Miles Driven: 854.2
Average gas: $2.60
Slept: Campground, Family house, truck stop
Rocky Mountains all around in the distance, waterways everywhere, and well-detailed aesthetic comprise Colorado in all its wonder. Some places I was able to visit: Telluride, Gunnison (and the Gunnison National Park), Westminster/Denver, Golden, Arvada, Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods, and Trinidad. All of these places had the aesthetic in common. It seems that the community in this state values clean, cute towns and store fronts. Nearly every public building has brick, and even many streets are paved with brick or cobblestone! It really is quite precious the way everything looks so clean and well-maintained.
This state is surprisingly very friendly to those wishing to Van life it up, as there are pull outs, national forests, truck stops, and campgrounds at nearly every turn. Another plus is the water. It seems every town has a creek, river, or lake, and I am a sucker for that!
The bulk of my time was spent with family, and I was fortunate to get in a day or so of rest, and several days of a full belly. Something I have yet to discuss on this blog, despite it being a prominent reality, is the nutrition situation. Choosing to camp/van life and keep costs down also mean sacrificing the ability to cook or eat in a regular way. The majority of what I eat is similar to hikers and backpackers–nut butters, seeds, jerkies, dried fruit, protein powders. Occasionally I’ll get some fresh produce, and even less occasionally I’ll use my camp stove and heat up some pre-made meals (like quinoa or jackfruit bags). Every now and then I’ll stop and get food from a restaurant, but without a motel room this isn’t really worth it to me, as I most often require a doggy bag for the size of meals these days! Fortunately, I worked for an amazing company for several years before this excursion. The community at Frog Hollow Farm gifted me an amazing care package loaded with yummy snacks (rosemary crackers, olive oil brownies, dried apriums), and pounds of legendary produce. I was so excited and am so grateful to receive this. The farm fresh produce of California has been the largest noticeable absence in my life!
Something else I noticed the absence of but hadn’t realized until hitting Colorado is traffic. Ranked at #22 in the nation, Colorado has only one-sixth of the population of California, but the traffic is definitely real. It took 20 minutes to go less than 6 miles on the freeway. I had not experienced that since leaving California 18 days ago. That is an absence I’d prefer to stay away! Everyone has been so calm, such courteous drivers until Colorado. All throughout Colorado people sped way over the speed limit, rode a little too close to the rear, and did the infamous “cut-offs” from exits. I tell you: the struggle is real. So real, it almost took away from the beauty of the state.
The weather in Colorado is notable and worth mentioning. On the Western portion of the state, the weather is cooler, about 80ish degrees (farenheit) during the day, and drops to the 40s at night (this was the first night I needed my fleece blanket). Around Denver, it’s closer to 100 degrees during the day, 80 at night, but it storms something fierce. There were several rain, thunder, and lightning storms while I was there. One night there was even a flash flood warning! That was a treat to experience. A flash flood warning on a warm August night.
I went into Colorado with a huge hype–so many people I love discussed the beauty of the state, how fun it is, and several people have mentioned wanting to live there. While it is definitely a worthwhile visit, it didn’t strike me in ways that other states have. The traffic is similar to California (negative points), the trail access is nowhere near as vast as Utah, and the altitude is real (while in Colorado, my bones ached, I felt dizzy, and simple walks turned into heavy breath. This is supposed to take 6 months to adjust to!). People are a lot happier though (cost of living here makes for a more rounded lifestyle), the aesthetic is out of this world, and if you ski or snowboard, there are mountains everywhere! Ultimately we all make our own opinions, and Colorado is gorgeous, but I will not be living here anytime soon.
Thank you for reading. As always, if you have suggestions, questions, or writing gigs, please reach out!
Fun Note: I went to Trinidad on happen chance. I saw it on the map and thought it looked close enough to NM to sleep for the night. In second grade, peers used to call me Trinidad in jest. It drove me crazy, I’d get riled, fight, and tattle to the yard duties. For no reason, I HATED this nickname. So I wanted to stop here for some inner child healing. Huge bonus (learned post-arrival): Trinidad was featured on South Park because it is known as the “sex-change capital of the world!” Of course, the doctors and practice have since moved to California, but the town still remains adorable with cobble streets, lively restaurants, several museums, an 800-acre lake, and a happening blues fest called Trinidaddio. Oh, and a huge economy focused around dispensaries (too bad I’m the only Californian who doesn’t smoke). Trinidad is a precious town worth a visit.