Colorado is one of the leading states in the tiny house movement in the United States.This state has over 20 builders who have built tiny houses, has an annual Colorado Tiny House Festival in Brighton, and a Colorado Tiny House Association that advocates for the development of the tiny homes industry.
The tiny house movement, whether in Colorado,or elsewhere, is driven by people looking to spend their money differently. Instead of sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into a site built house that has expensive taxes, upkeep, and unused space, people can get into a tiny house for a fraction of the price and spend their saved money on activities and experiences they would rather be doing than mowing the lawn.
This tiny house is parked on a lot in Southfork, Colorado, and, though locked, gives an idea of its roominess and livability by peeking through its windows.There are five different models to choose from and the builders of these models can custom make a tiny house to fit any budget and need.
The best thing about tiny houses, after looking at these models, is – they don’t have an engine.
Bigger the better, is a slogan that is reaching it’s limits in America.
American’s are downsizing, looking small ,seeking control of their lives. These days you are more defined by what you do than what you own.
Living in one of these homes means you have finally realized you don’t need stuff you thought did, you don’t need deep roots to feel rooted, and small is very big.
There are artifacts to see at this national monument – wagon wheels and wagons, an empty jail, cannons, latrines, a visitor center, the only hospital for five hundred miles, ruts where wagons followed the Santa Fe Trail, pieces of adobe buildings that were once sheltering, a hundred foot tall flag pole where the stars and stripes flew, a white Army tent.
These photos, of what is left of this piece of the past, hint at what it was like to live out west in the late 1800’s.
Watching John Wayne westerns on re-run channels doesn’t convey fully how it feels to be smack dab in the middle of a land that is hostile and wears you down with inclement weather and the daily challenges of feeding, sheltering yourself, and staying alive.
Walking here, this morning, where soldiers walked, washed up, came back from patrols, recovered from illness, fixed wagons and stored supplies for the territories, walked patrols around the Fort in blizzards, it is easy to see how easy our lives have become.
This country was not overcome without someone else’s struggle but this fort, to the men and women assigned here, was always home sweet home, even if it wasn’t always peaches and cream.
This place was truly the middle of no where when people were still trying to figure out where where was.
Near Watrous, New Mexico, I have always sped past an I-25 highway sign that reads simply, ” Fort Union . ”
This trip, I exit, and follow the Old Santa Fe Trail that brought people west in the eighteen hundreds looking for opportunity.
After the Civil War, poor folks, who didn’t have prospects, came out west to start over. People with money, wearing suits, followed them, looking to build fortunes in a wide open territory of the United States before it was carved up into states by wealthy and powerful men who wanted to make more of what they wanted most from life.
The Santa Fe Trail became one of major routes taking settlers west and along its length the government built military forts to secure the land, protect settlers, provide law enforcement, settle disputes, and fight Indians who weren’t pleased with these invaders.
Fort Union, in it’s heyday, had 1600 soldiers, the only hospital for hundreds of miles, a jail, church, wagon repair shop, arsenal, and was a distribution center for food for military forts throughout the southwest.
The national monument opens every day of the week, 8 to 5, has a museum, and a staff wearing uniforms give tours every few hours.
The wind blows this morning and during the winter this place is brutally cold, isolated, and basic.
The most interesting fact I discover is that the fort had women working and living inside it as laundresses who drew regular military pay and had their own quarters.
Knowing how tough it was for men to be here, it must have been even tougher for women, and having women here, must have given the Commanding Officer grey hair.
Not knowing whether a man is going to protect a woman, or assault them,and how love and lust affect human behavior and execution of orders, is a Commanding Officer’s worst nightmare.
I didn’t get a builder’s tour but this birdhouse comes with a sturdy shingle roof, spacious front porch, and a back door that can be opened to clean inside. The home’s front door is a round hole, big enough for a small sparrow to enter but small enough to keep out a coyote, hawk, or house cat.
This is one of Charlie’s birdhouse masterpieces..
The last one he made was more complex, a bird mansion looking like a traditional New Mexico Pueblo, complete with ladders to roofs and a ceremonial Kiva. We all agreed it should be hanging in an art gallery but it is destined for Alabama or Tennessee for grand kid’s and a lucky bluebird family, winner of the Greater South Birdhouse Raffle.
Us Charlie supporters haven’t been on line yet to see what the going price is for “custom” birdhouses . Charlie makes his for free for family and friends so he has the best price in the world. Even a dirt poor rice farmer in Vietnam can’t sell his birdhouse for nothing.
If I were a bird, I would park my feathers inside this roomy mansion, turn on my Netflix and watch Hitchcock’s ” The Birds” ,or a documentary on Charlie “Bird” Parker with my favorite beverage by my recliner.
I would move into this birdhouse now, in a second, if i could just squeeze through the small round front door.
People want to own a home and homes are assets that, in America, have historically appreciated in value. In retirement communities like this, there are always For Sale signs in yards. People die, move back home to be with the kids, decide they don’t need a second home, look to downsize, decide their second home experiment isn’t going to suit them.
This is typical Arizona suburbia with wide streets,cactus, stuccoed- patio homes with two car garages, covenants,property taxes, newspapers still thrown in driveways, mail delivered daily by mail women driving little white vehicles. looking professional in their white and gray postal uniforms.
There is a rock in a flower bed in this home’s entry way with the word ” Harmony ” engraved on it.
Harmony, as used here, means no crime, living in a gated community, not having noisy neighbors after ten in the evening, good schools for your kids and grand kids.
Marie shouldn’t have trouble selling this home. It is on the internet and her sign gives her phone number in large print.
This house comes with a nesting bird and all the Harmony you bring with you on move in day.
Houses don’t become homes till you move your coffeemaker and tooth brush in.
Either you are hungry, uncomfortable, scared, envious, or in love. Sometimes you are just bored and want to change because you can.
Chip and Lori want to live simple and live free as far from civilization as they can get.
” It’s an experiment, ” Chip says, and, thankfully, his wife is going along with it. Moving in a different direction than your spouse is like trying to row a boat with oars going in opposite directions.
Sitting around a campfire at night, under more stars than we can see, their new experiment oddly feels like home, even if the wind whips up and the cold sneaks in under my bedroll and makes me wake up in the middle of the night.
Nowhere is often a remote, uninteresting, nondescript place, a place having no prospect of progress or success, obscure, miles from anything or anyone.
Nowhere is often a place no one else wants to be, a place that offers no comfort, no wealth, no value.
Nowhere, however, can also be a place to gain privacy, a place to begin new, a place to build what you now see that you didn’t see before.
Pioneers struck out to find value in the nowhere reaches of the old west. Astronauts went into the nowhere of space looking for new worlds. Explorers in the sixteenth century ventured into nowhere to find profit.
Chip, wife Lori, son Bowen, and Scott are striking out today for our Nowhere, Arizona.
There won’t be a town here, but, by the time we are done, this trip, there will be the start of a storage shed for Chip and Lori’s stuff. Their homestead is still further down time’s road.
When you come to Nowhere, you don’t want to come with Nothing and you want to leave Something behind.
This is how it must have felt to the pioneers on wagon trains headed west after the American Civil War, a shared tragedy, like slavery, that some Americans still haven’t worked their way through.
The odd thing about nowhere is that someone was often there before you arrived.
Henry David Thoreau got tired of his rat race in the 1800’s and retreated to Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts to live a simpler life.
As a transcendentalist, he believed getting close to nature would get him closer to truth, wisdom, God, and peace. He built himself a little cabin on Walden pond, took daily walks, observed nature, documented his thoughts and daily chores in a book he called ” Walden, or Life in the Woods. ”
My road trip mission is to help Chip and Lori get a start on their simpler life in the middle of Nowhere, in Arizona, thirteen miles down a dirt road, off a narrow two lane highway leaving I-40 just past Gallup over the New Mexico state line.
With 80% of Americans living in cities these days, the things you can’t do, in a free country, are astounding.
The 20% of Americans who live outside city limits are an independent breed.These folks move to a different drummer, value individual liberty, work, helping your neighbors, keeping government at bay, They used to be everywhere, be your neighbors, go to your church, run for office. Now, they are scurrying out of the city as quick as they can get their backpacks together.
When all Hell breaks loose, do you really want to live in a city, anywhere?
Henry David Thoreau’s book is still resonating, a hundred and fifty years later.
I’ve heard, though, that even Henry would sneak back to town to have dinner with sympathetic readers and talk shop with Ralph Waldo Emerson over a glass of wine and a big piece of the widow Smith’s award winning Angel Food cake.
The LaFonda Hotel has been a fixture in Santa Fe going back decades.
The current hotel was built in 1922 on a downtown site where the first Santa Fe hotel was built in 1607 when Spaniards came to town. It is on the register of the Historic Hotels of America, was once owned by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad, and from 1926 to 1968 was one of the famous Harvey Houses that took care of train passengers riding from back East all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
In the 1900’s this was the favored haunt of trappers, soldiers,gold seekers, gamblers and politicians. The hotel, in the 1920’s, was designed by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter and John Gaw Meem and is still a favored watering hole for New Mexico state legislators and government officials who populate Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, affectionately called ” The City Different” by those of us who live in our state.
Santa Fe itself has long been a refuge for writers, artists, movie stars, and the local newspaper, ” The Santa Fe New Mexican ” is the oldest continuously operating newspaper in America. The world famous Santa Fe Opera is close by as well as Canyon Road with a gallery every other mailbox.
Up to Santa Fe for the day, Joan suggests I visit Boston. I’m thinking the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum would be my cat’s meow.
While the LaFonda Hotel is super comfy, charming,historical, quaint, revolutions always ring my bells.
Joan misses some ambiance, on the phone, fixing who is watching her kids , and when, with an unaccommodating ex in Boston.
Fortunately for me, I haven’t fought in these kind of revolutions, and divorce and wedding bells, remind me of cannonballs whizzing by my ears.