Honey, did you know that we have a bowling ball in the garage?
Saturday was a blessing -- a day in late October when the sun blasted summer heat out of a cloudless sky. It was a day to go for a bike ride, walk on the Yampa River Core Trail or sit on the deck and watch the world spin. Naturally, I spent the day cleaning the garage.
Twice a year, once in autumn and once again in spring, all Steamboat guys empty the garage onto the front lawn and sweep cobwebs out of the storage shelves.
That's how I came across the bowling ball, looking black and sullen in the corner. No one in my family bowls, and if we did, we would be content to use one of the brightly colored bowling balls supplied by the alley.
We have a one-car garage, so it isn't easy to justify storage space for an irrelevant bowling ball, especially when you don't know how it came to reside in your garage. Still, every time I tried to picture a bowling ball sitting in a landfill doomed to never again pick up a spare, I realized it would be difficult to part with.
As I rummaged through the junk that is my garage this weekend, I realized that there are some museum-quality pieces in there.
Take for example, the portable black and white television. In its off-white plastic case with rounded corners, it looks like something George Jetson once fiddled with. Surely, someday the Smithsonian will come knocking and inquire, "Mr. Ross, is it true that you still have a 1977 Panasonic in your possession? If it is in working condition, we'd like to talk."
Stashed behind one of the cheesy kitchen cabinets I jerked out of my kitchen a few years ago is a 37-year-old skateboard. This solid wood beauty hails from an era when high-end skateboards had clay composition wheels -- no one had yet thought of nylon. The wheel bearings on my skateboard are shot, but when I find time to sand and refinish the deck, it should look nifty hanging from a hook in the family room.
How many Steamboat families do you know who have a genuine cow skull, complete with horns and molars, hanging in their garage. One is hanging in mine.
The garage also is home to a single red-and-white Raichle ski boot, a pair of Kevlar lumberjack chaps, a bright green hammock made by a craftsman in Ixtapa and used only twice, plus a cardboard box full of sports pages from the Steamboat Pilot circa 1984. Am I supposed to throw this stuff out?
Tucked in a corner of my one-car museum is an antique Wisconsin cheese curd rake with hand-whittled tines. It has to be worth at least $75. There is a VIP hard hat left over from the construction of the Steamboat Grand, but the Steamboat logo decal is peeling off.
Behind the snowblower is a garbage bag stuffed with teddy bears from someone's childhood, a red plastic lunch box decorated with a picture from that weird '80s television sitcom "Alf" and four pink laminated signs that read, "Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival buttons, get yours here!"
We've got three pieces of prime barn wood, a rusted antique bucksaw with no handles and a set of shock-corded tent poles that belong a tent we no longer own. No telling when those babies might come in handy, eh?
Speaking of things I no longer own, I can't recall if those two snow tires in white plastic bags up in the rafters went with the '83 Sentra or the '87 Mazda. I can't throw those things in the landfill. Did you know that mosquitoes like to breed in rain water that collects in discarded tires? If I throw those tires out, somebody will catch West Nile virus from a mosquito that bred in my tires.
I've got at least four tangled strings of Christmas lights that don't entirely light up, a pair of Head SR slalom skis with Tyrolia 490 bindings and a yellow-and-red license plate from "The Land of Enchantment," though I've never registered a vehicle in new Mexico.
The real prize in my garage is a dark-green trash bag that is crammed with action figures that have never been removed from their bubble packs. I bought them, only after thorough research, about 10 years ago as an investment. It was my hope that the collectible toys would appreciate in value enough to finance my son's college education. The good news is that many of the action figures have increased in value by 50 percent. Try to achieve those kinds of gains in mutual funds! The bad news is, I would have had to purchase a warehouse and invest in thousands of action figures to actually fund four years at Faber College.
But hey, it's still fun a couple of times a year to pull a few of those action figures out of the trash bag and appreciate the craftsmanship that went into their manufacture.
Dude, I have the Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny Space Jam action figures. I own a glow-in-the-dark Swamp Thing and I also invested in "Leo the Sewer Samurai Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle." That baby sells for $12 on e-Bay now.
My favorite is the 1997 Cal Ripken action figure depicting the Iron Man following through on a Moon Shot in Camden Yards.
My wife was considerate enough to point out that next spring, instead of cleaning the garage, I could just host a really bad-ass garage sale. But my accountant isn't certain whether I could sustain the capital gains.
What would you do?