Fifteen Observations About Living in Colorado
- The grocery stores don’t have doors. At least the King Sooper doesn’t. We went one night when the wind chill was -4 and a huge section of the front of the store was wide open. As we walked in, we were greeted by a blast of hot air pouring down from the ceiling. Inside, the store was cool, but not uncomfortable. Perhaps it helps keep the produce fresh.
- Colorado must have found a great bargain on white paint, because the streets are covered with it. There are lines galore. It’s difficult at times to know where you’re supposed to be. Often there are painted bike lanes to add to the confusion. Sometimes the bike lanes separate the main lanes from the right-turn lanes, so to get to the right-turn lane you have to cross two solid white lines. At many intersections, there are two left-turn lanes. Sometimes these are separated from the go-straight lanes by an additional, ill-defined, lane-wide space that seems to exist for no purpose whatsoever.
- They’ve gotten totally carried away with medians. Almost every road outside of residential neighborhoods has medians. This means that you can almost never turn left out of parking lots. If your destination is to the left of where you are, you have to go a block or two or three to the right and make a U-turn or cut through the lot of a Mexican restaurant.
- There are a lot of Mexican restaurants. I know of one place where three of them border the same parking lot.
- I don’t have any scientific evidence to back this up, but it sure seems that the wait at traffic lights is a lot longer in Colorado than in Illinois.
- Very few people are actually from here. I honestly believe that I’ve only met two people who were born and raised in Colorado.
- January gets cold and snowy and overcast here, just like in Illinois. But the winter weather only lasts for a day or two at the most and then there’s a stretch of six or eight days when it’s sunny and close to 60°. This is not a complaint. I like the seasons, and to be able to experience all four of them every week is kinda fun. I just have to be prepared and carry my shorts and my parka everywhere I go.
- Snow plowing is done randomly. After a healthy snowfall, one street will be plowed and the next won’t. One parking lot will be clear, the next will be covered in rutted snow and ice. Salting is even more random. It’s only done occasionally here and there. But when it’s done, it’s often in pretty colors. I’ve seen red salt and green salt on roads.
- Service in restaurants is slower and poorer. It takes longer for food to be prepared and the servers make fewer visits to see how you’re doing. Twice in three weeks, our order has been given to someone else, and we were left waiting—and waiting. On both occasions, I had to inform the restaurant staff that we hadn’t received our food. To their credit, on both occasions, they apologized and explained that our they gave our food to other customers. They gave us free meals to make up for their mistake. But how do you give someone’s food to the wrong table? Did the other people order the exact same thing? What happened to the food they ordered? We haven’t been able to figure this out yet.
- You have to drink a lot more water because of the altitude.
- I’ve heard that up to a gallon a day is recommended.
- The altitude doesn’t affect how often you have to find a bathroom. But the gallon a day does.
- There are very few public restrooms in public parks and along hiking trails.
- In Colorado (and this is very important to realize in this context), you are never as alone as you think you are.
- There are a lot of bad drivers. Sure, you see the people going 20 mph over the limit, just like in Illinois. But here there are also a lot of drivers going 20 mph under the limit. Our car insurance went up considerably, simply because we moved to Colorado. Maybe it’s the recreational marijuana.
- There’s recreational marijuana. Stores with green crosses sell it. I’ve seen people walking down the sidewalk in Denver smoking it. There are also a lot of homeless people. A lot of them. The common belief is that they came for the marijuana and got stuck here.
- People are very friendly. Or they’re not. In Chicagoland, strangers I passed on the sidewalk usually made eye contact and nodded minimally—as a mutual assurance that the two of us weren’t about to begin shooting. But in Colorado, some strangers smile and wave or engage me in conversation as if they’ve been my best friend for years. Other strangers walk past without acknowledging my existence whatsoever. Even if I attempt to make eye contact and nod, they look steadfastly ahead and pay no attention. Perhaps it’s the marijuana again.
- Coloradoans seem to be confused about the purpose of right-turn lanes. This is the only reason I can come up with why EVERY right-turn lane has two (2!) “RIGHT LANE MUST TURN RIGHT” signs. I’ve started thinking of it as the Colorado bucket list—One thing everyone MUST do in Colorado before they die.
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