beer or a glass of wine.”

a spacious Sunshower kitchen

Their home itself has also contributed to their entertaining ways. The Hays bought The Sunshower model, with an open flow between kitchen, dining room, and great room that allows for “lots of conversations going on,” says Val, and parties of up to 50—so far, anyway.

The kitchen itself is key, too. The Hays have an extended island—nine feet long, five feet wide—that they can fit lots of chairs around, plus three ovens and “a microwave that talks to you,” says Larry. This kitchen is a true playground for Val, whom Larry describes as an instinctive cook who can whip up anything from whatever’s in the spacious pantry.

Sunshower kitchen

But perhaps the biggest factor is the view, which is always the first thing they share with guests. Their home looks west into the mountains, giving them an epic, 45-mile view that includes Waterton Canyon, the Flatirons, Golden, and beyond. Fittingly, their kids gave them a telescope for Christmas. In fact, it was the view that sold them on the place.

One day, Val got a phone call at work from Larry asking if she had her checkbook. “Come over right now,” he said. He was standing on the site of their future home, gaping at the view. They reserved their lot that day, and then set about building a house to suit the spot. Which happened just as seamlessly.

Another Hay party

“We had a great experience,” says Larry. “We had lots of interaction with the superintendent and workers. Any concerns we had, they’d address right away. So by the time of the walk-through, our punch list was basically done.”

Val feels the same way about the design process. This was the first time she had a new home built and found it to be fun selecting among “so many selections.” She says, “Julie [the designer] was so helpful. We kept her running with our changes, but everyone was very patient. We are so happy with the way it all turned out.”

BackCountry entertaining

Now that spring is here, their parties can move out to the oversized patio, where guests can ogle at the views, sit around the firepit, and listen to the waterfall the couple had installed. If two months of winter inspired that many parties, can you imagine what summer will bring?

Ready, set, get wet!

by | May 18th, 2015

It’s time to test-drive your new swimsuit: BackCountry’s first pool party of the season is almost here. On Friday, May 22, the Sundial House pool officially opens for summer at 9am. Then, stop by from 3-4:30pm for the Memorial Day Weekend pre-party, complete with beer, popsicles, and a meet-and-greet with this year’s lifeguard crew and pool management company, Perfect Pools. (For residents only; please RSVP at backcountrylife.org by Monday, May 18.) And be sure to come back the next day for the big event—our Red, White, & Blue Celebration.

Held on Saturday, May 23 from 4pm-7pm, this annual event is the season’s much-anticipated kick-off. What’s on tap? High-energy, interactive games and fabulous face painting (come right at 4pm for a shorter wait for our truly talented painters). Free hot dogs sponsored by As You Wish Pet Sitters. Plus snow cones, popcorn, a DJ, and prizes. Please RSVP at www.backcountrylife.org by Monday, May 18.

With so much going on right in the neighborhood, why not make the Lantern House your Memorial Day weekend HQ? Hang out with your family and neighbors—a much more relaxing choice than fighting the masses headed to the mountains. Plan that trip for a non-holiday weekend!

Here are a few photos from previous summers to wet, er, whet your appetite for another season of happy memories.

backcountryfirepit

It is May in Colorado after all, where a firepit is as practical as it is delightful.

backcountrygirlwithribbons

And so it begins: Rhythmic Gymnastics champion, Olympics 2028?

backcountrygirlfacepaint

On a hot day, even kitties love a snow cone.

backcountrygirlssmile

The smiles say it all. Summer vacation has arrived.

backcountrycoolfacepaint

True artistry happens at our face-painting booth.

backcountrypartymtns

Beautiful foothills views create an idyllic party backdrop

backcountryboyhulahoop

How does he do that?

backcountryirises

Colorful, late spring decor just in time for the Red, White & Blue Celebration

BackCountry’s Kids Science Event at the Sundial House

by | May 11th, 2015

Kids enjoyed a hands-on adventure with Bryce Jackman exploring the world of weird and wacky science with everyday household items. A little bit of fun and a whole lot of crazy.

Three common homebuilding myths, debunked

by | May 11th, 2015

Never bought a brand-spanking new home before? Well, there’s no denying that you’ll notice a difference between buying new and resale homes. But before you decide what’s right for you, make sure you’re not falling prey to misinformation. To give you a clearer understanding, we asked a few Shea Homes associates to share the most common myths they encounter among first-time buyers.


BACK COUNTRY WATER DANCE  5012 IMG# 1

Myth #1: “Buying a new home takes too long.”

If you’re comparing an existing home to one that’s just a twinkle in your eye then, yes, buying a resale home can be a speedier proposition. But keep in mind that new homes are available in all stages of construction, from idea-on-paper to partially-built to all-wrapped-up-with-a-bow—and landscaping. Keith McCann, a Shea Homes Lead Superintendent, notes that building a typical home from digging the hole to final touches takes only about 140 days (weather permitting, of course).

If you arrive later in the construction process, there can be little to no time difference between moving into a new or a resale home. A new home doesn’t require the previous owner to move out—which depends on their next home’s availability. The good news about entering the process a littler earlier is that you’ll have lots of possibilities for tailoring the home to your tastes. Not an option with a resale home. (Hello, stressful and expensive home renovation.) Which brings us to Myth #2.

Myth #2: “Choosing all your finishes is overwhelming.”

“One of the main reasons why people purchase a new home is they can pick everything that goes in it. Then the home is a reflection of them, of their personal taste,” says Scott Beaumont, a Senior Community Representative at Colliers Hill in Erie. Buy someone else’s home and spin the wheel. More often than not, their tastes won’t mesh altogether with yours. Which means that adapting the home to your preferences and lifestyle will happen after move-in. (If you don’t think that’s overwhelming, talk to anyone who’s just navigated the minefield of a kitchen renovation.)

With the right builder, selecting your finishes shouldn’t be overwhelming, but exciting, rewarding…and nicely assisted.

Shea Colorado New Homes Design Color Scheme

“At Shea, we all have design backgrounds,” says Senior Interior Designer Melanie Best. So when people come to the Design Studio, “they don’t have to go through every single tile—unless they want to. Once we nail down the buyer’s style, we can just bring out things we think they will like.” In fact, it can all happen in one or two 2-hour sessions—or as many as you want.

As Amy Baumert, a Senior Community Representative at BackCountry in Highlands Ranch has seen with her customers, “It means the world to people to visit our design studio and become part of the process in capturing and implementing what they’ll be calling home.” For a further breakdown of the design process, read this past interview with Melanie.

Myth #3: “Home builders are all alike.”

Jeff Palumbo, Shea’s Safety and Environment Manager, believes that “one common myth is that all builders are ‘Big Bad Builders’ who cut corners to save a buck. Really, that’s what separates Shea Homes from the rest. Being a Shea homeowner myself, I can reflect back on our process and it couldn’t have been a better one.”

Sadly, as in every industry, there are vendors who cut corners and those who are committed to creating quality products. Scott Beaumont encourages people to ask each builder, “What differentiates you as a home builder? Is it price? Features? Building process and construction?” While adhering to your budget is critical, make sure that a builder’s low price doesn’t translate to low quality. After all, this isn’t choosing between a generic and brand-name box of cereal. A home is an extremely complex project that uses constantly evolving materials and techniques, plus the expertise of more than 60-70 individuals.

Shea homes construction and development

Which raises a couple of other questions to ask: How long have you been in business? What kind of turnover do you have on your construction crew? Shea Homes, for example, has been in business since 1881. And its workers stay on longer than average, which leads to greater expertise and efficiency, says Keith McCann, who points out that his framing contractor has been on the job for 15 years and his foundation crew for six.

A home is likely your largest financial investment ever—usually at least 10 times the price of a car. So protect yourself by checking out reputations online and with real human beings. Get details on the warranty program. And find out the truth behind any other myths that could keep you from buying the home that’s right for you.

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