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Ten reasons fall rules, from warm clothes to pumpkin-flavored stuff

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For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, fall is officially in full swing. That doesn't mean much for Colorado -- residents of this generally aren't aware that fall and spring come between those two main seasons known as winter and hot as hell. With temperatures still hitting the 80s this past week, it's clear that we are entering the phase where snow and sun are beginning to battle (Halloween is their favorite time to duke it out, with snow usually triumphing and ruining all those skimpy costumes). But for those who do acknowledge autumn, here are ten things to look forward to, now that it's not 97 degrees outside.

1. Layers After a summer spent wearing not much of anything, fall is definitely a welcome change. Suddenly, we become Joey in that episode of Friends where he puts on all of Chandler's clothes -- except then we go to work that way. From sweaters to sweater vests to tights on top of tights underneath jeans, we love wearing all of our clothes at once. Note to true Colorado guys: We know don't need to say this, but yes, you can still wear shorts and flip-flops in the fall. And the winter, even. We see you in the snow with bare knees and naked toes and you know what? It's totally cool. It's Colorado.

2. Winter sports It's true that skiing, snowboarding, snow-shoeing, etc. can all almost be done year-round, but there is something about the drive up to the mountains this time of year, when the snow starts to fall, that reminds us why Colorado rules. We may not have a beach, but we've got gorgeous mountains that are (when traffic doesn't totally suck) an hour outside of the city.

3. No more air-conditioning For a state that sees barely any humidity during the summer, we sure love to pump air-conditioning into every enclosed space possible. No longer will you need to keep a parka in your car for those mid-summer lunch dates, trips to the mall or afternoon movies. Now you can just wear your jacket from place to place, like a normal person. 4. The visual seasonal change Leaf-peepers, rejoice! This is your time. Although the foliage has already begun to move from greens to gorgeous yellows, tans, browns and reds, there is still time to sneak a peek at the aspens. And if you don't feel like heading to the mountains, spots like City Park and Wash Park are also looking gorgeous. 5. Hot tubs While hot tubs can be used throughout the year in Colorado, it's particularly nice to take a dip after a long day of freezing your ass off. Don't have a hot tub? A bath will always do, but ask around -- more people than you realize have a winter cabin with hot-tub access or live in one of those apartment buildings in Capitol Hill with indoor pools.. All it takes is a little investigation.

6. Getting warm Hot tubs aren't the only way to get warm. We may spend all summer bitching about how hot it is, but fall and winter afford us the luxury of deciding when and how warm we want to be. If you're too cold, you can turn up the heat, crawl under a dozen blankets, drink hot chocolate, whatever; it's up to you. Now, if cars only had the ability to start and warm themselves up and chip ice off the windows, winter wouldn't be so brutal.

7. The Broncos What does that bumper sticker say? "If God wasn't a Broncos fan, why are sunsets orange and blue" or something? Even when they're bad, they're good. To us, anyway.

8. The holiday season This means a lot of things, but mostly it means food and drink free-for-alls. Not one for pumpkin-flavored dishes? Have some candy. Have some stuffing. Have some beer. Have some turkey, ham, Tofurky, whatever. Just consume until you're stuffed. That's what the holidays are all about!

9. Pumpkin-flavored everything But if you crave pumpkin-infused anything, this is your time! Starbucks has the flavor on lock, but this isn't just about Pumpkin Spice Lattes, or even pumpkin pie. The gourd is adored in many ways: pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin beer, pumpkin ice cream and those giant, smelly Spiced Pumpkin Yankee Candle jars. There is a pumpkin item for everyone.

10. The ability to do the same stuff, year-round This might be less of a fall thing and more of a Colorado occurrence, but just because the seasons change doesn't mean much else changes. Even on the snowiest days, we're still bicycling to work. We revel in watching outdoor sports outdoors in the cold. Hell, we even do yoga outside when it's freezing. Patios stay open (thanks to those awesome and dangerous outdoor gas heaters) and we still go to outdoor concerts. Basically, if there wasn't a never-ending road construction effort, Colorado would be the best place on earth.

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