5 Things Texans Need to Know About Colorado
Written by guest blogger CarrieAnn Grayson, an Army veteran who served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. After being medically discharged from the Army in 2008, she became a middle school technology teacher and now lives in Colorado.
My first retreat was in 2013 at YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch in Colorado. There were Texas license plates EVERYWHERE. “Cool, I’m among my own people,” I thought. The locals seemed to stereotype us all into one group, and I often heard the whispers of “yep, they’re from Texas.” Since moving to Colorado from Texas in 2016, I wanted to give ya’ll some tips if you attend a retreat here to help you blend in and survive. If you aren’t from Texas, these rules still apply.
1. Don’t drive on the shoulder or anywhere close to it. I’ve been stationed in Germany, had mandatory winter tires on my BMW, and have driven in snow many times. I knew better, but low-and-behold, not every Texan does. This happens quite a bit with “flatlanders,” mostly because of speeding or wanting to give themselves TOO much space from oncoming traffic. Simply slow down, and don’t hug the shoulder. If you do get stuck, it’s okay, though, because at least one person driving by will have a hook and a tow strap. (Word of caution: don’t let them hook it up to your bumper…)
2. Dress in layers. A lot of them. Sure, you will have trouble moving and bending over, but you’ll get used to it. The kids will more than likely complain, but you have to dress warm. I know you’ll be hot/cold/hot/cold and wishing you were still in your cargo shorts and flip flops. Trust me, with all the activities you’ll be doing outside, you’ll be thankful you have some layers to shed. Avoid cotton if you can afford it and opt for a dry wicking material instead. Wool socks will help also, but not in sneakers. Borrow some boots from a friend, but not the fuzzy cute kind. They’ll just soak up all that wonderful white stuff.
3. Stay away from moose (and other wildlife). They look cute, but try to avoid them and don’t go creeping up on them for a selfie. It’s illegal to feed any wildlife, and we hope your mother taught you better. They are protective, especially if they have their young with them. They think dogs are wolves or some other predatory animal and will attack for their own safety. No honking the horns or screaming… Just roll up your windows, giggle to yourself, and keep driving by.
4. Drink water. A lot of water. The elevation here is around 8,000 feet, give or take a couple hundred. Your body isn’t used to it or to the dry air. For some people, it might even be hard to breathe for the first day or two. I keep one of these collapsible bottles in my jacket, which leaves my hands free for the outdoor activities. Whatever you decide to carry around, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. It’ll help combat the elevation change, and you’ll enjoy your time here more.
5. Stay on the path. You’ll see all these signs stating beach, lake, creek, etc., but you aren’t sure what they are talking about. Everything is covered in snow here in the winter. Some of the snow-covered areas have bodies of water under them, some just look like flat fields. Don’t take the chance and go exploring on your own because you see foot prints leading in a different direction. Keep with your group, and take selfies from afar.
Again, these rules don’t just apply to Texans – ANYONE coming to a retreat in the winter needs these tips. I could list about 20 other things you need to know when attending a winter retreat, but if you stick to these five to start out with, you SHOULD be okay. Texans always seem to be the ones called out for doing something not so smart up here in the winter by the mountain locals. Having a Texas decal on my truck tends to group me into this category. I’m a proud Texan implant to Colorado. Join me in becoming winter smart. Use those tactical skills the military trained us in and you’ll enjoy the retreat that much more.