Loveland is called both “The Gateway to the Rockies” and “The Sweetheart City”. Its name reflects the quality of life we enjoy in this part of the state when a Gallup poll named it as number 5 in the country for the happiest and healthiest population in the country. Road rage, rude retail/service workers, impatient bystanders are rare. You’re more apt to get a smile than a scowl. Maybe it’s the beautiful climate we enjoy, the thriving arts community, or the relative lack of city bustle, maybe it’s the name but it’s definitely a sweetheart of a place. And without a hint of preciousness, you can find heart sculptures scattered through out the town. It’s always fun to come upon a new one I haven’t seen before.
The only clue there is a town off the highway is a highway sign marking the exits. The first exit is my favorite because the drive is through fields, with a few agri-businesses and finally the “suburbs” of the town. It’s easy to romanticize it on this route because if you take the other exit the views are of a struggling outlet mall, big box stores, and a smattering of local businesses. You could be anywhere in the country if you take this exit. It isn’t until you’re fully in town and the road graces the lake that you realize this is a pretty town at the foot of the Rockies and not just a bedroom community.
Whenever I came home from Denver on that long commute last spring, I always took the county highway. Driving the road lined with pastures and fields helped me completely unwind after the interstate. I could watch the sun nestle between the foothills and Longs Peak becomes a looming shadow. It was always a welcome event to turn into the gravel drive and loop to the garage. I knew that dogs and my housemates would greet me warmly. Once I started working from home as the days warmed and my back strengthened I would take long walks with Mr. C trying and failing to match his loping long strides. I would stand on the ridge and watch the mountains and the lake in the distance. The bursts of highway noise from the county road fronting the house aren’t too troublesome at that distance (and a good precursor for the quiet in the middle of the middle of nowhere I was gifted a few months later). One afternoon last May, I took a drive to the east and noticed the pungent smell of fertilizer in the fields. The smell of spring and planting which means summer isn’t too far behind. Summer everywhere is glorious as far as I’m concerned but summer is especially magic where I live because the sun lingers until just before bedtime and I can walk to the ridge to witness the last tendrils of light just behind the mountains.