Hanging around outside of Boulder (Days 12-14)
The good news is that we have reach the mountains! The bad news is that we have no idea where we are going next. Shenee has been trying to find a job, but it seems like every possibility falls through for one reason or another. So for now, we are parked at a Park and Ride about 15 miles outside of Boulder, waiting for something to work out. There are certainly worse places to be stuck in limbo.
On Sunday, we went up to Rocky Mountain National Park, which was just a hair over an hour away. I had been there about six years ago, and unfortunately, nothing has changed. We had to wait at the entrance station for about 10 minutes in traffic that reminded me of the Jersey Turnpike. From there, the roads were clogged, most of the parking areas were packed, and there were cars pulled 1/2 way off the road blocking traffic all over the place. We did a driving tour as quick as traffic would allow, and then headed to the Bear Lake trailhead for a 3.6 mile hike to Emerald Lake. After lucking out and getting a parking spot on our first trip around the lot, we started walking. The hike is on a very well worn path, that is moderately steep in a few spots. Both Shenee and I could feel the elevation (10,000 feet), but it impacted her more, as she hadn't felt the effects of elevation before.
We made it to the lake, hung out for 15 minutes or so, and then started the walk back down. About 1/4 of the way down, just as I was going to round a corner on the trail, a HUGE male elk came strutting around the corner. I was only about 15 feet away, and he took a quick glance at me and kept coming. Backpedal, backpedal, backpedal!!!! He walked right on by, and continued up the trail, surprising quite a few other hikers as he went. I followed from a safe distance for a few minutes to grab some pictures, and then we continued on our way.
Back to the car, we drove to Estes Park, and decided to take the long way home. We headed back up into the mountains, and then came down into Boulder via Boulder Canyon. We spent a few hours walking around in Boulder, and then headed back to the tiny house to meet up with an old friend, Josh, who I used to do ski patrol with at Okemo Mountain in Vermont. Josh and his girlfriend Julie brought their new dog, Rena, which Shenee loved. Me, not so much. Now Shenee thinks a dog will fit in the tiny house. Grrrrrrr.
Monday, we went up to Fort Collins to go to the New Belgium brewery. I got a growler (64-oz beer jug) when I was here 6 years ago and have been carting it around ever since. It was time to get that bad-boy filled again! Their tours were booked, but we added our name to the waiting list, and sure enough, we got on the next tour. The tour was about 90 minutes long, and quite in depth. Even I, the beer nut that I am, learned a few things, like:
- New Belgium has the second largest collection of foeders (basically huge whiskey barrels used for wine) in the world.
- New Belgium is the only brewery in the United States with an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in which the workers own 100% of the stock.
- New Belgium produces just under 20% of its own power onsite
- New Belgium's new Asheville, NC brewery will expand capacity enough so that New England will FINALLY get their beer!
Tuesday, I started to get antsy, so I unloaded one of the motorcycles, and while Shenee looked for jobs, I went for a ride up and down a couple of the canyons around Boulder. Up Jamestown Canyon to Brainard Lake and then down Lefthand Canyon. Then up Flagstaff Road, past the Gross Reservoir (no points for whoever named that one), and down Coal Canyon and back to the tiny house. My timing wasn't the best, as I came down out of Coal Canyon just in time for rush hour.
I love Boulder, the proximity to such amazing geography, the availability of so many outdoor activities, and how bike friendly it is, but there are just too many people here. I hate traffic. I sat in traffic for about 15 minutes on my way back to the house. Did I mention that I hate traffic?
In my few days here, I have also learned that Boulder County is NOT even the slightest bit friendly to tiny houses. According to the Boulder County Land Use Department FAQ, "All structures must be on permanent foundations (not on wheels or trailers)" and "Travel trailers, fifth wheels and RV’s do not qualify as dwellings and so may not be lived in permanently." Many first hand accounts I found online stated that Boulder County was a stickler about the rules. That means no Wicked Tiny House in Boulder County. It's disappointing that such a progressive area that is so far ahead of the curve is so many ways it so far behind the curve on the tiny house movement. Not only do they not encourage tiny houses, but they actively discourage them. Shame on you Boulder, it seems you talk the talk, but don't walk the walk.