Last year’s Empty Nester Christmas party had a new rule. Only the men could do the cooking. The end result was scrumptious lasagna, less-stressed ladies, and the largest turnout yet—upwards of 50 people.
BackCountry is home to a wonderfully active network of singles and couples beyond the child-raising years. Lou Casteel, the informal head of this loose social network, counts about 80 residents on her email list. Each quarter, they meet for potlucks in the comfy sitting area and kitchen at the Sundial House. “It’s perfect,” says Lou. “You can get together with lots of people and no one has to clean their home.”
Other functions include a monthly Empty Nester Coffee, Monday games of mahjong, Thursday bridge, and couples’ canasta/hand-and-foot (plus potluck) one Friday a month.
Noting that four or five new couples joined the last quarterly potluck, Lou says they’re an especially good way for new residents to meet others who share the same interests. She should know, as she and her husband Steve are relatively new residents themselves, having moved to BackCountry from Pennsylvania about three years ago after retirement. They wanted to be near their kids and grandkids, and after looking for a year, they saw BackCountry online and instantly fell in love with it. “This place was so different from everything else we saw, with the views, open space, trails, and Sundial House,” says Lou. “We didn’t want our kids to feel like they had to entertain us all the time. We wanted a cool place where the grandchildren would be excited to come.”
Indeed, visiting grandma has proven to be a pretty cool thing to do, between the pool, picnics in the amphitheater, and events that include face-painting, games, and other high-energy, kid-friendly activities.
But grandkids aside, it’s been the perfect next step for the Casteels. Their home in the Luxury Villas includes a main floor master, and the front lawn is mowed and watered and snowy sidewalks are shoveled by the HOA. Without the maintenance to handle, there’s plenty of time for things to do, between the community-wide happy hours, comedy nights, and nearby activities. “Good shopping is close by, and so are the Highlands Ranch rec centers, which are wonderful. We like to take light rail to Rockies games. And there’s a group of six of us who enjoy going downtown and trying out new restaurants once a month.”
For Lou and Steve Casteel, retirement is proving to be a very busy time. But in a very good way.