The Knights of the Auto Order Proudly Present: The Auto Body Estimate: Vol. II, #118, June 2015

Last fall I learned that my long-time employer was moving to Boulder, Colorado. While the company was very enthusiastic that I remain gainfully employed with them, it was soon clear this would require I move, too. So in a very short time we sold our house, packed up the van, and headed west.

Today I find myself torn. I’d like to reassure my Minnesota friends that the Yohos are  doing well, and that apart from missing friends and family, we are greatly enjoying our new adventures. However, because of the way I was brought up, I am finding this difficult to do.

Somewhere along the way, my brain determined that one of the worst things you can do is to brag about something to someone who may not be able to fully share the experience. For example, I’m horrified by the idea of recommending a beer to an alcoholic, praising my wife in front of someone recently divorced, or complaining about a home remodeling challenge to a homeless person.

In short, I try not to be thoughtless (although I am not always successful).

Another part of me also feels dumb. Dumb that in my several decades on the planet I never realized that ordinary people could not only vacation, but actually live in places where the sun shines almost every day – even in January and February – and where it’s common practice to ski or snowboard in the morning and ride a bike – in shirt sleeves, no less – that same afternoon.

Therefore, in the interest of not making Colorado out to be everything to all people, I thought I’d share some examples of both the things I like and don’t like about my newly adopted state.

Nearby Denver has a great comedy radio channel. They play short segments of current and classic comedy recordings, everything from Jonathan Winters to George Carlin, and from Richard Pryor to guys who aren’t dead, too. It’s really something to laugh all the way to work.

The corresponding downside? All the ads are seriously depressing. Erectile dysfunction clinics, a “fathers’ rights” domestic litigation firm, chemical dependency programs, and debt consolidation services represent the lighter fare. That list alone is a sad choose-your-own-adventure story without any choices, right? (Or a real country song.) Even the order of things are kind of pre-determined. The worst part is knowing that the advertisers believe that I am their target demographic. Do they know something I don’t – yet?

We live near a hiking area called Rattlesnake Mountain. While we haven’t seen a snake there yet, there are snakes – we heard of someone being bitten there earlier this year. Snakes fall into the “things I don’t like” category. To combat this problem, our city fathers wisely decided to change the name of the place to Rabbit Mountain. This kind of thinking falls into the category of things I really like. I’m convinced these men are the descendants of those skilled marketers who named a pesky, disease-riddled rodent the Prairie Dog, while those men were the descendants of the clever card cheats that named Greenland.

We never saw much in the way of poisonous  snakes back in St. Paul. Why? Too dang cold. The real question is who has chosen more wisely; Minnesotans or snakes?

We love skiing and snowboarding in Colorado, but the boys complain about how long it takes to get there. Afton Alps was 23 miles from our St. Paul house; Eldora Mountain Resort is a whopping 41 miles away. That’s 19 extra miles, and at 60 miles an hour that’s 19 additional minutes that our disadvantaged boys are forced to look at Rocky Mountain scenery. Man, talk about lyrics for a middle class blues song: right up there with “I have a big lawn and I have to mow it…”

I’m starting to think that I’ll be best served by focusing on the aspects of Colorado I like and let go of the rest. For example, I’ll embrace “Rocky Mountain Way” and let go of “Rocky Mountain High.” (If that sounds like a veiled reference to the legalization of pot, it’s not. I just happen to prefer the Joe Walsh song over the John Denver song. But don’t get me started on the cool history of the nearby Caribou Ranch where Joe recorded that song…)

Oh, about the pot. Some people hear of a long-haired guy moving to Colorado and think; “Oh, I get it.” Truth be told, I can’t remember the last time I smoked pot, although I do realize that isn’t saying much.  I’ve never had a great memory, but then neither has my dad. For that reason alone, I think being in a state where others frequently light up is probably a good thing as it “lowers the curve,” decreasing the expectations placed on everyone’s short- and long-term recollections.

I should also mention we don’t actually live in Boulder. Boulder is for the wealthy and their children. Think Lake Minnetonka affluence times ten, only much further to the left. Normal folks like us live in nearby places like Longmont, where, just like my hometown of Brainerd, you can find everything you need: a guitar store, a yarn shop, AND a Taco Johns. Also, just like Brainerd, no stores sell legal pot here. You have to go to Boulder for that, and that means traffic, wealthy people, psychics,

Becca and I used to gently joke with our outstate Minnesota friends who lived in St. Cloud (or even the suburbs) who were hesitant to drive into the cities. Now that’s us. Boulder? Denver? These are busy places to largely avoid. Our boys go to a school that has horses grazing next door. That’s more my speed.

Colorado does not have the Auto Body Experience, and that indeed is a drag. Although some days it feels like the band is here, as I continue add guitar and vocal parts to songs we’ve recorded for an an upcoming Auto Body Experience CD (and occasionally hear them talking to me between takes – it's a bit eerie). On the positive side, singer/songwriter Pamela Machala does live here, and I just had a gas playing some electric guitar at her CD release party (in Boulder, no less).

I do admit that many of my favorite places are in Minnesota. Places like Seven Corners Hardware, the Uptown Bar, and Nye’s Polonaise Room. (Okay, that was a dig; those places have all either closed or are about to). Honestly what I miss most are you: my friends (well, okay, and lakes).

So to solve that, the Yohos are coming back to Minnesota for a few days this summer to see our friends and do our favorite things INCLUDING perform with the Auto Body Experience (next to a lake).

On Thursday, August 6 the Auto Body Experience returns to the Lake Harriet Bandshell for a free, all-ages, outdoor show. We play from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm. Please join us and be sure to say hello.

Scott Yoho, Grand Pooh Bah, Knights of the Auto Order

PS: Planning on it? Let us know on our Facebook event page so we’ll know how much sunshine to bring.

PPS: An earlier version of this estimate suggested we might play at the Eagles in September - that unfortunately is not true, although we might play there on 8/6/15 if we get rained out at Lake Harriet...

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