Mark vs Cancer

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Rocky Mountain High

A wonderful spring day in Colorado! This is the type of day that makes me sad to be leaving for Wyoming soon. And so here is a farewell tribute to my favorite state:

1)The Rocky Mountains: Any discussion of Colorado's virtues begins and ends with the mountains. They give the state such stature and strength, not to mention a million postcards. Recently, I flew from Phoenix to Denver on a perfectly clear day, and I was amazed at the number of landmark mountains that I could pick out, all capped in a deep, smooth layer of virgin snow.

Let me break these down individually into my favorites:

--The San Juan Mountains: a lesser known range, but so spectactularly beautiful that they take your breath away when coming across Dallas Divide, bursting upon you, looming over you like towering cathedrals. Mt. Sneffles is the centerpiece of this range, and Telluride is its heart.

--The Lone Cone: a perfectly conical peak that will always be near and dear to the old Markster's heart. My love of this peak developed while working at Derald Skalla's ranch. Every day, no matter what field I was working in, I could look up and see the Lone Cone. Eventually, I took a Jeep trip up towards the top and I made it to just below timberline. I was a lone man at the time, and it seemed like the Lone Cone was my only companion that summer. I love going to the Ranch now and having its picturesque beauty be omnipresent there as well.

--Long's Peak: I see this towering peak greets me every day on my way home from work, and it reminds me that I'm still in Colorado and only an hour from the mountains.

--Rocky Mountain National Park: A fortress of alpine beauty.

--Grand Mesa: one of Colorado's best-kept secrets. A lush, cool outdoor paradise. A thousand lakes, a million aspens, and a billion lodge pole pines on a mesa top that has infinite uses. If you ever want a great hike, try Crag Crest, a spine of rock 11,000 ft high that splits the mesa. You can see hundreds of miles in every direction.

--Other favorite spots include: Mt. Falcon, Breckenridge, Steamboat, the Cimmaron range, Powderhorn, Glenwood Canyon, the Weiminuche Wilderness, and Mesa Verde.

2) Denver: what a great city! So many amenities: museums, zoos, theatre, parks, professional sports, restaurants, 16th Street Mall, great airport. When we moved to Denver in 1989, the city was just emerging from a huge economic slump. But over the last 18 years, has any American city made greater strides and become more usable and enjoyable? I attribute its success solely to the Fosters' arrival. :)

3) The Economy: when I drive around the Valley or Highlands Ranch, I often ask myself, where does all of this money come from? While there are areas of spotty economic development, for the most part the state is happily esconced in its upper-middle class lifestyle that affords an excellent and enjoyable quality of life. Even if you don't have a lot of money (like us), the cities and parks are clean, safe, and friendly.

4) The People: there's just something cool about a Coloradoan. A certain easy-goingness, hipness, spirit of adventure, openness and friendliness. The leather jackets, the "Respect Life" license plates, the friendly ski dude sitting next to you on the lift, the hearty ranchers on the eastern plains. Good stock, all.

5) The Politics: no place can be perfect in this regard, but Colorado makes a good effort. It's an open-minded, fairly progressive state that is solidified in its bedrock conservative values. I think that the even mixture of Republicans and Democrats keeps everybody honest and willing to compromise . . . though it does make campaign season very annoying.

6) Finally, the Seasons: I love our four distinct seasons. Living in Arizona for a while and then returning here has made me realize just how much I love them. I have a hard time deciding which one is my favorite: is it the spring time, the rebirth of the trees and grass, the warm sun and the May thunderstorms? Is it the perfect summers in the mountains, the always-cool evenings, the camping, whitewater rafting, backpacking and softball? Is it the fall, the golden aspen, the Broncos games and the smell of firewood and leaves? Or is it the first snow, the shimmering peaks, the first ski run of the season? Every season offers a fullness of outdoor adventure and sublime atmosphere, and every years spills welcomingly into the next.

For all of the above reasons and many more, I love Colorado. Chime in with what you love about this great state . . .


Matthew said...

I speak for every relative in CO when I say that Colorado will miss you all too. I hope that you and Liz, Joy and Grant will return someday.

Personally, I can't see how you will ever get over Colorado's mountains -- and you shouldn't. I like the way you described the different ranges It's true after you live around and hike them for a while they feel like old friends.

Denver says "Thanks for the valentine, Markster!" It is a great town... hey, Wendi and I are the only Fosters who actually live in Denver proper, and there are plenty of reasons why we love it. My main beef with D-town is that it's getting far too expensive for average folks. But so much is happening all the time around here that it's hard city not to love. The music scene, in which I have played my own tiny, humble part, has really been exploding for a couple of years.

Coloradans do tend to be easygoing and like the outdoors. Hiking is second nature to us and we have a wilderness for our back yard. Autumn in the high country has to be experienced to understand why we treasure our native natural beauty.

I have to take issue with your description of "bedrock conservative" values. Yeh, CO is a red state, but then again a Republican will never be elected as mayor in Denver or Boulder, and we now have a Democratic legislature. Perhaps issues such as the drought, fire control and the state budget crise have shifted Coloradans slightly away from yee-haw-ism.

Colorado also has very real problems with income disparities, affordable housing, health care and education. We underfund primary and secondary education to an alarming degree -- 3rd to last among the states, I believe. Yeh, Ken-Caryl is nice and so is Capitol Hill but there are plenty of areas where people aren't doing so well. Colorado can be a hard place to live if you have no secondary education.

But overall, I love Colorado. I've lived here for more than half of my life, and if I ever move away it will be very hard to leave. I'm kind of disappointed you guys are leaving -- I really liked visiting the Greeley Fosters. Now you'll be hundreds of miles away so it'll be much more difficult to have fun family meals, catch up and trade stories, and watch Joy and Grant grow up.

Oh well, I guess that's what the Web is for, yes? ;-)

Dad said...

Well, I have to say Mark that I too am in love with our great state. It is funny you should bring this up because you mother and I have been talking more and more about what do we want to do after we retire.

We have talked about being somewhere close to all you kids but that seems to be more and more unlikely that you will all be in the same area, except maybe you will all be "in the West." So where do we go? I have thought about Arizona of course and maybe a lower cost area in Colorado or maybe Texas or something like that. I can't come up with anyplace I would rather be than right here in Denver, the home of the Denver Broncos!! For all the reasonss you state, this is about as ideal as I can imagine it can get. Hopefully, if we stay here maybe we can get to all of you often due to the good airplane connections or even driving to you. Remains to be seen but it is definitely on our minds as to what to do.

I of course have to disagree with Matt about the political landscape in Colorado. We have a diverse state in the sense we have two left world strongholds in Boulder and Denver that are dangerous places to be from if you are a conservative or traditional values based type person. But that is a great thing because we go from somebody like Diane Degrette to someone like Bill Owens in the same state. Certainly having a Republican governer and Democratic legislature keeps everyone honest and I think is probably good. In general I love the fact that Colorado is considered a red state but "turnable" to a blue state. It makes Colorado mean something on the national scene and I think that is a good thing.

You get someone like Hickenlooper elected mayor of Denver who is kind of undefined as a political animal but is definitely a Democrate with a lot of his positions. I like him and he seems to be one of those lefties I could live with as opposed to fools like Degrette or Wellington Webb. Just glad I'm not one of the Denverites that elect these kinds of people to office.

Anyway, I for one am officially a Coloradan at heart, shedding after all these years, my label of being from Arizona. The mountains, the weather, the seasons, the openness of everything. Pretty close to ideal I think.


Matthew said...

It's a good thing we Denverites don't believe in those fusty, outdated old traditional values. If we did, we might have... well, I guess we might have elected Hickenlooper anyway. :-P

By any standard, even traditional standards that apparently only Republicans posess, he's a great mayor. I'd like to see him as governor so we can get rid of all these traditional values and make Colorado safe for evil.

Jeff said...

I disagree with Matt's position that Colorado should be more safe for evil. Only a low-life, no-good evil-doer would say something like that. Shame on you, Mr. Foster.

As far as the greatness of Colorado goes, I haven't lived there in eight and a half years, so I can't really say much. Nice place to visit though. Nice people, except for all the long-hair, evil-doers downtown.

Wendi said...

Now come ON, guys...what's life without downtown longhair evildoers like myself and (at heart, anyway) Matthew? The delicate balance of Life, the Universe, and Everything would be upset if our kind disappeared, you know. ;-P