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 Introduction to the University Grounds

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PostSubject: Introduction to the University Grounds   Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:37 pm



Driving along state route 13 in the North-Western corner of the U.S. state of Colorado is a little-traversed series of peaks that comprise the Elkhead Mountain Range. The drive is panoramic and quiet, with few folks living outside the scattered towns. Even those nearby tend to forget the eccentric little university campus located half-way between Craig, Colorado and Baggs, Wyoming along the foothills of Mount Oliphant.

To the East is nothing but lonesome mountains, great swathes of evergreen trees, the massive but quiet elk and other wildlife, and a cluster of low mountains that wear a blanket of snow from as early as October to as late as May. To the West, a few hours away is Dinosaur National Park and Preserve and the state of Idaho. Some student who ride commercial aircraft arrive in Salt Lake and drive the 5-6 hours to Craig, Colorado. Others arrive in the nearest city, Denver, Colorado, with a journey of only 4 hours to Craig. From there, the university runs a shuttle service the half-hour remaining to Northwood's grounds.

For a change of pace, there's Baggs, Wyoming, a half-hour's drive to the North. To the South are the taller peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and notable Sheep's Peak.



An unassuming turn-off from the main highway points the way towards the trio of peaks on a scenic drive along state route 27. For those meant to see it, a small sign dangles below the main one indicating twenty more miles to Northwood University along the main road, route 13. The road which leaves the highway to end at Northwood is not on any map. Post is received at a box in Craig, fetched by a staff member three times a week.

For those who can see it, the sign pointing to the university is grand and majestic, made of three parts steel, two parts magic. The road is wide enough for one school bus and winds between the concealing boughs of evergreen trees, dips into sudden crevasses and rises over the hilly terrain. The school pops into view suddenly and one can only wonder where it all came from.

Bigger in size than any of the nearby towns, Northwood University is at the high point of a low portion of the foothills, surrounded by the Oak Gorge, three-fourths of a tunnel filled with trees that are the school's last non-magical barrier to those it wishes to keep out. During the spring thaw, this gorge often fills with water and is sometimes called the "Oak Moat."

All of campus is visible from the Little Windy Hill to the South-West. In the center is the Main Campus, the second-highest point on the grounds. Here are the buildings for each of the major disciplines of magic taught at the school; the auditorium and Music Hall; gymnasium, pool, and sports complex; the Health and Wellness Center; the Library; the Staff and Administrative building; the Student Center, with the Entrance Hall where formal gatherings are held, the general cafeteria, the Campus Store, and the Games Room (for pool, darts, poker, and other more mundane as well as magical game-play).

Beyond the Main Campus are the stables and sports fields, parking lot, groundskeeper's cottage and equipment sheds, the helipad (for emergency transport), and the separate lands dedicated to each dorm. Plus, there are pathways (and warning signs) towards Whispering Lake and the Oak Gorge.

The hilly terrain makes buildings and people seemingly materialize out of thin air, though the tree-filled environment means that all need be on their guard at all times to avoid accident.

At approximately 6,000-feet (1,800 meters) of elevation, new arrivals to Northwood must beware of altitude sickness and are encouraged to drink plenty of fluids and avoid strenuous activity the first week or two in order to allow their bodies to adjust.

The Elkhead Mountains top out at about 10,000 feet and although they are small in comparison to some of Colorado's other mountains, they accumulate more snow-fall than almost anywhere else in the state. Skiing and hiking classes, clubs, and trips are usually well-attended, even in winter. On the list of required school materials is plenty of warm clothes.

They say the school decides who to allow on its grounds, and one must always be mindful that that permission may be revoked at any time and without notice. (though that last could be rumor, but many are the stories of students who left one day to never return ....)

Welcome, ye privileged few, to Northwood University!

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