Carbondale: A Great Place to Be (Yourself)


In the last few years Carbondale has been featured in several magazines, showcased as A Great Place to Be! Well, it’s working; we’re like a fly strip for transplants. I get it, if you weren’t brought up by people who carry a pocket knife, there’s a romantic quality to the whole ‘living off the land’ lifestyle, and it’s authentic here. Carbondale has a quality not found in many small towns; it’s a capable-yet-laid-back feel, definitely worth preserving. And while change can be good, I think we should go over a few things, in the hopes of making the transition smooth for everyone: new and old, good and bad, upstanding and down-to-earth.

Attention newcomers: welcome to our Rocky Mountain town at the confluence. Yes, we know how great it is to be here; we live here, we work here, we play here. And while we’re glad you’re here, please don’t try to change it. Just let Carbondale be. The sooner you let go of your past, the better our future will be. And the same goes for the old-timers: no use grumbling about all the new faces. Just think of it like this; there’s a whole new batch of folks to buy the drinks and listen to your stories…

I’ve put together a few tips on being a Carbondale local; how to act when confronted with real life in this small mountain town:

When driving on Catherine Store Road, (yes, that is the name of the road. There’s no ‘s and it doesn’t bother us, grammatically or otherwise) and you find yourself driving at the pace of cows walking, show some patience and slow down. Those beasts are your future fancy cheeseburgers with Gorgonzola aioli. (True Carbondale natives will want to know the definition of aioli: “It’s what rich people call mayonnaise.” -MM)

When hanging out at the Pour House, trying to blend in, it is imperative that you A) don’t wear a black cowboy hat unless you can back it up, and secondly, don’t bother ordering ‘stiff’ drinks from the bartenders. That’s the only way they know how to make ‘em. (It should go without saying, but I’ll say it: don’t bother ordering ‘light’ drinks either.) And if you’re going to eavesdrop on the next booth’s conversation –hardly your fault, as their voices get louder with each round, whatever happens, do not interrupt with a story about how you did it back home. Also, for your own safety, leave your yoga mat in the car.

Don’t ask what’s in it, just drink the Piehole.

Do not set your car alarm. Ever. It is pretentious (the antithesis of Carbondale) and you might as well have a loudspeaker on top of your car that shouts, “I am from out of town!” Know that as a Carbondalian, you will eventually drive a pickup or a station wagon; it’s up to you how long you hold out.

Quit buying up all the open space you can get your hands on. Going in and outbidding the Entities That Be before they can get their unruly ducks to line up is not making you popular with the locals. That land belongs to our children’s children and they’re going to need it for hunting and foraging. If you don’t believe me, you should eavesdrop at the Pour House more often.

When walking down Main Street early in the morning try not to gawk at the folks who are still in their clothes from the night before, as those are real locals. They may not know exactly where their car is at the moment, but they’re the ones who’ll stop in a blizzard to help you out of the ditch. Also, please refrain from stating, “What a cute little town” at any time of day.

When driving down Main Street and someone walks out in front of you, stop. Take a deep breath, try to relax, and smile as you wait for them to shuffle across the street. Which reminds me, smile a lot. The more you do it, the more familiar it will feel and maybe one day when someone you don’t know smiles at you on the street, you’ll automatically smile back. Life is good here.

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