I began my Friday afternoon with a call to the light rail station off of Alameda and Cherokee. A 40-something man hopped into the front seat and greeted me warmly. He had a very thick accent and began the conversation by saying “Please excuse my English I’ve only been in Denver for 20 months”. Without prompting he began to tell me that he had come to the US from Egypt three and a half years ago. He told me he was headed to work, on the west side of town, for a construction company. I made an ignorant assumption. “Yeah there’s a lot of construction jobs here in Denver, I read we are 100,000 construction jobs short. We are out of plumbers, electricians, and skilled trades people”. He laughed and said “I’m a geologist”. Then he looked up to the mountains and said, “Now I get to live in Colorado. I love it here. You have the kindest people, the greatest weather in the most beauty of any place I’ve ever seen in my life. I had no idea that I would be so fortunate that I will get to live here. Now I’m going to tell you something crazy, I have yet to go hiking in the mountains – do you have any suggestions”? We pulled up to the construction company where he is a geologist and I handed him my business card and said, “Send me an email and I will send you a list of all the places you might hike that are less than an hour away”. He took the card and smiled and said “You’ll be hearing from me”.
I picked them up at about six in the evening at one of those giant new apartment complexes that are overtaking Speer Boulevard. In two years it went from being my favorite gas station and car wash to luxury apartments. The three of them came out of the apartment complex and hopped in my car. They were headed up to Red Rocks for a concert. To say they were wound up and excited would be an understatement, and for the first 10 minutes as we headed west on our 30-minute drive, it was as if I did not exist. There was a lull in the conversation as we are heading west on Sixth Ave and I said “So how long ago did you three move here from Wisconsin”? “Ha Ha” said the gal sitting up front “Well, I’m just visiting but they moved here two years ago. I guess our accents are that obvious?” Soon after a spirited conversation about the migration into Colorado from the Upper Midwest, a young woman in the back asked the question that I was not expecting. “ Will the rattlesnakes be out at Red Rocks”? Her husband and her friend in the front seat went into a hilarious story about how she refuses to go anywhere in the mountains right now because there might be rattlesnakes there. I pretty much thoroughly deconstructed her rattlesnake Colorado phobia. She wasn’t entirely convinced. I said, “You’ve been reading too many things on the Internet… besides that, rattlesnakes hate Rap 🎶 and they only go to Tim McGraw concerts”. Her husband thanked me profusely. “Maybe we can actually go hiking below 8,500 feet next year. She read that rattlers don’t do altitudes”. Never mind that he is a vet. “He doesn’t do snakes 🐍”!!!
Onward and Upward,