Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Friday, July 03, 2015

Return to Sender

Posted by: Rick

At first, it may seem to you that this post is about getting mail at the cabin. It is, but it is also about establishing legal residency in Colorado, and having a way to prove it. This is likely to be the first post in a series on this topic.

Here is the story (as we currently understand it): while we have a legal address in Colorado (it is 100 Hidden Meadows Lane, Red Feather Lakes, CO, 80545), there is no mail service to this address. 

Truth is, Red Feather Lakes is only a few miles away "as the crow flies", but anywhere from two hours to four hours to drive there depending upon the season and which roads are open. 

So, mail sent to our legal address will be returned. Or, so the story goes.

Most residents of the area establish an alternate mailing address using the Laramie, WY post office. The process is simple, although we have yet to test it: plant a mail box next to others located at the Wooden Shoe Ranch (which is about 5 miles into Wyoming). Place a letter in that mail box addressed to the Post Master of the Laramie, Wyoming post office. In that letter, ask that mail addressed to "100 Hidden Meadows Ln, Sand Creek Park CO, Laramie, WY, 87020" be delivered to this mail box. And, according to the story from neighbors, junk mail will start arriving within days.

This seems like a reasonable solution. We only have to drive 10 or 11 miles to send and get mail. (By the way, when the roads are open UPS will deliver to our door!)

There are serious problems with this strategy though, and to learn what they are, click through to "More ..."

The problem arises when you need to conduct business in Colorado as a Colorado resident. Examples? Registering to vote, registering your car, buying insurance for your car, buying a fishing or hunting license, etc. For all these activites and more, you need to prove your Colorado residency. And, some of these services, such as car insurance policies and rates, are linked to your mailing address ZIP Code. 

So, if your mailing address is Laramie, Wyoming then you are stuck with needing to buy your insurance in Wyoming. But, you can't buy insurance in Wyoming for a car that is registered in Colorado. So, some people have become so frustrated, they register their car in Wyoming. But, now when you try to get Colorado services such as a fishing license, or register to vote, it appears that you live in Wyoming...

What a mess.

So, we need a way to convince officials in Colorado that we have a legal Colorado address and reside in Colorado despite having a Wyoming mailing address. Seems simple, but I guess it is almost impossible to do, again according to the stories we hear.

After pondering this for a while, I devised a scheme that I thought might work. Here it is in all it's brilliance:

  1. Write a letter to myself address to the legal address.
  2. Wait for that letter to be returned marked "Return to Sender". "Address Unknown". Or, perhaps "Undeliverable as Addressed".
  3. Make a copy of the returned envelope and send a letter to the Post Master of the Red Feather Lakes post office.
  4. In that letter, explain the dilemma. And, ask that the Post Master write a letter back to me stating that 100 Hidden Meadows Ln in Red Feather Lakes is, in fact, a legal Colorado address, but that the Red Feather Lakes post office does not provide mail delivery service to that address and thus it is necessary for me to have a Wyoming mailing address.
  5. Problem solved. I would now have a letter from a US Government Official explaining my situation and all issues would be resolved.

Here is a copy of the returned letter:

What the heck? "NO MAIL RECEPTACLE"? That IS NOT what I wanted to see. Did they actually try to deliver this letter and found that I have no mail box set up at the cabin? (Or, is this just an expedient excuse for non-delivery? How would they know there is no "receptacle" unless they'd been there?)

Crap. Did some poor guy actually drive all the way from Red Feather Lakes to Sand Creek Park and try to deliver this letter, just to discover I had no mail box? That would likely be a 4 hour round trip in the summer. And, how could they possibly make the delivery if it were winter?

My whole strategy just blew up. I suppose I could still write my letter to the Post Master, but my efforts might fail if they did, in fact, attempt delivery. So, I'm back to "square one".

I've asked David, a neighbor, to purchase and install a mail box at the cabin for me. (Bless his heart.) He will do so over the next few weeks, and once a "receptacle" is in place, I'll try this again--making a note on the letter "receptacle now available" so the poor mail carrier doesn't just throw the letter away thinking I'm pulling pranks on him or her.

I'll let you know how it all turns out.

Next entry: A Busy Bunch of Beavers

Previous entry: Excavations

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