Column: All I really need to know I learned on Roaring Fork Swap
Aspen Times columnist
Back in the olden days, Aspenites in search of Target’s dollar aisle or generally curious about the goings-on in the real world, or at least the rest of the valley, needed to drive west of the roundabout. The good news for environmentalists and people who continually decline to acknowledge the existence of life outside of Aspen (other than at Target) is they no longer have to leave to find out what’s happening between here and Glenwood; they just need to go on Facebook or, more specifically, Roaring Fork Swap.
A closed group with over 21,000 members, Roaring Fork Swap is a virtual garage sale for people in or near the Roaring Fork Valley. Since its inception, though, RFS has come to be even more than just a place to get a set of used chicken figurines or an unused copy of a book by actress Cameron Diaz (yes, she wrote a book, and more than one, apparently). The group has expanded to include posts regarding lost and found pets, keys, wallets and bicycles, and also feelings, thoughts and (mostly) nice ways to report what’s happening and where.
Over the weekend, for instance, one user sent heartfelt wishes to a newly married couple.
“Congrats to Lucy & Will, wish you all the best,” a member named Michelle wrote. “But please come pick up your signs all up 4 Mile Road.” Accompanying the post were photos of charmingly rustic wood signs near Sunlight Mountain directing guests to Lucy and Will’s wedding, which, based on one of the signs, occurred July 8.
When a woman from Carbondale lost her driver’s license, the person who found it was eager to see it returned, so he posted a photo of the license with the woman’s photo and address and then asked if anyone knew how to find her.
It was perhaps not too surprising to RFS members that someone inquired about the whereabouts of a cow with whom he could be photographed. Equally unsurprising was the number of responses he received (over 40) from people offering up cattle suggestions for the shoot, plus some cheeky comments, including from a man named Colin recommending his ex-girlfriend, whom he described as “definitely getting up there.”
People ask for and offer tips on the conditions for the hike from Aspen to Crested Butte. They post about traffic conditions and request recommendations for child care, gutter cleaners, tattoo artists and people who pick up dog poop. They seek tenants for their alpaca farms, search for insight into where the smoke is coming from (usually Utah and California, by the way), the best location to collect large pine cones near Aspen, and good cheap date ideas in Glenwood Springs. Some users are picky, others, not so much, including a guy looking for a place to store his stuff.
“ISO dresser, or cabinet with drawers. Old, s—ty, ugly or whatever. I just need something with some drawers.”
Another guy, Steve, said his wife was out of town so he cleaned out her closet to “sell her dresses for motorcycle parts … let’s not make this weird and complicated. They’re all in excellent condition and worn very little. Priced for a quick sale before she returns.”
Some things aren’t on the page aren’t tangible. Just yesterday a woman named Jessica posted: “There is a very nice young man with two beautiful tiny daughters standing on Midland next to his car with a sign that says ‘down on my luck anything helps.’ I made sure they had cold water and gave them $20. They just moved here from Oklahoma and their living situation fell through.” The responses included information on homeless shelters and food pantries, plus one from a 7 Eleven employee saying they’re hiring and “would love to have him join our team!”
Members occasionally report on unusually aggressive drivers or all-around poor behavior by neighbors and strangers. Someone once posted security footage video of people stealing stuff from his trailer and asked for input into the identity of the thieves. Cars for sale on RFS range from a Mercedes and Cadillac to other makes and models that largely come with mid six-figure mileage numbers. Couches — leather, suede, fabric — probably make the most frequent appearances on the page. They’re usually very cheap or free and all appear to have more miles on them then the cars.
Bad art (whose beauty is arguably not in the eye of any beholder), elk skull mounts, vintage decor (read: old or broken with essential pieces missing), ski gear (new and used), yard sale leftovers, farm-fresh eggs, and lots of coffee tables, shows signs of lives well-lived, or at least well-lived-in. It’s a place that shows a community who talks, listens and isn’t afraid to air its dirty laundry (especially if it’ll lead to a gently used washer and dryer).
Follow Meredith Carroll on Twitter @MCCarroll. More at MeredithCarroll.com.
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