After leaving the Front Range, it has taken me some time to get used to some things living up in the mountains again. The isolation used to bother me when I was a kid, but that is something that I’ve grown to appreciate. Especially after the last year with everything under lockdown and how you can live in a city of 75,000 people and feel like you are the only living person on the block.
Here in the mountains, people have their routine. After 10:30am, the Post Office gets that surge of people who are going to check their mail, because that is when all of the mail is sorted. You run into the same handfull of people every morning. You might open a door for each other. You might say hello. Other than that, it’s urinal rules. You try not to make eye-contact and you sure as hell don’t start a conversation.
There are three restaurants in town. All of them serve pretty much the same thing. Some kind of burger or sandwich. With fries. Green chile. A special that isn’t too bad. The food all comes over the passes in Sysco trucks. Frozen fries. Frozen burger patties. You save a lot of money by eating something at home instead of going out to eat. In the city, I could easily drop $10 per day on just coffee and breakfast. If I make coffee at home, I get both.
You tend to make better lists, because if you have to drive an hour to go shopping for things that you can afford like detergent, milk, hamburger, clothing, dog biscuits, etc. without needing a second mortgage, you get better at planning and lists in order to optimize the expense of gas money and the time it will take to drive to the nearest store.
Today I went to Steamboat for milk, toothpaste, Tide pods, and a few other provisions. I chose Steamboat because they had a place I could buy cigars and so I picked one up for a relaxing Friday at home. On the drive I took pictures to post on Instagram and to use for future travel writing articles. The fall colors were amazing.
If you break it down, when I lived in the Front Range, it often took me twenty minutes to half an hour to drive to the grocery store. A lot of this was due to traffic lights. If I had to go to the next town over, because of traffic and multiple stops, I was looking at an hour in each direction. The only thing to look at was other cars, houses, and the repeating monotony of King Soopers, Target, Applebees, WalMart, Wendy’s, residential areas, Lowes, and car dealerships. The mountains on the horizon were a distant dream. Getting to drive for more than a hundred yards without hitting a red light was a rumor.
Today I drove for an hour at 70mph, winding up through some of the most beautiful country in the state. I got coffee. I got a cigar. I spent the same on milk and groceries in Steamboat as I would have spent in Greeley, CO. The air on the drive was fresh and the leaves were breathtaking. Unlike the ozone and exhaust fumes in the city, which are also breathtaking, but for other reasons.
You just have to plan a little better, optimize your time, and know that where you are, the stores aren’t open all night for your whims like they are in a city. The trade off for convenience is well worth it, when it comes to scenery and just not having people constantly around you all the time. I rarely hear a firetruck or ambulance siren unless it is during a parade. I see deer and moose and other critters all the time. There is a distinctive lack of grafitti. If it snows, people stay home instead of turning the highways into Ice Capades like a bunch of idiots on a Road Warrior fueled search for bread and milk.
Last night I saw so many stars.
Living in the mountains isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Which is fine by me. They can just stay in their McMansions and click their tongues at us rubes who don’t know the pleasures of HOA fees and getting lost in Target for an afternoon.
They can keep it.