Why You End Up Somewhere Sometimes


You call someplace home, and if you think about it, there are probably one or two big reasons for that. Maybe you grew up there, you got a great job there, met an amazing girl or guy there. I wasn’t born in Colorado, but when I think about why I moved there, I know it’s because one of my best friends was blown away when he drove through on the interstate ten years ago.

Every time I drive through Glenwood Canyon, I say to myself or whoever is in the car, “My friend Nick started crying the first time he drove through this canyon.” Which is true and probably not something Nick tells a lot of people, but it’s the start of my story about Colorado.

One day, after about a year at his first post-college job at an advertising agency in Iowa, Nick looked out the window and realized he was jealous of the guy mowing the lawn in the office park. He quit his job and took off on a four-month road trip by himself in his red Pontiac Sunfire, couch-surfing and driving through Montana, Washington, British Columbia, Oregon, California, Nevada and Utah, and was on his way east through Colorado when he drove into Glenwood Canyon and was so struck by the vertical sandstone walls shooting up from the Colorado River that his eyes welled up with tears. He said that’s when he knew he wanted to move to Colorado.

That summer, he interviewed for a job as a lifty at Breckenridge Ski Resort, and when October came, he moved to 9,600-foot high Breckenridge, in the typical squalor of a ski town employee. He spent his next two winters there, and during the second one, when he shared a one-bedroom apartment with his sister and her boyfriend, he and I had a few phone conversations about what was next for both of us.

At the time, I was living in Phoenix, and told Nick I was thinking of moving to Portland, Seattle or Denver. I don’t remember what he said over the phone, but it was something about rain in the Pacific Northwest and 300 days of sunshine in Denver. My then-girlfriend and I talked about it, and decided in May that we would head to Denver. That was that, and I lived there for six years, most of the time about 10 blocks away from Nick. Now, I spend most of my year on the road and have no permanent residence, but I still consider Colorado home.

My friend Mick used to say that when you’re young, everything is new, and when you’re old, everything reminds you of something else. When I’m away now and I think about Colorado, my mind cycles through the images from my first few years there, when I was still really discovering the mountains — blood-orange alpenglow on the massive rocky peaks, fat afternoon clouds gathering and rolling over us as we booked it down trails to get to treeline, the first views I had from belay ledges a couple hundred feet up on Lumpy Ridge, Eldo and other places. I see the Colorado I saw when I didn’t know anything about the mountains and was curious about everything in them, and I feel kind of old, but mostly grateful.

When you think about why you are where you are, it might be a simple thing like the weather or family or a workplace that keeps you smiling and motivated. Sometimes it’s a story. I like my story about my friend, a few years ago, when he was young, a little lost, and maybe a little weary of being on the road, peering out his windshield and being moved to tears.

When I think of Colorado, I hardly ever think of Glenwood Canyon. But when I drive through Glenwood Canyon, I always think of Nick, and then I remember why I love Colorado.


19 replies on “Why You End Up Somewhere Sometimes

  • John

    I moved to the Roaring Fork Valley from Pennsylvania because I was jealous of the lady weeding the bricks in downtown Aspen. She looked so happy, and I was so miserable facing my flight home after spending a week in the Maroon Bells Wilderness.

  • Jason C

    If I had it all to do over again, I’d be in Colorado. But I’m not. I am where I am with my family and where they are is home and where I’m happy. I’ll do my best to be in Colorado when I can and keep it exciting and new and fresh every time I go there. Maybe some day it will be my “second” home.

  • jesse

    Everyone needs to be moved to tears by a place. Although when I drive through Glenwood Canyon all I can think of is that its a shame they put an interstate through there.

  • Elle

    That’s how I felt when I first moved to California from Colorado! Both are beautiful places but our hearts determine where we call home. When I crossed the Golden Gate for the first time I knew I wanted to nestle into those hills. Now, you’ll never get me out!

  • mattcr

    sometimes it also takes moving somewhere that isn’t for you to help you realize where that somewhere is. i went to college in colorado and grad school in oregon, with a short stint for my first job in san diego. san diego turned out to be almost everything that i am not and living there made me much more aware of who i am and where i need to be. i thank oregon and colorado for shaping me into the person i am now, but i also have to thank my experience in san diego for teaching me who i am not.

  • Aaron F

    Every time I go to Gobblin Valley & Moab I remember the friend who asked me to meet him there for my first visit….. He said something like “Yea dude, you gotta go, it’ll change your life”. We hiked Little Wild Horse & Bell Slot Canyons, Ding & Dang Slot Canyons, then down to the needles district to hike the Joint Trail. That trip changed my life. Everytime I visit those places, which is 2 or 3 times a year, I always remember my first trip there and am eternally thankful that I said “yes” to my friend’s offer years ago. Now southern Utah feels like a second home to me and everytime I go “home” I wonder how my buddy that invited me there years ago is doing and whether or not I’ll be able to meet up for Thanksgiving. Great story about Nick, I really understand what you meant. Thanks Brendan.

  • Whitney

    I’ve been moved to tears in LA traffic…just the wrong kind of tears. Can’t wait to be back in awe-inspiring scenery soon.

  • Justin

    Funny. I grew up in Denver, went to school in Idaho, then moved back here for a good job. A lot of my friends talk about Colorado like it’s some promised land, but all I can think about is Idaho.

  • Carlisle

    I grew up in Evergreen, CO and fell in love with ColoRADo. Went to school in the mountains of VA and when I couldn’t find an appropriate job in CO, wound up in Portland. 5 years here and it’s a rad place too. Still think about CO but couldn’t ever live in the front range again. Western slope is appealing.
    I’ve met a lot of former Coloradoans in OR but don’t know anyone that’s moved from OR to CO. PNW the new promised land?

  • Tiffany

    I’ve been told by so many people that I need to visit Colorado. I did once. When I was 10. And visited Pikes Peak and panned for gold and took a bumpy ride through the forest in a Jeep. I want to go now and ski and ride and run and bike… and maybe paw at the rock. 🙂

  • Dan

    This is how I feel about Squamish. I’ve visited there three times, for a week or two each time. Driving up the Sea To Sky Highway along the water is beautiful, and when you get near Squamish, The Chief looms overhead. Mt. Garibaldi is in the distance (assuming the sky is clear!), and the trees are towering.

    I’ve spent all my nights there in the climbers campground, with the smells of the forest around me. Bouldering amongst the huge trees, gripping that granite. And on my trip there last year, I saw a few families hanging out at the Superfly boulder with their kids running around. I told my wife (we were travelling with our 2 month old daughter) about it later, and she mentioned how she felt we would find our place there very quickly if we moved there.

    It is a place that will always feel like home, and is my ultimate happy place. All I have to do is convince my wife that we need to move there!

  • beautywild

    The first time I set eyes on Mount Sopris I knew I needed to move to Carbondale. That was four years ago. It took me a few years to figure out how to get here but I made it. This morning Sopris looked so good I decided to ride to the edge of town before work just to get an uninhibited view of her. I thought to myself, I bet if I lived here for 50 years I’d still feel the ride-to-the-edge-of-town-for-a-better-look urge. It’s the new metric for loving where you live 🙂

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  • Lauren Rains

    I just left Colorado 2 weeks ago for San Francisco. Onto another adventure I guess you could say. I’m not in love with the urban jungle’s asphalt streets, and I ride my bike through Golden Gate Park down to the ocean every single day and pretend I’m somewhere out in nature.

    Colorado is my home too. Even with this being my new one (for now is what I tell myself) Colorado felt like home the second I got there. Three weeks after I got there I took a trip with a few new friends straight through the Rockies out to Moab and stared in awe hardly blinking until it was too dark to see anymore. The Boxer by S&G was playing on repeat. Every time I hear that song I’m taken back there.

    – Lauren 🙂

  • The White Howard

    SoCal is a cesspool. And not because of the traffic. NoCal has had a monopoly on that since the beginning of time.

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