Are we, in fact, the “Best City in America,” as Outside magazine recently claimed?
I dunno — I live here, and haven’t lived anywhere else since 1981, so I’m obviously prejudiced. I agree with Outside, but for reasons other than those they cited.
Just in case you missed it, here’s what they wrote.
“There’s a reason 1.3 million people have rushed to Colorado’s Front Range in the past two decades: With 249 annual days of sun, an ascendant, heavily tech-based economy, and quick access to nearly 4 million acres of Rocky Mountain wilderness and a dozen world-class ski resorts, it’s simply a pretty awesome place to live.
“Considering that the town is base camp for both the Air Force Space Command, NORAD and ultra- conservative advocacy groups like Focus on the Family, it may be a bit conservative for some. But regardless of your political bent, it scored extremely high in our education category, has the best weather of any city on our list, and, most important, blew away the competition when we compared average income to cost of living.
“The city is experiencing something of a cultural resurgence, too. Colorado College’s 10-month-old, $33 million performing-arts center has begun drawing national classical music and dance groups. … But you don’t come to the Front Range for the music. You come for 14,117-foot Pikes Peak (directly above town); the Arkansas’s Class IV rapids (two hours west); world-class athletic facilities (Carmichael Training Systems is based here); and 260 miles of multisport trails available within a 10-mile radius. Sure, there are a few other towns with this many outdoor options, but they generally cost twice as much …”
“You come for 14,117-foot Pikes Peak?” Actually, its now-official elevation is 14,115 feet, revised upward from 14,110 feet during 1988 by the National Geodetic Survey.
But I don’t care what the “National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1988” says. It’s still 14,110 feet, as God clearly intended — and that’s what the city’s Web site says.
It’s our mountain, and we’re not letting some flatland furriners pile on another five feet — and while we’re at it, don’t try to teach us how to pronounce ‘Willamette.’ That’s our street, and we don’t care about your river.
“Outside” also noted with approval the presence of more than a thousand athletes in residence at the Olympic Training Center. That’s fine, I guess — until those phenomenally fast Olympic cyclists zip past you during your morning training ride, reminding you that you’re old and slow.
“… A bit conservative for some?” Not for me!
I might not share the beliefs of some of my right-wing pals, but they’re pals nevertheless. To me, one of the most striking things about the Springs is the unusual degree of courtesy, even amity, between political combatants.
That might not be true of all segments of the community — I’ve noticed that things have gotten pretty bare-knuckled in the millionaire developer community of late. But, never having been a millionaire developer, I can’t offer any firsthand experience.
Still, it amuses and pleases me that, after 20 years of often-nasty political combat, Douglas Bruce and I can sit together at a recent meeting of the Board of County Commissioners and share a few laughs.
And speaking of the Dougster, is it not wonderful that so many of our prominent residents are or have been … well, weird?
Mike Kazmierski and Terry Sullivan, whose jobs require that they sell our city to suspicious outlanders, might have been driven to distraction by the antics of Ted Haggard, James Dobson, Charlie Duke, Betty Beedy, Cheryl Gillaspie, Ed Jones, Charles Wingate and, of course, the ol’ Dougster himself — but I love ’em, every last one!
We need more looneys! Have we thought about formally re-branding our city as “the world’s largest open-air lunatic asylum” and recruiting new inmates? Have Mike and Terry talked to Bravo, and suggested a new “Housewives” theme: “Right-Wing Housewives of Colorado Springs?” Have we offered incentives to Paris, Levi, Bristol, Todd and Sarah to move here, and be happy?
And why do the statewide Republicans seem poised to give the gubernatorial nomination to some wet-behind-the-ears 32-year-old dumbo from Grand Junction?
We’re the boss Republicans in Colorado, and our Republicans are more Republican than those so-called Republicans from the rest of the state! Why don’t they nominate John Morse? He’s smart, he’s from Colorado Springs, he must be a Republican — right?
And as for the “Arkansas’ class IV rapids,” I for one have no desire to drive for two hours just to get cold and wet and possibly dead.
What about Monument Creek — the last wild river in the West, which has never been navigated from its source high in the mountains above the Air Force Academy to its confluence with the mighty Arkansas near Pueblo?
Even the intrepid John Wesley Powell declined to attempt such a feat — possibly because the creek, for much of its length, is too shallow to float anything but rubber ducks.
But couldn’t we just make a whole raft of rubber ducks and float happily down to Pueblo?
Now that’d be safe, fun, cheap and weird … just like our wonderful city.
John Hazlehurst can be reached at John.Hazlehurst@csbj.com or 227-5861.