The Outsider: Find your beach in Summit County
It’s darn near impossible to find a proper beach in Colorado. But that won’t keep me from trying.
As a native of this great, rectangular, landlocked state, everything I know about life on the beach I learned from friends, Hollywood, Beach Boys anthems and surf magazines. Also, Corona ads. I don’t visit either coast nearly as much as I should. When I head east this August for a friend’s wedding on Long Beach Island, it marks my first trip to the ocean on either coast since the last time I was in New Jersey — more than three years ago.
But, man, I can’t wait to get on LBI and play some real-live beach volleyball on real-live sand. Like softball — or beer pong — sand volleyball is one of those sports I picked up in college. And why not? It’s fun as all get out, relatively easy and, no matter where you’re playing, it always feels like summer. Always — even at rag-tag Oasis down in Broomfield, where all the courts are indoors. Sand volleyball has a way of getting people to laugh, shout and roll around, just like kids on a kindergarten playground, only with a cooler of beer and way more skin.
When I lived in Fort Collins, meeting up with friends at the sand courts was a ritual, like gearing up for a powder day, or heading out for a mountain bike ride. It was a community — a loud, raucous community, but a community nonetheless — and everyone enjoyed simply being outdoors as much as playing the sport. Things at Ramshorn Village occasionally got competitive, but, more often than not, that only meant more people started diving for miraculous digs. Every once in a while, they’d even come up with one. My team eventually got pretty good at it and took runner-up not once, but twice at an annual sorority volleyball tourney. (The winners both years? Members of the Colorado State women’s indoor team. My 5-foot, 9-inch self didn’t stand a chance.)
That said, I have a confession: I’ve never played beach volleyball on an actual beach. Like, I’ve played on the sand at Boulder Reservoir, and once, a long time ago, a court near a beach in New Zealand. But I’ve never done the full-on “Top Gun” thing and spent a day going from court to ocean to beach chair and back. (Like I said, most everything I know about the beach comes from someone else’s imagination.)
Its not like the game itself will change when I get to LBI in August, but I want to be prepared for my virgin experience. That means I need to start practicing, ASAP, and so I’ll have to settle for the Summit County version of sand volleyball.
Luckily, the scene here in the heart of the mountains ain’t too shabby. Actually, it ain’t shabby at all: the Silverthorne Rec Center is home to a slate of lusciously manicured courts (plus nets!), and several neighborhood parks across the county have surprisingly nice sand pits, like the one at Walter Byron in Frisco, or the handful over at Carter Park in Breck.
All that’s missing now: the people. Head to Facebook and join the group Summit County CO Volleyball for casual drop-in games and other news from sand lovers stuck in the mountains. Between bikes and boards and the trail, I think I’ve found my beach.
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