Longmont

My Pilgrimage to Longmont

Now that I’ve shamelessly added wood planking to this blog’s header, and changed the post background to a particularly fetching salmon hue, I figure it’s high time I wrote about a trip the wife and I took to Colorado, exactly two years ago this month.

Just one year into my own early retirement master plan, I’d already read through Mr. Money Mustache’s blog TWICE. The guy (Pete) has like 500 posts. So you can imagine how much precious work time I had invested in this radical new form of frugality, driven by purpose rather than coupon-clipping.

Once you dive into MMM, you feel like there’s something magic happening over in the Mountain time zone. I personally felt that the little town of Longmont, Colorado might have more to offer than little ol’ icebox Minneapolis, Minnesota. We had to check it out first-hand. And if we ran into Pete or his lovely Mrs.? Well, icing.

(Full and honest disclosure: Longmont was actually just a pass-through on a week-long trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, with overnight stays in Fort Collins for beer purposes, and Boulder because we like hiking so damned much.)

We Travel Cheap’ish

Getting tickets was no problem at all. By this time, I’d already picked up on the strategy of applying for a bazillion credit cards to rack up bonus rewards points. Besides, Minneapolis to Denver is a relatively short hop. If memory serves me correctly, we converted some Chase Sapphire bonus miles to Southwest. Gotta love the synergies with those Chase cards. Go sign up if you haven’t already. Anyhow… Free flights. Check.

The rental car was easy too. Again, having read that sweet little mustachioed blog from heaven, I was fully armed with knowledge. The young associate at the rental car counter had no chance when offering an upgraded vehicle to “handle the mountains.” Was it a Humvee?

We stuck with our choice of the venerable Toyota Yaris. Stick shift! The Yaris is one of the least powerful and smallest cars you could rent off the lot. At first I wondered how this little toy car would manage the great Rockies. More on that later. Cheap rental car. Check.

https://media.ed.edmunds-media.com/toyota/yaris/2010/oem/2010_toyota_yaris_4dr-hatchback_base_s_oem_1_500.jpg

Hot Rod, Baby. FM and AM radio!

Did I mention the toll roads looping around Denver? Supremely annoying.

Longmont for Lunch

Since Longmont was on the way to our destination of Estes Park, I convinced the Mrs. that we should stop there for lunch and a little walk-about. You know, see if we could spot any bums shopping for errands on bicycles. We instead were greeted with a cute town that has all the things I could imagine an early retiree would want or need, including a Carl’s Jr.

At first, we had to get past the dreaded development just on the fringes of town. All sorts of chain-infested-strip-malls and box stores line the main byway into town. Not bike-friendly by a long-shot. Just as Pete wrote about. Just get to Main Street and things get much more promising.

There’s also the light industrial zones of Longmont that have some cool things happening. We chose to stop at Left Hand Brewing. And we’re glad we did. Their beer is taysteee… In fact, I want to say we put Chocolate Milk Stout on our breakfast cereal that entire week.

Image result for left hand brewing
The Left Hand Taproom

 

For food lunch, we ate at the Sun Rose Cafe. I highly recommend it if you’re ever passing through Longmont stalking famous bloggers.

 

A Healthy Walk Leads to an Epiphany

After lunch, since we still had plenty of time before checking in at the lodge in Estes Park, we decided to take a leisurely stroll around the old neighborhoods of Longmont. If we were to ever consider moving out to this front-range town, the older, established blocks would be our likely destination.

Roosevelt rose garden

Roosevelt Park is just a hop off of Main Street and perfectly situated as a central park of sorts for any kind of festival or triple-M hootenanny. We walked around for a bit there and then headed over to check out the Longmont Public Library.

Longmont Public LibraryThis library is EXCELLENT. With little kids, this is an amenity that has to hit the mark. Our toddlers go through books like Kleenex these days. Read it more than twice? No way.

Longmont’s public library has a wonderfully large children’s area stocked to the gills. *clap* *clap* *clap* (now click the picture to check out a fun little side story!)

Oh, and the library is just a block off of Main Street, just like the park. Longmont’s walkability is not too shabby.

Oh yeah, the Epiphany

While walking around on this beautiful sunny September day, I began to feel the top of my head tingle. Dammit, forgot my ball cap in the car! Poor Cubert’s receding hairline was taking the brunt of the Colorado sun. We dodged el sol as best we could, but noted the scarcity of trees, relative to lush, verdant Minneapolis.

I guess in retrospect I wouldn’t call it an epiphany, just an “ah ha” moment that yeah, the UV factor in front range Colorado is about twice that of where we live. For fair skinned balding types like me, not a great mix. Wussing-out on the sun aside, Longmont is a very fine little city that checks the box in just about all of the essentials.

The only REAL drawback as far as I can tell (I won’t count the UV factor against Longmont) is housing costs. Over the last three years alone, housing prices have shot up over 12%. Still, the same house in Longmont can be fetched for a THIRD of the cost of a similar property in Boulder just down the highway. Guess where I’d live if I wanted to retire early?

The REST of the trip

We finally found our way to Estes Park where we spent the next four days hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. Remember that Toyota Yaris? We took that little puppy up the Trail Ridge Road. If you’re interested in taking in some wonderful sites and shitting your pants in the process, I highly recommend this drive!

The “TRR” is the highest elevation highway in the continental U.S. It is pure white-knuckle driving with narrow lanes and steep drop-offs where often guardrails are just … not there… Now, coming down from up top, the Yaris performed incredibly well.

Gear-braking with a small car is a helluva lot easier in a small stick shift than it is in a monster all-wheel drive. We giggled at the poor souls braking all the way down (while hoping none behind us had brake FAILURE.)

Longmont to RMNP
Breath-taking views at the peak of Trail Ridge Road

Frugal Travelers, Sort of…

We’d already checked the boxes on free flights and cheap rental car. We were also good about preparing our own meals for breakfast and lunch. We even dined in a couple of times while at Estes Park, taking advantage of the lodge’s grill and kitchen. Oh how fun to watch how quickly water reaches the boiling point at elevation!

And yet, we did drop a chunk of change on lodging. Staying near the national park is not a cheap affair. At least not for us ill-prepared non-campers. For the three nights we dropped $225 per night. At least we opted to walk the thirty minute trek into town when we dined out. Spend a little, save a little?

Longmont Hikers
Mountain porn

 

Hiking near Longmont
We hiked at least 10 miles or more each day

 

Sorry, back to Longmont

We had an amazing time in Colorado. After RMNP, we spent a day in Fort Collins biking to boutique breweries. The picture of us on the blog’s right nav-bar was taken that day in front of New Belgium Brewing Co. Our favorite brewery was Funkwerks, but Horse and Dragon was quite good too.

As we headed back to Denver I thought about what it would be like to move out here. The mountains are simply amazing. The people were just as friendly as Minnesotans. Beer? No issues there. Bike culture? Heck, there were riders making their way down the Trail Ridge Road! Man…

If it weren’t for the fact that we’ve established our roots pretty deep here in Minneapolis, we’d probably consider a move out west. The winters here in Minnesota can be brutal. And try as I might to embrace them, I still yearn for milder temps: where leaving the house doesn’t require putting on eight layers ahead of time.

In the immortal words of Mr. Money Mustache, “wah wah wah!!!” Complainypants!

 

Side Note: I want to call-out my newest bestest friend, Grayson Bell. He stepped in and saved my bacon when this site started having author-induced dead-link issues. AbandonedCubicle.com is also now on HTTPS thanks to Grayson. Look him up at the link on his name if you ever need help! He’s THE MAN.

Comments 18

  1. Nice! I was recently in Denver but didn’t have the chance to make it to Longmont. I too have been curious about this mystic city that everyone is so enthralled with. Looks like you loved it as much as the rest!! I’m guessing that may have something to do with the rise in real estate prices, though Denver as a whole has gotten quite insane lately. At least you know if you moved there would be plenty of like minded folks out that way. How can you resist with mountain porn like that?!

    1. Funny enough, we didn’t spend any time in Denver, unless you count the airport. I think next time I’d like to check out the big city just for kicks. Would I say “I love” Longmont? Nah. But I would definitely recommend it as a nice small town to retire early in – the proximity to mountains and decent weather is hard to beat!

  2. Oooh I love Left Hand! That stout is absolutely to die for; I had no idea they were located in Longmont. With MMM’s new HQ there, you might have to swing by once it’s operational. 😉 I’ve been tempted to move westward (and north-ward) to escape our hot Texas summers. Sure, winters are mild, but being baked alive also kinda sucks.

    1. Isn’t that stuff great? Gotta go Nitro too.
      The HQ really intrigues me. I give MMM credit for putting his hands to work on these projects. It’s the kind of thing I hope to do after ditching the cube life. As for moving? The grass is always greener isn’t just a cliche.

  3. I live in Westminster, which is just 30 minutes south of Longmont. My husband works at the Post Office there. He is in love with that town, though I’m not sure why. Then again, he’s in love with Colorado. I am not. Far too expensive and crowded. Still, it was fun to read your post about it! I had no idea Mr. Money Mustache lived out here!

    1. Wow – that is pretty darn close! You’ll have to ask your hubby what it is about Longmont that he’s in love with. The main street is quite nice and the old neighborhoods are great. But otherwise I could envision Fort Collins a better destination (but probably costlier, hence…)

  4. My husband is a huge left hand milk stout fan! Looks like you guys had a great trip. We lived in Colorado for just under 5 years and Estes park was a favorite destination. You get used to the sun and are grateful when it’s sunny in February. We bought a house in the trees but it was more expensive. Great trip recap!

  5. Looks like you had a great trip! I haven’t been to Colorado since I was a small child. I remember getting car sick on those windy roads in the Rockies haha. It really is a different ballgame coming from the flat upper midwest. I got reintroduced this summer while on vacation in Montana.

    1. Oh man, it was a fantastic trip! First time in Colorado for me. We really considered moving there after visiting these nice front range towns, including Longmont. But the real gem is the Rockies.

  6. I love Qbert. That was and still is one of my favorite 80’s game. I grew up playing Atari and Commodore 64 and still collect them as a hobby. I also write my own games for C64.

    Sorry about getting side tracked on Qbert, as for FI, I already gave up my cubicle at Intel last year and now just spend my time doing things that I love. It’s a great way to live.

    Take care

    1. Thanks, Mr. ATM. No problem getting side-tracked on Qbert. It was one of my favorites too growing up, even though I got royally frustrated when that little guy fell off the edge. Commodore 64 ROCKS. So many games and so easy to pirate! :-O Looking forward to checking out your blog!

  7. Longmont is a good town, but is a few breweries short of great :). We live 20 minutes away in Loveland (only 9 breweries, 2 distilleries, a winery and a couple meaderies). Fort Collins is the bomb for beer.

    Also, you might hit Mr. 1500 up if you go back. He lives 1/2 mile from MMM and both families are great people.

    1. Brewery count: That is a wonderful yardstick, BNC! Loveland is a nice little town too – we passed through and had no idea there were that many boozeries – sweet!
      I’d read that the 1500 clan is nearby as well. Longmont is a hub for the FIRE class – right up there with Minneapolis. 😉

  8. Mountain Porn? Did you really title a pic that way? Lol. If you love mountain towns, check out Blue Ridge, GA. Near the start of the Appalachian Trail, and only 5 miles from Tennessee, it’s one of the best mountain towns in the East! (Our mountain porn, however, may be slightly less “erect” than those awesome Rockies!). Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  9. Coincidences:

    I was in Fort Collins two years ago. For the beer, yeah, but mostly for the Golden Gophers. (We beat the Rams in an OT nailbiter)

    I made a “pilgrimage” to Longmont earlier this year. More on that trip here: https://www.physicianonfire.com/north-star-sunday-best-4232017/#co

    Also, Grayson got my site converted to HTTPS quite recently. A smooth transition at a very affordable price that I certainly would have botched.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    1. Go Gophers! I’ll have to get your take on the Jerry Kill era some time. My father in law was a really big fan of his, having worked with him at a coaching clinic years back.
      I’m checking out your Longmont post here next. Guessing you met up with Mr. 1500?

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