I went to the Nederland post office the other day to pick up mail, and saw a car that looked out of place, and couldn’t put my finger on why. Then it hit me — the car was actually clean! Shortly after observing this fact, I looked at the license plate and saw it was Illinois — not big surprise there. One sure sign that you are in the mountains of Colorado, seeing a used, dirty Subaru ( which of course is my car of choice, a dirty red Forester to be exact). Having lived in the mountains of both Lake Tahoe and now of course, the Rocky Mountains, dirty cars are a way of life. We live off of a dirt road, that is either throwing up dust, mud, snow, or some combination depending on the season and the current weather. When we first moved here, I tried to sort of keep my car clean. On several occasions, I dutifully took my car to the car wash down in Boulder, spent a good $10 or more scrubbing, soaping, spraying, even waxing. After one day, it’s back to the same, coated in grime and dust. There is one bonus to all that dirt though, it can actually get so muddy on the back of the car, that the license plate is almost unreadable. Because Boulder employs what we call the “Speedy Van” at the mouth of Boulder Canyon, the road leading up to Nederland, there is some thought that the muck may obliterate the plate number and thus protect said driver from getting a ticket. The “Speedy Van” uses radar to capture the speed of drivers heading up the canyon, then sends you a ticket based on this, sort of like a red-light camera. I know this, of course, because in the first two months of living here, I was nabbed by the “Speedy Van” – but hey at least the picture they took of me showed I was enjoying my “speedy” drive with a big smile on my face!
I also found out after my last car gave up the ghost, and I was looking to purchase yet another Subaru, that Colorado is the land of Subarus. In fact, one of the dealerships located south of Denver sells more Subarus than anywhere in the country. It makes sense if you think about it, an All-Wheel Drive car with cargo room, and pretty good gas mileage for getting around all those mountain roads. All Wheel Drive of Four Wheel Drive is pretty much a necessity in Nederland, as there are many steep roads to navigate up the surrounding ridges surrounding Nederland, roads with names like Peakview, and Hurricane Hill. Bryon had a little 2-wheel drive Mazda hatchback when we first moved here, and when he tried to head down one of those hills after the first snowstorm that fall, he called it the luge ride, as his anti-lock brakes were going off the whole time he was sliding down the hill. Shortly thereafter, he traded that car in for a 4-wheel drive SUV, knowing it would a very scary and long winter if he didn’t.
So if you’re visiting the mountains of Colorado, and really want to fit in like a local, just make sure you ask for a Subaru from the car rental agency, and drive a few miles through the dust and muck — no one will be the wiser.