“People drive out here and think we live in Mexico, that we’re crazy for living so far away."
— Darvy Christiansen about living on the Brown's Park Wildlife Refuge
Driving to the Christiansen’s house on U.S. Highway 40, the mile markers fly by until arriving at "2," a mile-and-a-half from the Utah border.
Nearly a two-hour drive from Craig through windy roads full of wildlife, the Christiansen’s live at the Brown’s Park Wildlife Refuge headquarters.
A long commute is putting it mildly, but Faith Christiansen, 16, James Christiansen, 12 and Trevor Christiansen, 10, wake up around 4 a.m. everyday, leave the house at 5:10 a.m. to catch the bus at 5:30.
For a two-hour bus ride to school in Craig.
“People drive out here and think we live in Mexico, that we’re crazy for living so far away,” said Darvy Christiansen, the children's mother.
But the family has to live at the Brown’s Park Wildlife Refuge as part of father Kip Christiansen’s job, one he said he really enjoys.
Darvy said she never thought public school would be an option when the family moved there 10 years ago, thinking she would have to home-school.
And she did home-school the siblings' older brother all throughout his education, while an older sister was home-schooled for a bit before opting to go to public school in Craig.
Darvy said they had to drive a lot more back in those days, averaging around 520 miles a week just to get her daughter to the school bus.
But the Christiansens said Moffat County School District has been very willing to do what they can to get the children to school.
“Joe Petrone has been so kind to us," Darvy said. "We had him out so he could see this is what we do. I mean his hands are tied as far as how much he can do but he always keeps us in mind.”
The Christiansens said they’ve had no negative experiences with the district, and the children said the two-hour bus ride to and from school everyday is well worth it.
Faith, who is involved in Center Stage honor choir, theater and SAFE — an abuse awareness group for teenagers — said she continues making the ride for the opportunities and friends it provides.
“If I was home-schooled my friends would be my family," Faith said. "I love them, but I can only handle so much."
She said attending Moffat County High School also has helped her decide what she wants to study in college, the theatrical arts. She loves acting and performing.
“That and she’s a city girl,” Kip chimed in, teasing his daughter.
But Faith agrees, saying the country is a nice place to visit but not to live and that it gets lonely sometimes.
Even though Faith is involved, it’s difficult for her or her brothers to be involved in after-school programs and activities, as they have to catch the bus.
“It’s a little easier for Faith because she has friends she can stay with,” Darvy said. “But for the boys it’s just not an option.”
James said he loves sports and playing with his friends, naming physical education as his favorite subject in school.
Aside from lunch, which he doesn’t eat.
“I normally skip lunch and go straight outside to play with my friends,” James said, who also said he saves his lunch for the bus ride home.
“He just won’t miss the time to play with his friends,” Darvy said.
Unlike his sister, James said he likes living on the refuge, adding he loves to hike and the location provides ample opportunities.
The commute may be the hardest on Trevor, who’s a little quieter than James and someone who Darvy said requires a certain amount of sleep.
“That’s one good thing,” Kip said. “It’s not hard to get the kids to go to bed. And they want to go to school.”
Darvy said Trevor is normally in bed by 8 p.m., and if he’s not asleep by that time he starts to get concerned.
In fact, watching Trevor after dinner around 7 p.m., the little guy’s head starts to droop and Darvy can see it’s time to get him to bed.
Trevor’s favorite activity in school is playing the recorder, something at which his family said he’s gotten quite good.
“I don’t think the kids would ever choose home-school,” Darvy said. “There goes their social life and the opportunities with it. This is our routine. This is what we do. And we wouldn’t trade it.”
Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org