Jack and I were both off yesterday and decided to take a drive to Buena Vista to go to the hot springs. We were looking forward to spending some time relaxing and soaking in the mineral water. It’s fairly close to our house and we can be there in less than two hours, so we grabbed our “hot springs bag” (I leave everything we need in a bag just for that) and took off.
We didn’t get far from our house, only a few miles, and we noticed a bunch of campers, tents, a port-a-potty, and what looks like some kind of makeshift greenhouse in a field. It looked a bit trashy and considering that there was the greenhouse there, it certainly made us wonder what they were doing and, especially, what’s growing in the greenhouse. You have to understand that there are a lot of greenhouses popping up in Colorado since marijuana became legalized.
We got to Hwy 24 West and turned toward Buena Vista. It’s a nice, easy drive without much traffic and we always enjoy it. When you come over Wilkerson Pass from the east you see the Collegiate Peaks and a lot of other mountains and the view is spectacular! Yesterday was not a disappointment. The sun was out and we had about a 180° view of clear blue sky and snow-covered mountains in front of us and to the sides. We never get tired of seeing that!
Shortly beyond the pass, on the plains, there’s a person who has been camping all winter. They’ve seriously been in a tent regardless of the temperatures and we’ve wondered about them. Other people I know have also noticed them and wondered what was going on. What’s so strange about this particular person is, first of all, they’re staying in a tent in sub-zero temperatures with nothing to shelter it and, secondly, they have American flags all around their property, which is probably around five acres. The first time we saw them they only had a couple of flags. Several months later, there were more. Yesterday I would say there were 10-12 flags out. These aren’t little flags…they’re actually pretty large. There was one yesterday that must have fallen from the wind and the person living there was setting it up again. It was the newest and largest of the flags and was likely 10′ or so. The flags are scattered throughout the property and you can’t miss them. It just seems strange.
Driving farther, there were a lot of pronghorn out. We saw at least eight good-sized herds and many smaller ones. Normally we only see a couple of herds in that area, but for some reason we seem to have a lot of them this year. We love the pronghorn and are always amazed at how pretty they are and how all of their markings are basically the same. They’re beautiful animals!
As we continued to drive, we noticed at least another half-dozen “camper living” setups. These aren’t people who are spending weekends and holidays in their campers. They’re living in them year around. They park their camper on some property, which isn’t very expensive in Colorado if you’re away from the popular areas, and then do a few things to make it work for living. Most of these campers have a shed type structure added to them and they put a wood stove in that and then feed the heat into the camper. Many of the campers are enclosed underneath to help keep the cold out. Since they aren’t moving the campers, I don’t see how they could dump their waste (toilet) and have no idea what they’re doing for water for showers, etc. It’s certainly not an ideal way of living and I hope there are no children living there.
We got to Buena Vista, had breakfast, and then spent a couple of hours at Cottonwood Hot Springs. It’s our favorite one close to home because it has more places to get comfortable in the water and generally has very few, if any, children there. Not that I think children shouldn’t be able to go to the hot springs, but they like to jump and splash and be loud (as children do) and Jack and I go there to be quiet and calm.
On our way home, we once again noticed the campers that appear to be year around live-in homes. We noticed even more on our drive back then we had on our way out. I guess this makes me wonder… What’s going on with these people? Are they living there because they have no money for a regular house and all of the payments associated with that? Are they living there because they’re tired of being in the city and living the “rat race”? Are they trying to avoid having to interact with other people? Are they mentally ill and this is their way of coping?
There’s a lady who lives across a field from us who is living exactly like these other people. The only difference is that the lady who lives near us bought an old run down trailer house that she was supposedly going to fix up. She moved her camper (that someone had given her) there a few years ago and has a building attached to it for a wood stove. We have no idea if she’ll ever get the house fixed up enough to live in or not. She also has a car (that had been given to her at some point) that’s broken down now and is parked on the property as well as two other vehicles (one that seems to work and one that doesn’t). She seems to just “acquire” things from people. I suppose they want to help her, so the give her what they can. In general, her property doesn’t look bad, which is good for us and our neighbors. Something that’s odd about her is that she has a gate to the property that she locks all of the time, like she’s trying to keep people out. On the other hand, when she first moved here she didn’t think twice about “borrowing” things from people, with or without their knowledge.
Has anyone else noticed situations like this in your communities? If so, has it been increasing in the past year? Do you know people like this? What’s their motivation for living that kind of lifestyle? It’s not like the “tiny house living” that’s popular right now. I would love to have you share some insight into this topic with me.
Hope that you’re all living the life that you want, whatever that might be!