Today we were reversing our steps a little bit so we could meet an old friend of Päivi’s in the Denver area. P had been an au pair for a year in Steamboat Springs a number of years back, and had kept in touch with a few people she’d known from that time. The person we were meeting here, J., ran a construction company in the Denver area and came up to Steamboat for the occasional ski.
We got up, had a hike in the morning, then motored down the hill to Longmont, one of the so-called “Front Range” towns strung north of Denver. The mountain reference and the general image people have of Colorado suggests these might have had some form of charm and rusticness at one point, but now they were basically sprawling suburbs with massive surface streets going everywhere. Basically LA without the freeways or ethnic diversity. The lack of freeways is interesting, it makes me wonder whether generations of town councils just refused to see their towns as freeway-needy megapolis outskirts rather than pokey cowtowns, despite all the growth. Even the local interstate, I-25, is routed straight north of Denver some 10 miles west of any of these towns. Which means whenever anyone really wants to get anywhere the first have to do a 10-mile east-west commute across mostly blank space. The resulting non-highways are giant, buzzing thoroughfares where everyone zooms up to 65 MPH between stoplights, which mercifully get further apart as you get out of town.
Anyway, we came down to town and would meet J. there later, but the only motel with any spaces was unfortunately out next to the interstate, so we enjoyed the privilege of shuttling back and forth on the east-west commute 3 times.
Oh and while we’re at it I want to make sure to shoot down another false image that many people must have of Denver – that it’s somehow a mountain town. In fact it, along with these “Front Range” towns, are desert / scrub towns sitting in the plain below the Rockies. “Mile high”, yes, but that just happens to be the height of the Great Plains here on the edge of the mountain range.
All of this is to say we really enjoyed seeing J. (and Päivi reliving some old memories and catching up on the doings of some old friends) – especially since we met at a good microbrewery restaurant – but we were really looking forward to getting back up into the hills the next day.