Southern Colorado is Very Weird

Monte Vista NWR

A portion of Monte Vista NWR in Rio Grande County, Colorado

One supposes the people who live here (?) don’t feel that way, of course. You should have seen the route we took to get to this spot, too. Oh my God. A dirt road wide enough to land two 747s side-by-side, the kind of place where no one has water to spare for trees or dirt to plant them in, apparently, so here and there you see little decorative piles of rocks. My late brother Bill would have appreciated that. Building such spontaneous sculptures was an actual gift of his, in fact, meth or no meth.

Speaking of him who died last summer, last week I got a scary letter from a law firm in Tempe, AZ telling me I had to pay all kinds of money—upwards of six grand—for “fees” and whatnot his estate allegedly owed to Tucson Estates Property Owners Association. My brother died without a will. My siblings and I had declined to “open probate,” as the lawyers say, because his wreck of a trailer wasn’t worth the time and expense to put it on the market, and we only would have lost a bunch for no good reason. It seemed something of a shame to let it go, but truly, we were better off. Fortunately, I was able to consult a friendly lawyer I already knew in Tucson, who told me I could just ignore the shake-down thing. Good to know there’s no obligation to inherit when someone in your family dies.

Anyway, southern Colorado… I read that farther east and south of this location, over toward San Luis and down to the New Mexico line, there’s an influx of new residents. What would draw them here? Wild nature and legal cannabis, perhaps. There isn’t much of anything else, God knows, though real estate has got to be cheaper than in the mountains. I’m always sympathetic to people moving to a brand new place and starting over from scratch, so this is interesting to me. There are some beautiful places down those long dirt roads, and they are long. Want to try it? If you don’t mind driving an hour or so to buy your groceries and aren’t hung up on trees, go have a look.

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John Hamilton Farr lives at 7,000 feet in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, U.S.A. As New York Times best-selling author James C. Moore tells it, John is “a man attuned to the world who sees it differently than you and I and writes about it with a language and a vision of life that is impossible to ignore.” This JHFARR.COM site is the master writing archive. To email John, please see CONTACT INFO on About page. For a complete list of all John’s writing, photography, NFTs, and social media links, please visit JHFARR.ART  

  • George March 26, 2016, 2:58 PM

    Ha! Thanks but I will pass on that last sentence 😉

  • Rita March 26, 2016, 3:22 PM

    Sounds like another perfectly good wasteland about to be overrun by clueless humans, which would not be so bad if they could just leave it as they found it after they give up and move on.

    • Marti Fenton March 26, 2016, 3:35 PM

      Rita, well said!

    • JHF March 26, 2016, 7:18 PM

      I rewrote that paragraph because in truth, I don’t know squat about the sociology or demographics of any newcomers. (But I’ve heard stories.) The whole state of Colorado is experiencing strong population growth now. Legal cannabis isn’t keep them out, God knows.

      I know what you mean about how it would be better if people moving to the boonies left it as they found it when they split. In this climate, dead cars and shacks live on forever. I suspect at least a few people are trying something different, though. Technology allows new ways to make a living in such places. We’ll see.

  • Bob March 26, 2016, 4:23 PM

    Having grown up in Colorado and Southern Colorado in particular, I know a little of what you describe. Depending on where you were – I imagine it was in what we call “The Valley” – much of that land was platted and roads bull-dozed back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. It was going to be the next big land scheme thing. They threw a party but no one showed up, so-to-speak.
    Now the scars are there and a few residences are scattered about but there’s not much else, as you know.
    I can remember when you could by land there for $100 per acre. As recently as ten years ago I had a contract on 35 acres for $12k. We backed out of that deal when we found that the road into the property was also access to several other properties and we would have had no recourse but to let whomever drive right past where we would have wanted our house.
    Weird? Sure. But the weirdness isn’t confined by geographic borders. Have you been to El Norte recently?

    • JHF March 26, 2016, 7:27 PM

      Oh, I’m just having fun here with the weirdness angle. But damn, it is a very strange place with a vibe all its own.

      • Bob March 27, 2016, 3:06 PM

        Well, there are all of those UFO sightings to consider. Maybe there is some sort of harmonic frequency anomaly going on – I wouldn’t argue against it.

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