An area of our retirement lives we don’t talk about much is our plans for building a cabin on the land (called Tween Lakes because it is situated between Lemon Lake and Lake Vallecito) we own near Durango, Colorado. An area I talk about a lot is my inclination to see the grass as greener beyond the fences of our lives. I have also suggested that this grass, which seems so verdant (nice word) from a distance, can seem less so when one is actually standing upon it. Hence, blogs about New Zealand not being as perfect as I might have thought and our friends in China and the reality of their lives there. Until recently South West Colorado in general and Durango specifically has maintained its greenness but that’s because we aren’t often there I suppose. But a couple of events have slightly tinged this greenness.
I do try and keep in touch with the area by reading The Durango Herald and the last time I looked, about 2 or 3 weeks ago I was intrigued to read that not cleaning up one’s dog’s poo had taken over as the number one crime in the area now that smoking cannabis in Colorado is legal. I suppose for many people that being the main crime would hardly take the edge of a lifestyle at all but for me owners who don’t remove their dogs poo has become far more of an irritation now we have dogs and are fastidious about picking up our dog’s waste, unless it’s in the long grass and we can’t find it. Every principle no matter how firmly held has limitations you know or perhaps flexible interpretations is a better way of putting it. So having read this I had the view that the grass that looked green in fact had a fair chance of covering up dog shit into which one might step if we lived there. And there’s more in the deficit column…
Every year we get invited to attend the Tween Lakes Property Owners AGM. We’ve owned the land for well over 20 years (not sure when we bought it without checking through my old diaries) and have never attended one of these meetings. We do however get the agenda and minutes of the meetings, albeit sometime after. These paper records and both tax and annual assessments, are pretty much what anchors us to this particular property dream. I noticed looking at this year’s agenda that ‘Tiny Houses’ were up for discussion. There are restrictions on the size of property that can be built in the area and this is one reason why we have never got any further than dreaming about building a small cabin on the land. I did think before I retired that when we actually did retire we would have greater incentive to go ahead with this 20 plus years in the making project. But then I went and screwed this up by getting the pups, so one step forward and one back. No further forward in this retirement project. But I shall be very interested to read about any decisions the residents have taken on relaxing their minimum size requirements for new build property.
Back to the grass and the fence issues. Contained in the last letter was the following, “Several owners within the sub-division have been victims of vandalism / theft.” Oh dear not very green grass. In another part of the paperwork, X noted that Y’s dog killed two of Z’s chickens. Z retaliated and placed large rocks and dirt in front of Y’s driveway to block him in. Z was given a warning for using POAs (Property Owner’s Association) equipment for personal reasons (not about the rocks and dirt note). In another paragraph another home owner contacted the POA about “damage to his house, missing address numbers on the tree and damage to the tree.” Apparently Z was guilty of these ‘crimes’. The minutes state, “Z has been removed from using POA equipment”. Just in case you’re thinking I’m making mountains out of molehills simply to support my grass is not greener case, let me tell you that last year the sheriff had to be called to the board meeting because things got heated vis a vis non-payment of assessment fees. So not only located in what might be tentatively called the Wild West, the records of these meetings support the concept beyond any geographical boundaries.
All this and now since bloody Brexit the assessment fees we have to pay have increased by about 10%. OK Tiny Houses may be good but in the deficit column the land in Colorado is looking less and less green by the minute. And yet, despite these all too real reminders that our Colorado land does not offer the nirvana we once thought it might, the dream lingers. The time to make a decision once and for all will probably be next spring when hopefully we will have sold one of our British properties and have the cash to build in Colorado if we so choose. There’s no doubt that with the bloody Brexit strength of the dollar against the £, now is the time to sell and get 10% more for the land than we would have done pre-Brexit not to mention the fact that building costs in £s are 10% more expensive now.
All of this doesn’t make any sense at all. It’s more expensive, the dogs are an issue and the Tween Lakes community seems to be coming unglued. Why do I continue to harbour the dream? Well, I can only think it’s because that’s what silly old gits who are retired hang on to. In other words, to reference past blogs, that this land in Colorado might, just might be the missing link I have written about so often in these retirement pages.
*we bought this land all those years ago when visiting the area one winter. We had driven from Durango up to Lake Vallecito and the lake was frozen, covered in snow as were the surrounding mountains. Somewhere I have those photos taken at the time but I can’t find them so see below for an image from the net. I was hooked, for a very rare time in my life I felt completely and totally relaxed. I knew this was my dream, to own a piece of these Rocky Mountains and build a cabin. OK in the cold light of day maybe not such a good idea but a boy has got to have his dreams, even, or maybe especially, in retirement.