NJ vs CO, originally posted Nov. 3, 2009

We have now lived in Colorado for 3 months.  3 months ago today we flew here from New Jersey.  We stayed in a hotel for a couple of days so we did not technically become residents until the 5th, but I count the 3rd as our anniversary.  And in the last 3 months, I’ve observed some things that make this state quite a bit different from where I grew up.  Of course there are the obvious differences like the mountain range that’s always looming to the west, the vast amounts of empty space, the traffic that is so light I scoff to even call it traffic, having to pump my own gas and the snow that falls in October and is still falling in April.  Of course the good old Garden State has also had it’s share of snow this season, and this October was Fort Collins’s wettest and coldest on record – last week’s storm produced the most snow ever in the month of October.

But no, I’m talking about the little things you don’t really pick up on until you’ve lived in a place for a while.  For example, directions are not given with lefts and rights.  No, it will be “drive for 2 miles, then turn west.”  Which is great when the mountains are visible, which is most of the time, but if you happen to be in a spot where they’re not visible, you better hope your car tells you which way is west.  I even heard a coworker describe a line as moving from east to west.  And not being native to this area, I had to stop and think what that meant.

Something that I’ve found is big around here is the corn maze.  Maybe it’s just the northern part of NJ, but there aren’t a whole lot of corn mazes there.  Here, it seems there are fields of corn that are grown for the sole purpose of a corn maze.  Some farms have a typical straight-cornered maze but others actually create intricate designs.  Some include scavenger hunts as well, and most are open at night for haunted mazes.   There are 3 corn mazes within Fort Collins alone, and many others a short drive away.

With Halloween over and Thanksgiving around the corner, I’m seeing a lot of advertisements for Turkey Trots.  Maybe it’s obvious to you, as it was to my husband, but I had no idea what a Turkey Trot was.  It’s a race, usually a 5k or 10k, that takes place the week of Thanksgiving.  My company is holding one, as is TBO’s school, and I’m sure I could find dozens of other Trots going on around the Fort.  Apparently there are Turkey Trots in NJ too so maybe I’m just oblivious.

After experiencing my first big snow storm last week – we got about a foot, though higher elevations got upwards of 2 feet – I noticed some big differences from Jersey.  First, while the main streets are plowed, the back roads are not.  A plow never came down our street, even with the snow making driving dangerous.  The 2 roads into our sub-division were plowed and that was it.  The further I got from school, the worse the roads were.  After school it was better, thanks to the SUVs making paths for those of us with front wheel drive (my Vue is deceiving in that it looks like a sturdy vehicle but because it’s a Hybrid, doesn’t have some of the features of a regular SUV), but I still had to gun it to get up my driveway.  Back east, the plow came down our street several times during a snow storm, although this wasn’t always a good thing as it often blocked our freshly shoveled driveway.

In addition to the lack of plowing, most people don’t have snow blowers, which is odd considering the amount of snow we get.  The people I saw out were all shoveling.  The driveways are short, and as my husband pointed out a lot of people use electric lawn mowers so probably stay away from gas-guzzling snow blowers, but we were the only ones out with a blower.  We had debated not bringing it but with last week’s storm he was happy we decided to take it along.  Although we did pay 2 neighborhood kids to shovel the drive and the walk and they did an amazing job.  The other thing that’s big around here but not in NJ is chains on vehicles.  I thought they’re even illegal in NJ because they tear up the roads, but a quick Google search showed me otherwise.

My final observation is timely because today is Election Day.  A few weeks ago we got a ballot that we were to mail in.  I know some states do mail-in ballots only but I didn’t realize Colorado was one of them.  I’ve always voted in a booth, usually in a school, so not having to do that is kind of weird.  It  just doesn’t feel the same, for some reason.

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