Rocky Mountain High: A 'Grate' reminder of Boulder

Confession time again.

I'm a hoarder.

Of T-shirts.

I can't tell you how many I have. Let's just say that if I wore a different T-shirt every day all summer, I wouldn't come close to wearing all the ones I have stashed in drawers around the house. Hell, I probably wouldn't be able to wear half of them.

There is something about a T-shirt that appeals to me. First and foremost, I'm a summer guy. I like it hot & humid. The hotter the better. So when I get home at night, I cannot wait to strip off my shirt and tie (yes, I still wear a tie to work every day), toss on a T-shirt and shorts, and head for the deck with the paper and a cold beverage.

I guess you could say the T-shirts tell the story of my life.

I have T-shirts proclaiming my home town of Oxford, about a dozen featuring our All-Delco logos from my time at the Daily Times, and several announcing to the world my allegiance to one of my favorite places on Earth. That would be Rehoboth Beach, Del. And no, I still have not discovered what it is exactly that gives Grotto pizza that distinctive tang. All I know is that I love it.

There is another place that I've now collected a few T-shirts from. I spent a couple of years there back in the late '70's. It is Boulder, Colo., home of the University of Colorado.

I happen to be a proud CU alum, fan of Ralphie (the world's greatest mascot) and lover of all things Boulder.

Every time I speak to kids, especially high schoolers, I ask them if they've started thinking about where they want to go to college. I always tell them to consider the University of Colorado. Look, I have something of a fetish for college campuses.

I will go out of my way to visit a campus. Just ask my kids. They're the ones I dragged onto one campus after another during our summer vacations when they were kids.

I always check out the campus - and the football stadium. One of the great days of my life was a personal campus tour of Notre Dame courtesy of the great Fran McCaffery, brother of Daily Times columnist Jack McCaffery, back when he was an assistant basketball coach there. We checked out the Grotto, Touchdown Jesus, even got a personal tour of the men's basketball locker room. It is a spectacular campus.

But it does not hold a candle to Boulder. Nothing does. At least nothing I've ever seen.

In August of 1978, I packed all my earthly belongings in the back of a Datsun pickup truck, pointed it east on I-70 and headed back East. By the way, that's something else I tell kids. At least once in their life they should drive across the country. My personal record is one trip home for Christmas. I posted a note in the student union. Four of us left Boulder at 7 p.m. Thursday. I walked into my parents' house 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Straight through. Saw the sun come up twice. I don't necessarily recommend it.

We are always terribly concerned about the loss of open space in this area. Every time I hear that argument I want to ask the person if they have ever driven across Kansas. I kid you not, it seems like you can look out to the horizon and see where you are going to be tomorrow.

It took me 40 years to finally get back to Boulder. A lot has changed. Much has not. The Flatirons still loom over the town, creating one of the truly municipal signatures in the country.

I came across this T-shirt on Twitter this morning during my usual early a.m. charge through social media.

It brought back a lot of memories.

Guess who is playing CU in Boulder this week?

I was never much of a Dead fan, but this is one 'Grate' T-shirt.

It made me feel young again, and that is no small treat.

Then again, thinking of Boulder always makes me feel young.

The place fit me to a 'T.' At least it did back then. I am kind of East Coast-wired these days. You have to understand that Boulder is kind of a state of mind. It is extremely laid-back. That was cool for a couple of years, but after awhile it started to drive me a little stir-crazy.

What I would give to go back to those days now.

Thanks for the memories. Say Hi to the Flatirons for me.