Tips for New Coloradans

Practical Advice for Noobs

So, you’re new to Colorado. Regardless of where you came from, there are likely to be some quirks to your new home that you could stand to be warned of. Since most people who move to Colorado arrive in the Denver metro area, I’m making the assumption that you are around there.

If you moved to somewhere else in the state, some of these things will still be applicable.

  1. Steam rooms are your new buddy. Colorado is dry. Get a gym membership and use the damn steam room. Make sure you join a gym that actually has a steam room. I personally prefer the YMCA as if you join one of them, you can visit all of the area YMCA branches via the Away Program. However, not all branches have steam, so see what your local one has before you decide. When I lived in Louisville, KY I could not have imagined doing this as that entire town is a steam room. Colorado is dry. Steam is your friend.
  2. Snow tires are a fun new expense that you’ll want to have at your disposal, especially if you plan on venturing into the mountains to sit in traffic on the way to a ski area. Actually, they are required as “Under a Traction Law, motorists will need to have either snow tires, tires with the mud/snow (M+S) designation, or a four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicle — all tires must have a minimum one-eighth inch tread.”That’s not even completely correct as the law has just (and I mean just, as of this posting) changed to require that tread be 3/16 of an inch instead of 1/8 and those traction laws are now in effect for a full 9 months and not just during inclement weather. You really want an all wheel drive or 4 wheel drive vehicle, too. I live in the mountains. I mean that.
  3. Street Sweeping will be your nemesis if you live in the City and County of Denver and don’t have your own parking space. It happens once a month, April through November, though the day varies depending on your neighborhood (actually read the signs on your street). If you forget, it’s a $50 fine. That shit adds up and Denver is the town in which the boot was invented, so you don’t want to push it. You can sign up for alerts on the city website.
  4. Yes, Casa Bonita is real. Yes, the food is terrible. The cliff diving is legit, though. You pretty much have to go at least once.
  5. Accessorize with a water bottle. I carry one everywhere I go and I’m not the only one. Did I mention that Colorado is dry? Also, we’re solidly environmentally conscious and getting better. You can refill that shit. Carry a bottle. Refill it. Be a Coloradan.
  6. Consider RTD. I realize that this is not much of a recommendation. RTD is not great. Also, RTD could be worse. Like, they exist and can take you a fair amount of places. Sure, their schedules are often a fantasy and they like to drop routes without communicating that to their riders (i.e. scheduled buses get cancelled with no warning), but… you can take RTD to the mountains in certain instances and, if you have a flexible job that understands the limitations of public transport, you can save a lot on gas and do an environmentally friendly thing. Check to see if your job provides an Eco Pass benefit. That’s the best way to use RTD.
  7. License Plates. Colorado requires you have front license plates on your car. It’s the first state that I’ve lived in that does. If you are like me and your front plate holder is unusable due to rusted and unremovable screws, you will still get a ticket. Challenge that ticket (they make a lot of mistakes, it’s always worth trying – I got my plate ticket reduced) and then figure out another way to attach that plate. Colorado is very big brother. All of the toll roads are photo enforced, so you’ll end up getting a bill in the mail if you take them. This is probably why they are into having front plates.
  8. Need a Colorado ID? You can’t get it the same day. You will get it in the mail in 10-14 days. Every other state I’ve lived in, you get it the same day, but not in Colorado. It seems it’s a Real ID recommendation, so perhaps all states will be moving towards this, but if you come from a state that has not implemented the change, be aware: the DMV will punch a hole in your ID invalidating it and then give you a piece of paper as a temporary ID. Not everyone accepts this paper as valid ID (caution at bars), so you’ll have 10-14 days of ID issues. One great thing is that you can renew your ID online for up to 10 years (if it’s not a CDL ID), which is awesome. That means, if you lose your ID, you can just order a new one online. Huzzah for this.
  9. Unless your vehicle is 7 model years old or less, you’ll be required to get an emissions test to register your car. The type of test varies according to the age and type of vehicle and certain counties are exempt (holla, Gilpin!), but it does cost $25. Maybe this is more common than I realize, but coming from the Midwest and Appalachia, it was news to me.
  10. Sunblock is also your friend. Unless you are blessed with protective melanin, you’re going to want to stock up. I’m pretty sure my ancestors lived in caves, so my daily morning lotion contains SPF 15 and I use SPF 50 for days I’m actively spending time outdoors. The entire state is pretty damn high up (the elevation of Denver is officially 5280 feet above sea level, I live at 9000 feet up), so you will be exposed to more UV than you would at lower elevations. Make sunblock a habit and wear it year round.
  11. Colorado is a great place to vote. It’s easier than anywhere I’ve lived as ballots are mailed to you and you can just mail them back or drop them off. In an era where certain states have made voting way more difficult than it should be, Colorado is a breath of fresh air (just not literally).
  12. Natives. Sometimes natives are a bit petulant about people moving into their state. To be fair, there are a lot of us. Most people are fine and most of that petulance is exhibitied online and is easily ignored. Just be a good citizen and mostly you will be ok. Oh, and if you are a crappy driver and you know it, maybe work on that.

Colorado - Welcome to Denver

100 Favorite Things

Not all that long ago, Brendan Leonard over at Semi-Rad published a list of 100 Favorite Things. Writing my own list was surprisingly satisfying, so I’m sharing it. Given how negative life can be, spending the time to come up with 100 positive things was a nice exercise that I recommend.

  1. Frank Herbert’s Dune books. That’s only the Frank Herbert books and explicitly not the ones by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.
  2. Fruit. Specifically, mangoes, raspberries, cherries, pineapple, and peaches. I hear India has the best mangoes and I kinda want to visit just to taste them.
  3. Summer nights
  4. Odd 13’s Humulus Kalecumber beer
  5. Sherlock
  6. James S.A. Corey’s Expanse book series and the associated television show
  7. Picking up heavy objects and putting them down again
  8. Photography – even when my only camera is my phone, I’ll never stop thinking like a photographer
  9. This video about making things
  10. This YouTube channel in general
  11. Galloping a horse across an open field
  12. Skiing – all the time, all types. I’m also a beginner snowboarder and I think I’ll like that too, once I’m better at it.
  13. The Legend of Zelda. Specifically, the original The Legend of Zelda NES game, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Wind Waker, Skyward Sword, Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Breath of the Wild. I never played any of the old Gameboy Zeldas.
  14. Learning to cook Indian Food
  15. Skyrim – yes, it’s old and buggy as hell, but I still love it. I also like to run to the soundtrack.
  16. You Must Remember This
  17. Disgraceland
  18. Freakonomics – both the book and the podcast
  19. The X- Files – the first five seasons in particular
  20. The love-hate relationship that I have with the incredible-terrible phenomena that is running.
  21. The very similar feelings that I have toward writing.
  22. The very similar feelings that I have toward swimming whitewater
  23. Brain Pickings
  24. The Left Hand of Darkness
  25. Giant snow storms. I want enough snow to have to dig tunnels.
  26. This specific chocolate
  27. All Miyazaki films, but especially Nausicaa
  28. This short film
  29. Kurt Vonnegut in general, though God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater is my favorite
  30. Asimov’s Foundation Series
  31. Drinking beer with my brothers
  32. Gentlemen Broncos
  33. Noisli – my favorite productivity site
  34. Kanopy – all you need is a library card from a participating library
  35. Also, the literary equivalents, Overdrive or Libby
  36. Khan Academy
  37. The Venture Bros is so good that it hurts.
  38. Silflay hraka u embleer rah – the best book you’ll ever read about rabbits
  39. I used to play a lot of Everquest II and I still kinda miss Norrath
  40. I still have dreams of breaking through the pack and I quit roller derby in 2013
  41. What’s better? Star Trek or Star Wars? The correct answer is Babylon 5
  42. Whitewater rafting on the Gauley River
  43. This podcast keeps me motivated to not give up on filmmaking
  44. And this guy keeps me motivated in general
  45. Castlevania on Netflix is amazing.
  46. It’s been years since we moved away from Kentucky, but Dragon King’s Daughter is still one of my favorite places.
  47. Shish Kabob Grill in Denver still has the best hummus I’ve ever had.
  48. Rioja is my favorite for a fancy pants meal.
  49. The trout amandine at Steuben’s in Uptown is so good that I never order anything else.
  50. Strange Planet has me hooked
  51. Best of the Worst has filled the void that MST3K used to occupy (no, I haven’t seen the new MST3K yet)
  52. Watching bad movies with my husband
  53. Star Trek Timelines – I tried deleting it from my phone. I failed.
  54. This subreddit
  55. Fooducate
  56. 10 Barrel’s Cucumber Crush – I dig sours
  57. DiNK Denver
  58. Learning to cook Mediterranean Food
  59. This is my favorite cook book, though
  60. Pod Save America
  61. iNaturalist
  62. My favorite Star Trek TNG episode
  63. WiFMCO
  64. This class
  65. The Best Thing on Facebook
  66. The Oatmeal
  67. XKCD
  68. After years of dealing with white gas, I finally got a Jetboil and I’m a total convert
  69. I like the Aqua Teen Hunger Force so much that I named one of my cats after it
  70. Sealab 2021 was an underrated gem
  71. Adding places to my travel spreadsheet even though I can’t afford to go anywhere yet. I like how optimistic it feels.
  72. My friends sci fi synth band
  73. Andy Serkis as Theresa May
  74. The Colorado Sun
  75. Obvious Plant
  76. The Eric Andre Show
  77. Reductress
  78. Seed&Spark
  79. Raspberry/Lemon/Strawberry Fruit Frenzy Popsicles from Trader Joes
  80. NPRs podcasts. Basically, all of them, but especially Hidden Brain.
  81. Nightvale Presents Podcasts – Alice Isn’t Dead, Welcome to Nighvale, and Within the Wires are my favorites so far. Pretty sure I’m going to like Start With This, too.
  82. We’re Alive
  83. Semi-Rad – gotta give a shout out to the inspiration
  84. This video about faking a model
  85. The Sagan Series
  86. By the Book
  87. Wild Ideas Worth Living
  88. The happy hour specials here
  89. My favorite bookstore in Denver
  90. My other favorite bookstore in Denver
  91. My favorite breakfast spot in Denver
  92. My favorite bar in Denver
  93. My favorite bar in Denver that has live music
  94. Classical Art Memes
  95. and then we’ll be ok..
  96. This shirt
  97. The fact that Final Fantasy VII is on switch
  98. This shuttle
  99. This cozy little bookstore/coffee shop/ice cream parlour in Nederland

New Years Travel Resolutions for the Fiscally Disadvantaged

I like making lists, so I like the idea of resolutions. My personal “19 for 2019” is already complete, but I’ve decided to make a separate list of travel resolutions to help move me in the direction of actually being able to go places.

To be clear, “Fiscally Disadvantaged” is relative. Overall, I’m pretty lucky and I’m much less poor than I used to be, I just live in a relatively expensive area and don’t quite make enough to travel. I don’t mean to demean the struggle of those suffering through actual impoverishment. Travel is a luxury that I struggle to obtain, but it’s still a luxury. Perspective matters.

With that being said, here are some things that I think will help me move forward.

1. Renew passport before it expires. It’s good to have it handy just in case, and it’s cheaper this way.

2. Curate a travel wishlist via Google docs. I’ve already started this, but it needs some work. I find that the act of creating the list inspires me to work harder at getting my shit together. I like Google Docs because I can easily share the list with my husband and he can edit it, but use what works for you.

3. Deposit something from each pay check into savings and do not touch it. I’m starting out with $10 for now.

4. Seek out alternative means of income. Bonus points if these methods are location independent. In my case, I’m working on blogging, film production, ski instruction, and learning to code.

5. Simultaneously, seek more lucrative employment in your field. My day job is academic scientific research. I either need a better paying academic lab or I need to move to industry.

Anyone out there have their own list? What’s on it? Any tips or suggestions?

Cheers and a belated Happy New Year to all!

Sunshine and show blowing on a ski run
Looking uphill from Muleshoe run at Eldora Mountain Resort, the ski area where I teach.