The ‘Yin’ of Colorado
I was enjoying the beauty of the windswept plains of Colorado over the weekend, and remembered the first time I ever drove into this state.
I had been on the road for about a day, and had truly enjoyed seeing the variety our country enjoys.
As I made my way through Kansas, I couldn’t wait to get to the Colorado border. I expected the land to climb straight to the heavens. I thought a cute snow bunny in tight ski pants would hang a wool snow garter around my neck like a lei. My impression of Colorado from afar was that it was all mountain paradise where the snow never melts, the sun always shines, and dudes and dudettes spend the whole day working on their turns.
After an hour of driving along the flat plains of eastern Colorado, I started to worry. Could my memories of my childhood trip to Copper Mountain have been exaggerated with time? No. I was in Crested Butte just two years prior. There are definitely big mountains here. It was just that I, along with much of the rest of the country, didn’t know that a lot of Colorado is a flat or slightly rolling farmer’s paradise.
For every steep slope you can ski, there are 1,000 fields you can plow. For every microbrew drank there are tons of corn eaten. For every rock climbed their are 100 horses ridden. For every marijuana smoke out on campus, there are a dozen rodeos. For every liberal there is a conservative (one more than the other, depending on which way the state is currently swinging).
When my wife went to away to a small school in Indiana, she was the ‘Colorado’ girl. Everyone thought she hopped off the plane directly on to a snowboard when she went home for the holidays, when the truth is she was never into snowsports, and her family didn’t spend much time at all in the mountains.
Some places, like Steamboat, really have both aspects weaved into their culture. Ranching put it on the map a long time ago, skiing made it more well known. That makes it unlike other ski towns such as Vail that only became known after the chairlifts started running in the 1960’s. Towns like that are the ones that attract the people of ‘new Colorado’. People like me, that came here for the snow, fun, and turns, and stayed because we resonated so well with the people and beauty.
It’s the dichotomy of one of America’s most interesting states. It’s a point of contention at times, but as I woke up in Fort Morgan the other day, I realized how lucky we are to have both sides. The yin; the plains, providing food, stability, assuredness, as certain as a clock. And the yang; the mountains, the peaks, offering adventure, freewheeling fun, frivolity, and frolicking.
If all the liberals were left to agree with each other, it could get weird. If the conservatives were all left to make the decisions, too staunch. We are lucky to have each other to bring us balance and perspective.