After Red Lodge we spent some time touring colleges in Ft. Collins and Boulder. It was a downright spooky thing to do as both campuses had this post-apocalyptic vibe going on. Things were especially desolate within the main college square areas, you know, that tree lined area most colleges have which is featured in every university mailer. There the message boards were completely bare. These areas also featured lonely bike racks and even lonelier groundkeepers who somehow looked downright sinister while pruning back bushes. And there was absolutely no there to give tours or answer questions. The only other family we spied wandering these wastelands looked just as confused and lost as we were. Maybe it was my imagination, but they also appeared a bit frightened by us, as if we ourselves were some sort of ghostly appearance.
We like Boulder. We like Ft. Collins better. Seems like this is pretty much everyone’s opinion. From the shop owner in Ft. Collins (who grew up in Boulder), “There is just something too Boulder about Boulder.” The hotel clerk here in Boulder (who grew up in Colorado Springs) said something similar which begs the questions, what exactly does “being too Boulder” mean?
Maybe we misheard the intent and “being Boulder” is actually a good thing. That would make sense as the surrounding mountains here are absolutely beautiful. People here are pretty cool too; relaxed, friendly and willing to engage strangers in all types of conversations. But we think being Boulder refers to something else entirely, something not quite so positive. Boulder is very crowded and also very expensive to live in (but then so are many other beautiful places like Telluride and Jackson Hole). Does being Boulder maybe refer to its very progressive politics? Maybe, but I am not sure that Ft. Collins is that much more conservative than Boulder. Honestly, we have no idea what being “too Boulder” means but there is a fundamental difference between the less crowded, slightly less costly Ft. Collins and it’s uber-rich cousin Boulder.
I know one thing; Boulder is by far the most Covid-cautious place we have been all summer. Twice we have had our temperature checked before entering a business (a book store and brew pub). Masks are worn inside but also outside and even sometimes when walking alone on an empty sidewalk. In store maximum crowd sizes are also strictly enforced. But life still manages to go on with people able to shop, eat outside and hike to their hearts content just so long as they follow all rules (we continued to hike mostly mask-less but covered our mouths whenever moving close to someone). It really is a glimpse of how people today can safely balance being social while also being safe. Beer will always find a way.