Hello and Welcome! We created this website for several reasons. It's for our family, friends, neighbors, our community, and guests to see what we have been up to, what our plans are for the future, and to share our journey. It's LONG but worth reading. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.
My name is Mary Coon and I live in Mancos, Colorado. I'm a 56 year-old self-employed single mother with a 26 year-old son named Spencer. Spencer has Asperger's Syndrome which is part of the Autism spectrum. He and I live together because he is not able to live on his own. As a mother with an adult son with special needs I've always been concerned about what will happen to him when I'm no longer around. It's been my goal for the past 26 years to make sure he had a home, a way to earn income, and to know how to survive without me. We purchased a fixer upper together with no tools, skills or money to renovate the house. Together we came up with unique solutions such as bartering, selling our belongings, and taking all kinds of odd jobs to pay for materials and labor. After more than two years of continuous renovations we are very happy with the results and would like to tell you how we did it. But first let me share with you how we ended up in Colorado.
We moved to Mancos five years ago from the East Coast arriving in January of 2015. It's been a lifelong dream of mine to live in Colorado where I could see the Rocky Mountains. I spent the first 50 years of my life back East because that's where I was born and raised. It's also where I raised my five children. But I really wanted to live in the Southwest surrounded by mountains.
When my fifth and last child graduated from high school I was ready for a big change. The opportunity to move to Colorado came in the summer of 2014. My former husband proposed that we purchase a house together in Southwest Colorado. I agreed because we were putting our home back East on the market. I believed it was going to be a positive move for he and I and our two sons that were still living at home. The boys were excited to move and I thought when we purchased the house together that he was moving out with us. Instead he stayed on the East Coast and I left for Southwest Colorado with my two sons and three dogs. I left behind all my close friends, a lucrative massage practice, and the town where I had spent most of my life.
After a 40 hour long drive with no sleep we arrived in Mancos. It was dark and there was quite a bit of snow on the ground. I was thankful that our realtor, Pat Janz, was waiting for us at the house. She had turned on the lights and heat and had made us a wonderful dinner. There were even fresh groceries for breakfast. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone was welcomed to a new home like that? We had to get by with what we packed in our car since our furniture would not be arriving for another two weeks.
It took a few months to get a state license to practice massage in Colorado which included going to the Sheriff's office to be fingerprinted. Being self-employed was scary since I did not have any clients yet and I would have to start all over. I believed that if I could do it once, why not twice? I did various jobs for income while waiting for my massage license to arrive. I also volunteered a lot and attended local events regularly. One of the most interesting things I did was to be part of a crew for the hot air balloons during the Balloon Fest. It was a very unique experience and I met some great people who were new to Mancos as well.
Spencer and I were the only ones living in a house that was much too big and costly for us to stay in. My youngest son had moved out West for employment. It was difficult to manage all of it myself so the house went on the market just two years after we moved there in February 2017. The house sold in five months and we moved out in July 2017. I wondered to myself where were we going to go? And what about all our furniture? You'll have to keep reading to find out.
We could not have accomplished as much as we have without the network of support we created here. Merl Perkins who will be 91 years old in March, lived just down the road from us and soon became my adopted father. We would have him over for dinner regularly. Spencer and I had nowhere to go when the house we lived in sold. I wondered where we were going to put a house full of furniture until we figured it out. I had no idea how many months we'd be without a home and knew it would be expensive to store the furniture if I used a storage facility. We were in the process of making offers on houses but real estate purchases take time. Merl was very generous to let us keep a house full of furniture and boxes in his barn so I didn't have to pay storage fees.
I was incredibly grateful once the closing was over as it took an enormous amount of work to move all the furniture and have the house ready for the new owners. Spencer and I moved into a motel in town - hoping it would only be for a few weeks but it was more like several. It was time to find something I could afford on my own. We agreed that we wanted a "fixer-upper" and we wanted very much to stay in Mancos. I also needed a home that would have space for a massage office.
Our realtor, Pat, found us a place that fit our needs but it sure did need a lot of work. The kind of houses that were available in my price range were less than desirable. I decided to go ahead and buy this house even though it was filled with garbage, smelled like cat pee and cigarettes and was in disrepair. It was the fourth house we made an offer on in a two month period. Poor Pat listened to me sob every time a deal went south but she always told me it would all work out. The fourth home was the "charm"?
I qualified for a bank loan but in order to get a home quickly I would have to have a cash offer. Our realtor matched us up with someone in town that had the amount of money I needed and was willing to loan it to me at the same rate as a bank. She would receive the interest every month instead of a bank which was a huge blessing for both of us. I was able to close on this house four weeks after we made an offer. I was tired of being displaced, I was exhausted from living out of a motel while working full time doing all home visits because I had no office. I was ready for a home again.
The previous owners were in their 80's and the house was filled to the brim with everything imaginable. Because they didn't look like they were in the best of health I said they could leave things behind and I'd take care of it. I had no idea it was going to be so much though. So far we have filled five 30 yard dumpsters with all of their things. I had to give myself a big pep talk when I opened the front door for the first time. It wasn't like I could just put my furniture where I wanted or unpack and start living right away. We had to just stack everything to the ceiling in every room until I could clean out things that did not belong to me. I knew I could make the house into a beautiful home since I've had lots of practice in my lifetime with moving and renovations. This time had one big difference -I was the one footing the bill.
I love being a massage therapist and if I could have my way I'd do it full time. That is my goal for the future. However when you live in a rural area it's a good idea to have several back up plans for income. It takes time to grow your business especially when you are from out of state. Then there are things that are completely out of your control - like a bad winter and lots of cancellations. I am going to share some of my education and work experience so you'll know more about me. And then I'd like to share what Spencer and I are doing for additional income.
I have been in healthcare for over 30 years and have experience with Hospice and private home care. I attended a University back East for three and a half years to get my bachelors of science in nursing before realizing that I would rather not be an RN. I was 42 years old with five children and went to school full-time. Instead I followed my heart and decided to go into therapeutic massage - with a medical background. I love to listen to people and take my time with them and I found it difficult in a hospital situation with several patients at once. I spent more time filling out paperwork instead of with the patients. I'm fortunate to know that I have a special gift and I'm honored to share it. It was the best decision I could have made even though it wasn't easy for others to understand why I would choose massage over a nursing career.
I took a leave of absence from the nursing program and attended massage school. I completed my training in 2010. I worked 72 hours a week doing private home care and went to massage school nights and weekends for over two years. I wondered if I had made a terrible choice by leaving nursing school. I would get home around midnight from my classes, sleep for a few hours and go back to work. It was grueling - and those of you who have done this understand what kind of determination is required. I opened my first office the week after graduation in the town where I lived at the time. I was thrilled!
My practice is called Natural Healing Therapeutic Massage. For the first five years I had my massage license my practice was on the East Coast, for the past five years I've been re-building my clientele in Colorado. Currently I work from a home office and I travel all over Montezuma and La Plata counties doing home visits for both massage and private home care. My office has 15 windows and 9 of them are facing west for the most amazing views of the mountains. I've spent over a year building a custom wheelchair ramp and all new covered front porch for those with disabilities. I believe it's one of the few massage offices that is handicap accessible in this area. At this time I am looking for additional clients and if you've been thinking about getting a massage then why not make an appointment. If you'd like to know more about my credentials and rates please visit my website: www.naturalhealingco.com.
In addition to being a massage therapist, I'm a patient advocate for those without family in our area and will stay in the hospital with a patient until they are released. I'm not taking over as a nurse but rather I'm there to communicate with the doctors and therapists while the patient is not able to speak for themselves. I do quite a bit of post surgical care and overnight stays. I'm the person you want by your side when you're recovering from surgery because I have years of practical experience and education. I am hired privately as I am not with an agency and my services are not covered by insurance. If you would like more information about my availability and hourly rates please contact me.
Over the years people that I've cared for complain they can't tolerate pain medications after surgery. I wondered what natural remedy would be effective enough to reduce the need for opioids? I started making a wonderful CBD in coconut oil to be used post surgery which helps reduce the need for opioids immediately. It's a winner and highly effective - the average time on opioids after major surgery is 3-4 days using the step-down method. I use the highest quality coconut oil from the Phillipines and the most potent CBD from a dispensary. I sell 4 oz. jars for $50.00. It's made in small batches for potency and freshness. Keep in mind it may take a week for me to have some back in stock so please be patient.
We purchased this home at the end of September 2017 and our first winter here was pretty mild. I thought that it would be a piece of cake living at this elevation in Colorado but that was not a typical winter. One year it's mild, the next year it is NOT. I had steady regular income up until the winter of 2018-2019. Then we had 27 storms some that lasted days. The snow was up to the roof and I lost 10 pounds just from all the snow blowing and shoveling off the roof month after month. The garage beam needed to be restructured because the snow load was too much. And the list went on. I also lost a lot of income because of so many cancellations.
We have spent over two years renovating our home and it is stunning. Spencer has worked on every single project with every professional (electricians, plumbers, carpenters) as an apprentice. Day after day for two straight years he has been absorbing information through hands on training. His confidence has skyrocketed with his new abilities and he loves coming up with new ideas to improve the house and property. He is not able to have a typical 40 hour a week job due to his disability nor is he able to attend college or trade school at this time. Instead we have created many ways to earn income together. This works just fine for us.
After the winter of 2018-2019 I knew I had to have another form of steady income. I started hearing about people renting their homes out on Airbnb and VRBO - and it was helping them pay off their mortgages. One thing I did have was a newly renovated home. I just didn't have any place to go if we had guests but I'd figure that out later. We started preparing our home to rent on Airbnb, I took pictures and did the website. I thought I'll just go ahead and put this on-line and see what happens. The reservations started coming in rapidly before I felt completely prepared. By prepared I mean I like things to be perfect. Life isn't perfect and we are never 100% prepared and it's quite possible that I went overboard with all the guest amenities. I have no regrets as I enjoy spoiling people and want them to come back or tell all their friends and family what a great time they had. My goal is to be a 5 star host also known as super host. I've never done this before and I am learning valuable lessons with each guest that stays here. With the feedback I receive, we make adjustments as needed. We began renting our home on June 29th, 2019 and we were busy throughout the tourist season which is May through October. When Mesa Verde National Park is open this area is booming with visitors from around the world. Our home offers some amenities others do not: wheelchair accessibility, dog friendly, smoker friendly (never in the house), unlimited fresh eggs during your stay and much more. Many of our guests specifically chose this house because of what we have to offer - especially for those with disabilities. For more information about renting our home - please visit www.airbnb.com our site name is The Trails End - newly renovated, great location. We are also on www.vrbo.com also known as Home Away.
Are you wondering where Spencer and I stayed while we rented out our home? I'm going to introduce another member of our vital network - her name is Jean and she lives next door. We became friends as soon as we moved into this house and we spend a lot of time together. When I told her about my rental idea, Jean generously offered to give us the use of her basement which has everything we need. How perfect! While we stay with her (or any of our other friends) we do the cooking and make minor repairs around her house. It's a great deal for both of us.
Spencer has always struggled with change because of his Asperger's Syndrome. Since we moved to this house his personal growth has been off the charts. Both of us needed to be flexible and spontaneous over the past couple of years in so many ways. He's been able to keep up with all the changes and most of the time with a smile on his face.
In July 2019 I bought a used camper from a dealership in Durango to make some extra money. It was affordable because the previous owner did not "winterize" the camper and all the plumbing, water pump, etc. needed to be replaced. I knew that I could restore it and flip it so I bought it. I had the dealership replace the water pump, the city water intake valve and battery before it left the lot. Then I paid a towing company to have it towed to my property.
Spencer and I spent over two months renovating and repairing the 5th wheel. There was so much to get rid of we had to get a dumpster. The dumpster delivery man and I are on a first name basis now and he always knows exactly where to park it. Everything in the 5th wheel is new - we replaced every single thing that was broken or missing. It is a temporary investment that we are planning on selling this Spring. The money we get from the sale of the fifth wheel will pay off credit card debt from our renovations. We've enjoyed restoring the camper so much that we hired a professional electrician to run (2) 50 AMP hook-ups for RV's to the lower part of our property. We are going to continue buying, restoring and flipping campers for profit. We also plan on living in a smaller home on our land which we have not built yet. Right now it's just a dream but we will make it a reality.
March 2019 we bought some baby chicks so we could have our own eggs. We have 17 chickens and there are 5 different varieties sometimes laying 20 eggs in a day! We are selling eggs as well as allowing our rental guests to have an unlimited supply during their stay. Whatever income we get for what we sell pays for our own eggs in addition to all the chicken supplies.
I'm always picking up building materials other's no longer need and here's an example. A friend of mine had to replace her metal roof because of hail damage. I told her I'd love to have the old roof for projects around my property. She was happy to get rid of it and I was happy to have it. I paid to have it delivered. I used most of it to install a beautiful fenced back yard and I'm pretty sure it's going to outlast all of us. 80% of the fencing was free - I just had to buy some lumber and pay for labor to install it.
After the back yard was fenced, I installed two doggie doors for our four legged friends then we started a dog sitting business. It was all word of mouth and we had our regular customers every year - especially for Spring break. We charged $25.00 per dog a day. It's quite a draw for renters with pets - as not many places allow dogs. I am waiting until next Fall to book more dog sitting jobs as our new focus is on renting the house but it has helped us over the past two years.
Odd jobs come our way frequently and we rarely say no (except if it's taking care of goats). We are expert packers and we do professional cleans prior to closings. I've lost count how many times I've moved in my life - but it's over 20 times. Spencer and I charge $60.00 an hour for the two of us and we do beautiful and efficient work plus we are a pleasure to work with. We have also started doing some landscaping jobs, housekeeping (both residential and commercial), and we are great at organizing. If you need our help please call us.
When we first moved here our lips and hands burned from the high desert climate. I created my own deep moisturizing cream called Natural Healing Cream. I started making it 4 years ago mostly just for my own use and for Spencer's cracked hands. It took a while to come up with the right ingredients and proportions but I finally did and it's become quite popular. Over the past four years I given away hundreds of samples. I now sell the creams from my office, at local stores, boutiques and on-line. The cream is made from three simple ingredients: shea butter, olive oil and hemp seed oil. I'm very proud to have my name and reputation on this cream - it really does heal your skin. To know more click on "Natural Healing Cream" at the top of the page.
We have created some package deals for those who need a restorative vacation - mixed with some adventure. We offer transportation, lodging, all meals, daily massage, trips to the hot springs, and touring the National Parks. See Package Deals listed above.
We have a lot of equity in items we do not need. Our plan is to list everything we have to sell on this website. The income we get will pay off most of our debt. Pictures will be posted soon - keep checking back please.
Our biggest item for sale is the Forest River Wildcat 5th wheel 30' with one slide which is beautifully renovated and everything is in working order. We have invested quite a bit into this and would be thrilled to sell it very soon. The MSRP on it is $35,000.00 and we are selling it for $19,500.00. It's a screaming deal. See "5th Wheel" at the top of the page for pictures and description.
Spencer is building some beautiful birdhouses which are for sale and they will be posted here. This site will change frequently as things are sold and new items are listed. If you live out of state and need something shipped we can do that.
Additional information about massage, vacation rentals, items for sale and package deals are all on this site - see above menu.
We are so grateful for our home, for our neighbors and friends, and for everyone that believes in what we are doing. We are not looking for a hand out - but rather a hand up. We just want everyone to know who we are and the services we offer. I'm not looking to just survive - I want to THRIVE. Thank you so very much.
Mary and Spencer Coon