Road to Junction: From AK to CO
Editor’s note: Know a Grand Valley transplant with a unique story? Or perhaps your path took an interesting detour, ending in local residency? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!
Imagine living in a place where summers are spent under 20 hours of sunlight — never able to see a warm, starry night sky. That’s how Bill and Susie Kiger spent the last 20 years of their lives.
Bill, then a manager of the Interpretive Division for Department of Natural Resources, and Susie, then the director of sales and marketing for Alaska Railroad, moved from Anchorage, Alaska, to Grand Junction in 2013 for warmer summers. Although they loved Alaska, they decided it was time for retirement and headed south to sunny Colorado.
Bill is now fully retired, and Susie still works as a marketing consultant for her business — Curly Q Communications, specializing in short- and long-term marketing projects.
Twenty-five years ago when the Kigers lived in California, they often visited the four-corners area and passed through Grand Junction, but seldom stopped. They preferred other regions in the state at the time — like Durango.
“We have always been drawn to beautiful areas,” Susie said.
When they traveled through the region again two years ago, the Kigers noticed Grand Junction’s many upgrades and friendly vibe.
“When I drove through 30 years ago, Fruita hardly even existed,” Bill added.
According to the Kigers, one of the main reasons they like the Grand Valley is its community — specifically the connection between community supported agriculture and some of their favorite restaurants like Laughing Dog Coffee House, Pablo’s Pizza, Cafe Sol, and Bin 707 Foodbar.
Colorado Mesa University, the Colorado National Monument, readily available fruits and vegetables, and a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities drew the couple in as well. Bill and Susie currently live in the Redlands and love having the 360-degree view of the Bookcliffs and the monument.
“We have no kids, so being in Grand Junction is the fruit of our work,” Bill said. “We give back to the community and different groups in the community.”
Being avid hikers and bikers, they sometimes attend Western Slope Adventures meet-ups and Cyclepaths events. The Kigers have wasted no time exploring the variety of activities and areas, along with their dogs, Harley and Roni.
“The wineries are nice here,” Susie said. “The climate, beauty and social interactions that go along with it are nice, too.”
TIME TO THAW
The Kigers additionally transplanted to the valley because, compared to Alaska, cost-of-living expenses in Mesa County is significantly less.
“Qualities of life makes money go further, which makes living better,” Bill said.
Along with the lower cost of living, the climate makes for a pleasant change.
“Seeing flowers on April 1 is a nice thing to see,” Susie noted.
They lived with feet of snow every winter, which sticks around until late spring. Even in the summer Alaska is chilly, so the Kigers plan on enjoying western Colorado’s heat.
“Warmth isn’t something we’re afraid of,” Bill said.
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Longtime Roaring Fork Valley golf club professional Doug Rohrbaugh is set to play in this weekend’s Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor, Michigan.