Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Some Rocky Mountain highs

Having just returned from a week in Colorado, I have a few observations, comparisons - and recommendations - about life here in Pennsylvania.

- It's nice to see green again. No, not Eagles green. I mean as in green grass. Unless you water religiously, you do not get much that's green in Colorado. Remember, you're a mile high, and not just from legal marijuana (more on that later).

- I had to chuckle at people in the Mile High City complaining about the heat. Yes, it has been in the 90s much more than normal out there this summer. But the truth is that 92 degrees in Denver is like 80 here in Pennsylvania. Plus, there is no humidity out there. Of course, I would not be the best judge of that since I happen to like the humidity.

- We like to joke here in Pa. that if you don't like the weather, just wait 15 minutes and it will change. Out in Colorado, they mean it. I was sitting in gorgeous sunshine enjoying a scenic lunch at the spectacular Red Rocks Amphitheater one second, and the next it was raining after a storm blew in over the foothills.

- You get used to showers out there. Every afternoon about 4 or 5 o'clock, you get those puffy white clouds rolling in, then they turn darker and offer a shower. Then 15 minutes later the skies turn blue again. Weird.

- I have a new favorite ballpark. I'm a huge fan of Citizens Bank Park, but I have to admit that Coors Field in Denver is a better experience. And here's why, something I've always said should have been done here in Philly. Coors Field was built in downtown Denver, and it's the centerpiece of a huge development in the downtown area. Downtown Denver is packed on game nights, with tons of restaurants and nightspots reaping the rewards. Sorry, but Xfinity Live down at the South Philly sports complex just doesn't cut it. I always thought the Phillies new ballpark should have been downtown. A trip to Denver only reinforced that belief. They got it right.

- Here's a suggestion for our representatives in Harrisburg, who are constantly looking for new revenue streams - while not raising taxes. Take the high road. Literally. I'm talking about legalized marijuana. As you may or may not know, Colorado now has legalized pot. It's sold in dispensaries and it seems as if there is one on ever street corner. Here's the important part. Weed is taxed in Colorado. We're talking about a cash crop that is pumping millions into the Colorado revenue stream. Much of that money is being funneled into education. Sound familiar, Gov. Wolf? This sounds like an issue tailor-made for our own Sen. Daylin Leach.

- No, I did not partake in the legal version of being 'Rocky Mountain High.' I'm afraid those days are long gone, merely a mirage in the rear-view mirror. Oddly enough, I did not get even a single whiff of weed on the streets as I traversed the state last week.

- I did, however, develop a new appreciation for the state's famous beverage. Yes, I'm once again a Coors man. Granted, the Rocky Mountain suds does not have the same mystique as it did back in the '70s, when you could not get it east of the Mississippi. And here's an even weirder note. I've never been a light beer guy. If you've ever seen me, you'd know that weight is not exactly an issue for me. For some reason the Coors Lite bit me big time out there. Unfortunately, a planned tour of one of my old stomping grounds, the Coors factory in Golden, Colo, never happened. I love Coors - and the notion of the free samples at the end of the tour - but a two-hour wait? We decided to pass.

- I still have not found a prettier campus than the University of Colorado at Boulder, and this comes from someone who has a bit of a fetish when it comes to college towns. I will go out of my way when it comes to getting a chance to check out another campus, and of course another stadium. Nothing can touch Boulder, which sits majestically at the foot of the Flatirons.

It took me 38 years to get back to Colorado. A lot of things have changed out there. One has not. The state is drop-dead gorgeous. Even the notorious brown cloud, which often hung over Denver like a shroud when I was out there in the mid-'70s, seems to have improved.

Here's hoping it doesn't take four decades for me to get back out there again.

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