There was an article in the Redstone newspaper a while back about the city coming down on people who aren’t taking care of their property. Most notably it was about enforcing a little-known rule that if the registration on your car isn’t current, you can be ticketed whether you are driving it or not. They’re starting to write these tickets now. The goal is not revenue-generation (for once!) but rather as a means of getting people to either fix or dispose of old cars that are considered a blight on the city.

More locally, there is the case of Kevin Erickson. The first time I met Kevin, it was because he called the police on me. We’d just moved in and he wanted the police to look into who these people were hanging out at the house next door to his aging mother’s. I haven’t seen much of him since his mother died.

Erickson has been in the Callie paper recently. He is an entrepreneur of sorts with a couple of businesses, selling off old stuff. Not the old stuff that we approve of like antiques and whatnot, but rather old cars and tractor equipment. There is a push to shut him down because the old tractors and such are considered, at least by some, to be unsightly. It doesn’t help that one of Erickson’s lots are seen by everyone who passes through Callie.

Now, in one sense, I am more sympathetic to Redstone than Callie, and in another sense I am more sympathetic to Callie. I have some sympathy for Redstone because it does have a pretty serious image problem. As a sort of junky place. And things like cars on cinder blocks for years on-end aren’t helping. And, to their credit, they’re also starting to offer people free disposal service. Whatever it takes, just so long as you get rid of your junk! Callie, in my view, has less to complain about. It doesn’t have a huge image problem. In fact, Erickson’s lots are really the only place in the entire town that is any sort of problem. On the other hand, unlike with Redstone, the lots do stick out like a sore thumb.

Ultimately, I sort of give Redstone a pass. But generally speaking, I look at some of these things as the things that make Arapaho what it is. And not entirely in the negative way. The fact that some people around here are only vaguely aware of what an HOA is just makes my heart sing a little. And when I am driving in the middle of nowhere, a broken down car in the middle of a field is actually more interesting than it is unsightly. The mountains out here are beautiful. We have trees and rivers. But I consider some of the broken down sheds to be a part of the landscape. There are some things about Arapaho that I consider unsightly, but these are not among them.

At the same time, I sort of do understand why these things are considered unattractive in suburban Colosse (for example). I’d probably be kind of upset if I just spent $250k on a house (which is a lot, in Colosse) only to have some hucksters next door making the neighborhood look a lot more like that other neighborhood where people spent $150k on their house.

However, the most enduring characteristic of Arapaho, and I would actually say the Mountain West more generally (outside some of the larger cities) is that you simply don’t have to care about such things. It’s the freedom of not caring. I read somewhere that the average car on the road is 11 years old, which once upon a time would have seemed bizarre. But around here, I even see Dodge Colts. Nobody cares. We live in a 2,400 square foot house (not including the basement) that is adjacent to trailers and mobile homes. It’s not ideal, but unlike the hustle and bustle of the suburbs where the “right” neighborhood means everything, it’s actually quite liberating.

The freaking out over Erickson’s lot reminds me of one of the things I was happy to leave behind from Colosse.

Category: Downtown

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