A Coloradoan One Year in the Making

It’s been a full year now since I’ve moved to Colorado. My first year in Colorado was challenging financially and mentally; I’d always been successful in school, so struggling to find a job was a growing process I wasn’t prepared to face. While I spent a lot of time stressing over my lack of a job, I made sure to take time for myself so I wouldn’t go completely crazy. Looking back, I was able to do some amazing things.

Here’s a peek at some of the highlights of my first year as a Coloradoan.

I drove to the top of Trail Ridge Road with my family in Rocky Mountain National Park twice.

We drove to the top of Trail Ridge Road when my parents first moved me out to Colorado last August and again when they came to visit with my younger brother in July. The winding road made me a little car sick, but this drive is definitely worth it for the amazing views.

I toured the New Belgium Brewery… eight times?

This is a must-do every time someone visits Fort Collins. And I guess we’ve had a lot of visitors. New Belgium has an awesome tour, complete with a slide and 4-5 free beers. The best part is that they ask trivia questions during the tour and give away beer to whoever answers correctly. Guess who’s started memorizing the answers?

I hiked my first 14er.

One of my roommates/track teammates/best friends from college moved to Denver a few months before my journey to Fort Collins. She is an outdoor adventure junkie and invites me to join her on expeditions. Last September we were both jobless and in need of a getaway. So we road tripped to Fairplay and hiked Mt. Sherman. It was my first 14er and 100% more challenging than I ever imagined hiking could be. Maybe it was because my thick, Wisconsin blood wasn’t yet acclimated to high altitude. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see any stunning views, as we hiked directly into a cloud. We then practically ran down the mountain to avoid an incoming storm.

I adopted a cat.

Miles! We adopted her in September from Larimer Humane Society. She is adorable and loves playing fetch. What else can I say? She’s become a very big part of our small family.

I hiked some more.

My college roomie and I embarked on many hiking adventures to avoid going insane from unemployment. Hiking was always a good chance to be active and vent about being poor and jobless. Great therapy; I’d highly recommend it!

I skied some Colorado Mountains… for almost free! (Don’t tell anyone.)

My boyfriend and I got a two for one deal on ski passes. Technically, I was supposed to be a college student to get this deal, but we somehow got away with it. My boyfriend planned on getting a pass anyway, so mine was free. All I really paid for all season were my skis, which I got for a good deal off eBay. The boots had belonged to my boyfriend in middle school and the poles and goggles were borrowed from friends. Score!

I completed my first triathlon. Sprint triathlon, of course.

My boyfriend registered me for a sprint triathlon as a Christmas gift. This may sound cruel to some of you, but it was actually a really good gift idea! I’d been wanting to try a triathlon since finishing my track career. I was pretty into training in January, but then I ended up getting a few part-time jobs and stopped training as much.  It was incredibly windy the day I competed, making the swim a challenge. Needless to say I completed the tri, but I’d like to try another one after training more. Hopefully the weather will be nicer.

I went to a Rockies game… for FREE!

That’s right. Club seats at a Rockies game, complete with an unlimited supply of food and alcohol. All for free. How is this possible? Well I got a kick-ass internship with GoAbroad.com, and this company knows how to reward its employees. I didn’t pay much attention to the game (I’ll only watch baseball if the Brewers are playing), but it was definitely a blast.

I experienced my first wildfire.

High Park Fire was only about 15 miles from where I lived. It tore through Poudre Valley, which is a beautiful area for camping, hiking and rafting. I had never experienced a wildfire before, so I learned a lot about how they’re handled. I was also able to enjoy the smell of campfire many days during the summer of ’12. Unfortunately the smell is not enjoyable when you are not actually sitting around a campfire.

I hiked my second 14er.

On Father’s Day my college roommate and I hiked Mt. Yale. It was challenging, but I feel like my first 14er was more of a struggle. Hooray for altitude acclimation! It was so windy that day, especially toward the top of the mountain, that we had to stop about 50 yards before reaching summit. I had to prop myself against this rock to somewhat stand up for this photo. Otherwise we were crouching for half of the hike after we came out of the treeline. When I got home and showered, I was surprised to find my Q-tip covered in black dirt after cleaning out my ears. The sign of a successful trip.

I did some rock climbing and bouldering.

My college roommate and her boyfriend are skilled rock climbers. They invited me to join them a few times and passed on some of their rock climbing expertise. This is something I’d definitely like to keep working on.

I got a full-time job!

It’s true. Almost an entire year after moving to Colorado, I finally landed a full-time job. But I’ll save the details for another post.

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