At first, it sounds like a bad joke: How does one Coloradan far from home recognize another in a bar?
By what’s on his head.
“The cowboy hat gives it away,” said Timothy Tribbett, 42, of Denver.
Tribbett and about 40 other Coloradans met in a Washington, D.C., pub Saturday evening for a meet-and-greet before Monday’s presidential inauguration.
Over bar tables and beer, they talked about their tickets’ colors, the Centennial State and mutual acquaintances.
U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden, stopped by with his wife and children, as well as former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb.
“I think that I know a lot of people in here,” Perlmutter said with a laugh as he shook hands, his suit and tie sticking out among his constituents’ sweaters and jeans.
For some, like Tribbett, it was their first time at an inauguration, calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“We won the lottery,” said Debb Gordon, 61, of Loveland, of the ticket lottery. “How many times do you get the chance to do this?”
John Reed, 70, of Aurora said he was expecting to have “a great time with 800,000 of my closest friends.”
Reed, wearing a tan cowboy hat, came to D.C. with his girlfriend, Lori Smith, 68, also of Aurora.
“We just took a chance” in trying to get tickets, she said.
Reed stood on the National Mall on Saturday, trying to imagine what it would look and feel like with hundreds of thousands of people around him. But he still doesn’t know what to expect.
“I have no earthly idea,” he said. “It’ll be interesting.”
But for Tony Ogden, 50, the inauguration is old hat. This will be his third. Ogden, who originally is from California and now lives in Washington, worked in Colorado for 21 years, including for the state’s attorney general – a job that brought him to Durango almost every month.
Washington is “completely different” from Colorado, he said, specifically citing gay marriage as he sat across a table from his husband, Bill Poulos, 45.
Ogden went to former President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration, as well as President Barack Obama’s in 2009.
“I think he’s in his game, he’s in his stride,” Ogden said of Obama. “I just want him to continue to stand for what the people want.”
But Reed just wants the politicians to stop bickering.
“I think it’s time they start listening to us, their employers,” he said.
Reed said the Colorado government is better. He said Gov. John Hickenlooper is about as neutral as a politician can be.
“It’s almost utopia,” Reed said.
But there are stark contrasts between Colorado and Washington outside of politics, the bar-goers said – particularly in Durango.
Durango has a much slower pace of life, said Roxane Baca, 57, who lived in Durango in the late 1990s and also worked for the state attorney general.
“People (in Washington) really aren’t as friendly here as in Colorado,” she said. “When you have a friend in Durango, you really have a true friend.”
In the nation’s capital, she said, relationships are more superficial.
But Durango is often small town, with its Main Avenue, and big city, with its shops and restaurants, at the same time.
“Durango has a small-town feel to it,” Baca said. “It still has that cosmopolitan touch, also.”
“D.C. is like that times 10,” she added. “Times 20.”
Stefanie Dazio is a student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.