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Twenty-five Square Miles Surrounded by Reality


When my novel, Profile, opens up, Arden Chase lives in Boulder, Colorado. He describes it as “twenty-five square miles surrounded by reality.” And in fact, that’s how Boulder proudly describes itself.

It’s the home of the main campus of the University of Colorado, and perhaps that could have something to do with it. After all, college towns are often a little bit quirky. But Boulder definitely strolls to its own beat.

Boulder was a destination of hippies in the late sixties, presumably those who were not quite motivated enough to make the trek all the way to San Francisco. But who could blame them? Boulder is a beautiful town. Some of those hippies stuck around, and that pot-smoking, granola-munching mentality can still be found in Boulder without having to look too hard.

According to the 2010 census, the population of the city of Boulder was 97,385. According to that same census, for every 100 females, there were 105.5 males, which means that for every 100 females, there are five and a half unhappy men. Although the census does not provide information about sexual orientation, so maybe those five and a half men are okay with the way it breaks down. (But that one half guy has got to be pissed!)

As Arden points out, Boulder is the proud birthplace of the Polar Bear Plunge and the Naked Pumpkin Run, as well as various other decidedly more cultural events. Sporting events such as the Bolder Boulder, a 10-K run, is held every Memorial Day, die-hard bicyclists can be seen on virtually every road around Boulder, and rock climbers risk life and limb on the Flatirons and surrounding mountains.

Boulder is also home to the critically acclaimed Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra. But some of the most fun music-wise (and other-wise) can be had by wandering the Pearl Street Mall, a pedestrian mall closed to motorized traffic. Performers of all kinds can be seen here, often interacting in imaginative ways with passersby.

Even many of those who have never been to Boulder have likely seen it, as it was the home of Mork and Mindy. The New York Deli on the Pearl Street Mall was featured extensively in the seventies show, as were exterior shots of the Victorian gingerbread house at 1619 Pine Street, just a couple of blocks north of the mall.

Not surprisingly, Boulder has made it on several of the polls and lists that magazines love to create. It ranked as the sixth healthiest city to live and retire, the eighth best city for artists, and it ranked number one as the happiest city, the brainiest city, the ‘foodiest’ city, and the best city to raise an outdoor kid.

In case you were wondering.

Arden spends a good deal of time in Chautauqua Park, which has a pretty rich history itself. And despite Arden’s run-in with a certain violent individual, crime rates in Boulder are actually quite low, with not a single murder or manslaughter case being reported since 2011. (The statistics I had only went through 2013, but if a major violent crime spree took place in the last few months, I didn’t hear about it.)

I’ve been to Boulder many times, though I’ve never lived there. But in the future, who knows? Twenty-five square miles surrounded by reality?

Reality really is overrated.