Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Boulder: Colorado's Beautiful Playground

The Flatirons from Pearl Street.

  One of my favorite places to visit, each and every summer, is Boulder, Colorado.

  For one, it's where I went to college and spent four awesome years. Many of my best friends still live in Colorado, and more specifically, Boulder.

  Visiting gives me the opportunity to spend some time with them, and catch up after a long year away.

  Secondly, Boulder is, quite honestly, one of the most uniquely beautiful places in the US.

  Bias aside, I challenge anyone to show me a city that can top the scenery and experiences you have in Boulder.

  I spent four memorable years earning my Psychology degree, and playing basketball at the University of Colorado. The beauty of Boulder and its surroundings is unmistakable. Even to an 18 year-old kid.

The Flatirons
Where most of my time in Boulder was spent as a student-athlete.
  Walking through campus at the foot of the Rockies, and having the Flatirons loom large, was quite a backdrop to have everyday. Whether they were covered with snow, displaying the fall foliage, or as was often the case, paired with a bright blue sky, you could never keep your eyes off the Flatirons.

  But during my college years, that's about as far as I got in the Boulder experience.

  As a collegiate athlete at CU-Boulder, the majority of my time and energy was spent on the basketball court at the Coors Event Center, training, studying, or eating at Dal Ward, or at home, trying to get some much-needed rest.

The Flatirons in Winter.
  The giant playground, that is Boulder, went largely unexplored and unnoticed by my 18-22 year old self.

  The hiking, the trails and paths, the creeks, the reservoirs, the parks, the annual events could have been on the moon for all I knew. Unless it was an organized team event or workout, chances are, I never experienced it.

  My nose was to the grindstone. And more often than not, I was too tired, or too busy to notice all the beautiful things surrounding me. Or maybe that's just not what college-aged kids are interested in?

Looking out, along Mt. Sanitas hike.
  Whenever I visit, I look around in amazement. That, wow, this was where I had the opportunity to live and go to school for four years.

  Now, when I visit in the summer, and when sleep and rest isn't at a premium, I do all I can to soak it all up.

An Outdoorsman's Paradise
  Hikes are a must: Chautauqua, Mt. Sanitas, Royal Arch, Flagstaff, the Flatirons.

  Trail runs: Bobolink, Wonderland Lake, Dakota Ridge, Boulder Res.
Royal Arch hike.
  The Boulder Bike paths are an intertwining network that goes throughout the city and beyond. You can walk, run, bike, etc without encountering cars, or crossing traffic miles upon miles.

  There's rock climbing, but I don't dare try that.

  And what I've done is probably still just the tip of the iceberg.

The Bolder BOULDER
  On Memorial Day every year, the city hosts the BolderBOULDER. One of my favorite runs, the Bolder Boulder is a 10k road race through the city, that finishes inside CU's football stadium, Folsom Field. I haven't been able to participate in the run in several years. But the years I did run, was a blast.

Summer trail run. Boulder behind.
  There are roughly 50,000 participants, and as you run the course, you're entertained by the home-owners along the route. Some of the memorable displays include: BBQs, live bands, the 'Halfway House' slip and slide (at the halfway point of the race), and cookie stands.

  It's the the fastest 6 miles you'll ever run in your life.

Pearl Street
  For the non-athlete, there's shopping (or what I do most-often: people-watching) along the always unpredictable, and picturesque Pearl Street Mall. It's a four block pedestrian mall the epitomizes Boulder. Anything goes along Pearl Street. Local restaurants, bars, and cafes, specialty shops, street performers and vendors line the streets day or night, summer or winter.

The Flatirons from inside Folsom Field.
  You can always visit and explore the ever-changing CU-Boulder campus, and the adjacent neighborhood, The Hill.

  Notice how most everything is outside? There must be some good weather in Boulder. And there is!

  As someone who grew up in the gray Pacific Northwest, year-round sunshine was unheard of. But in Colorado the sun is always shining. Call the 300-plus days of sunshine a year proof enough. Sure there is snow, but not nearly as much as you might think.

  One to two weeks every summer (and sadly, only four days this summer) isn't nearly enough time to finish the Boulder to-do list. In fact, it's usually just enough time to get to everything you loved from the year before, and maybe check one more activity off the list.

  Who's been to Boulder? And what are some of your favorite things to do? I know there are some gems I've missed out on!


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