I got my first job writing a weekly newspaper column for the Vail Daily about 25 years ago. That’s 52 columns a year, or about 1,300 columns, which equals a lot of words.
One of those columns appeared soon after it snowed 99 feet at Mount Baker one winter. Another when it started to become a seven- or eight-hour drive to travel back from Vail to Denver on Sunday night, with a car full of sleepy children and a very sleepy driver.
Every one of those 25,000 skiers that you had to stand in line behind at Vail have at least 10 or 15 experiences that can become a newspaper column. What about getting there and finding no place to park, other than in a supermarket parking lot a mile and a half away from the chairlift? How about fighting the logistics of getting enough food and soda pop or coffee for the whole family without spilling anything?
Someone has to haul food all the way to Two Elk to between 5,000 and 10,000 skiers who all arrive at the same time to eat.
I could write about being lucky enough to live in Vail for more than a decade and every night that it snowed when I went to bed, I set my alarm clock for 7 a.m. so I could be one of the first people in the lift line.
I would write about discovering that if I rode on the lower chairlift at Lionshead and skied from there to the bottom of the mountain, I would have those runs nearly all to myself, because everyone else was racing for the back bowls. The line for that back bowl chairlift could sometimes be over 30 minutes long.
I wrote a column about condominium parking spaces at Goldpeak that sold for as much as $25,000, when you could park two blocks away for $10 a day in a covered garage.
I was lucky enough to ski with amazing people, such as former Congressman Jack Kemp, and astronauts Scott Carpenter and Alan Shepard, Bob Galvin, Chuck Percy, Arch McGill, Josephine Abercrombie, Patsy and Bill Smith, Jack and Kathleen Eck, Bill Whiteford, Howard and Marty Head and Frank Wells.
We’re all equal on the side of a mountain. I skied with Cary Grant and Ernest Hemingway and all the amazing people who came to Sun Valley when it was truly the best resort in the world.
During our Vail days, I was no longer running a motion picture camera but I believe that some of those who skied with me felt that they might appear in a movie. Yes, I know that camera was a real magnet for skiing companions.
After skiing all day every day in Vail for a few years I knew where a lot of small stashes of powder snow were hidden. I had a couple of friends who were retired and enjoyed making turns as much as I did. David Grable was a man I skied with every time he showed up from his busy moving and storage business and a local realtor, Art Kelton was another one I would meet on the mountain and we’d have a great time together.
Laurie and I have been living in Montana for the last 15 years with a whole different set of ski runs, friends and experiences. At 90 years old, I truly appreciate the amazing people that skiing brings together. It seems like every day that goes by there’s another happening that could make interesting reading if I needed to write more columns. Fortunately I only need to write one column a week.
The last few years I have also been writing my autobiography. There’s an awful lot to write about after 90 years.
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