In summer 2000, I chased the dot com bubble to the Front Range. That winter, I was rewarded with my first snow of the 21st century there. Not a huge snowfall but enough to be a delight. I set out before dawn to see how far up Old Gold Camp Road I could get and enjoy the wintry sights.
Even before sunrise the cold, coated landscape amazed me. It had been years since I had seen and smelled so much snow.
Light reflecting off of the full moon began to seep through cloud cover, casting a soft glow over the frosty land. I shivered, not from the cold but at the sight of it all. I knew I would one day have to live in the mountains full time to find happiness at home.
This is the house I lived in after first snow there. Not down on the plain, but close. Still, it beat the hell out of other places I had lived. Mule deer roamed around the neighborhood without fear.
A silence fell over the city and everyone seemed to sleep in late that day, but I couldn't. It was just too beautiful to ignore.
Bear Creek Canyon from the Old Gold Camp Road provided a wintry view of my new neighborhood. A long walk up its trails toward the peaks was in order after sunrise.
Looking out over the city from Old Gold Camp Road after the first snow of 2000 convinced me I had made the right choice to leave the lowlands and large, toxic cities to work through the rest of my professional career at higher, less crowded altitudes.
But the dot com bubble burst just a few months later and the company I was working for began to fold. My days on the Front Range were numbered. I clung to that stretch of life as long as I could until leaving a year after arriving.
Driving through there last summer to pick up a generator in Monument, the traffic was horrible. I didn't even bother to get off of the interstate to visit favorite places again. The city had grown beyond comfortable dimensions and density, nixing any desire to return. I'll be taking the most remote backroads into the Rockies of Colorado from now on.