So, I have finished up with everything for scvhool, I have deposited my thesis, and I am ready to start work on Monday. Here is what I have found so far:
Transportatoin will be slightly more difficult here than in Champaign. I live in Fort Collins, then about 10 miles south of Fort Collins is downtown Loveland, and about 4 miles east of downtown Loveland is where I work. There is a bus system (Transfort) in Fort Collins, which I don't need ot use much because I can just bike everywhere in Fort Collins that I want to go usually. In order to get to work, I need to take the "Flex Bus" down to Loveland, then get on a COLT (City of Loveland Transit) bus to get to where I work. The last Flex Bus northbound from Loveland leaves at 7:12 PM, so I have some time to do stuff thereafter work. One problem with the bus system is that none of the buses run on Sundays (see below to find out why that is a problem). I did try riding my bike down all the way from Fort Collins to Loveland once, but I don't think it's something I will want to do very often. There is also a taxicab company (Denver Yellow Cab) here. According to here, it gets horrible reviews for customer service, but I have used it three times and so far have no problems, except that sometimes I get put on hold for a few minutes while calling for the cab. It is about $30 to go all the way from Loveland to Fort Collins.
There is a major street (College Avenue) with all the usual chain stores like Target, Best Buy, Barnes + Noble, and so on. Another thing I have noticed here is that there seems to be a lot of outdoor stuff, camping, and hunting going around here, because I've seen several outdoor equipment stores including a dedicated archery store. Also I have seen lots of signs for gun shows - I wonder if those are geared toward hunters. Also, when I was in Loveland I saw the store Phoenix Nest, which sells Renaissance-style garb and they also do custom made leather products. I will probably be back there a few times to get stuff for live-action role playing (see below). Another store that is cool is in downtown Fort Collins, and it is called Science Toy Magic. It is a very small store but it is packed full of cool toys that demonstrate principles of science, and the guy who runs it does really fun demonstrations. A couple weeks ago I saw a sign indicating that they would get new toys in, so I went back to see the demonstration of the new toy, which was called the "Invisible High Bouncing Ball". The demonstration was okay, but it was a little hard to see what was going on. You can also watch this YouTube video here. Here's another thing which obviously won't affect me directly, because I am not going to use any illegal drugs, but might be interesting: I saw in the newspaper that Fort Collins is considering banning medical marijuana, and if you have been here you will understand why lots of Fort Collins residents complained that the ban would screw up their economy.
There are two main game stores in Fort Collins: the Haunted Game Cafe and Gryphon Games and Comics. They all have things going on almost every night, including role-playing games, miniatures games, and board games. The Haunted Game Cafe has a shelf full of games you can borrow to play in the store., and they sell drinks and snacks there. Each of these stores is a little bit bigger than the ones in Champaign. I haven't played any role-playing games yet here so I don't know what the scene there is like. As far as miniatures go, it seems like I may be in luck. I like miniatures games because of the strategy and tactics, but I don't really like haveing to paint and maintain all the miniatures. At the Haunted Game Cafe, I saw a game called Malifaux, which is a miniatures game where each side only has a few miniatures (a starter army has about 5 miniatures, compared with several dozen for a game like Warhammer). One of the factions in the game has the ability to summon new units during a battle, which adds clever new strategies and tricks you can do. Back in Champaign, I looked into Malifaux and they advised against that faction because you have to have the additional miniatures for the extra units in order to be able to summon the extra units. I asked about that here, and they said they don't play that way here. When we came here before on our house finding trip we saw a game store called Duelist Kingdom in Loveland, but that store is closed now. Fortunately, it turned out that the reason it was closed was because it was bought out by a bigger game store called Grand Slam Games and Comics, but I have only been there once so far.
Live Action Role Playing
There is an Amtgard group in Fort Collins, which meets on Sundays, and one in Denver, which meets on Saturdays. I went to the one in Denver just to check it out. It was sizable - about 20 people showed up - but it was not nearly spectiacular enough to be worth the trip all the way up there on a regular basis (I had to take an airport shuttle from Fort Collins to the Denver airport, then another airport shuttle from the airport to the park). During the battlegame there I aplayed an archer, and about halfway through the game the person running the game pulled me aide and said "we have to talk about your arrows." For a second I thought I was doing something wrong, but the real problem was that I was so effective with the arrows he thought it was unfair for the other team. (Part of the reason was that the scenario had the opposing team transporting a torch between two locations, and they are required to stay near the torch. This made it so they were all in one place and easy to hit, and they were unable to chase me down.) I went to the group in Fort Collins, and I was originally planning to take the bus there but I forgot that the buses don't run on Sundays, so I had to take a cab. When I got there the people there said I must be really dedicated to the game in order to be willing to take a cab. There weren't a lot of people here that day so we didn't do a whole lot exciting (apparently the previous week was a big tournament, so everyone was tired from that, plus it's the first week of school). Additionally, I learned that there is a Belegarth group in Loveland that also meets on Sundays. That group has a "small" practice with 20-25 people each Sunday, and then ion the first Sunday of each month they have a "big battle" with 50-75 people.