This is NOT the Sexy Part of Colorado

In my 20s, I hung out in the sexy parts of Colorado fairly often. I would say that Aspen is the sexiest of the sexy. I had a good friend who’s parents owned a condo at the bottom of Little Nell (a ski lift). These excursions were usually in the summer when, back in the 70s, the population was less glamorous than during ski season. It was nothing for us to drive up there from Denver for the weekend. I spent a lot of time with them. The sexiest parts were getting dolled up (“Take off your glasses Martha!” “But Bess, if I do that I can’t see!” “You don’t have to see. You have to be SEEN!!!”)  to dance and drink at the Red Onion.

People don’t think of it this way, but Aspen is surrounded by legit Colorado and on those summer nights, if I took I took my Jack Daniels outside the Red Onion for a little fresh air and break from the noise and sat down at one of the tables set up on the sidewalk, I was likely to share the space with a cowboy and his beer.

I spent some winter times there, too, skiing at Snowmass with my boyfriend’s parents and watching women in restaurants drop their fur jackets on the floor beside their chairs. There were also lines of cocaine (it was the 70s, and I was young) that left me wondering if I’d ever sleep again and why anyone found that fun at all (I didn’t). In the swirling 70s mystique cocaine in Aspen was part of the sexiness. I even happened to be at my friend’s apartment when a scary dealer showed up with a bag of uncut coke. My friend — a young, talented Aspen architect — bought it, we snorted some. I was “up” for three miserable nights and days, hating every minute of it, and that was the end of that social experiment, for me, anyway. My friend died a few years later at 35. Nothing sexy about that, nothing sexy about a wasted life.

I spent time — and skied some hills — in less sexy parts of Colorado, too. My favorite not-all-that-sexy ski mountain was Arapahoe Basin. Still, it was sexy in its way, too, sexy in the “I’m the highest ski mountain anywhere” kind of sexy. It was sexy in the “Only extremely cool real Coloradans who are able to drive over Loveland Pass come here.” I was there every weekend one winter. I do not know if there is a pass anywhere that my VW Bug wasn’t ready to take on.

So here I am in South Central Colorado in a flat, mysterious, ancient valley ringed by mountains, a hard-working valley where potatoes are cultivated and giant trucks carry them off to points north, south, east and west. The other night, a visiting friend and I drove across Heaven’s fields — potatoes, alfalfa, hops, barley — and she said, “This is the Colorado people don’t know. It’s not the sexy part.”

A small herd of cattle was running across a pasture for reasons only they knew.

I said, “Yeah, but you know, last time I drove out of this valley to go to Colorado Springs all I could think was ‘every other place is bullshit’.” My friend agreed. She lives in proximity to a somewhat sexy part of the state (Durango and Telluride) but her town might be smaller than mine.

I pointed to the Sangre de Cristo mountains, about to be hit with late afternoon light and I said, “See those? Those are MY mountains. And these fields here? They’re mine. And that immense changing sky? That’s mine, too. There’s a river over there. It’s one of the perqs of living here. It’s my river.” I said “my” but in fact, I belong to them, heart and soul.

She’s the friend who acted as my real estate agent when I wanted to move here. She said, “I was so worried when you said you wanted to live here. I couldn’t imagine you not hating it.”

“I knew I wouldn’t hate it.” My heart filled as it often does here in Heaven. “It’s the best thing I ever did, move here. But no, it’s not sexy. It’s legit.”

Today I went to visit the dogs (since I still can’t walk well enough to bring them home) and take a drive through the legit part of Colorado where I live, past the neat, rich Amish farms, the small herds of sheep, the cattle on the distant fields, the two beautiful mules near the kennel. Summer birds swooped and hunted. The behind the San Juans made them silhouettes. Fields that had been irrigated were filled with wild iris.

Not in the least sexy.

32 thoughts on “This is NOT the Sexy Part of Colorado

  1. I didn’t like coke either and I could never figure out why people liked it. I tried it. I tried everything, but coke was the least interesting drug on the market. Maybe I didn’t try enough of it? I was never motivated to try more, so I didn’t. Ditto, anything obviously addictive. I always had a real terror of addiction because I was sure I was just the kind of gal to get easily hooked and stay that way.

    I’m not sure any part of Massachusetts is sexy, discounting Beacon Hill and Back Bay and a few pieces of Cape Cod plus the islands — Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Nantucket is very sexy and VERY white. We’ve never been there. We are not the kind of couple who are likely to make friends over there. Expensive, even when the Vineyard was not so costly (there was a time when that was true, even in my memory).

    On the other hand, the Vineyard was quite the ragtag crowd. Famous and the infamous and the people who lived there and had to use food banks all winter after the tourists left happily mixed it up. It was “sexy yet friendly” into which we fit comfortably. Lots of colors, too. Shockingly few churches. Fine with me. If you had a place where you could cook your own food, you could stay a long time for surprisingly little money. I don’t know if that’s true anymore, but it was when we were there.

    Otherwise, Massachusetts isn’t very sexy. We’ve got some sexy colleges, though. None of which I attended. And, of course, the Kennedys.

  2. Real/legit beats sexy in my book. Never did try cocaine, I had the sense that it would be wrong for me. Other substances, well, it WAS the 70’s.

    A-Basin, ah, many fond memories of skiing there. And of course you can drive a bug up there. Broke the tailpipes off the family’s 69 beetle doing over ambitions off road work.

  3. Legit has it all over sexy — I don’t know your part of Colorado except through you, but it seems like a wonderful part of the State!

  4. I love how you defined Colorado; the legit and the sexy. I’ve only experienced Colorado from the air. I think I changed planes once in Denver. There’s something attractive about the sexy, especially when your young, but it isn’t long before that wears off. I prefer the real-the legit, so much easier to connect with the environment and the people, no second guessing required!

    • I was thinking as I wrote this that it almost required an “enhanced” state of mind to participate (enjoy?) the sexy parts of Colorado. Clearly, it wasn’t as great as it seemed.

  5. I never thought of Feldbrunnen being sexy, just peaceful and my little Swiss paradise. St Moritz, no not sexy, just a playground for those that need to look sexy. Gstaad is only sexy if you can afford to stay in the Palast Hotel or own a chalet, renting a chalet for two weeks holiday is not sexy, but it is a wonderful place for hikes, walks and just fun

    • CH is sexy exactly as Colorado is sexy. It’s seasonal and localized, more reputation based on the opinion of ousiders than of anyone who actually lives there. Aspen is a town to me. But to no one in the WORLD is Monte Vista sexy.

  6. You made me homesick for my home state. I lived there only until I was two, but the trips back to visit relatives were pure magic. I was born in Grand junction. My grandparents lived there, and Mount Garfield stood sentinel to guide us on the last leg of our journey. Loved it so much.

  7. Sexy is overrated. South Beach is sexy…so they say. Not my style. Got some bad hash in Jamaica so that was it for me. Never was interested in cocaine.

  8. I live in Colorado too. My desert prairie isn’t sexy either at least not in the daylight. But oh the nights! She cleans up nicely! Orange, cream and pink colored sunsets dazzle! Bright lights from cityscapes softly glow, and millions of twinkling stars dance in the heavens. Sometimes she can be a floozy, little show-off!

    • Yep. This unsexy part of Colorado said to me, the first time I saw it as an adult (2014; I came through here a lot as a kid in the backseat of my parents’ car before there was an Interstate) “You came back. Welcome home.” As far as I’m concerned, every love song ever written (unless it has someone’s name in it) was written by me for the Sangre de Cristo mountains, the sunsets, snow on the San Juans, the Sandhill Cranes, the people in my little town, the night sky, the cold, cold winters. Sometimes my valley sings a love song to me, too. ❤ What unsexy part of Colorado do you get to love?

      • I live in the Arkansas Valley. To the south and the Wet Mountains, the Greenhorn, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. To the north, I enjoy Pike’s Peak. In the mornings, birds sing sweetly until the prairie chickens show up and screech for their babes. Deer graze, coyotes run, and eagles and red-tailed hawks soar. On occasion, a stray mountain lion will visit or a bear and her cubs will wander the fields. I like my human neighbors too. 😉

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