As your average Coloradoan suburbanite, I find the desire to be outside as much as possible. I'm drawn to the newness that nature offers this time of year, and have already answered her call by puttering around my little container gardens, just enjoying the free vitamin D.
To be honest however, being outdoors doesn't exactly qualify me for the "outdoorsy" title given to those that live for a more intensive outdoor regime. I'm not the type that hikes, rock climbs, mountain bikes or anything else that involves "gear" or extra insurance. (You can call me an adrenaline novice at best.) My view of nature is best enjoyed on a relaxed, meandering walk to a place with a hot meal and beverage after all that fresh air.
Coincidentally, it's at this time every year that I start asking myself, what new adventures can I find? And that of course translates into new, cost-effective and kick-butt escapades. A day trip or even a weekend away where I can take my mom hat off and enjoy the beauty of my Colorado home.
But… er…Introductions first, shall we?
I'm Sharon Montgomery, a 43 year-old woman who's made the Denver, Colorado area my haven for the last 20 years. And you, dear reader, are one in a few distinct categories of curious folk.
- You're curious about the mymountaintown.com area and want to know what worthwhile spot is just waiting to create a memory with you, or
- You're a long-time resident checking out the article to see if I'm worth my salt in giving accurate, interesting information about your stomping ground, or
- You've just moved to the mountain town community and are looking to learn a bit about your new area, where to go to have fun, and how to mesh in the neighborhood, or
- Your are my dear Aunt Fran from across the "interweb", snooping around to give me support and a bit of advice on how to better my craft.
To all of you, Happy Spring!
As a writer, mom, and a business owner, I have to say that some of my greatest pleasures in life involve finding unique places with extraordinary people. My shenanigans have included traipsing across the country on Amtrak, stumbling upon various projects with photographers, welders, and financial planners, and gallivanting across the globe to New Zealand. But they always lead me back to the quiet, diverse beauty that is Colorado. So, when I got the offer to write about the mymountaintown.com region, I got excited.
I have the opportunity to dive into the adventure that is the mountain town community. To be clear, I'm talking about the mountain town communities of Jefferson County , Park County , and Clear Creek County who are close by, yet hidden by the The Foothills.
I'm technically a "transplant", but feel at home here, having a great love of the beauty and community in this state. (Some may have heard me say, "It's getting too darn crowded around here!"... in true native style.) But because I moved to the Denver/Front Range area, I'm a definite stranger to the mountain turf, beautiful as it is. After all, what would I need up there? I have open space trails, parks with sloped hills, and potted shrubbery in the city, right? The nightlife is hoppin', and I can see stars on Netflix.
Still, I wonder at the surroundings of those who thrive just an hour west of me. While I'm caught up in the day-to-day living, fighting traffic and construction to get to appointments, entertainment, and nightlife of Front Range living, I'm aware that a completely different culture exists just through the foothills and beyond. I have a ton of questions that I never asked anyone about because the overshadowing question was simply: What's up there for ME?
It's about dang time I find some answers to my questions, don't you think?
And if I had excuses or assumptions, then I KNEW other suburbanites did, too. So I asked several people, "What stops you from spending more time in the mountain towns?" and of 20 or so answers, these variations were what I heard most:
- "I know people commute from up there. How can they stand the long drive, especially if there's any weather that would slow them down? How do their bosses even let it happen?" - Sam (business owner)
- "The wildlife! Bears and Mountain Lions, Raccoons and Snakes… they all give me the heebee jeebees, so don't you have to be an expert in wild flora and fauna JUST to survive up there?" - Alex (fellow grocery shopper)
- "I know NOTHING about the old west, and aren't the mountain towns just a bunch of grizzled old timers with nothing to do but look for gold and aim at a spittoon?" - Nate (a neighbor) (Okay, I find this one based on nothing but his particular late night Netflix marathon, but still… it was a theme.)
- "I have no idea how to do the "outdoorsy" things well. I'd probably tromp around and unwittingly kill an endangered flower, or accidentally kick over the only rotted log that was valuable. I don't want to go where I'm not supposed to. How can I keep from ruining the delicate balance of things up there?" - Marcia (A mom with toddlers)
- "What would I even wear up there, if I'm not hiking or rock climbing?" Addie (my 16 years-old daughter) To which I said, "Addie, I think we just dress in layers, like the rest of Colorado, because… COLORADO." -Sigh.
The first thing that came to mind when exploring the region was to get those questions answered. But as I packed up (layers, sunscreen, map, bunny-shaped crackers, and bug spray), two more thoughts popped up:
- "Sure, it's gonna be pretty, but what's UNIQUE/SPECIAL about this particular area in colorado as opposed to just any ol' tourist-ee spot in the mountains?" and
- "How can I get away from the tourist perspective (ie., what can this place do for me..) and really see the place from the local community?"
I decided right then that those were the thoughts that would guide me throughout my research. So look for me, if you are a Mountain Town Local. Help me provide answers to the questions, assumptions, and excuses that keep people in the dark about your own haven.
I'll be exploring with an open mind, willing to learn and share what I find. So interact with me through comments to share what you'd like me to know about the region, from the view of a local wanting to spread the word about a hidden gem, story, history, or issue… or as a fellow newbie who wants to say, "I had no idea that was even there!" and then go check it out for yourself.
I'm Sharon, and I'm willing to go explore, interview, track down, and get uncomfortable while I find out:
- What does mymountaintown.com include for newbies like myself?
- What's unique to the area?
- How can I enrich both my life and the life of the mountain community by visiting or moving there?
Stick around. There's more to come…