Then with Mary she was off to "Whites' Ranch" and the little cottage they owned on a few acres in the mountains near Rollinsville, Colorado.
Although her health was improving and she was sleeping quite well, Ellen was not yet able to apply herself to writing. As she looked from the cottage to the pine-covered hills close by, she was reminded of the many happy times she and James had enjoyed there. But this time he was not there to share her thoughts and feelings.
Willie had remained in Battle Creek to work with Edson in taking care of the financial affairs relating to James White's estate. To him she wrote on September 12:
I miss Father more and more. Especially do I feel his loss while here in the mountains. I find it a very different thing being in the mountains with my husband and in the mountains without him. I am fully of the opinion that my life was so entwined or interwoven with my husband's that it is about impossible for me to be of any great account without him (letter 17, 1881).
For her, Colorado with its beautiful mountains had lost its lure. She did some sewing to while away the time, but not much writing. Butler was urging her to attend the General Conference session being planned for November or December. The California camp meeting would be held a little before that, and she was debating in her mind whether to return for the winter to their comfortable home in Battle Creek or to go to California and occupy their Oakland home. As to the General Conference session, she told Mary that she "must have further light before consenting to go in her present state of health" (MKW to WCW, Sept. 14, 1881). She finally decided in favor of California, for she felt it would not be prudent to return to the East with the burdens she would have to face there.