The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #184


A reader writes:

No San Jose-style giveaways this week, I see. We have a sea of McMansions in a relatively flat valley, mountains in the distance, and a cat. This could be any of a number of recent boomtowns in the American West. Or perhaps somewhere in Alberta. But I’m going to go with my first impulse, which was the outskirts of Las Vegas, specifically Henderson, NV, looking to the east. The terrain looks right and I believe they’ve had some record breaking cold lately (hence the dusting of snow). Hopefully the evergreen trees in front of a few houses are merely misdirection.


It’s been a long time since I’m made a guess, just because so many of the recent contests have been so damn difficult, but I figured I’d give this one a chance. Snow cover, relative lack of trees (particularly out in the distance past the development), large tracts of newly constructed suburban housing … it definitely suggests a city with a booming economy somewhere in the dry Mountain West. All the major cities in Utah and Colorado are immediately disqualified because the mountains in the background would be much, much taller. Billings, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Grand Junction don’t have the right kind of hills in the background. Boise is really the only city that fits all of the criteria, so I’m going with that.


I’m guessing this is Pocatello, Idaho. The mountains in the distance look very much like the area pocatelloand the town sits in a kind of bowl-like valley surrounded by them. How do I know Pocatello? I’m a documentary TV producer and I went through with a Pakistani crew and a host, who is “the Julia Roberts” of Pakistan. We went to meet and interview a pair of Pakistani immigrant doctors who live in Pocatello and have become local legends for their work in the community. That said, Pocatello is not the most exciting place in the world. Its main claim to fame is having its city flag voted the ugliest in the United States.

Seen to the right. Another reader:

With two holiday parties to go to today, unfortunately I don’t have time to look for the address, but that sure looks a lot like Tuscon. This picture nicely illustrates how that city looks like something straight out of The Martian Chronicles.


I give up. I’m stumped. I spent my entire PTO day yesterday trying to find this place and focused on Colorado and Utah with no luck. I figured the leaves off the trees and the new construction it was Denver or Colorado Springs or Salt Lake City.  Let’s go with Colorado Springs.

And I’m 3% sure the cat’s name is Mr. Phipps.

Update from the photo submitter:

HA! No. The cat’s name is Romeo:

photo 3(1)

The boy earned that named because he loves hard, guards the house against those slanderous squirrels, and is more than a bit impulsive.

Another reader gets punny:

Thanks to the huge spoiler in the photo this week. I want to be the first to state the obvious: this is obviously Kathmandu.


I have ceased to be amazed by people guessing these locations. That said, this one strikes me as nearly impossible.

It could be virtually any large subdivision in the American West (or even Appalachia, I guess, but I think not). I’ll guess a suburb southwest of Denver, call it the “Valley Enclave” subdivision of the neighborhood in Littleton, CO that is around 39.569771, -105.155785. Facing Southwest from somewhere around 30 Mountain Pine Drive.

Anyway, I also wanted to pass along my thanks for continuing to blog over the weekend. It must be taxing to post what is nearly 24/7. Wanted you to know it’s appreciated. Especially by a law student in the middle of exams who needs a distraction.

The Dish team is indeed indomitable. Another reader:

Nice picture. Lots of two story track homes, Western US style, evergreen trees in the front yards, relatively barren hills in the backgroun. Must be a large Western US suburb close to lower mountain ranges. Guessing Highlands Ranch or Aurora in Colorado, sitting next to the Southern Denver ranges.

It’s the former. Another gets it:

Fresh pow on the foothills … cookie cutter houses packed in like sardines … looks like Highlands Ranch, Colorado!

Another notes, “This is where the shooter in yesterday’s school shooting lived.” One of several schematics from an impressive reader:


A previous winner writes:

We’re looking at the eastern edge of the Rockies from the West Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch, which shares a zip code with Littleton, CO. In fact, Google Maps kept alternately telling me the address is in Highlands Ranch and Littleton. (And therefore near Arapahoe and Columbine – a news article on Friday’s shooting mentioned that a home in Highlands Ranch was searched.)

My dad immediately recognized Colorado, which is good because I probably would have started in Idaho or something. This image of HR I found helped a lot, as the mountains match the section found to the far right of the contest pic.

I think the picture was taken from [the correct address, redacted at the submitter’s request]. A vast scene of subdivisions is a nightmare! Different subdivisions have different styles so I could rule out several neighborhoods. We were near a corner on the left, and my best reference was the alternating pattern of rectangular roofs and asymmetrical roofs – see below. Note the approximate location of the cat seen in the contest pic:


Another previous winner also got the correct address and adds:

When I first saw this week’s view, I thought, “no, it couldn’t be, could it?” I grew up in the western suburbs of Denver (shout out to Lakewood!), and the sight of the foothills blanketed in fresh snow brings back many fond memories. Now a Minnesotan, I wish we had a little more vertical terrain to go along with the snow, ice and cold that keeps us company for a good part of the year.

Off I went to see if I could confirm this was in fact the sight of the same hills. It is amazing what you can do with two thumbs and an iPad! Scanning the 3D satellite images, I looked for the signature of the two well-defined ridge lines and the starkly contrasted southeast slope face that show up in the right third of the view.

After a few minutes working from Boulder south, I found what looked to be a match. Given the proximity and angles, I first thought that Columbine may be the town – fitting as a bookend to go along with the one-year anniversary of Newtown:


(Side note: it doesn’t seem right to me that the attackers – no mention of the victims – get their names listed alongside the place mark for Columbine High School on Google Maps – how can we change this?)

But the sight lines for the hills didn’t work for Columbine; instead it was clearly neighboring Highlands Ranch and its relatively new subdivisions that aligned.

Of the three non-winners who correctly guessed the exact address this week, one of them has participated in five times as many contests as the other two, so he wins the prize this week:

Between the look of the hills, the snow, and the sprawl, I immediately recognized this week’s photo as the Front Range foothills as seen from the southern Denver-area suburbs, looking southwest. I grew up in those hills just a little bit west of what you can see in the photo.

A couple minutes of scanning the foothills with Google Earth found the exact hills in the photo, then I moved NE until I saw some neighborhoods with houses facing the right direction and enough sprawl between them and the hills to be a potential location of the shot. The first neighborhood I checked wasn’t quite right, but the second was a match. I would consider this house to be a part of Highlands Ranch, but according to Google Maps, the address of the house is [redacted address].

And it wouldn’t be a window contest with a creepily accurate entry from Doug Chini:

VFYW Highlands Ranch Actual Window Marked - Copy

This one comes with a bit of deja vu. It was only last April that I was flying through the Alps near Rohrmoos looking for the distinctive mountains in VFYW #148, and now nine months later we get a similar search. Thankfully, this new set of peaks was much easier to find. This week’s view comes from Douglas County, Colorado. It was taken at [redacted address] in the Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch and looks southwest along a heading of 220.48 towards the Front Range of the Rockies. A best estimate for time and date would be December 9th at 8:33 AM (or perhaps December 5th). Attached is a marked bird’s eye view looking toward the mountains, an external shot of the window, and an interior view of the actual home office/alcove where the pic was snapped:

VFYW Highlands Ranch Interior Window Clean - Copy

The submitter of the contest photo wrote:

This is the view from my home office in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. We are in unincorporated Douglas County just south of Littleton. We were the focus of school reform this past election. We lost again to the conservative reformers.  But this is our home too and we’ll keep fighting for our kids and their teachers.

The Dish covered the school board election here. The submitter follows up:

Thank you for using my picture. To help narrow the win, if needed, the address is [redacted address]. Of course, this is a home address so please don’t publish. The view is looking west and a little south out over the western part of Highlands Ranch. Chatfield and Roxborough are between the window and the foothills.

A little more to add. I know the more urban of your readers will suck their teeth at this vast sea of suburbia. That is ok. I was that person too at one point. We’ve been here now for nearly ten years and I’ve never been happier anywhere else. When family from San Francisco or Seattle visit they wonder where the “there” is located. I laugh it off and kick rocks, but the truth of the matter is that this vast ‘burb is where my friends live. It is where my kids are growing up and it is where I fall in love my wife over and over and over again in between grocery shopping, car loops, and the rec center swimming pool. Besides, downtown Denver is like 20 minutes away for when we want to get all cultured up.

On a sad note, the most recent school shooting happened only eight miles to the north from where this picture was snapped. In fact, due to our intense feelings about the Douglas County School Board (oppose) and the reputation of Arapahoe High (top-notch), we tried mighty hard to get a house that fed to AHS. We failed in that endeavor. It is our sincere hope that the kids and their families at AHS will find healing and love in the days and years ahead. I wish there was more that we, that I, could do to ensure that nothing like this could happen anywhere again to any child.