9 ways you’ll be stereotyped for growing up in Colorado

1. You (and everyone) drives a Subaru.

I admit, I drive a Subaru. So does my wife. So do many of my friends. But at least as many of them drive Toyota Tacomas, so you can’t say everyone.

2. You pray to a statue of John Elway.

Yep, and you sing chants of ‘Let’s Go Broncos!’ in church and wear beanies and parkas year round. Yeah, we’ve all seen South Park.

3. You sit around freezing your ass off all the time.

Have you ever been to Minnesota? Do a little research. Our climate is actually pretty temperate compared to what you might think — much of the state is located on the edge of the plains or in a high desert. It does get cold in winter, but odds are it’ll be sixty degrees a couple days later, so you’ll thaw out just fine.

4. You know how to ride a horse and wrangle a steer.

My friends and family really don’t know the first thing about either of those activities.

5. After you wrangle the steer, you cut off its balls and grill them.

Only on certain occasions. When you’re in a landlocked state and the craving for oysters hits like the plague, you gotta do something.

6. You’re a Midwesterner.

No. No, actually I’m not. Basic geography, people.

7. You live to ski (or snowboard).

Ok. Got me again. I’m on the slopes as much as possible each winter. However, I know a surprising amount of people here who don’t ski or snowboard at all. Personally, I think they are crazy.

8. You spend each April 20th at Farrand Field in Boulder.

One of the most distinct memories of my teenage years was marching, through a thick cloud of smoke, across the CU-Boulder campus towards Farrand Field, only to find it barricaded by police. After a quick powwow (“Aw, man, total buzzkill!) the stoned masses decided to take the field back. We jumped over the fence, darted around the officers, and re-congregated in the center of the field just before 4:20. Despite the fact that they turned the sprinklers on us, the annual plume of smoke rose above the campus like an over-inflated balloon that had escaped from a child’s grasp.

Oh wait, did I just admit that?

9. You’re hoping to grow up to be a hippie or a cowboy.

Hippies lived in the sixties and cowboys are a dying breed.

The Best Road Trips from Oklahoma City

Here are some of my favorite road trips from OKC, organized by how long the drive is.

Keep in mind that your actual time on the road will be longer once you account for pit stops, driving through Sonic (or Braums), switching drivers, etc.

Of course, if you’re one of those drivers who likes to go ninety miles an hour on the highway, you’ll get there faster (if you get there in one piece), but speeding tickets might blow a hole in your trip budget.

Two Hour Road Trips

Anything less than ninety minutes just doesn’t seem like a road trip, does it? You really need to be on the road for an hour and a half to two hours before your trip starts to feel like a real road trip. You need to be in the car longer than it takes to drink a Route 44 from Sonic, right?

Here are the best road trips from Oklahoma that come in at two hours or less.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Growing up, we always viewed Tulsa as a great day trip destination, but why not spend a few nights?

You can enjoy the great food scene, take in a show or college game, and relax in a luxurious (or even budget) hotel. Tulsa feels like a better getaway when you spend a bit of time here.

Medicine Park, Oklahoma

Possibly the cutest town in Oklahoma, Medicine Park is colorful and fun!

There’s a lot to do in this part of the state, so if you spend a few days here instead of trying to rush back before bedtime, you can enjoy a lot more of what southern Oklahoma has to offer.

Combine a stay in Medicine Park with a day hiking (or driving) the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. You can appreciate the magnificence of the longhorn cattle and bison that call the refuge home.

Three Hour Road Trips

If you spend about two and a half hours to three hours on the road, you get a taste of the great open road without risking any negative consequences like cranky passengers or cramped muscles.

Dallas, Texas

A drive from Oklahoma City to Dallas is the quintessential road trip from Oklahoma City. Can you call yourself an Okie if you haven’t set foot in Dallas?

Plan your trip around a college or NBA game so you can rep Oklahoma pride. After all, one of my favorite quotes about Oklahoma is by Baker Mayfield:

You come to Oklahoma to beat Texas.

So why not support our teams and head to Texas to cheer them on?

Four Hour Road Trips

Still, a manageable road trip, four hours in the car usually means at least one pit stop. And it’s the fun you have on a road trip pit stop that makes the road trip, don’t you think?

Amarillo, Texas

Amarillo might not be the first place you think of when you are trying to come up with a road trip idea, but it’s actually only four hours from Oklahoma City!

You can enjoy the beauty of Palo Duro Canyon, the mystery of the Floating Mesa, or the kitsch of Cadillac Ranch.

Five Hour Road Trips

If you’re looking to get out of Oklahoma, but you’re not interested in Texas, you can get to some pretty cool places if you are will to spend closer to five hours on the road.

Kansas City, Missouri

Between Chiefs football and Royals baseball, Kansas City has experienced a bit of a sports resurgence in the past few years. But it’s not just a city for sports fans.

You can check out the fabulous Nelson Atkins Museum along with the lesser-known National Museum of Towns and Miniatures, before hitting the Plaza or the Power & Light District.

Lawrence, Kansas

My home for four years, Lawrence is a quintessential American college town. You can come to appreciate the pure-Americana that comes with this, or get tickets to the hottest show in town: a Kansas Jayhawks basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse.

Both OU and OSU play here each year, but get tickets early. Every game is sold out every year.

Six Hour Road Trips

When a road trip approaches six hours, it’s nice to have a driver to switch off with, so these are great options for road trips with friends or family.

Austin, Texas

Whether you’re interested in visiting Austin during SXSW or you’d rather be there during the offseason to see more of why the locals are working to “Keep Austin Weird,” don’t overlook Austin when planning a road trip to Texas!

Take in a sunset bat cruise, enjoy the city’s fabulous nightlife, and take a swim in Barton Springs.

Shreveport, Louisiana

It’s easy to forget that Oklahoma and Louisiana are separated by just a sliver of Texas, and you can get to Shreveport in less than six hours of driving, meaning excellent Cajun food is never that far away.

There’s also a lot to do out in nature here. You can play on Cross Lake or enjoy the Red River National Wildlife Refuge.

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

If you’re looking to escape to a place with a true resort feel, head to Lake of the Ozarks! This is a chill place to enjoy a family-friendly vacation on the water.

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

You don’t have to head all the way to Iceland to enjoy natural hot springs, just drive east to Arkansas!

At Hot Springs National Park the most popular activities are hiking and enjoying the hot springs at the bathhouses that cool the water down to a temperature that’s safe to enjoy.

Seven Hour Road Trips

While a little ambitious for a two-day trip, enjoy these seven-hour road trips if you are lucky enough to have a three or four-day weekend on your hands (or even longer).

Memphis, Tennessee

If you’re looking to eat some serious southern food, you can definitely do worse than Memphis. Enjoy the kitsch of Graceland and the vibes of Beale Street, but do not skip a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum.

Houston, Texas

If you love geeking out on space and science, then Houston is your best bet for a great road trip. Besides enjoying the city, you can spend a day exploring the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

This was one of the places that I loved visiting as a kid, and I highly recommend Houston as a great road trip from Oklahoma City for families looking for an educational trip.

San Antonio, Texas

It seems like San Antonio is constantly hosting some of the most important sporting events in the country, so it is common for friends and family to plan road trips to San Antonio around one of these events.

Whether it’s March Madness or a Big XII or even the Superbowl, San Antonio is a great place to go if your favorite team is competing.

Of course, there’s way more to San Antonio than sports and the Riverwalk. Spend time at the Alamo, but take time to visit the other four San Antonio Missions as well. Together they comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Eight Hour Road Trips

While you can easily do a road trip where you drive more than eight hours, I’ve decided this is going to be the longest trips I cover for this post.

Eight hours is short enough that you can do the road trip solo if you want, provided you give yourself time for breaks.

Yes, Oklahomans love to road trip further away, and it’s not unheard of to load the kids up and drive all the way to the east or west coast.

However, in that case, practically every city in America would be a road trip destination, and I think there’s a certain point that spending ten or twelve hours driving means you need more than a long weekend to enjoy the trip.

So while eight hours might seem like a short drive for some, I think all of these cities make for a great long weekend away while still being reachable comfortably in a day even if you want to stop for long breaks and enjoy dinner out once you arrive.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

While Oklahoma and Texas are part of the Southwest region of the US, if you want to feel like you’re really exploring the American Southwest, take a trip out to Santa Fe.

Santa Fe is a great place for an art-centric road trip, and you can explore the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, and the Museum of International Folk Art, along with historic Native American and Spanish Colonial architecture.

St. Louis, Missouri

There are tons of great free things to do in St. Louis. You can go on a free brewery tour at the Budweiser Brewery, enjoy the city’s free art museums, and take in the gorgeous architecture erected for the 1904 World’s Fair.

If you love history, take a day trip to Cahokia Mounds, a UNESCO World Heritage Site just over the border in Illinois.

Roswell, New Mexico

For an Americana-packed kitsch fest, head to Roswell, New Mexico to do as much (legal) Area 51 tourism as you can get away with. Make sure to pick up some alien souvenirs before heading back to OKC!

Galveston, Texas

While my family typically heads to the beach towns further south on North Padre Island, you save hours off of your beach trip drive if you head to Galveston since you can get there in under eight hours of drive time.

This charming beach resort town has a great throw-back amusement park, historic architecture, and, of course, fabulous swimming on the Gulf of Mexico.

Growing Up Poor: Childhood Poverty In Colorado

"/> James Rodriguez, 9, practices math homework in the Bronco room at The Crossing where he lives.

"/> Chaunsae Dyson in a bedroom cluttered with his grandmother's belongings.

"/> The Eagle River Village trailer park in Edwards, Colo. holds about 300 trailers that house many low-wage workers. In the background are duplexes that sell for more than $800,000.

"/> Clockwise from left, the new Lunch Lizard food truck in Grand Junction, Routt to Work participant Crystal and Grand Junction resident Della Bradley.

"/> Routt County Human Services director Vickie Clarke addresses a Routt to Work meeting in front of a board of concerns brainstormed by participants.

"/> Longmont resident Tracey Jones grows vegetables from her garden to feed her family in the summer. Since Jones started making too much to qualify for food stamps, she's had more trouble keeping food on the table.

"/> Grand Junction resident Della Bradley shows off her grandson Jayden's artwork. Bradley was struggling to raise her two grandsons alone before a child welfare complaint connected her to the Colorado Community Response Program.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at CPR

In July, we published this statement in recognition of the work we needed to begin at CPR to confront issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in our newsroom and organization as a whole.

We know this work is urgent, and we are dedicated to doing it thoroughly and connecting it with our vision and mission to reach all and serve everyone in Colorado.

Here is an update on our progress over the last eight months.

Sign Up For Our Newsletters

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Celebrate Women's History

In celebration of Women's History Month, we spotlight female artists, musicians, and composers making music and making history.

“I really miss the Colorado I had growing up.” Former Coloradans explain why they left.

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Rising living costs, stagnant wages, expensive housing, congested roads and legalized weed were all reasons people offered for departing Colorado when The Denver Post asked on Facebook. Some complained the state they once knew had changed too much, while others lamented that economic realities left them no choice. Below are edited comments from some of the people who recently bade farewell to Colorado:

“We moved from Atlanta in March 2013 and absolutely loved Denver! It was always our dream to move there, and it totally lived up to it. After a few years, we decided to have a baby, and while apartment living was fine before our son was born, it was not going to work for our growing family. After we started looking for houses, we quickly realized that Denver was out of our price range. Which is ironic because that was one of the reasons why we moved there.” — Karlee Hemphill, who relocated with her family to Virginia in August

“What really sealed the deal for us was taking my children to ‘Boo at the Zoo’ at the Denver Zoo. The parking garage was basically a giant bong. I couldn’t allow my children to get out of the car in that. My husband and I both worked over 50-hour weeks for less than national average pay in our fields to barely make it. We didn’t get to enjoy any part of Colorado that makes it worth it. Driving to the mountains was a nightmare.” — Kathryn Aitken, who relocated to Charlotte, N.C., in June 2016

“I worked for Jeffco at Bell Middle School, and I loved it: the atmosphere, my colleagues and the students. I didn’t like the fact that our responsibilities grew, yet our paycheck stayed the same. Colorado’s cost of living keeps rising without financial recourse for teachers.” — Josephine Wade, who relocated with her family to central California

“I hated to watch the area I grew up in and love turn into a buzzword destination for Midwest millennials. Denver was a cow town no more. The last straw: In May 2016, I was driving my scooter to my office downtown, less than a 4-mile commute from our Park Hill house, when a 17-year-old girl ran a stop sign and ran me over. Torn hip labrum, required surgery. In that moment, I had had enough of Denver’s population explosion.” — Scott Parker, who took an engineering job in Alaska in September 2016

“The reason for our move this time still has to do with cost of living. We decided as we try to start a family, it will be easier for us to afford the possibility of one income being in a state like Iowa, where you can rent a decent home for less than $1,000 a month, yet you can get a job that will pay a decent wage. In all honesty, I love Colorado. My husband does, too. It’s just difficult to stay here when living costs continue to go up.” — Eden Reich, who left Colorado for Iowa with her husband in 2015, moved back in 2016, and plans to leave again

“I know this story is tired, but I really miss the Colorado I had growing up. I worked two jobs, an internship for the city and waiting tables, and had three roommates in order to afford living in a house in Denver, and before that an apartment in Centennial. … I moved to Kanab, Utah, in May and I am actually closer to aspen trees and high mountains than when I lived in Colorado. I only pay $850 for a two-bedroom house with no roommates!” — Erin Steen, a Colorado native

“Recently, I moved back to my hometown of Atlanta … because I found the Denver metro job market hostile to the middle-aged. In 2017, I made it to the final third or fourth rounds of interviews with four different companies and was told ‘no’ by each. … For all the hype about Denver’s low unemployment rate, I am an example of an experienced professional who got frustrated trying to find decent work.” — Lisa Long

“I moved to Denver in 2013 shortly after graduating from college. I loved living in Denver and had a great little studio in Capitol Hill, but wasn’t saving money, rarely could afford to travel and seemed to be putting all of my money toward rent and debt. I had to sell my car to avoid defaulting on student loans. After many attempts to obtain the kind of work that could pay a more realistic wage, I gave up and went back to seasonal work in Alaska this summer. When the summer season was over, I found a job with the state of Alaska earning substantially more than I was ever offered in Denver.” — Brit Anderson

Growing up poor puts you on the wrong side of the college graduation equation

As we've learned over the past few weeks talking to Colorado teenagers growing up in poverty, the lower rungs of the economic ladder are a tough perch from which to even think about going to college, let alone gain entrance -- and then pay for the education.

Now we learn from a new report from University of Pennsylvania’s Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy and the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education that the likelihood of students finishing their degree is also affected by their economic status.

The percentage of students from the lowest-income families -- those making $34,160 a year or less -- earning a bachelor’s degree inched up just three points from 1970 to 2013, rising to 9 percent from 6 percent. College completion for students from the wealthiest families rose dramatically, though, climbing to 77 percent from 44 percent.

  • If they do further their education past high school, students from the poorest families are much more likely to attend two-year programs -- and those have lower completion rates.
  • College costs more than twice what it did in 1975 while Pell grants for lower-income students covered 67 percent of college costs in 1975 but only 27 percent in 2012.
  • Almost all students from highest income families wrap up their bachelor's degree by the time they turn 24, while 21 percent of students from the poorest families are done by the time they reach the same age.

This is sobering news for individual students who work hard and play by the rules. It also bodes ill for a country with a widening gap between rich and poor.

‘If anything, the returns to education, the benefits from attaining more education, have been growing over the last 20 years,’’ said David Zimmerman, an economics professor at Williams College. ‘‘So to the extent that the education gap is widening between students from more and less advantaged families, then the predicted gap in earnings would widen, as well.’’

The Wall Street Journal was among many news organizations to pick up the report:

“Education is one of the levers that we have in place to address income inequality. It offers the promise of achieving the American dream,” said Laura Perna, executive director of the Penn program. Yet the study’s findings suggest that “education isn’t fully living up to this promise.”

Watch the video: Hidden Bias of Good People

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