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Why are we doing this? (Part 2)

"..he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” - James Lachard

 

After closing on the motel property in mid-November, we decided to stay in Texas through the Thanksgiving holiday to see family and wrap up a few loose ends in Texas. As always, it was a mad dash to clear out the closets, my two storage units, which had all thankfully been made a little more vacant through some Craigslist and OfferUp hustling as well as some good old bulk donations to local clothing banks. It felt like a great weight lifted off our backs to get rid of the stuff that just seems to pile up. You can only sit and shake your head at the sheer amount of crap that most people (ourselves included) have, but that's another discussion/post entirely. 

Unit 68.  It felt like a great weight lifted to get this storage unit cleaned out and sorted through.

Unit 68.  It felt like a great weight lifted to get this storage unit cleaned out and sorted through.

After the madness of loading up Kaitlyn's car during a power outage (headlamps to the rescue), the cars were loaded to the brim and we set sail from Fort Worth west towards the Texas state line. My Subaru sat about 3 inches lower under the weigh of most of my worldly possessions (with three bikes mounted on the rear and roof to boot). As we pulled closer to Salida, the car thermometer kept dropping.  First it dipped below freezing, then the 20s and finally into the low teens.  We knew we weren't in Texas anymore...

...and to tell you the thruth, when we finally pulled up and opened the door, the thought running through my mind was 'what have we done?!'

Decisions, Decisions. 

Decisions, Decisions. 

It was certainly an odd first feeling, because the process of deciding to uproot our lives and live in Colorado was something we had put so much time and effort into. It was a decision that had taken months, if not years, and here we were wondering just how far in the deep end we had jumped. So, what would compel us to do such a thing?

I don't speak for Kaitlyn, but I can safely assume there is a lot of overlap in what influenced us to steer down this path. It was partly rational and equally irrational. It was well thought out and spur of the moment at the same time. It was the culmination of a lot of ideas that has been swirling around, only to be ignited with the spark of someone like Kaitlyn, who was just crazy enough to try something like this. 

Just one of the many great nights in the camper.  A fridge, a small stove and a bed.  It's all you really need.  This campsite was outside of Durango along the Colorado Trail. 

Just one of the many great nights in the camper.  A fridge, a small stove and a bed.  It's all you really need.  This campsite was outside of Durango along the Colorado Trail. 

As I mentioned in my first post (Why are we doing this? Part 1), I had grown a little tired then jaded of the life I had built in Dallas. I looked around me and saw a lot of (seemingly really happy people) busting their hump for a piece of the life you are MEANT to want.  Bigger houses, the right schools, the cars, the memberships, the expensive meals with valet parking are not ALL there is, but certainly they seem to define a lot of what surrounded me (us). Not to say that it isn't fun and there aren't genuine people, but it just wasn't something that I could get excited about. It always just seemed like a stretch to get involved with the things I enjoy most - namely being outdoors cycling, fishing, skiing, etc. The vacations to scratch the itch skiing in Colorado or fishing in Montana only made me more frustrated in a way - they were almost cruel teasers of something great from 30K feet.  

So, while the outdoors had a lot to do with my decisions, I think beneath the surface there were a lot more things at play: like the desire to downsize and simplify, the calling of a smaller town life, the ability to be more mobile, and to build and sell something I really believe in (because, after all, we are our own target consumers with The Amigo Motor Lodge). These were all things that came into direct juxtaposition with what I had been doing for most of my 20s.  Now in my early 30s, those forces reached a breaking point and that's why I find myself here in a Colorado mountain town making a go of this motel dream.  

Somewhere near the Texas/New Mexico border some 30 miles from Tucumcari, the end of an a 900 mile race across Texas. 

Somewhere near the Texas/New Mexico border some 30 miles from Tucumcari, the end of an a 900 mile race across Texas. 

I suppose that in the end, this is something of a lifestyle project. It sounds glib, but, then again, aren't most decisions based on maximizing your or your loved ones interests and enjoyment. We only have so many years. I realize we are extremely fortunate to even be in the position to consider a project like this, but that's no reason to shy away from it. Besides, we all need some good stories to tell the grandkids one day!

So with that, we are now two rooms into the 17 room renovation that will surely be marred with budget issues, construction woes and cabin fever. But I am oddly looking forward to pushing through and seeing what we can accomplish.  

Oh, and if you are thinking 'Salida, where the hell is that?' well, here is just one reason we love the town: blue ribbon trout water with class 3-5 rapids in and around town.  Below is a quick video from an overnight float this past Summer:   

Confessions of a Motel Janitor

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We’ve been in Salida for about a week now, and it has not been without its ups and downs. I’ve been skiing, broken down in tears on the way to lunch, shared a boot full of beer with some locals, cleaned a few motel toilets and learned to cook! (To clarify, the cooking and motel toilets are completely unrelated. That was poor placement on my part.) I’m also thrilled to report that I’ve been recruited by the local roller derby team, but that’s not really what this post is about. 

What it IS about: the valuable lessons I've learned in this past week.

Lesson Number 1: Contrary to what the movies might depict, pouring a beverage into your average run-of-the-mill hot tub DOES NOT magically transform it into a hot tub time machine.

Someone decided to give it the ole’ college try over Thanksgiving holiday, and as it turns out, it just breaks the control panel and causes a heap of other issues. Along that same line of thinking, if you own a hot tub and plan on leaving town for a week: LOCK IT UP. People will use your hot tub, and they will pour cheap whiskey in it.

Lesson Number 2: If you want to start a business with the word “Scout” in the name, prepare to face the wrath of the Boy Scouts of America.

After working closely with a trademark attorney, we quickly discovered that the BSA have a pretty serious hold on the name “Scout” (and any other variation of that word). The Boy Scouts may not seem like an intimidating bunch, but they know how to tie over forty different knots! They would have NO issue keeping our hands tied if they wanted. We went back and forth quite a bit, and eventually landed on a name that we think is equally awesome! Plus, it’s just fun to say.

Lesson Number 3: If you rent out a smoking room to three polish men, give it some time to air out before you try to clean it.

Not much more to say about that one. Just trust me.

Why are we doing this? (Part 1)

Though it might be of little concern to a reader, for posterity's sake, Kaitlyn and I are starting out determined to record the genesis of this new business. From tons of before and after photos of the renovation progress to highlighting neighboring businesses around the Salida community, this blog will hopefully serve as something of a digital scrap book. But like any story, there needs to be some context from which to build, so I thought we should take some time to put the pen to pad to explain this adventure to those interested (but mostly to understand it ourselves). 

You get an odd look when you tell people you are leaving town to go run an old motel in the mountains. It usually takes the form of a half-cocked head, a raised eyebrow, or a pause (sometimes all at once) while it sinks in. And rightfully so, I guess. When is the last time you envied the night manager at a dusty motel, checking in road zombies alongside an interstate highway? 

The current owners gave us this photograph of the property as it stood perhaps 30-40 years ago.  Originally it was called the Monarch Motor Lodge and then changed to the Aspen Leaf Motel in the 90s. 

The current owners gave us this photograph of the property as it stood perhaps 30-40 years ago.  Originally it was called the Monarch Motor Lodge and then changed to the Aspen Leaf Motel in the 90s. 

So, what prompted the change? What are we trying to accomplish? I mean, really...why are we doing this? 

For me, it's a journey that began about 4 years ago. At the time I was 6 years into running a retail business in Dallas. I had been there from the beginning. It was my baby. It was the culmination of all I had worked for in the years after college. We had our successes and setbacks, but the the pattern of making a few more steps forward than back had kept us above water and growing. It was around the time we moved into a larger space and were really cooking with our online business - really the first time that I had some breathing room. And as I began taking the time to think about what was next (should we open a new store? should we launch a new website?), I began to also really consider the idea of something new.  

The daily grind of retail gets to you – the seasonality, the constant change in trends and the competition really add up. With more revenue comes more complexity, and you are only as good as your last season, quarter, month, day. Add to this fact that when you take a step back, you start to wonder about the idea of selling stuff that people don't really 'need' and I guess I lost my drive. Maybe I justified my waning interest with this thought, but I knew I wasn't the same person that launched the business.

My first inclination was to find a way to slowly cede control and spend less and less time inside the business. I ran with that, but quickly noticed that my enthusiasm just wasn't there and my time outside of the shop actually made me less and less keen on the business. I knew the best thing was to sell the business and start fresh on something I could commit myself to.  Easier said than done; it took about a year to split the business up and sell everything off, but it was a great feeling when done.  

It was right around this time, actually about exactly two years ago, that I met Kaitlyn.  And oddly enough, on that very first date we talked about something similar to this very concept over pizza and beer. Looking back, I guess life has a funny way of working out. 

Stay tuned for more...

The Arkansas River running through Browns Canyon Monument is definitely one of the jewels of the area.  Did a quick overnight float with friends, dogs and beer over the Summer once the Spring melt levels had subsided. 

The Arkansas River running through Browns Canyon Monument is definitely one of the jewels of the area.  Did a quick overnight float with friends, dogs and beer over the Summer once the Spring melt levels had subsided.