Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dip Down Into Colorado

So we actually took a side trip southward to visit some old college chums, Toby (and his wife Tracy) and Farrell. Having neither ever spent any time at all in Colorado, nor heard of their adopted town of Fort Collins, we had no idea what to expect.

Fort Collins is another one of these little American gems we keep finding on this trip, like Columbus. A lot more going on than you might expect, but it's all good so it doesn't make the news. I say, these Money Magazine people actually seem to know where the best places to live in the US actually are!

Our first full day there, Farrell took us around downtown, which the designer of Main Street USA (Disneyland/world/etc) used as an inspiration, and indeed the old-timey buildings with modern coatings looked the part, though thankfully traffic was not ground to a halt by parades every 15 minutes as you get in the Disney version.

Farrell's a smart, funny, talented actor (as is Toby), so naturally we spent a lot of time laughing. They make quite a team, and when the three of us get together, the pop-culture references and terrible jokes fly. We could be an improv troupe all by ourselves.

I was assuming that they might need some catching up on Doctor Who/Torchwood/et al cult stuff, but Toby's just as big a DW nut as I am (and worse, it's probably all my fault, too!), so instead we look forward to seeing him at next year's Gally convention. If we can talk the Wares into coming out too, we'll have a half-dozen of our bestest old Orlando friends all in one place!

So, just to make certain that we give Fort Collins a high-five in our little travel guide, Toby meets us downtown and takes us for a short walk over to one of the four (!!) local breweries -- New Belgium. It just so happens that Tracy works for the big player in town, Budweiser ... but New Belgium has a working bar that continuously gives out all the free beer you can drink! Hoo HAH! I'll give you one guess what's the most popular after-(and possibly during)-work hangout spot in Fort Collins!

Turns out, however, that there are a lot of nice little places to hang out in town, and when you get tired of indoor places, there's that darn nature thing hanging around all over the place outside! After the two-dimensional landscape of Nebraska, it was lovely to see mountains again, and Toby's house is quite near some incredible scenic drives into the late-fall beauty of what I guess you'd call the foothills of the Rockies.

To top things off, Farrell was determined to show us some of the goofier points of interest -- and apparently there are quite a few about. We missed out on a chance to tour the Washing Machine Museum ("I'm getting too old for this," grumped the owner when we called to inquire), but we did get a chance to check out the Swetsville "Zoo," a labour of love and spot-welding for the folk-art/genius curator. It's hard to describe, so this seems the perfect moment to mention that pictures of Fort Collins, New Belgium, Toby, Farrell, mountains and metal are all showcased right here.

Suffice to say we had a great time.