“So do you really love living up here?” Karen asked.
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“So what do you find the most daunting about it? It’s probably the commute, isn’t it? Is it hard driving up and down the canyon every day?”
I felt surprised by her assumption.
“No, the commute doesn’t really bother me. I’m sure it seems long when you haven’t done it much, but it’s not that bad. Using the Summer Road, it’s only about 20 minutes to Boulder. And there are little landmarks you notice along the way that kind of break down the drive. Like Boulder Falls, or Sugarloaf Road. Honestly, I find it much more mentally exhausting driving in a traffic down to Denver.”
At our recent dinner party we had last week, friends of ours questioned about living in Nederland. They’ve been considering making the leap to mountain living and wanted to know everything about it. While life can be challenging — 80 mile per hours winds, the constant threat of wildfires during the summer — I don’t find the commute to be one of those challenges.
However, my friend is not alone in that thinking. A couple of years ago a co-worker confessed he envied our cool mountain summers. “But I could never drive that winding canyon road twice a day — that is just crazy!”
It’s true after eight years and hundreds of drives up and down Boulder Canyon, you kind of forget what it’s like for the average person. I confess that some times I leave Boulder and arrive home, and realize that I don’t remember much of what I saw along the way.
But this week, I found that daily commute to be quite memorable in a good way. Our recent snow blanketed the evergreens and dotted the granite cliffs, making it seems like a scene from a postcard. I marveled at the beauty of The Narrows as I drove home the other night. All the crags of rock were frosted like icing dripping from a cake. It’s easy to take the scenery for granted, but I felt completely in awe of the scene.
But I realize mountain commuting is not for everyone. Others tire of the winding, curvy roads or even get motion sick. A friend of mine took the RTD Nederland bus once, and referred to it from that point on as the “Vomet Comet.” I enjoy the bus ride and when I can make it work in my schedule, try to take it often. I always ride on the Boulder Creek side of the bus. Riding the bus, I notice the details — the cables strung over the creek for climbers, people fly fishing in the creek, rock climbers scaling the rugged walls.
But honestly, I’ve spent much of my life commuting around mountain towns — first in the Sierra for five years, and now in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Perhaps, no commute packed as much of a scenic punch as my drive back and forth to Estes Park five days a week. True, it took me a little over an hour and 43 miles of driving each way. But I got to see snow capped peaks, aspens ablaze in colors of gold and orange, and all kinds of wildlife.
I’d take that any day of the week over sitting in a traffic jam on I-25 or worse yet back east somewhere. I know friends who spend 1 1/2 hours in the car each day to drive 15 miles.
That seems like the sure route to insanity to me.