BOBBY MAGILL

Journalist • Photographer

Bobby Magill is a senior science writer for Climate Central in New York and a journalist who has covered fracking and the environment in Colorado and New Mexico since 2001. 

Cabin fever: a lament

I've lived in Fort Collins for nearly a year and a half now, and the longer I stay here I feel like I'm living on the edge.

It's hard to explain, but Fort Collins feels far from everywhere, even though we're an hour from Denver.

Fort Collins is about 20 minutes and about 20 miles closer to Cheyenne,  Wyoming's state capital, than Denver. We're the northern edge of the I-25 urban corridor, which stretches from here south to Pueblo. Yes, we're close to all the action in Denver and Boulder and only a traffic jam away from LoDo. Not close enough sometimes.

I make these observations not to state the obvious, but to set the stage for my mid-winter cabin fever. I was surprised to realize recently that I exist in Fort Collins almost entirely within a few square miles. My life here is bounded roughly by several thoroughfares and arterials, all, it seems, ridiculously close together: Riverside Ave. in the north and Drake Rd. about two miles south; College Ave. on the west, and Timberline Rd. two miles east.

Those streets hold me within bounds save for rare occasions to visit friends or Vitamin Cottage beyond the congested breach.

The irony to this is that I'm given to long road trips and great fits of wandering: They're what I think about all too often when I stare above my computer screen at work, stare out a distant window and look at the hills and the big sky country beyond. And yet, on a trip up Poudre Canyon to Cameron Pass yesterday for a short snowshoe into the Rawah Wilderness, I found myself astounded and a bit anxious to be reminded that the mountain pass Fort Collins seems to claim as its own is 70 miles and two hours of narrow-canyon two-lane driving away.

Two hours to Cameron Pass. An hour and a half through bad traffic to Denver. Five and a half hours through the same traffic jam to Grand Junction, the truly isolated capital of Colorado's Western Slope. Funny, Grand Junction, as far from Denver and Salt Lake that it is, seemed to be in the middle of everything when I lived there.

The Southern boy in me still dictates that I'm not much of a snow guy, so finding wintertime wilderness 'round here isn't much of a hobby of mine. That means I spend much more time in Fort Collins on the weekends than I should, thinking about the red rock canyon country that lay beyond the Great Divide, so distant from here.

My lament is hollow, of course. Spring isn't far away, and I should just quit whining, suck it up and learn to love the snow. I've heard that line before.

But Fort Collins is far from the rest of Colorado. And cabin fever means I'm restless. And that means it's time for a trip to Utah. I'm counting the days...