I spent the majority of my years in Fort Collins on the west side of campus. I made friends door-to-door in the Saddle Ridge townhomes. You meet the people taking the bus in, coming down Elizabeth, past the sophomore housing, while partying at all the places in between.
The best part about living off Overland Trail is on Saturdays the stadium is within walking distance. That way you can leave when the game starts and the fun is over.
But now I am living life on the east side of campus, and more specifically, in Old Town. And I tell you something, there is no better way to experience the town and its unique characters than to be here 24/7.
Most CSU students flock into and out of Old Town between the hours of 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. Believe me, I hear them loud and clear after last call. These are great hours to experience Old Town. But to really enjoy it, to be deep into the heart of it and all its weirdness, is to be down here all the time, itâ€™s magnificent.
Fort Collins has recently been criticized for being unsafe and debaucherous. Iâ€™m not here to argue point or counterpoint, only to explain the reasons why I love being embedded in Old Town â€“â€“ a thriving culture unlike any other.
Iâ€™ve seen strangers yell at strangers for biking on the sidewalks. Iâ€™ve seen motorists yell at bikers for biking in streets. Iâ€™ve seen coffee shops, filled to capacity, looking like Lucky Joeâ€™s. Iâ€™ve seen college students give to the homeless. Iâ€™ve seen homeless help tourists with their way around town.
I myself have even given money to a beggar, only to see that same beggar, hours later outside Cheba Hut sipping beers. Conniving trickster he may be, but my approach is that all he needed to do was ask. I would have bought him a beer. But after all, who can blame the guy when this entire town loves its beer?
Iâ€™ve seen concerts, parades, dancing, trash-can drummers, fire-throwers, smooth-talking gyro salesmen and received the occasional glance from that one girl who you hope to see again.
Old Town during the day is beautiful, especially during fall, with the leaves and the sunshine. Speaking of sunshine, walk down here one afternoon and drink at New Belgium Brewery, Odell Brewing Company or one of the many other breweries that exist here, brewing good brew.
If you are of age, and plan on spending a night on the town, go to three bars youâ€™ve never been to or bars your friends wonâ€™t let you go to. Youâ€™ll be amazed at the people you meet.
Remember to tip your bartenders, even though they are consistently rude in this town for no reason at all. Stop and talk to the door men. But not if you are too intoxicated; they may not let you in.
Guys, when you go out, talk to the women. Thatâ€™s why they got dressed up in the first place.
Girls, when you go out, donâ€™t be afraid to approach that guy. Throw tradition out the window.
Donâ€™t be weary of what youâ€™ve read recently, Old Town is far better than its recent reputation. One riot involving non-locals, and the town all of a sudden needs to â€œclean up its image.â€
Letâ€™s be reasonable, the town is fine.
Old Town is magnificent, the lights and sounds, the traffic and the people. You spend enough time here and youâ€™ll realize that Old Town, in its early hours, is breeding grounds for strangers, mis-fits and the broken spirited, and they all have a story, if youâ€™re willing to listen. Some are travelers, some are life-timers, but all in all, theyâ€™re good people.
If I could do it all over again, I would have moved down here years ago. I enjoy meeting the characters and spending time in a place where Iâ€™m glad to be, with the people Iâ€™m glad to be here with.
Chad Bowman is a staff writer. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.