Let’s start at the very beginning

Okay, I know it’s not cool to get excited about something you’ve done.  But all of those tabs I’ve made, or “menus”, the categorized archive pages of my posts… I’m so excited about them!!  (By the way, you need to hold your pointer over “Travel Journal” in order to see them.) Mostly because I had do do some serious digging in the WordPress support forums in order to figure out how to have tabs that separated the topics of your blog, so their presence basically proves that I’m a total computer whiz… yeah.

Part of me wants to wait to share this blog with people until I get at least one post in every category, so at least when they click on Where I’ve Been–> Europe–> Ireland, they won’t be led to that terrible looking “Nothing Found” page.  Once I get this posted, 2 of the 20ish categories I’ve created will actually contain something.  If my posts seem irrelevant to what you’d think I’d be focusing on right now (“Preparing for departure”), my desire to eliminate that “Nothing Found” page from my blog may explain.

I’ve decided to write about the places I’ve been in the order of when I went there.  Since I was born in Colorado, it’s the place to start.  Colorado is a great place to call home.  Now that I’m living in Kansas, I’m only separated from my Colorado family by an 8 hour car ride.  I usually end up finding a reason to make the drive twice a year.  There’s nothing like enduring 5.5 hours of Kansas (not lush, hilly eastern Kansas, but rather, flat, dry, windy western Kansas [imagine the black and white parts of Wizard of Oz]), entering Colorado, passing Limon, and then starting to see PIke’s Peak.  After all of those dry fields and tumble weeds, that view is deserved.  Ususally, I drive on toward Boulder area or Colorado Springs, where I have family.  But the towns I lived in when I was younger were Akron and Windsor.

Here are a couple of shots I took of Akron earlier this summer from the seat of an Amtrak viewing car.  I think the people around me wondered why on earth I was feeling the need to capture this little dot on the map.  According to the 2010 Census, about 1,700 people live in Akron.  Just about the same size as the student population at Topeka High School, from where I graduated.Akron was a good place to grow from a baby to a small child.  I think that if I had to stay there into my teen years, I would have gone crazy.  Or at least turned out differently than I did.  I guess we don’t know with certainty how much we are affected by our environments, but I’m sure glad I didn’t spend my adolescent years in Akron.  In 1995, when I was 8 years old, my family moved to Windsor.  The only reason in recent years that I’ve returned to Windsor has been to see my friend from childhood, Teresa.  But now she, too, is finding out firsthand about a new culture.  She’s teaching art at an international school in Dubai!  You can find her blog under my “Favorite sites” tab.

I visited her at her home at the end of March, just about 6 months ago.  As I was driving away, I realized that it would be the last time I would visit this house, the home Teresa had grown up in and, at the time this picture was taken, owned.  Now if I were to drive to Windsor, I could drive past the house, but it wouldn’t mean anything.  She’s no longer there.  She’d be the first person to tell you that she’s not sure where she’s going to end up after her contract in Dubai ends (2013), but I’m confident that no matter how far apart we are physically, we’ll continue to have skype dates, facebook chatter, and, hopefully, be able to meet up in maybe exotic locales, maybe places closer to “home,” at some point in our future.  We’ve made it 16 years and I can’t see us falling out of touch anytime soon.

Now, my reason for visiting Colorado, other than so that I may be awed by those sky-high Rockies, is to see my family.  My brothers are 5 and 7 years older than me, so when my parents and I moved to Topeka when I was 15 because my dad was hired for a job in Kansas, my brothers were old enough to stay behind.  Tim is now about to graduate from University of Colorado with a degree in Mathematics (he’s the most mathy person I know) and Paul is married with a two year-old son, Elijah, and a daughter on the way 🙂  His wife, Elizabeth, and he own a very successful store in Lafayette, Elizabeth’s Embellishments.  If you’re ever in the area, do pop in and say hi.  Or else, browse their website.  Her taste is impeccable.  (Sorry for the shameless promotion, but I’m so proud of how well they’ve done in their entrepreneurial endeavor and it really is a fantastic store.)

Here’s a shot of Elizabeth, Elijah, and Paul.  I am greatly looking forward to visiting them next month and maybe even giving Elizabeth’s belly a good rub!  The things you can get away with doing to a person when she’s pregnant.

I’m pulled to Colorado Springs because of my large network of extended family there.  It’s where my dad’s family settled after immigrating to the US from Belgium/ Algeria.  My dad is the youngest of eight and three of his siblings still live in Colorado, along with most of their children and their children’s children.  Gatherings are pretty loud and fun.

As you can see, I’m mostly drawn back to Colorado for nostalgic reasons.  But you don’t need to have family in Colorado to be lured in.  I’m happy to have roots there because it’s such a pleasant place to be.  The dry pine air; the sun’s reliability (on average, the Colorado sun boasts a record of 300 sunny days a year); the towering blue mountains that will always help the directionally challenged (… like me) figure out which way is west (so long as you’re on the eastern slope); and the hiking, skiing, snowboarding, and camping opportunities- these are some of the things that I love about the state of Colorado.  Its blend of stunning outdoor beauty and good city culture (Denver, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Durango, Boulder- just a few of the great cities one can enjoy) make it a wonderful place to return to.

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2 thoughts on “Let’s start at the very beginning

  1. Aww, I love reading your thoughts on Colorado. My two co-postdocs are from out of state, and one is always down on Colorado. She doesn’t get it, but I’m glad you do. And glad you’re blogging again!

  2. AJ, how on earth could someone be DOWN on CO? Clearly this person is insane.

    Tricia, I’m sure that CO will be thrilled to have you back whenever you happen to get there. Take your time. We with wanderlust are all its prodigal children.

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