20 May 2015

Boulder is More My Town

In a previous post, I ranted about how Los Angeles wasn't a town I liked. I visited Los Angeles during a conference trip earlier this year, but thankfully, I visited another part of the USA during the same trip immediately afterwards. Once the conference ended, I flew to Denver to meet up with a friend, who lives in Boulder. Now this is more my town, methinks.

I brought my camera with me, but surprisingly, I didn't take any photos during this trip. Perhaps because sight-seeing wasn't my main motive for this trip, instead, I was in the USA for a conference, as well as a personal visit to a friend. I haven't seen my friend for three years now; we went to graduate school together, and once we graduated in 2012, I moved to Berlin while she went to another part of the USA. Now she is in Boulder.

I've never been to Boulder before, but I have been to Denver before. In fact, Denver was the first place in the USA that I have been to. My father was a graduate student at the University of Denver, pursuing a graduate degree at the Graduate School of International Studies, since renamed as the Josef Korbel School of International Studies. That was back in 1985-1987, I arrived at the age of 3. I don't have a lot of memories about Denver, just that it was cold, that we lived in an apartment with interior corridors, that we lived in East Jewell Avenue, and that we used to boil corn, and stick it out the window so that it would cool down because the weather was cold and it was too hot to eat.

When I arrived in Denver earlier this year, I used the newer airport, the Denver International Airport. This airport has been in operation since 1995, but when we moved to Denver 30 years ago, we used Stapleton International Airport, which has been decommissioned since then. My first impressions of the Denver area was that it is rather very clean compared to Los Angeles. The airport was well-organized and very well-maintained, and the road from the airport to Boulder was also smooth and very clean.

I spent two nights in Boulder. I walked around the downtown area, and my general impression is that life is good there. The homeless people were white. What I mean by that is that most of the time, the homeless people I see are black, which gives you the impression that there is a correlation between race and social class. Unfortunately, that is true in most places in the United States, even in Buffalo where I lived for 7 years. In Boulder, however, this didn't seem to be the case. That being said, it is a very white city.

The downtown area featured plenty of shops that were selling things that were not needed, but rather, wanted. There were plenty of art shops, massage and spas, shops selling bric-a-brac, and other vanity items. This suggests that people have the money to spend and burn, and indicates an overall prosperity in the town. Instead of worrying about what they would be eating for their next meal, people would worry about what artwork they would want in their living room instead.

Boulder also has the luxury to be green. They do recycle here, unlike in other cities I have been to. They separate garbage, and have very visible and explicit signs warning against penalties for throwing away wrong garbage in the wrong bin. Overall, the city was very clean and very livable.

On my last day, we had some time to burn, so my friend and I drove to Denver before we headed to the airport. We had the crazy idea of trying to find where we lived back in 1985. I knew we were in East Jewell Avenue, and I knew that it shouldn't be far from the university, since we were a poor family back then, relying on student fellowship grants for one person to feed a growing family of four. I do remember that there was a supermarket that was close by, and we would go shopping, and bring the cart back to the apartment building directly from the supermarket. After driving around for a bit, we saw an apartment complex that looked promising. I actually went to the rental office and asked a few questions, whether that building already existed in 1985, whether there was a supermarket close by, and whether there was an easy way to get to the university by public transportation. This apartment complex also had an interior corridor, which makes it likely that it was the building that we lived in 30 years ago, for two years.

Overall, my not-so-first impressions of the Denver and Boulder area were positive. It felt like a very clean city, and something that I could consider living in. This is definitely more of my town, than Los Angeles. And yes, I didn't even talk about the numerous possibilities for nature activities. We even went to the Chatauqua before we left, where the hiking trails to the Flatirons began. I wished I brought my hiking shoes with me. I am definitely bringing them with me the next time I come and visit!


  1. I've heard great things about Colorado and Denver... the healthiest and fittest city in the US, right?

    1. Zhu,

      Yes it is; I heard it's the city with the lowest obesity rates, and so things are definitely healthy over there!