The Beach Is Back!
I grew up as an east-coaster, so the beach was always a big part of my summers. My family would take trips there every year for a week (usually Ocean City, Maryland or the Outer Banks) and my college years had many day trips to the shores in New Jersey. My first summer in Denver, I quickly came to the realization that the beach was not a quick drive away - the closest is 1,044 miles away in Los Angeles. I definitely missed the beach during that time, but I got to experience summer in typical Colorado fashion. Speaking of which, that brings me to....
There's Nothing Quite Like The Rocky Mountains
Growing up in Pennsylvania as a Boy Scout, eventually attaining the rank of Eagle Scout, I spent a lot of time hiking the Appalachian Trail. While the Appalachians are wonderful and majestic in their own right, nothing can quite capture the breathtaking Rockies. During my years in Colorado, I always told people that seeing the Rocky Mountains snowcapped should be on everyone's bucket list. As a side note, I was always lucky that the guitar suite at the Lamont School of Music looked straight out to the Rockies - a truly inspiring view (check out a great picture of the view here). Summers in Colorado were spent exploring these expansive mountains through hikes in Rocky Mountain National Forest in Estes Park, visiting Mesa Verde, Vail, and exploring the wonderful Centennial State. It is hard to find more beautiful country than Colorado, and I think about my time there every day.
Finding A Brewery Is Much Harder
Those of you who know me personally know that I am a huge craft beer fan, and have tried my hand at home-brewing once or twice with little success (maybe more on that at another time). One of my favorite things to do when touring a new area is to sample a local beer and hopefully visit one of the breweries in town. Coming from Pennsylvania, some of my favorite locals were Victory, Lancaster Brewing Co., and Yards. Naturally, when I moved to Denver I was eager to see what the craft beer capital of the country had to offer. While I couldn't find a beer that quite hit the spot like Victory's Hop Devil, the breweries in town were endless and provided a lot of variety. Some of my personal favorite Denver breweries were Denver Beer Co., Comrade Brewing Company, and Black Sky Brewery. Maybe it is that I'm still busy getting settled here in Baltimore, but it has been much more difficult to find a good local brewer than in Denver - although recommendations are certainly welcome in the comments section!
There's No Place Like Home
I am, possibly above all else, a family person. As much as I love Denver and made some great memories in Colorado, being nearly 1,700 miles away from my family and friends was one of the most difficult things I have had to do in my life. I am unbelievably lucky to have people in my life who made the effort to call every day, Skype regularly, and visit Colorado on multiple occasions. Without them, and the support from my incredible fiancé, I am not sure that I would have been able to complete my time at the University of Denver as successfully as I did. Now that my fiancé and I are in Maryland, bordering our home state of Pennsylvania, these people are much closer and we are able to visit frequently. I feel incredibly fortunate for the opportunity to be more physically present in the lives of those who I care about. There's no place like home!