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19Echeaux
21 Apr 06, 01:22
Greetings, Grognards:

I'm 19Echeaux (pronounced, One Niner Echo), from Castle Rock, Colorado. I'm a 42 year-old guy who has been playing wargames since 1977. I've been on the Internet since 1993 or 94 or so, and it was the old original Harpoon game that got me dying to get a computer.

I'm a modeler and a musician (cello, mandolin, keyboards), a poet and a writer (nothing major published so far). I am an armchair general of the most annoying stripe, a pompous know-it-all on the issue of geoplotics, and a blowhard adherent and proponent of the concept of the Pax Americana (the American-Imposed Peace).

I served in the US Army for a very short time as an M60A1 armor crewman (MOS 19E), made it through basic and AIT at Ft Knox, but bailed before graduating to the 2nd Armored Division because I had a guaranteed contract for the first class of M1 tankers out of Knox but ended up in A-1-1 in the last class of M60A1s. That was 1982-1983, the days of the InterGerman Border, and the last thing I wanted to do was face the oncoming Soviet hordes in a machine with a 60-second lifespan after the balloon went up. I had read too many accounts of Shermans vs Tigers, and I wasn't up for being cannon fodder.

Over the years I have delved far deeper into military history and military science than most folks, and I've gotten a bit smug in my opinions of my own knowledge. Character flaw, but hey, at least I admit it. I love TO&E's (weird, I know), maps and mapping, reading about history and military history/science (all eras), reading sci-fi/swords and sorcery, building 1/35 scale models of armor vehicles and dioramas, messing about with computer wargames/sims (like Point of Attack 2, Armored Task Force, Operational Art of War, etc), climbing mountains (knocked out 10 14,000ft+ summits with my girlfriend so far, more to come this summer), hiking, hanging out with my kitty-cats (3 of 'em: Captain Kirk, Hermann Panzerkatze, and old Maddie), and taking care of my fish (african cichlids). I also love astronomy, geology, painting, sketching, English beer and their "football", extraterrestrial and cryptozoological legends and theories, cosmology, nekkid wimmen, am a huge music fan (classical, jazz, rock, punk, most other genres aside from rap/hip-hop and Country/Western), keep up with current events (especially military issues), and am a good cook and an excellent listener (oh crap, this ain't a personal ad, and there ain't very many chicks on SZO, so what the hell am I rambling on about?).

This overly detailed introduction ought to lay a good foundation. I joined SZO back in 2003 but only recently began posting in the POA2, ATF and TOAW forums. I really enjoy the expertise of the other gamers who missives I've noted on these forums, and am looking forward to learning more from other seasoned grognards. Most of the folks I've run across in the gaming world seem to have as eclectic interests as I do (or eccentric? is that more accurate?).

I've shaken the hand of George Herbert Walker Bush at a Stop-and-Go in Houston the morning of the Oklahoma City bombings, have dated a stripper, spent three years in Civil Air Patrol, was a Second-Class Boy Scout, owned a saltwater aquarium business, climbed the second-highest mountain in the continental US, flunked out of college, drowned and "died" at the age of seven, performed in symphonies, ran for mayor in my hometown, worked for attorneys as a paralegal and for surgeons as a surgical assistant, was part of a cardiac crash team at a hospital, and am a general bore, a smart ass and a cynical bastard. I have a government job that I absolutely love in one of the fastest growing municpal areas in the US, drive an old crappy car, and live in one of the most beautiful places imaginable.

With all that being (overly-detailed) said, nice to meet you all. Oh, and I'm a Cajun too. All that boring stuff, and French:devious: . Quite the catch...yeah, right. Just an average guy, sailing rudderless but entertained on the open seas of Life. But proud to be a gamer, and to be a poster at SZO at well.

MonsterZero
21 Apr 06, 09:26
Welcome Mr. 19Echeaux

Do you know anything about Durango? Have you been there? For somebody who wants to live in Colorado within short driving distance from skiing slopes but away from the expensive towns (like Aspen) Durango is supposed to be one of the best, they say. Do you agree?

Ivan Rapkinov
21 Apr 06, 10:38
now that's an introduction :laugh:

welcome aboard.

19Echeaux
21 Apr 06, 12:26
Durango is a beautiful place, Ivan. It's on the south side of the San Juan Mts, probably the most beautiful range in Colorado. Volcanic origin, high snowfalls, rugged and wild. The San Juans are my favorites in Colorado, and once you see Red Mountains 1-3 and Molas Pass, you'll never want to leave. Telluride and Purgatory ski areas are within 50 miles north of town, and there is some natural gas and oil production in Durango to give a good commercial base. Lot of NIMBY types there, Starbucks and McDonalds had a bugbear of a time getting established there. More info is available on the La Plata County website, but make sure, if you're gonna buy property there, RESEARCH the property taxes, and get that info from the assessor, not from some title company. Vacant land will cost you an arm and a leg in taxes, so if you get a vacant lot, build on it immediately. The drive from Durango through Purgatory, Silverton and Ouray is like being in Switzerland. If you head up to Ouray (pronounced, YOU-ray), make sure to take the side trip up to Telluride, lots of music festivals there in summer. I also hear that Cortez and Montezuma County are just breath-taking. Good luck if you decide to move to Durango.

Oh, and as for "expensive towns like Aspen", you don't have half the story. That county just tried to pass a building code that forbade houses with greater than 15,000 sq ft gross living area, to try to help address the dearth of "low-cost housing" there. Sheesh.

Other lower-cost cities would be Colorado Springs (growing like mad), Pueblo, Walsenburg, and Grand Junction. Denver isn't really all that expensive either, nor is Ft Collins. I suggest you just come out, start in Denver, drive I-70 west to Glenwood Springs, down through Grand Junction to Durango, back east to Walsenburg, then north through Pueblo and Colorado Springs to Denver and your starting point. Might take a couple of days to do it, but that Grand Tour would really give you a good handle on what this place is all about. Just keep in mind where you're gonna be able to make a living. The mountain towns are like living in paradise but boy, the jobs are pretty darn scarce.

Thanks for the welcome, MonsterZero. Tended to run on a bit there with the intro. That'll teach me to drink ale and write an introduction.....ha!

ralphtrickey
21 Apr 06, 23:35
Breckenridge isn't bad either. It's one of the smaller ski towns the locals like. It hasn't had the exposure of Aspen or Vail. Someone I know moved up to Breckenridge last winter, and planned on finding work up there and being a ski bum. There are a lot of smaller towns on the Western Slope.

I'm not sure about Colorado Springs being cheap, I suppose it's all relative. I moved here about 10 years ago, and the cost of a new house has almost doubled in that time. The place is growing very fast. I never regretted moving out here from Ohio, though.:)

Jazz
22 Apr 06, 00:45
Breckenridge isn't bad either. It's one of the smaller ski towns the locals like. It hasn't had the exposure of Aspen or Vail. Someone I know moved up to Breckenridge last winter, and planned on finding work up there and being a ski bum. There are a lot of smaller towns on the Western Slope.

I'm not sure about Colorado Springs being cheap, I suppose it's all relative. I moved here about 10 years ago, and the cost of a new house has almost doubled in that time. The place is growing very fast. I never regretted moving out here from Ohio, though.:)

Check out the real estate prices in Breck next time you're there....

You can find work. Depending on what you do, you may need to settle for seasonal work, but it's there. You won't make enough to buy housing and the rental market can be brutal. Given a year or two of lowered expectations (assuming you're coming to the area cold), you can develop contacts/infrastructure and be fairly comfortable and civilized, but you won't be getting rich, or even working toward a semi-comfortable retirement. Depending on where in your personal life cycle you are, it might be just the ticket. I lived that way for 10+ years in Wyoming/Idaho/Montana/Colorado, but eventually, the piper must be paid. All depends on what you can and are willing to do for a living I suppose?

Durango is nice, albeit a mite isolated....which can be a good thing. Jobs are probably a bit more stable. There is a 4 year liberal arts school there (Fort Lewis College). Skiing is good, but still a drive up the Animas canyon.....45 minutes?(depending on what part of town you're driving from).

Other places to consider (assuming you want to live in the Mtns), Salida, Gunnison, Grand Junction (not quite in the Mtns but close and cheaper to live).

I left California in '73 and haven't even been tempted to look back.

Scott Tortorice
22 Apr 06, 22:04
Welcome to our humble abode! One more wargaming eccentric is always welcome! :laugh:

19Echeaux
22 Apr 06, 23:39
Thanks for welcoming me, Scott...eccentric might be too mild a word. You're not by any chance kin to the "Jason's Deli" Tortorices?

Ralph, I struggled in CS for five years before heading up to CR and the Denver job market. Made a huge difference. I love the Springs (my gf is still there), and it growing like wildfire (ooops! Better watch the language....), but the job market was pretty bad, and the salaries are much lower than in the Denver market. However, it is indubitably less expensive than Breck. Breck is a wonderful place, though...loved the hike to the summits of Quandary, Lincoln and Bross.

jazz, interesting to see you didn't suggest someone move to Ft Collins. Things are really booming up there too, as well as Loveland, another beautiful town I forgot to mention. I didn't suggest a move to Castle Rock/Douglas County, simply because it is so flippin' expensive here. Lots of good reasons to shop at Wal-Mart, LOL! The median household income in Douglas County is somewhere in the area of $93K. More Hummers of all three civilian manifestations than you could shake a stick at. Glad I have my cheap apt.

Good to see both you Coloradoans here. Looks like we have the Front Range covered if there is ever an invasion of cardboard chits! Just curious: Have either of you ever seen the two Colorado scenarios for TOAW CoW? One in WWII, the other modern-era. REALLY good map but it needed work to faithfully restrict movement east-to-west (and I know you know what I mean! Some passes would just take an angry mountain goat to shut down completely.)

And MonsterZero: When you get out here and want to scare the pants off a passenger, take the drive over Independence Pass. Holy Hannah that one even gives the experienced mountain drivers pucker warp factor nine.

Glad to meet everyone! Nice to talk to other wargamers. Ya meet all kinds.

Scott Tortorice
23 Apr 06, 01:23
Thanks for welcoming me, Scott...eccentric might be too mild a word. You're not by any chance kin to the "Jason's Deli" Tortorices?

Not to my knowledge. :) However, my grandfather on my mother's side once owned three German delicatessens in NYC. All the pickles you could eat...those were the days. :joy:

MonsterZero
27 Apr 06, 08:44
19Echeaux, your picture of employment opportunities in CO looks bleak indeed and the reasons make perfect sense but I'm a nursing student, will be done with school for two years. People in CO do get sick once in a while, don't they?

I contacted the CO nursing boards and transferring my license from IL is just a formality; they basically rubber stamp it as long as I pay the application fee.

For healthcare work you'll probably recommend Denver, eh? I'm afraid that would be kind of pointless for somebody with my dreams. I want a quiet life and as much skiing as I can manage. The urban attractions of Denver-I've seen them all.

Jazz
01 May 06, 12:15
19Echeaux, your picture of employment opportunities in CO looks bleak indeed and the reasons make perfect sense but I'm a nursing student, will be done with school for two years. People in CO do get sick once in a while, don't they?

I contacted the CO nursing boards and transferring my license from IL is just a formality; they basically rubber stamp it as long as I pay the application fee.

For healthcare work you'll probably recommend Denver, eh? I'm afraid that would be kind of pointless for somebody with my dreams. I want a quiet life and as much skiing as I can manage. The urban attractions of Denver-I've seen them all.

I haven't checked specifically, but I would think with a nursing certificate you could just about write your own ticket just about anywhere in Colorado that you wanted.

I am jealous. Once I got out into the skilled job market, I always kicked myself for picking engineering instead of nursing.

Jazz
01 May 06, 12:25
jazz, interesting to see you didn't suggest someone move to Ft Collins. Things are really booming up there too, as well as Loveland, another beautiful town I forgot to mention.
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Booming isn't always a good thing....and I got the vibe that the interest in the original post didn't really want the boom. Spent too many years in California and Oil Patch boom towns....

Fort Collins/Loveland is nice, but it ain't the mountains. It's 2.5 hours (if the traffic ain't too bad) to skiing. 1+ hour to the closest "mountains" up Poudre Canyon. It's probably the pick of the litter if you have to make a living at a regular job, but if I had a skill that could get me someplace else (Colo Western Slope or Wyoming) I'd jump on it.

19Echeaux
09 May 06, 20:12
"19Echeaux, your picture of employment opportunities in CO looks bleak indeed and the reasons make perfect sense but I'm a nursing student, will be done with school for two years. People in CO do get sick once in a while, don't they?

"I contacted the CO nursing boards and transferring my license from IL is just a formality; they basically rubber stamp it as long as I pay the application fee.

"For healthcare work you'll probably recommend Denver, eh? I'm afraid that would be kind of pointless for somebody with my dreams. I want a quiet life and as much skiing as I can manage. The urban attractions of Denver-I've seen them all."

Oh, heck no, MonsterZero, for nursing degreed folks, the entire state is wide-open. I was thinking more of folks who needed a more "run-of-the-mill" job market. There are some good hospitals in Denver, to be sure, but hey, with a nursing cert, you can go anywhere in the whole state.

So, with that in mind, the only limitation you might face (in the mountains)would be affordable housing on a nurse's salary. You probably would want to stay away from the major ski areas, for the most part, Aspen and Vail Valley in particular.

Hell, if I had my druthers about living in any part of the state, I would certainly go for Durango. Good-sized hospitals there, and you have all the wonderful San Juans at your doorstep. Additionally, that part of the state is a lot more "off the beaten path" than the rest of the mountain parts of Colorado, and omigod, the San Juans will just bring you to your knees with their incredible majesty. Like I said earlier, they are of volcanic origin, so you get some just unbelievable jagged peaks and the rivers and stream are delightfully wild and rushing. The climate is a bit warmer than the Sawatch or Park ranges, so the growing season is a little longer, and you actually get mosquitoes down there in summer.

Another area you might consider is Crested Butte. It's the "back side" of Maroon Bells, the picturesque peaks you always see in the postcard shots from Aspen. It's in the West Elk Mountains, north of Gunnison (the coldest town on Colorado, I do believe) and one of the most fantastic places for wildflowers in the entire state. Have you ever seen mountains carpeted in blue and yellow flowers? And probably the biggest Columbines you've ever seen. There is a large amount of additional ski areas south of Crested Butte and all around, basically. The mountains there are also incredible and wild and just like a fairyland.....both the San Juans and Crested Butte are very similar to Switzerland, and are more or less a lower population density than the Front Range area (metro area stretching between basically Cheyenne Wyoming south to Pueblo Colorado).

I would highly recommend coming out and taking a good hard look at both Durango and Crested Butte, and the entire incredible area between the two places. Telluride, Ouray (pronounced YOO-ray) and Silverton are also great places to plunk yourself down if you want to spend your winters skiing and your summers hiking and climbing.

And by all means, welcome to the state when you finally settle down here! We need more nurses on the planet, period, and we certainly need them here in Colorado. You probably want to stay the heck away from the I-70 traffic nightmare corridor between Denver and Glenwood Springs.

[Now that I've advised you on the good skiing areas, now let me confess that I've never hit a ski slope in my life, and never will. I'm more of a hiker and fourteener climber and not at all fond of skiing. However, I do have it on good authority that you will find fantastic skiing in the southwestern part of the state, and besides, if you want to get away from the urban life, as you appear to desire, I could not think of a place in the state better suited for both getting away from most folks and for being smack-dab in the middle of a winter wonderland than that area. Good luck in your search, and if I can offer any additonal information, please feel free to ask....I tend to ramble on, as is apparent, but I love this state and have seen a lot of it. Good choice on destinations, and on honorable careers, my good man!]

Jazz
09 May 06, 20:22
"
I would highly recommend coming out and taking a good hard look at both Durango and Crested Butte, and the entire incredible area between the two places. Telluride, Ouray and Silverton are also great places to plunk yourself down if you want to spend your winters skiing and your summers hiking and climbing.



I would hasten to add, you shouldn't limit yourself to Colorado. Given my druthers (and from what you've said, we tend to value the same things) Wyoming is an option.

Lander is a nice small town with a surprising amount of culture for a Wyoming town of ~7000, not to mention 50% of the ASL playing population of the state. Skiing is a ways away, but it's good when you get there. Backcountry is closer than area skiing.

Driggs Idaho is similar, skiing is closer, but people have discovered it and housing prices are going up. It's close enough to Jackson to be infected (Jackson Hole ain't *really* Wyoming) Some other wyoming locations: Laramie (windy, only college town in the state, close to Colo Front range), Cody, Powell, Star Valley, Dubois. Other Rocky Mtn possiblities: Driggs Idaho, Bozeman Montana, Red Lodge Montana, hell, anyplace in central-western Montana.

I moved to the Rockies in '73 and never even thought about leaving since....

19Echeaux
09 May 06, 20:29
Yup, you're right, Jazz, Ft Collins/Loveland ain't "the mountains", but Loveland is one heck of a good starting place for access to the Park Range.

And I didn't realize Zero was gonna have a nursing degree. You're right that the man can pretty much write his own ticket. What freedom!

And, don't knock your engineering, that's what the nation is built on. If the oil shale tech developments lately are near to what they claim, then the old oil shale fields near Rifle will be starting up strong again, and not just a shot-in-the-dark boom that will fizzle out in two or three years. I hear some good things about the coming explosion of oil shale development and then you'd have a darn good shot of getting out to the Western Slope.

I'm just beginning a career in appraisal for local government here and that seems it might have some chances to move to some of the smaller counties in the mts, but I'm kinda risk-averse in the career world now and probably will do my twenty years down here nice and safe (knock on wood) and then figure something from that point.

I am a bit down on the general Colorado job market, but that's from experience. It's pretty tough up here to get things rolling without a good dependable degree like nursing, but hey, it can be done, with patience and determined endurance. All in all, though, it is one of the most wonderful places to live and I'm pretty sure that I'll live here in Colorado for the rest of my days (unless I win the lottery or publish a bestseller or something).

Jazz
09 May 06, 20:58
And, don't knock your engineering, that's what the nation is built on. If the oil shale tech developments lately are near to what they claim, then the old oil shale fields near Rifle will be starting up strong again, and not just a shot-in-the-dark boom that will fizzle out in two or three years. I hear some good things about the coming explosion of oil shale development and then you'd have a darn good shot of getting out to the Western Slope.


Don't get me wrong....engineering has been good and I have a good job. It's just I envy the freedom to find work pretty much anywhere..... Fort Collins is nice, but it wouldn't be my first choice if I had the freedom to live anywhere....still, it's pretty good.



I'm just beginning a career in appraisal for local government here and that seems it might have some chances to move to some of the smaller counties in the mts, but I'm kinda risk-averse in the career world now and probably will do my twenty years down here nice and safe (knock on wood) and then figure something from that point.
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I suppose thats true with a government job (secure job for ~10-20 years). As far as the private sector is concerned, anybody who thinks they have a "secure" job more than 1-3 years out is in denial....best come to terms with the fact that *everything* can and will change eventually, and often sooner rather than later.