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.
Creede’s reason for existence started and ended with silver.
Rich mines tunneled into the Earth and precious minerals were loaded onto train cars and shipped to industrial cities. At one time Creede had 10,000 people. The population now is 290, the mines have played out, and the economy depends on seasonal tourists escaping Texas heat.
In the winter this small mountain town shuts down and everyone who can leave, leaves. The skeleton crew left behind play cards, huddle around pot bellied stoves and keep the road open for crazy hunters who just won’t leave the deer alone.
Sightseers on today’s Creede streets can sense what life might have been like in the 1800’s, before airplanes, telephones, computers, modern medicine, automobiles, fast foods, spaceships, nuclear weapons,GMO foods, fiat money,the Deep State, vaccines and penicillin,organ transplants, ” Big Bang Theory”, and driver less cars.
Walking here, or sitting on a bench under a shade tree, you don’t see dusty miners, horses and loaded wagons, but you see old slouching wood frame buildings, hitching posts, closed saloons waiting for a makeover. The town has its own repertory theater that puts on performances during the tourist season,and,if they had a casino here,the place would sparkle like gold nuggets.
Next time through, I’m going to visit the Creede Mining Museum and get a photo of myself holding up the world’s largest fork stuck in the front yard of a local restaurant on the only road into and out of town.
Being a tourist here is something I’m comfortable with.
In 2019, if the hotels and accommodations didn’t have cable and wi-fi, or the phone service was bad, you wouldn’t get anyone staying here, even in the best summer months.
We 21st century visitors to the past, like old, but not at the expense of our luxuries.
The Rio Grande river is running high and fast with a bigger than normal snow pack this last winter. It is July and there are still big rocks in the middle of the river that you still can’t see the tops of.
Along the river’s edges, rafters have parked their vehicles in turn off’s, pulled on orange life preservers, boarded inflated rubber rafts and edged into the cold water, eight to ten people a raft going for a bumpy joy ride down stream..
For several miles their hired river guides maneuver them safely through the white water, and the rafters, excited after the trip, have an experience to talk about for years.
This area used to have hard rock miners leading their donkey’s to drink from this same river before they would start a new mining hole high up in the side of a mountain, throwing their diggings down hillsides behind them like burrowing animals. On Saturday night the prospector’s would clean up, a much as they could, and go into Creede to gamble, chase women, fight, and brag about their prospects. Riding the river would have been seen as something only crazy people would do.
The rafts, passing me as I pull my car off the road to watch their procession, hug the middle of the river where the water is deepest and the rapids are most challenging.
Riding rapids is what we are all doing these days in our Excited States of America..
I can hear excited voices as the river riders bounce up and down inside their rafts like a bunch of old west bronco busters.
These river guides are making more money than those hard rock miners ever dreamed of making.
It only takes a few crazy people to change an entire group’s mindset.
The reflection of the clouds,on the lake’s calm surface,quiver. The reflection of the forest’s trees, on the lake’s surface, reaches across the lake almost to the bank we are fishing from and look as if they were growing out of the lake right in front of me.
If I had a long enough arm, I could reach down and scoop up these clouds in the palm of my right hand and they would wiggle like the fishing earthworms we just dug up in a close by field.
I know the clouds and forest on the lake’s surface are reflections. The real clouds are in the sky and the real forest and pine trees cover the rugged mountain sides directly to the south of us, across Hermit’s Lake.
If my mind can be even temporarily fooled by nature’s slight of hand, how much more of what I see is not what I see, and how much don’t I see that is right in front of me?
When scientists come up with better measuring sticks, we might start seeing more of the world as it really is, not fooled by its reflections, optical illusions, mirages, black holes, mirrors and miracles..
There will, on that day, as Jerry Lee Lewis sings in his rollicking rock and roll classic,be ” a whole lot of shaking going on.”
Mornings and evenings at Hermit’s Lakes are natural wonders.
The lake, this evening, is without ripples. Fish rise with a splash to the water’s surface for flies, an eagle lazily circles above us, watching the lake’s surface for the same fish we are trying to catch. Richard and Maria share a bench, all of us fishing hard as the sun drops and you hunker in your jacket to keep warm.
It will be dark soon.
Ninety nine out of a hundred people would say this is a good definition of paradise and they wouldn’t be wrong.
Whether all this natural wonder is by design or the result of chaotic chance is a question I ponder with the same intensity of a kid playing with a rubric cube.
None of us three say anything to upset the balance this evening, our planet a colorful top spinning on a sidewalk, a perpetual motion machine set in motion with one flip of God’s wrist.
The fish this evening must be enjoying the sunset as much as we are.
The Rio Grande river runs through New Mexico and most of the state’s population and bigger cities hug the river’s edges all the way through the state, from north to south. The river is sustained by snow pack in Colorado and this is a good year with the river running fast and high. Along the entire river, Indian, state, county officials, and even individuals dip their straws into the river and draw off water they need for their uses.
By the time the Rio Grande gets to Texas and Mexico, it is shallow enough in places to walk across, and it’s color is muddy brown. There are packed legal folders full of legal challenges about who owns the water, who gets to use it, and in what quantities. Our Rio Grande empties into the Gulf of Mexico and, in older times, was the lifeblood of farmers, ranchers, outlaws, Indians, miners and immigrants all living inside our state borders.
This afternoon, rafts carry fishermen downstream with paid guides maneuvering clients to some of the best fishing spots.
I don’t know what it cost these fishermen for their guide and raft, but it all adds up to an expensive trout dinner.
The guide will give this sportsman a better than average chance to catch something worth catching.
When you come this far to catch fish you want good pictures to show your buddies back home.
A few extra bucks for a trophy fish,you can brag on for twenty or thirty years, even if it seems way too high, is money well spent.
I was told by a brother, Neal, and, by Pat, that the Great Sand Dunes are worth a long look.
Normally, I have blitzed by them, following I-25 all the way to Denver. On this trip to Creede, Colorado, close to Alamosa, I take a side trip to see the big piles of sand from the other side of the freeway.
The dunes get bigger as one drives from the highway deeper into the National Monument.There appears no reason for the dunes to be here amid more natural junipers, high desert grass, cactus. It is, as if, a celestial construction crew got wrong work orders and dumped truckload after truckload of sand until some angel woke up and cancelled the order. In New Mexico, we have our White Sands National Monument, but none of those dunes are as tall as these. Here, the sand hills seem out of place, but, nature can’t be accused of making mistakes.
At the National Monument visitor center, there are photos, posters, and displays to educate those who want to be educated on sand. Visitors can climb the dunes by following a path out to them from the visitor center. You take off your shoes before you reach the dunes, at the end of the path, and wade across a little stream. Visitors, hiking up the dunes, look like ants trying to touch the lazy white drifting clouds and, for a quarter, you can watch the ants through telescopes anchored into an outside patio stone wall.
Not having time to stay long, I get back on the road to Creede, Colorado and Hermit’s Lake.
I’m guessing, even if I don’t see these dunes again, this would be one of the first places a tour of cats, from Japan ,would stop and spend an entire day romping in the kitty litter.
Next time, there will be more time here to take off my shoes and climb these sand mountains, my feet and toes sinking deep as I struggle to move higher up the sides of the dune’s hills.
It will be dark when I get to Hermit’s Lake and Richard and Maria will be expecting me.
Even retirement doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get where you say you are going to be, when you say you are going to be there.
Seeing cats going down these hills on boogie boards would be amazing.
All this sand has been stored here until Mother Nature needs it for a new project.
On a Saturday morning, Westcliff is closed for business.
The local grocery store isn’t open till nine but you can get cash from the bank ATM if you are short.The only gas station is on the highway back to Walsenburg, a few miles south of town. There are several real estate offices with flyers posted in their windows for lookers, and the restaurant at the bowling alley is still asleep with bowling balls still cuddled up in their chutes.
The Sugar and Spice Bakery is one of the few places open in town this early and seven patrons are already lined up ahead of me getting something to eat.
The two young women running the shop wear plain long skirts and blouses with plain bonnets on their head, their hair bundled up under each bonnet. They are Mennonites, who, along with Amish,have settled in this area in the last few years. I saw several girls, dressed exactly like this, working at the bowling alley cafe yesterday and admired their work ethic and modesty when serving overweight middle aged women in shorts and tattoos, ordering chicken fried steak and mashed potato dinners.
In our evolving world, the Mennonites and Amish ,in Westcliff ,might be the only ones in our country saying “no” to progress.
While this planet spins, those of us waiting in line,know you can’t beat good home made muffins, scones,and apple pie for breakfast with a hot beverage to warm your hands.
Even in our complicated world, eating hand made muffins, sitting in chairs that have no screws, riding in wagons pulled by carts, and listening to bluegrass music is not without charm.
We can buy our food out of machines but eating that way just doesn’t raise our spirits.
I’ll be back tomorrow for more blueberry muffins and hot coffee, and their sign on the door tells me they will be open at seven a.m.
God doesn’t have to get in the way of business to stop getting our business.
An old man with a cane shuffles past us in the grocery, squinting to read the fine print on a box label.Two little children pull on their mom’s dress at the bank as she makes a deposit and reaches them a sucker out of a little bowl on the teller’s countertop. A homeless vet passes our vehicle to take a dollar from a hand reaching out of the window back of us. We don’t talk to the politician rushing past us to hold up a baby and smile for news cameras.
On the road to Westcliff, I pass a black wagon pulled by a black horse, driven by a young man wearing a black hat, black pants and black vest, a white shirt, with a reddish beard. He pulls his horse and wagon towards the shoulder as I go past, and I wave. I watch him in my rear view mirror as he goes another block, then pulls his horse and wagon into a little drive leading to a country house on the other side of a closed gate.
Amish, from Pennsylvania, have come to this part of Colorado and the San Luis Valley for farming, solitude, the ability to worship as they choose, to raise their families in an old way, and drive to town in a wagon pulled by their favorite horse.
This, my first Amish sighting of the season, makes me wonder how they can maintain their traditions in the onslaught of 21st century propaganda, polemics, politics and problems?
The march of 21st century technology, information, control and surveillance, secularism, is crushing.
Seeing a horse and wagon on the road is like seeing an old John Wayne movie on television.
It pictures a way of life, long gone, that some folks still never want to leave.