That very fast day in Colorado
I will never forget the feeling I had the first time I saw the mountains in Colorado. Thirty-two years ago I was a very young 28 and came to Colorado to interview for a job. I was a New York City police officer and had taken some time off to drive to Colorado to check out a brand new police department.
My wife and I had stopped at my parent’s home in Iowa for a couple of days and had convinced a couple of friends to come along. We were young and foolish and drove straight through to Denver. Fourteen hours. Overnight.
It is very special to see something as spectacular as the Rocky Mountains after spending the night driving across Nebraska and Eastern Colorado. It takes your breath away.
Looking at the mountains from the plains with the sun hitting the snow-covered peaks early in the morning is so very impressive. The mountains look ten times higher from that perspective and dramatically contrast against the sky.
We drove straight through Denver to Coal Creek Canyon. We ended up having breakfast in a small restaurant in a little village called Wondervu about halfway to Nederland. It is one of those places you have to be going to find. There is a good reason for the name.
From that wide spot in the road you can see the Continental Divide from Estes Park to Breckenridge. The best coffee and pancakes I ever had. I decided right then that I wanted to spend the rest of my life here.
I interviewed for the job and was hired. I drove back to New York, resigned and was headed back to Colorado within two weeks. I won’t tell you how fast I drove because it would be a confession about my speeding across half of America.
Last week I had coffee with a couple of friends and the conversation turned to growth and development in Colorado. They asked me for my thoughts on the subject.
One of the first things that came to mind was my impression of Colorado early that morning driving in from Iowa. My response was that I wanted Colorado to remain as spectacular as it was the first time I saw it on that day in the spring of 1970.
I also added that I wanted the same thing for everyone in Colorado regardless of whether he or she came here 30 years ago or yesterday.
You know the feeling. That this place was made for you. Personally. It is your own bit of heaven. It is what you have wanted all your life but did not realize it until you arrived.
In the past, I would blame the feeling on the lack of oxygen.
On the other hand, it could have been the great beer. Back in the ’60s and ’70s, people would actually smuggle Coors beer out of state.
This place is totally open and undeveloped to someone coming here to live today. Everything is relative.
People who were born here are totally amazed at how much density has been squeezed into an already small space. Everything is relative.
It is relative to your starting point. Mine was New York City. This place was immense. It was a very open and free society. Lots of Volkswagen vans and people living in tepees. Very interesting and talented people looking for the perfect place.
We have to remember that there is always someone who is spending his or her very first day in Colorado, and we have to always keep that in mind as we plan for the future in this beautiful place.
Gary Lindstrom is a Summit County commissioner and regular columnist for the Summit Daily News.
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