Here is a riddle. What is both old and new? What was built in the 1800s and by me?
The answer is that our home, which was old, became “new” through an unusual process and sequence of events.
President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act, which allowed settlers to claim 160 acres of land and eventually own it after meeting the requirements of the law by staying on the land a requisite number of years.
Pursuant to the Homestead Act, a log cabin was built on an original homestead in the area of what is now Estes Park, Colorado. Later the homesteaders built a larger log house. I did not build the cabin or the house, nor did I claim the homestead. Someone else did all that before I was born.
What I did was rescue those buildings when a developer purchased the last eight acres of what had been a 160 acre homestead. Over the years, the homestead was cut up into parcels that became valuable parts of the Village of Estes Park. The last eight acres were across from a golf course and up the street from the high school and the fairgrounds. It became a desirable spot for building condos across from the golf course, or so the developer thought.
The Village of Estes Park interfered with his plans when the board refused to approve a demolition permit for the log structures on the old homestead site, which was probably unconstitutional since the homestead had not been designated an historic landmark. The developer offered to donate the buildings to the town if it would move them off his land. “Put them in a park if you like them so much,” he told the board.
Around that time, I came along. As self-proclaimed King of the Wild Frontier, I offered to move the buildings to my land, which is in the same county as Estes Park, on the condition that the Larimer County building inspectors would look at the buildings as they stood in Estes and pre-approve me for moving them to our ranch. I knew we needed a new foundation and new plumbing and electric and new roof and new windows, and I knew we could not move the 30 foot high stone fireplace and chimney, but I wanted the structure of the logs approved. I did not want to be told after moving them that the beams were not engineered correctly or according to current codes.
Well, the building inspectors did approve my proposal and the developer was glad to get me to do the removal, which turned out to be a complicated project. That is when I became a contractor.
I took a friend of mine to see the buildings before I made the deal, to ask if he thought it was worth doing. He had moved a cabin out of the mountains himself, which he used as the core of a house he built. An old cowboy, Ray offered, “Me and Brian could move them for you.”
Brian had just graduated from high school. A rodeo bullrider, he was a big help as an acrobat tearing down the steeply peaked roof. Ray and Brian and another guy lived in the original cabin while they took apart the larger one log by log. I rented a crane for the job. They numbered the logs. for each wall in order to put the walls back together in the same order. It took from November 1992 until February 1993 to take it apart and get it off the Estes property.
The small cabin was not disassembled. It was jacked up and moved intact, then placed on a new foundation. The big house was moved by log trucks. It was too wide and tall and heavy to be moved in one piece.
Then the fun began of putting them back together. I will write about the rest of the process in serial style.
AARP Is Spying On Me
The American Association for Retired Persons, also known as AARP, scares me. As soon as I turned 50 years of age, I received an envelope in the mail via United States Postal Service from AARP. It contained an invitation to join the organization. How did they know when I had reached the age that made me eligible to join?
In addition to the apparent invasion of my privacy by somehow investigating my age, AARP hurt my feelings by implying that I should be retired. I am not retired.
Miss Sugar, my trophy wife, who is much younger than me, yet receiving AARP materials too, is similarly offended.
This has been going on for more years than I want to say. I am still not retired and so it still hurts my self esteem that not only was I expected by AARP to be retired by age 50, but each year I don’t retire, I feel slow and poor. AARP insinuates that all the cool persons have plenty of money to retire by age 50. Otherwise, there must be something inept about those of us still working.
The Social Security Administration, on the other hand, makes me feel that I am not behind. It sends me publications clarifying that I am way too young to retire. I am so young that it is against the law for Social Security to give me retirement benefits. The only way it will pay me benefits at my young age is if I could prove I am disabled.
Hey, maybe I should ask the folks at AARP to tell the Social Security people that I might indeed be disabled. AARP could say that there must be something wrong with me mentally to have essentially “flunked” life by failing to retire by 50 as their organization proclaims is the proper age.
But back to the original concern, how does AARP know who is 50? Did they tell the girl behind the counter at Burger King to offer me the free senior coffee? Is it a conspiracy? “You are not paranoid if they are really after you.”