Tom Ross: Got the moving man blues |

Tom Ross: Got the moving man blues

Tom Ross

— It's June 3, and we're getting ready to move our household for the fourth time in three years. Yes, I've got them old moving man blues again, but I'm not gonna let it get me down.

It's just that I've come to the sudden realization that the same moisture associated with the January blizzard that tormented us during our last move is now conspiring to complicate our latest cross-town move. The Yampa River and Walton Creek are busting loose on the south side of Steamboat Springs and doing their darnedest to create a modest moat around my three-story castle. As I write this, I remain confident that our crack moving team will be able to drive their van through the shallow flood in our entry drive. Cross your fingers.

After living in the same house for 20 years, we're coming to the end (we hope) of a three-year migration around Steamboat. And I have to say we've had great support from friends and strangers at every step. When we pulled up to our new driveway on Conestoga Circle with loaded trucks back in January, there was 11 inches of snow in it.

A neighbor we hadn't even met yet volunteered to plow out the driveway.

"Welcome to the neighborhood!" he told my wife.

Still, we've moved so often I can't recall exactly where I celebrated my July birthdays the past three years. More than once, I've signaled a left turn to return home to the wrong house at the end of the workday. I never got as far as pulling into the wrong driveway, but it was embarrassing anyway.

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We've bounced around Steamboat so much since 2008, we've taken to calling the three homes (we lived in one twice) by their addresses. There's 1770 Meadow Lane, 880 Majestic Circle and, most recently, 1482 Conestoga. We just call them 1770, 880 and 1482. The last one is the easiest to remember — it's one digit removed from 1492, the year Christopher Columbus hitched a team of oxen to his Conestoga wagon and set out for the new world.

When we tell friends we are finally moving back to the townhome we first moved into in summer 2008, the standard response is, "Boy, after moving so many times, I'll bet you've really reduced a lot of clutter."

That's usually my wife's cue to smirk.

In truth, I have parted ways with a lot of stuff in the course of four moves. But I still cling to junk I should get rid of.

I gave away a lawnmower that I truly do not miss, but I'm not sure what to do about a cheap string trimmer that still runs but needs repairs to the trimmer head. Is there a law against leaving two-stroke engines in the trash barrel?

I finally said goodbye to Grateful Red, the pickup, but I have two brand-new truck tires that have never been mounted and I do not own. They were inexplicably left behind by a tenant at 1770 who must have had $600 invested in them but never came back to reclaim them. It would cost me money to recycle them. I'm almost ready to give them away.

I sold a clunky old kayak, and an old mountain bike for almost no money last spring.

I sold a chain saw that I hadn't used in more than a decade, but held on to in case the economy got so bad I had to cut firewood again. But there's a significant chance that for about the 11th time in my life I will move a little black and white TV that looks like something George and Jane Jetson once kept at Skypad Apartments in Orbit City (I don't think I've ever lived in Orbit City). Hey, the old tube has sentimental value.

I have a portable manual typewriter with elegant lines and an old rotary phone (remember when you actually dialed people's phone numbers?) because someday they will be valuable antiques.

When we move out of 1482 and back to 880 this weekend, we will employ a dual strategy in case we wake up Monday and the rivers have risen so high we are trapped in our townhome by the water.

We have 1482 under lease until June 15, so we'll leave camping cots, blankets, pillows, coffee, breakfast bars and a change of undies there in case we have to evacuate 880 by bicycle.

Yes, we're sick of moving. But our little problems are utterly insignificant compared with those the tornado victims in Joplin, Mo., and Ringgold, Ga.

When I think of it that way, it feels great to be moving once again, to an attractive townhome with a little flowing water in the entry lane.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email

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