Why I Love Coaldale (Guest Blog Post)

This land has taught me to work hard, be helpful, and never give up. ~Hayley Tezak

20-year old, Hayley Tezak is part of a new generation making its voice heard from rural Colorado. Born and raised in Coaldale, Colorado, a small agricultural town in western Fremont County, Hayley was raised on the Benton Family Homestead - - her family-owned ranch founded in the 1870’s. While attending college in Pueblo, away from the land and community she loves, Hayley finds peace when she returns on the weekends to the ranch. It is here in Coaldale that Hayley developed a passion and love for the outdoors, for the wildlife sharing her home, and for working together with her family raising cattle and hay, and for the members of her community that live in this valley.

Today, Hayley joins us as a guest and offers us a unique and refreshing perspective on the specialness of rural Colorado.

 

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Coaldale is a down-to-earth, friendly town. There aren’t honking horns, traffic jams (aside from the sheep and turkeys of course!), sirens, lights, cement, buildings or hundreds of people hurrying past you. It indeed lacks all of those things. Thank goodness!

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One of the legendary Coaldale sunsets. Photo Credit: Brittany Tezak

Coaldale is nature: it is green fields of grass, mountains, beautiful sunsets, rivers and creeks, wildlife, dirt roads and good people. It is a magical place that is set apart from the rest. It’s quiet, peaceful, beautiful and safe: it is home.

 

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One of the many summer days spent bailing hay on the CB Ranch. Photo Credit: Brittany Tezak

This land and community is filled with people I know and love—family and neighbors. People that protect and care for me, and each other. They are the people who will be there for you, as soon as you hang up the phone. I can count on them. They know I will do the same.

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Any day spent on horseback around the Benton Homestead is a day well spent.

Most of my immediate family lives right here in this tiny town, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. On Sunday’s, you might find us having family dinners at my Grandma’s, playing games and enjoying each other’s company. Not everybody is so fortunate, and I don’t take this for granted.

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Putting up hay goes a lot faster and is easier when the whole family pitches in!

My family contributed to the establishment of Coaldale, along with several of our multigenerational neighbors. My siblings and I were the 3rd generation in my family to graduate from Cotopaxi High School. In fact, there has been a Tezak consecutively enrolled in Cotopaxi School since the mid 1950’s. My family has been a part of, or witnessed, much of the history-making in Coaldale, and that is exciting to me! I love going to my grandparents’ houses and listening to their stories about when they were kids, or hearing my dad reminisce about his childhood. I am extremely intrigued by what has happened in the past—it offers a lot to me today.

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If this view of the fall colors bordered by the Sangre's doesn't catch your eye, nothing will.

I love the wildness and privacy this community offers. You can’t beat falling asleep to the sound of crickets outside your window, or the occasional yelps of the coyotes. Or better yet, feeling safe enough to leave your window wide open at night! I cherish being able to wake up in the morning and look out to see nothing but trees, snowcapped mountain peaks and bright blue skies.

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The top of Kerr Gulch to see the beautiful valley of Coaldale towards Canon City.

I spend all of my free time and (then some!) at my family ranch--the Benton Homestead. I can’t think of a better day than one spent there, even if it is a day full of nothing but work. This place is my sanctuary. It helps keep me sane. It has taught me to work hard, never give up, be helpful and so much more. It helped build me into the person I am today. Someone I am proud to be. 

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Cloudy day for the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.

Having lived in Pueblo for the past two years for school, it has become apparently clear to me, how important these people and this place is to me. It hurts me to be away from them and this beautiful place I call home. I know I stand with a small crowd living this life, but that’s what makes little towns like Coaldale, Colorado, so special.

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This is my favorite view, and the best chance I have at explaining my love for Coaldale, CO. THIS is home on the Benton Homestead.

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