The Reinvention of a City’s Spirit
Beyond the rolling green hills and fire red rocks near Aspen, there are several cities begging to be explored. Not through pushy marketing campaigns or loud tourist attractions, but through unique stories and a back to basics living style. I can’t think of a better way to learn more about a city than through its people, whose city pride can be measured in marble.
Most of the people we have met in Colorado so far are transplants. These citizens have gone through great lengths to find themselves here, taking huge chances to reinvent their lives and, in turn, have now built incredible communities. It’s hard not to feel like I’ve stumbled upon the Old West, when people moved across the country in search of greener pastures and better opportunities. Each new person that I meet has their own tale, highlighted with how and why their city has triumphed and what their role in that community has been. Restaurant owners are taking risks with farm-to-table style dining, bed and breakfast managers are searching for new ways to bring in tourist by gambling on a hot springs oasis, fishing guides want to be known for not only giving awesome trips but also sharing their advice, and managers have moved across the country because they believed in the spirit of a town and that they had a purpose because of that.
My favorite story so far is one of dedicated persistence and courage. After reading an out of date mine book in college, an engineer student and his girlfriend, Steve and Jeanne Beckley, became fascinated and obsessed with the Glenwood Caves. Steve wrote a letter to the owner seeking entry to the closed off caverns. Hearing no word back, he continued to write and pursue the caves for 16 years before his letters were finally returned and he was allowed to visit the caves. A few years later and with many more letters from the owner, Steve was allowed to lease the caves and started doing tours. In his first summer he had 40,000 visitors. Having since bought the land, he has continued adding on to the experience, putting in an alpine coaster, bungee jump and a giant swing ride that swings riders out over the River- all to bring out the spirit and history of this cherished place.
I will leave these cities with more much than memories of kayaks and hot springs. The impressions made on me by these remarkable and charming people have reminded me that the best things in life are worth fighting for and it really is the people who inspire us and befriend us that makes it worth living.