On the drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff, there is a bend in the road where the high desert turns into pine forest. Every time I round that bend, I feel like a four year-old who just found out I am going to Disneyland. I typically try to hold in my giddy clapping at the sight of the pine trees, except when I am with B (which usually results in a “you are so weird” response). What can I say, the mountains make me happy.
It is nice to be so close to the mountains, and in the west again. Key West was like another country in attitude and culture. So is the west compared to the east. Like in Key West, there is no “east-coast action” here. It’s not the island attitude that I loved so much. But, it is the west; rarely are people tightly wound jackasses for no reason. It’s a noticeable difference the further west you drive. The midwest is slightly better than the east, but there is still quite a bit of residual east-coast action. Much more than those heartlanders would have you believe.
One bit of interesting trivia about Fort Collins is that it is the inspiration for Disneyland's “Main Street, USA.” Disney’s designer apparently spent his childhood in Fort Collins. I don’t remember what Disney’s Main Street looks like, but College St. is a main street that is heavily used and crowded with restaurants, bars, and shops. Fort Collins has not been taken over by the glamorati like other old Colorado towns, which makes it a friendlier, less hoity-toity place.
We can do everything we need to do here without moving the car out of the garage. That’s one of the things I loved about living in Portland, Montpelier, and Key West. I can walk or jump on my bicycle and be anywhere in 5-10 minutes. I can shop, eat, and even go to the DMV without getting in my car. Fort Collins also has an extensive trail system all around town, making it even safer to ride a bike to the movies, bookstore, and even dinner. Here’s a link to the map. All the red are paved bike paths, the green is bike lanes, and there are more dirt trails all around town. I love it!