As my time spent living here draws to a close I feel it’s time to offer the second edition of what I have experienced as Colorado Culture. I have now seen more of Colorado than most states that I’ve lived in for several years and this is what I’ve witnessed.
Let us begin in the driving realm, shall we? Why Colorado, do you have such limited guardrail offerings along your road systems? The mountain roads and highways (of which there are plenty) are windy and steep as you might imagine. If there is a shoulder to be had along the side of the road it is more than likely a soft, squishy, sink-off the side and roll 500 hundred feet to your death type of shoulder. I can’t imagine this state is incapable of generating the revenue to throw up some guardrails. Safety-first Colorado; safety first.
My second observation regarding driving is in regards to the sheer volume of accidents I have witnessed while living here. I see a fresh car accident scene almost every single time I am driving. That is an incredible amount of people smashing into one another.I would care to wager it’s got something to do with how a great majority of Coloradans choose to drive. For example: I have been passed on a sharp blind corner of a windy mountain road more than once. Who does that? I do not drive under the speed limit. In fact I drive about 10mph over the speed limit on average and it is rare when I don’t have someone riding on my bumper. Take it easy people of Colorado; the mountain bike trail isn’t going anywhere.
While living here I have taken a great many road trips with the Munchkin. We’ve been to several National Parks this summer and Colorado has got some good ones. Mesa Verde National Park has surprisingly little hype around it for as incredible as it is. We toured a couple of the cliff dwellings and I was impressed as per usual, by the indigenous people who came before us. They built things to last and were so strategic about where, what, and how they were doing things. But my favorite experience at Mesa Verde was the hike out to the Petroglyphs. I fell in love with that trail and enjoyed it so much I doubled back rather than finishing the loop that would take me atop the mesa. Go experience this place for yourself, it is worth the effort and it may be the least crowded place in the whole of Colorado State.
Speaking of National Parks, I would like to make a proposal that the entire western half of Colorado State be deemed a National Park. This would prepare outsiders to brace for the crazy driving, intensely over-packed trailhead parking lots, tourist items for sale any and everywhere, and above all the smell of poop. I was taken aback by how many places smell like poop here because toilet systems in the parks/forests are overrun with the amount of people using them. Western Colorado National Park has a nice ring to it if you ask me.
There have certainly been a few places that have grabbed my attention here in Colorado, which is saying something because I have experienced the majority of this country and several others to compare and contrast with the beauty of this place. My undeniable 1st place for Colorado goes to the Red Rocks Amphitheater.
The Amphitheater was built by the CCC, which warms my heart. It was a sacred place to Native Americans prior to it’s “repurposing” and it’s easy to understand why. Getting a little woo-woo here, I must say that the Amphitheater has good energy. Going to a show here simply cannot be beat. There isn’t a bad seat in the place, the sound is nothing short of perfection, and it gives the sensation of an intimate music venue. Not to mention the people watching at concerts here is top notch. If you’re a music lover this place is worth flying in from another state to experience a band you love in a place you will soon love.
My 2nd place goes to Highway 145 between the towns of Stoner and Telluride. I first took this highway coming north from Mesa Verde NP and was promptly smacked in the face by the drastic beauty of the landscape along this stretch of road. I enjoyed it enough that I went out of my way to take this highway again during the fall color pop, which was absolutely gorgeous. If you find yourself on this stretch be sure and make a pit stop at the coffee shop in Rico that offers “Coffee and Tacos!” Who wouldn’t?
Yes, it’s true that Colorado has some unique and incredibly beautiful places, which is why it is busting at the seams with residents and tourists alike. Colorado is really quite proud and you will quickly realize that because the Colorado “C” flag is plastered on everything and everybody. I can’t go an entire day without seeing that C and I live in the forest in the middle of nowhere. I wouldn’t be surprised to find propaganda leaflets being dropped from passing aircraft overhead to remind you how fantastic Colorado is. Humbleness does not seem to be part of the Colorado culture.
Before I wrap up my second and final edition on Colorado Culture I have a grievance to air. I have been hiking, biking, and running on trail systems here for months now. I have been with a smiley happy little munchkin whilst on these trails. I would like to know what is so offensive about someone saying hello to you? Or good morning, good afternoon; a greeting of any kind really. I want to know what kind of ice hearted robot will mean mug a baby who is waving at you while their parent smiles and says hello as well?
If I had to give a percentage I would say that about 35% of people who we’ve greeted on the trail acknowledged or reciprocated in some form or fashion. That is a piss-poor percentage, Colorado. What is that about? It’s not like we are on the subway train where people are a bit more guarded of themselves; we are in the forest on trails. My baby isn’t going to attack you I promise. And I’m pretty sure it won’t do you any physical harm to respond with a hello or a smile. I find this perplexing because if you actually have a conversation with Colorado residents they are very welcoming and friendly.
Take the grocery stores for instance. Every single employee in any grocery store in the whole of Colorado bends over backwards to make certain that you’re having a pleasant shopping experience. “Can I help you find something? There is a great sale on bread today. Did you check your eggs to be sure none of them are cracked?” No, this issue is solely a Colorado trail thing. I haven’t experienced this behavior anywhere else I’ve been in the world, which leaves me curious about how it became an epidemic here. I suppose it will remain a mystery.
We will be making our way back to Washington soon and leaving the 14ers of Colorado in our rearview mirror. We’ve had fun times at Centennial Park Splash Pad in Denver, found a great coffee pit stop in Nederland at Happy Trails Coffee House, ate unbelievably delicious burgers at Crave, had a tasty breakfast at Kate’s Place in Ridgeway, stumbled across a fantastic children’s garden in Ouray, searched the racks and shelves of several ARC Thrift Stores, crested countless mountain passes, and tossed rocks into many of the rivers here. We haven’t done it all but we’ve sure done a whole lot. I will leave the rest to the visitors coming to explore the Western Colorado National Park.