I think you have a good head about doing what will show others that you are a great HAM operator. Don't stray too far from that and you'll be fine.
My take on the "normal" use of any repeater is that we must continue to use the available bands we have so that there is less reason to take any of it away from the Amateur community. While rag-chews might seem inappropriate at times on the Colorado Connection due to its state-wide range, if you and some guy from Salida or Gr Junction want to talk about some adventure you had by all means have a rag-chew. That is why we have the use of the frequencies, to connect with other HAM's. "Normal" etiquette applies, so allow for break-ins and the like. I am not advocating the improper use of the Colorado Connection, but more advocating proper use of available frequencies under the intent for which they were implemented. From the Colorado Connection's Website:
The Connection serves many communities as an emergency communications backup. All licensed amateur radio operators with two meter privileges are welcome to use the system and our volunteers support the Connection for the love of amateur radio.
I personally think that the emergency portion of the Amateur community has strong benefits, but also has slipped into a slightly over-pushed category too. The Amateur Radio Service is not solely for use by/for emergency circumstances. That is a very important part, but too often because that is an easy way to show the value of Amateur Radio as a service to the public, it rises to the top that emergency communications are the only reason why Amateurs have their frequency privileges. The Amateur Radio Service has many facets for why it is important, not just emergency communications. Historically, it has been the proving ground for many of the things in our lives today that we take for granted.
From FCC Part 97:
97.1 Basis and purpose.-
The rules and regulations in this Part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:
(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.
(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.
(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communications and technical phases of the art.
(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.
(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.
While the Colorado Connection does provide a great service for emergencies, it is not solely used for that purpose. I know that some outside our RS group who listen to the Colorado Connection during Cruise Moab time of year have hinted at the fact that we use the frequency heavily, I believe we use it in the spirit for which it was intended. We give traffic updates, we ask for help during breakdowns, and we also give others information as to our whereabouts.
The main thing I will repeat is proper use of the frequency. Don't be the guy who treats Amateur Radio 2M VHF as glorified CB. Profanity has no place here. Proper etiquette, mutual respect for other operators and enjoyment of the service do.
I realized I missed out on some of this thread, but I hope that covers most of what was desired out of a response.