I recently got to visit my alma mater, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and woke early one morning before my kids to take a nostalgic run through town and campus. It’s a beautiful town, flanked by the orange-hued sandstone Flatiron cliffs, and I set out excited to revisit some of my old haunts. But with every mile, I was filled with an ever-growing sense of regret. I just didn’t do much in graduate school other than go to school, eat cheap Chinese ($1 a scoop!) and drink Natural Light. As I ran through town, I passed restaurants I never graced, bike trails I never cruised. After looking at a map of the city and surrounding area, I was shocked at how much hiking I never tackled. How much climbing I never attempted.
I went into school with grand plans of spending three years really learning how to rock climb. Maybe even get sponsored after developing what I assumed was a godgiven talent for the sport. I never scaled anything tougher than a barstool. I was simply too timid and closed minded to really branch out of my comfort zone.
I skied a lot, but always the same resort. I never branched out into the backcountry. Never bothered with cross-country. Never even checked out Eldora, the tiny family-run ski mountain 30 minutes outside of town. I never did yoga. Never tried the oxygen bar. I only tubed Boulder Creek once. And don’t get me started on all of the beer I never drank. Mountain Sun Brewery was right across the street from my apartment, and I rarely set foot in the place. I was a staunch Busch Light guy. No craft beers would ever cross my lips. I didn’t even try Fat Tire until I was leaving Colorado for the West Coast.
Obviously, I’ve seen the light since my grad school days in regards to beer, but I still find myself tucking back into that comfortable box. Buying the same 12 pack of my favorite local beer, ordering the same style of pale ale if I’m in a new brewery. It’s easy to talk yourself into following “the rut.” What if that new sour beer tastes like batteries? What if that new bike trail is too sandy?
During this extended family vacation through the Western U.S., I’ve convinced my kids to try something new every day. So far, they’ve tried fried rice at that $1 a scoop joint I frequented in Boulder (loved it!).
Had granola at the Go Pro Mountain Games in Vail (a tepid reception at best), and touched a dead cicada in Canyonlands National Park (definitely loved it!). With that same spirit in mind, I’m vowing to try a new beer every day. Okay, maybe not every day because I don’t drink beer every day. I vow to try a new beer whenever the opportunity presents itself and I don’t have to operate heavy machinery afterward. I started the vow in Boulder, when I found myself in a new brewery on Pearl Street, West Flanders Brewing Company. I ordered the Trippel, because I never order the Trippel, and it wasn’t bad. When one of the ladies I was with ordered one of the brewery’s signature “beer cocktails” (think beer-based mai-tais), I thought, “here’s another chance to branch out and try something new.” Then I saw the pink drink and all the fruit around the rim and thought, “let’s not get carried away here.” Trying new things is one thing. Drinking girlie drinks in public is another thing altogether.