Finding “awesome” in all corners of the state.
Many years ago, some creative type in the state tourism office of my home state of Kansas came up with a fantastic promotional slogan: “Kansas. Land of Ah’s.” (I don’t need to explain this, do I? Dorothy? Toto? Ruby slippers?)
And while the Kansas slogan may not be as clever as the more recent Nebraska tourism slogan (you know the one: “Nebraska. Honestly, it’s not for everyone.”), it’s still darned good.
As I traveled across much of our spectacular state this past summer for both business and leisure, I wondered: “What’s the Colorado tourism slogan?” Yes, the signs at our borders with neighboring states welcome folks to “Colorful Colorado,” but that’s not really an attention-getter, is it? Don’t we need a catchy slogan?
But then it dawned on me. I mean, just look around. We’re not exactly hurting for tourists. To the extent our state was ever a well-kept secret, those days are long gone. And while I could (and sometimes do) complain that Colorado has become too loved, rest assured there are still many, many magical places waiting to be explored, particularly in Colorado electric co-op country.
My summer travels started in July with a trip to Meeker to attend the annual meeting of White River Electric Association. The folks at White River throw a heckuva party that includes a community dinner and entertainment. After staying overnight in Meeker, Deb and I took the long way home over the Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway, an awe-inspiring 82-mile drive that connects Meeker to Yampa (fittingly served by Yampa Valley Electric Association). From Yampa we headed south, and I spent a couple of hours fishing the Eagle River (in Holy Cross Energy service territory) before heading back to Denver.
A couple weeks later, we drove over to Grand Junction to attend Grand Valley Power’s excellent annual meeting. (It’s always great to see hundreds of co-op members show up to share a meal and hear co-op news.) The next morning, Deb and I stopped in Palisade to pick up some legendary peaches and enjoy a glass of wine at one of the wineries. We then drove through the heart of Delta-Montrose Electric Association territory on our way to Lake City, which is in the service territory of GCEA (Gunnison County Electric Association). We spent a couple of days casting flies on the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River and enjoying the rustic charm of Lake City.
Toward the end of August, I met a college friend for some hiking near Crested Butte (also in the service territory of GCEA). I’m sure everyone has their favorite hiking trail in Colorado, but for my money — and for the name alone — you can’t miss the Oh-Be-Joyful trail that runs along the stunning mountain stream of the same name. With the wildflowers, waterfalls, and views of Ruby Range, this trail is quintessential
Colorado. On the way back to Denver, we stopped for lunch in Buena Vista, the home of Sangre de Cristo Electric Association.
Getting back to work, in early September our team from CREA traveled to Falcon (in the service territory of Mountain View Electric Association) and Monte Vista (headquarters of San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative). We presented our CREA “Town Halls” to the staff members and board directors at Mountain View Electric and San Luis Valley REC and had great discussions about CREA’s services and projects. Our steak dinners at Quincy’s in Monte Vista were superb!
My summer concluded with a recent trip to northeastern Colorado where I had the privilege of playing golf at an incredible course called Ballyneal, located just south of Holyoke in the service territory of Highline Electric Association. Sculpted from the sand hills of Phillips County, this links course is as authentic and challenging as any of the famed courses of Scotland or England. Ballyneal is one of the highest- rated courses in the world, and it’s a true gem on Colorado’s Eastern Plains.
These trips around Colorado reminded me how lucky I am to work for Colorado’s electric co-ops and how lucky we all are to live and work in this incredible place. As Denver Post founder and publisher William G. Bonfils once proclaimed: “’Tis a privilege to live in Colorado.”
Oh, and that tourism slogan? How about: “Colorado. Land of Awesome!”
Kent Singer is the executive director of CREA and offers a statewide perspective on issues affecting electric cooperatives. CREA is the trade association for 21 Colorado electric distribution co-ops and one power supply co-op.