Yampa If you had told Pat McKnight-Redmond while she was growing up in Sacramento, Calif., that she would spend her adult life in a town of 443 people with one dirt road, she probably would have laughed.
She moved to Steamboat Springs after getting an art history degree from the University of California at Davis and living for years in San Francisco. She planned to stay in Steamboat long enough to help old California friends build the Home Ranch.
"At the time, Minneapolis sounded good. Maybe I was going to move there," she said.
But a chance meeting in a bar was the introduction to her future husband and the rest of her life.
Redmond slowly disappeared deeper and deeper into the valley, settling into Yampa after her marriage.
She took a job with the Steamboat Pilot writing, among other things, "Town Talk," a long-running local's gossip column for South Routt County.
"There were things you could count on getting, like the bridge scores," she said, "but some weeks I would just pick up the phone book and randomly call people to find out if they were doing anything or had company."
The other part of her job was to record local government meetings.
"I remember my first impressions," she said. "Here I was from California, sitting in a tiny backroom covering a Yampa Town Board meeting, and I thought, 'No way. This doesn't really exist.'
"Yampa has fewer people than my graduating class," she said.
Now, Redmond has lived in Yampa for 22 years. She got to know the area on the deepest level as a reporter for the area's newspaper, South Routt Review. The weekly paper went out of business years ago, but while it existed, Redmond wrote for five years and took the reins as editor for one.
"I tried to write the good things that were going on, even though there were things that we had to write that made people mad," she said. "During that time, there weren't many people in the area who didn't get profiled."
No one lives in the area long without at least seeing her face.
She is a longtime area volunteer and most recently she was the director of "The Sound of Music" in Oak Creek. It was her first time back in the theater since her children were born.
"I've been holed up in South Routt for 20 years," she said, "but I plan to stay involved in (South Routt Community Theatre). (Producer) Bea Cole has me hooked."
When she first moved to Steamboat, Richard Geer was still in charge of a repertory community theater company and Redmond did its costumes.
But to talk to Redmond, her life is defined by the before and after of having children.
Since then, her community involvement has been through child-centered things such as StoryArt at the public library in Yampa or volunteering on the playground committee.
In her 22 years in Yampa, she has watched it change drastically.
"There used to be more of a sense of community in town," she said. "Now everyone is too busy and after the commute from Steamboat, everyone is too tired."
Redmond herself started the Steamboat commute recently after leaving her job as day manager and bartender at Yampa's The Antlers CafShe got a job as office manager at KFMU and makes the drive five days a week.
Traditionally, Yampa residents made their living on ranches or from work on the railroad.
Redmond's husband is a former rancher but sold the land years ago. Now he works as a hired hand in the summer and drives a snowplow in the winter.
His family homesteaded the valley and Redmond has tried several times to capture their stories.
"But no one agrees on anything," she said. "So I end up with about one paragraph from the story that everyone had in common and still they won't agree."