All cities come to be from stories, legends and myths. Rome was founded when Romulus killed his brother, Remus. At least that's how the myth goes. And like many cities in the great American West, Colorado Springs was formed around the rush to get rich quick by digging up gold. But how I ended up here was something more accidental: Last year, during a sabbatical from teaching philosophy, and after skydiving in Dallas, I headed west. Having recently finished Steinbeck's 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "The Grapes of Wrath" (considered by some to be one of the greatest American stories), I aimed for California, as clich?as that sounds.
Filling up at a gas station in eastern Colorado, I asked someone wearing running gear if they could recommend a good running trail. The man excitedly replied, "You must do the Incline!" I'd never heard of the Incline but judging from his excitement and with my curiosity piqued, I asked for more detail. He told me it was at the base of Pikes Peak near the city of Colorado Spring. I was thinking to myself, "Pikes Peak! The Incline" and I was on my way. So with the hopes of checking off another accomplishment from my bucket list, I hasted to see the dawn of the Rockies pop up just as the sun set on that cool, summer's evening.
That was a year ago, and well, I'm not ashamed to say, I never made it to California; in fact I never made it past Colorado Springs. Why should you search for another adventure when all the excitement you need was right where you are. From the very beginning, I grew fond of Colorado Springs and, I know why, in 2009, Outdoor Magazine named it the best place to live in the states. The gold may well be harvested, but the rush remains because that's what I get whenever I discover new and amazing trails around the Front Range.
The first few months here, as I worked on a business startup, my girlfriend (I met her in Poor Richards Cafe and she happens to be an officer in the Air Force, surprise, surprise!) and I explored nearly a new trail every weekend and I was in heaven.
Soon she showed me the cool, bubbly springs in Manitou, some of which puts Perrier to shame. Ah, and then it occurred to me (I'm sometimes slow on the uptake) why the name "springs" was added not just to Manitou but also to Colorado Springs. I know that sounds redundant, but hey, what's a non-native to do?
The beauty of this place is equally matched by quality cuisine: from the southern feel of Shugas, the a coziness of La Tavern (Broadmoor), the warmth and spice of Springs Orleans, to the cool ambience of Nosh, this city has variety to please the most sophisticated tongue.
When my sons visited me, they were quick to point out how "in shape" everyone was - riding bikes, running, fishing and just being outdoors. My son, Asher, even pointed out how he didn't see many folks smoking as compared to where he was from. Perhaps that's attributable to the elevation or maybe just because folks here are healthier, who knows? I would venture to say, in contrast to the last state I lived in for more than six years, Florida, that most people here in "the Springs" live outside more than inside.
Like most towns and cities in history, they are nearly always founded around a source of water. That makes sense because water is the basic element of life; it's life giving. But unlike a river, or a lake, a spring is something extra special. If you've ever seen a spring you'll know there's something very magical about it as it looks as if water just flows forth from a rock or just plum out of the earth. It's like Moses' "stick" that strikes the rock, and shazam, H2O! Springs are akin to "geyser", and in the German this is similar to "spirit" or "geist" meaning a burst of energy, inspiration, rejuvenation.
As you know, I've only been here a year and I can tell you without a doubt, there is something electrifyingly magical about this place.
This may not last long, it's difficult to tell, and please forgive me for the pun, but there really is something of an extra "spring" in my step these days. Of course, one could contribute this to my girlfriend, but she, too, is from Colorado Springs, so there!
So perhaps you could do an experiment: When you're out and about (which for you means all-the-time) look carefully at the gait of your fellow citizens and you too might just see a spring in their step, too.
Creston Davis received his doctorate from the University of Virginia and is a professor of philosophy at the Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities in Europe and has published five books on philosophy and religion. He will be teaching at Colorado College in the fall while he completes his novel "Ghostly Icons."