Although it is hard to see the end of the tunnel while inundated with finals and papers, believe the calendar – summer is almost here. If you are joining the mass exodus of students about to leave my town, I bid you farewell. For those of you who are staying, however, the fun is about to begin. When summer comes Fort Collins evolves into the town it should be, devoid of rioting freshmen and overcrowded bars.
Where to begin depends on personal tastes and preference. As a first step I recommend putting down the bottle, drinking a couple gallons of water and heading outside. Did you know that those mountains in the horizon are easily accessible by automobile? Yes, my friends, living the Rocky Mountain high has to do with more than Coors Light. Start with something easy, such as climbing up to the top of that Horsetooth Rock. Hike it a couple of times by yourself, and then when "out-of-towners" visit, you can pretend to be a real Colorado outdoor adventure guide.
In a few weeks you should be ready to try something harder. Colorado has the largest number of 14,000-foot peaks in the lower 48 states. Learn to call these mountains "14ers," as per the local dialect. Then go buy yourself a Nalgene bottle, some comfy hiking boots and go tackle Longs Peak, conveniently located in Estes Park. Remember to bring your Global Positioning System-tracking cell phone in case someone important calls while you are on the trail.
If you are saddled with dogs, as I am, outdoor recreation becomes more difficult. Fort Collins feels no love for man's best friend, requiring leashes for Spike in all of its city parks, the exception being a dog park, which is a great place to take a dog for a fight. If you are an outlaw like I am, take the beasts to Hughes Stadium and let them roam. Remember, this is slightly less than legal, so watch for Johnny Law. On a quiet day you can hear the ghosts of CSU football teams past getting the snot kicked out of them.
The law-abiding among us will have to head for the hills. National forest property offers remoteness and lawlessness that will afford you and your animal unbridled freedoms.
Outdoor recreation aside, summer in Fort Collins can seem like an unending backyard cocktail party. Now is the time to visit your local pubs and make friendly with the barkeeps. Gone are all the sorority girls, steeling the bartenders attention and conversely affecting the quality and strength of your chosen spirits. So belly up somewhere (I recommend the Town Pump) and get in good with the men and women behind the counter. It will pay dividends come fall.
The beauty of summertime in Colorado easily combines the enjoyment of the outdoors with the enjoyment of a good time. Go catch the outdoor movie series at the New Belgium Brewery. You know you're living the high life when you can enjoy a Fat Tire under the stars while viewing "The Big Lebowski."
For your own sake catch some music this summer. Colorado unequivocally offers the best outdoor concert venues in the nation. Red Rocks and Mishawaka Amphitheatre are easy locations, but if you want the insider's tip, catch a show at the Denver Botanic Gardens. The gardens don't sell food or booze there, instead – and read this slowly – you are encouraged to bring your own. Bring a bottle of something good, some barbecue ribs and enjoy the night among finely manicured gardens and fishponds.
That ought to get you started. Have fun and be safe. If you are under the legal consumption age, please insert popcorn and soda pop into all mentions of alcohol in this article.
JP Eichmiller is a senior technical journalism major. He will be the Collegian's managing editor next year.