Enjoying one’s surroundings is a pretty fundamental, dare I say essential part of a balanced breakfast. Rich people flock to coastal California for never-ending sunshine, water, and arid warm temps. Some aspire to move to Colorado for mountain views, outdoor fun, and fairly moderate winter weather. Question today is, should we move to Longmont? If it’s good enough for Mr. Money Mustache, why not us??
We just got back from Colorado where home-base was the sweet little berg of Longmont. We met up with some wonderful people who had moved there themselves within recent years, looking for a better quality of life. I wanted my family to experience this magical little town, and to ultimately figure out if we might want to move there someday.
The Airbnb we stayed at was located in the city’s historic east side neighborhood. The “Right Bank”, if you will, of Longmont. A very pretty and longstanding neighborhood. It hearkens back to many Midwestern neighborhoods, with mature trees, parks, and a mix very old, old, and old and run-down houses. Some are kept up and are quite charming. Others need some work. All are about half a million dollars in value, in case you’re wondering.
No trip to Colorado is complete without a visit or three to Rocky Mountain National Park. We took the kids and they really enjoyed it. Six miles worth in our first day of hiking — not bad for 5 year-olds! Course, there were protestations of tired kiddo feet, but that didn’t strike until the last half mile, fortunately. Troopers. Future hikers extraordinaire.
Considering how variable the weather was during our trip (rain, not rain, rain, not rain, etc. etc.) we were fortunate to have trekked a total of 18 miles on two separate visits without a drop of rain. Rocky Mountain National Park is an amazing place. I love the views, the fresh air and pine, and the reward of a packed lunch of hard-boiled egg and cheese sandwiches, after gaining a few thousand feet of altitude by noon.
We were smart cookies, knowing the crush of summer visits would put a strain on parking and trail congestion. Best to find trail heads far away from popular Bear Lake and other hot spots that spur out of Estes. We found Ouzel Falls and the Twin Sisters trail heads easy to get into, with minimal hikers to bump into.
Longmont: Give me beer, or give me more beer!
No self-respecting visitor who claims to be a FIRE blogger arrives in Longmont without bicycles in tow. That’d be a sin. Before leaving the Twin Cities, we saddled up two kids’ bikes on the 1-UP hitch rack, and two grown-up cyclo-cross bikes on the roof of the car. (The roof mounting was exciting and new. I had no idea our Outback came with roof rack mounts. D’oh.) Our mileage suffered, but we were so glad to have our bikes to bop around town in.
I highly recommend biking the Longmont Loop, which takes you on a 16 mile circumference of the town, through many of its parks. Most of the loop is on bike trails, which are ubiquitous here. But of course, no trip to Longmont is complete without a visit to its fab breweries!
There’s about 1 brewery for every man, woman, and child in Longmont (and Colorado, for that matter) so it made our route fairly easy to plot. We had hoped to visit five or six tap rooms, but the monsoon arrived the day of our excursion, and despite rain jackets and lust for good beer, we made it to only three stops.
We wound up tipsy, exhausted, and absolutely soaked. 300 Suns was Mrs. Cubert’s favorite tap room, but I enjoyed the offerings from Wibby the best. The help at both stops were a little nicer to us tourists than the bros who greeted us at Left Hand a few years back. But I still love a good Nitro Chocolate Milk Stout here and there.
Longmont House Hunters: An Other-Worldly Experience
There was time to look at houses too. On a bright and clear weekday morning, we arranged a few showings at Prospect New Town. If you’re familiar with the movie “Truman”, this is an urbanist community that was designed by the guy who designed the town for that film. Wondering why anyone would consciously choose to live in a neighborhood that feels like the domed-in, apart-from-reality location from that Jim Carrey classic?
We left wondering that too. Not just cuz the prices were jaw-dropping insane ($700K for a three bedroom TOWN HOUSE) but because you knew that behind the veneer of these albeit cleverly designed and well-built homes, you were basically sitting in a suburb, and not within walking distance of the best parks, libraries, schools, and tap rooms (how is THAT possible?) of Longmont.
Still, the houses were very pretty:
Denver: Just Because
We spent a day checking out Denver. Got cheap tickets to a Rockies game and that was a decent time. Great views from the third deck of that stadium. And the hot dog wasn’t terrible! I had a Coors Banquet beer there, and boy, them Coors’s taste good at ball games. Something about the time and the place for lighter, industrial-era beers that makes them palatable…
Before we went to the Rockies game, we stopped at a few places on the way. Outside of Golden, we checked out Red Rocks! Great to see that place firsthand, after hearing about it and seeing clips in U2 and Depeche Mode videos. (Red Rocks has a Starbucks, which is handy for sleepy, half-ass frugal parents.)
We also meandered around a few of the hoods that reminded us of Uptown, Minneapolis. Great little mom and pop shops blending in with the scourge of overpriced chain stores. It doesn’t take much to see how gentrification has changed the complexion of Denver. And I had never been here before!
Back in Longmont – Wonderful People
The people of Colorado? Love ’em. Starting with the lovely host of our Airbnb who was super responsive, and the auto mechanic in Denver who swapped our tail light and brake light for $5 total (in under 10 minutes, with a backed up garage, an hour before closing shop for the day).
In Longmont, we got to meet some extraordinary folks. Mr. and Mrs. 1500 Days to Freedom were super gracious in showing us some listings, right on the day they got home from their own long road trip. If it were us, we’d have gone into wagon-circling mode. We had a fun time looking at different houses with Carl and Mindy. All the while my little pea-brain calculating costs and figuring if we could make a move here work.
After house hunting, we headed over to Mr. Money Mustache Headquarters in downtown Longmont. It was kind of neat, walking into a space I’d read up on and seen YouTubers about. Even though the Mrs. and I only had a couple of hours to spare before meeting up with her parents for dinner, we squeezed in a fun happy hour in the backyard of Early Retirement Valhalla.
The icing on the cake was meeting the POPs and Miss Mazuma. It was a little hilarious since I knew I’d be meeting Miss M., but the POPs popped out of nowhere – having been stealth guests of the 1500s that week. I knew of them through their many comments on ye olde blog d’ Mr. Money Mustache, from way back before I started my digital rag.
And the fact that Miss Mazuma came out from Denver to meet up with us was really special. I owe her a decent bottle of vino for that. And, the Mrs. and I selfishly still need to get the DL from her on her hiking adventure to the Camino De Santiago. So little time!!!
So, Should We Move to the Land of Mr. Money Mustache and Friends?
Funny thing happens when you get back from a vacation like that. You find you miss your home, you miss your neighbors (most of them) and the weather gods play tricks by rolling out a gorgeous summer evening. Just walking around our neighborhood with my little girl was the tonic. I started running off the months in my head when I’m miserable in Minnesota: Lessee… January, February, March, and most of April.
Just need to solve for four months of despair! Can it be done? Tune in for updates. There’ll be plenty of this waffling for months (if not years) to come…