The Westward Expansion took place two centuries ago, but people are still hitching up their wagons and following the sunset. After living in Colorado for a little over a year, I’ve come to learn that no one is really from this state. And the few natives that do exist tend to be a little too proud of the fact that their parents moved to Colorado and birthed them here.
Most of the people I’ve met in Colorado are actually from the Midwest. Out of these Midwesterners, a majority hail from Wisconsin (woot!). When I first moved to Northern Colorado, I knew one girl from my high school who had already lived here for a year. My college roommate and her boyfriend moved to Denver a few months before I arrived in FoCo. A week after my arrival, two more people I went to college with moved here. Now I know 12 people living in Colorado who either grew up or went to college in Wisconsin. Yeah, 12. Of these 12, eight went to the same college as me, and there may be more to come.
Did we all plan to move to Colorado together and have a miniature college reunion out West? No, I don’t roll like that. With Colorado, it just happened. People started moving here for school or work or just to have access to one of the greatest outdoor playgrounds.
Don’t get me wrong; I love knowing people here who I can reminisce with about college or cheesecurds. I also love that every time I wear a Packers shirt, I can count on at least one person to give me a “Go Pack!” And if I go to a bar during a football game, I can count on running into hordes of people wearing Packers or Badgers gear. Once, a random guy saw the word “Wisconsin” on my boyfriend’s t-shirt, ran over to us to share that he grew up there, and hung out with us the rest of the night. Yup, Wisconsin is kind of a big deal around here…
Being surrounded by people from the Midwest is great, but I still think it’s strange that so many people from that region moved to Colorado. What’s wrong with the Midwest? We have lakes, forests, rolling farmland… all the essentials.
Maybe some people were sick of being crammed in the middle and wanted to take the “mid” out of their Midwest location. Maybe others remembered playing Oregon Trail as a kid and wanted to prove they could travel to the West without contracting dysentery. (Challenge accepted!)
For me, one of the perks of moving to Colorado was the fact that it’s similar to where I grew up in a lot of ways. How so?
Once you get used to the altitude, 300 days of sunshine and an occasional 60 degree day in January, the climate in Colorado is pretty similar to the climate in the Midwest. You get to experience all four seasons, which is a necessity for me. And even though a foot of snow will likely melt the next day, you can always head to the mountains if you’re craving powder. Additional bonus? Dry summers! No more sweating simply by standing outside.
The culture in Colorado is also comparable to that of the Midwest. Everyone is friendly; probably because they’re all from America’s heartland. There’s also a good number of liberal college towns surrounded by many conservative rural areas (Wisconsin, anyone?). People are into hunting, fishing, farming and all sorts of outdoor activities. Take away the hipsters, replace them with sports fanatics and you might as well be living in the Midwest.
Midwesterners are known for their “work hard, play hard” work ethic. In Colorado, there is no limit to how hard you can play. In Wisconsin “play hard” usually refers to “drink lots,” but doing anything you enjoy counts as playing. Here, you’ll be hard pressed to find an activity that involves playing without working at the same time. Hiking, mountain biking, skiing, rock climbing, road biking, kayaking… If you’re into the outdoors, Colorado is your adult jungle gym.
I’m not sure how long I’ll live in Colorado; at some point I’ll probably migrate back to more familiar territory. But for now it’s nice to have a piece of home with me in such an amazing place. Maybe some day we can rename Colorado “West Wisconsin.” In the mean time, the bf and I will open a Packers/Badgers/Bucks/Brewers bar that serves cheesecurds, sausages and New Glarus beer. We will make a fortune!