Saturday, December 21, 2013

Boulder bound

Car parked on my parents' block in Boulder. 


       People fall in love with Colorado. They take one look at those craggy mountains, that clean air (except for Denver, which is Cleveland with mountains) partake of the vigorous lifestyle, sample the way-left-of-center politics, at least in Boulder, and never return to wherever home happens to be.
      I am not one of those people. Even though — and very few of my acquaintances know this about me —I first visited Colorado 40 years ago, and have gone back frequently ever since, and lived there, oh, the better part of a year, all total, if you add up various summers and sojourns and visits. My parents live there still.
Photo by Carle Calvin @UCAR
      It began in 1973, when my father, a government physicist, started spending summers working at NCAR, the National Center for Atmospheric Research. We all came along. If you've ever watched Woody Allen's "Sleeper," you caught a glimpse of NCAR--I haven't seen the movie in decades, but somehow, the scene where the nose gets flattened by the steamroller comes to mind. We'd rent the house of a professor who was somewhere else, and I'd wander Boulder, not doing much of anything I didn't do back in Ohio — reading, riding my bike. I must have done some outdoorsy Colorado things -- I do remember climbing the Arapahoe Glacier. 
      In 1987, my father retired from NASA in Cleveland, and they moved full time to Colorado-- but by then I was working at the Sun-Times, and dating Edie, and to be honest, never felt the pull as much as other people have. The mountains are nice, but Colorado struck me as being for the mountain-addled. You could hang out in Boulder and enjoy a sort of full-time Scoutmaster existence, gobbling handfuls of gorp and identifying spoor. Or you could live in Chicago and be an adult and accomplish things beyond learning Tai Chi. 
    It helped they didn't want me. Boulder had a newspaper, the Boulder Daily Camera, and I clearly remember interviewing . The editor who talked to me said, in essence, "Our janitor has a degree from Harvard, and is mopping the floor, just waiting for his break here. Why should we hire you?" They didn't quite grab me by the collar and the back of the belt and heave me out the door, but the result was the same.
    It was an interesting place. Lots of Volvos. I had my 1963 P1800 for a while, and remember, at one intersection in downtown Boulder, that there were three other P1800s at a four-way intersection.That probably couldn't happen any other place outside of Sweden.  The University of Colorado named its student union snack shop the Alferd [sic] Packer Restaurant and Grill, after a notorious Colorado cannibal who devoured his traveling companions on terrible snowbound winter. That always struck me as clever.  
    So I have a fondness for Boulder, for its restaurants, and quirky shops like the Artists' Co-Op, the Pearl Street Mall and all that nature. I even ... and nobody knows this ... sometimes ski. I'm putting on my Colorado uniform -- Keen hiking boots, rag-wool socks, REI fleece—and heading there Tuesday, with Kent in tow, and will try to file a report or two from the People's Republic of Boulder. I'll try to find the right Colorado-bound reading material for the flight, but it'll be hard to top the year I brought along, Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance by Stephen Herrero. "Unflinching" the book's inside flap says of its exhaustive, graphic account of every bear mauling on record. Which is not a claim that the reader can echo.  




7 comments:

  1. "Alferd" is actually the correct spelling of Mr. Packer's name.

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    1. Yes, I know -- I guess I put the "sic" in there so readers wouldn't correct me. It might also imply a mistake; I should have paused to explain that. Thanks.

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  2. But no bears mall, unless they are shopping while "mauling" someone! Have fun.

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    1. Thanks Bill. And I appreciate your assistance in those twin challenges this week.

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  3. Give my regards to the Celestial Seasonings plant and HQ! Can you still smell the potpourri from a mile away?

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  4. I've taken that tour, not too long ago -- it's fun.

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  5. Any suggestions for talk radio on issues that's inbetween Rush Limbaugh or the drivel at Stephanie Miller progressive talk on 820, mid morn?

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