Denver: Four months in Colorado and going strong!

I've been procrastinating on another Denver post. Every time I sit down to write, I'm overwhelmed by what to share and how to do it in a reasonable space.

I'll use Denver's bike culture as an example:

If I want to tell anyone reading about Denver biking, I could write about the number of people that bike, the great trails, and the extensive short-term bike rental kiosks, but that wouldn't be enough! Chicago has all that; Philadelphia was working on it; Fresno has good bike trails.

In order to do justice to biking in Denver, I'd want to write a whole series of posts with pictures on trails that run right through downtown past wildlife, kayakers, through country-clubs, and past amusement parks. I'd have to describe how Denver is set up to bike almost anywhere and how the towns are connected by high-quality scenic trailways. I'd have to write about all the bikers we see in the mountains on their hundred mile loops and the monthly mass costumed bike gatherings; about the bike to work day and Tour de Fat. I'd have to write about the pedal taverns and the art tours by bike; about the 6-person bikes for rent in Washington Park and the bike shops everywhere.

After all that, anyone reading would be left with the impression that people here are bike fanatics, and they'd be right about some, but they'd be misunderstanding the overall culture. Most people here aren't bike fanatics anymore than people anywhere are car fanatics because they drive a lot-- It's just a result of an active and healthy culture.

We're thinking of living here permanently once we finish traveling-- and no, it's not just because of the beer and the mountains. Here is more of what we like without going into too much detail:

Fun: People here aren't afraid to let their personalities show in everything from their businesses to their houses. Lindsay and I enjoy walking through Denver's neighborhoods just admiring the creativity used in landscaping and decoration. Bars offer all types of entertaining events from connect-four tournaments to square pool tables and adult bingo. Like many other young cities, Denver's population is fit and active. What seems to be a little different about Denver, is how much this fitness is tied to play. The focus isn't as much on appearance or machismo, it's on being outside and rafting, kayaking, biking, hiking, climbing, skateboarding, and long-boarding.
There are skateparks, whitewater chutes, and indoor climbing facilities right downtown. Boulder even has a tube to work day!

Youth and freedom: There isn't the feeling of old-world overbearing that one gets in cities like Philadelphia with its mafia, unions, and crumbling infrastructure. The feeling of youth comes from the sense of fun mentioned above and a spirit of openness and experimentation. The government isn't afraid to try things like legalized marijuana, allowing dogs on restaurant patios, selling home-grown produce, or allowing a small number of chickens in the yard. Many neighborhoods have large percentages of millenials, but what I'm talking about isn't age. The older people that have stayed downtown are just as friendly and youthful as their younger neighbors.

Intelligence: Not only do people seem more friendly and experimental, but they do it in a smart way. I noticed a difference even before learning that Colorado is second only to MA in the overall percent of college graduates. It's overheard in conversation and public policy. For example, Colorado seems more serious about water conservation than CA even though CA is in a crisis.

Economy: Denver's economy is also a step ahead of the rest of the country. I had a job two days after applying. The city's growth and it's strong tech sector are good for both blue and white collars. It's a hassle listening to the radio here because there are so many advertisers. Buildings and new businesses are being built on every major street.

Neighborhoods: Denver's downtown gets a lot of attention with its museums and the 16th street mall, but Denver's neighborhoods are eventful enough to keep a lot of people put, within walking distance of where they live. The neighborhood setup is similar to Chicago, but unlike Chicago, Denver's neighborhoods feel like communities-- they're less urban and have houses with yards instead of high-rises. Each neighborhood has a strong central main street with coffee shops, breweries, events, and outdoor markets. The average tourist doesn't know anything about these areas and might not have much reason to go, but they make the city more affordable, decrease traffic, and build community. Here is a nice rundown. We've been to each looking at real estate. Many weren't for us, but they all had a unique appeal. Many of these neighborhoods are a couple miles from the city center. Others are further out, but will have a train line by 2018.

Inexpensive: People who have lived in Colorado for a while don't consider it cheap, but compared to other cities we've lived in and whole regions of the country like the Northeast, it's heaven. Downtown living is expensive, but there are so many great neighborhoods and towns within a 25 minute drive of Denver that there are options. Airfare to a number of other cities like Phoenix and Minneapolis for weekend trips is europe- cheap with round-trip airfare often available for under $100.

Things to do: So many options in so many categories! Like hot springs? We do. Last week, we started looking for an anniversary vacation and were surprised to learn that Colorado has dozens of amazing options within a few hours. Hot springs with amusement parks, hot springs with views, hot springs that get risque in in the evenings, hot springs you can only get to after hiking 8 miles. Like historic trains? Colorado has more options on that front. One could spend a lifetime exploring Colorado's 14ers or tasting its beer (and then you'd be missing out on it's mead and whiskey). There are concerts, museums, comedy, and all the plays and opera you'd expect in a major city. It isn't Chicago or New York as far as options, but that isn't all bad. It means tickets are less expensive and there is room for smaller acts. Lady Gaga, Bill Mahr, and Mighty Mighty Bosstones are all in Denver this week. We are excited to have Louis C.K. tickets for next month.

Next post on Denver will be about some of the specific things we've been doing.