When we decided to move from Kansas, we had a tough time deciding where to live. I had had my fill of the flat, nondescript midwest and my wife, Nadyne, wanted nothing to do with the Pacific coast (they have earthquakes, mudslides and volcanos there) or the extreme heat of Arizona. We had lived in Buffalo, NY, and I was over winter and arctic temperatures. We lived for a few years in Las Vegas and the temps there are brutal, too, besides the fact that it's the ultimate tourist town, not so great for locals.
Somehow we pared our list of possible destinations from twenty to ten, then to five. After looking at employment stats, we ended up choosing Denver, and bought a manufactured home in a northern suburb. I knew about their winters, but Colorado's natural beauty was an exciting aspect my photographer's eye couldn't pass up. However, with all that beauty came crowds.
Here's an example of my dilemma. We decided to go hiking in the mountains one summer weekend on a fairly easy trail on Guanella Pass, about two hours from home. Having heard that it's a popular trail, we got up at 3:30am and left by 4 (in the morning!). We got there at 6:05am to find the trailhead parking lot and about a half-mile of roadside in either direction completely full of vehicles of all types and sizes. When I thought about it, that meant that most of these people had gotten up and left even before we did. There are almost 3 million residents in the Denver metropolitan area, and another million in Colorado Springs and surrounding towns, and a lot of those people are in Colorado for the same reason we moved here. Add to that the international draw of the Rocky Mountains, several national parks, Pikes Peak, the "Fourteeners" and the abundance of wildlife, to be "one" with nature is nearly impossible.
So goes the struggle. I'm not sorry we moved here since my photographer's itch was relieved many times over, and we've met some amazing friends here, but there have been many weekends we stayed at home when we really wanted to be in the mountains. Luckily I'm not into winter sports or I would have a whole other diatribe to share.
Jack Huber is a novelist with 5 mysteries published, along with several books of poetry and photography. Now retired, he and his wife, Nadyne, are free to travel the country in their 32' 5th wheel and 1-ton Ford pickup.