Monday, January 28, 2008

Susan, this one's for you

I have a friend. A level A1 friend. That's the kind where you pick up the phone and just start talking. She's made me laugh, cry and pee my pants. Yes, really. We've talked about everything there is to talk about and lived parallel lives until we met. I've talked to her belly when she was pregnant (twice) and didn't care who saw me. I love her children beyond all reason. Who knew that there really could be that kind of person out there.
So my friend, here's a small gift for you. I lived your parallel CO life for just a brief moment and it was great.
Here I am and I LOVE this trail. Yes, I am wearing a helmet and there is not a short bus to be found anywhere.

Sunday: Up the Summit Express to Mozart to Santiago Express to North Peak to Fox Trot to Outback Express to the Outback (11,980' above sea level). This is the view looking towards Breck. Down Porcupine (my favorite) back up and then down Elk Run to Wayback lift to Starfire back up Santaigo to Prospector to Mozart to Ruby Express to Wild Irishman to Montezuma Express to Spring Dipper/Santa Fe and then to the condo at Timber Ridge. All while giggling uncontrollably and thinking of you.

Monday, January 21, 2008

wool anyone?

Today it was -15 degrees at our house. Shirley barely turned over and after a half hour warm up, the stick shift actually moved. Yikes! It snowed over 43" last week alone and more is on the way. The glorious blue bird sky and soaring temps of 45 made it all worth it yesterday as we snow shoed along Meadow Mountain. On the cliff side across from us were a dozen elk doing elk-like things. Magpies soared overhead and squawked their "lovely" songs. Then, later as night fell and the full moon bounded over the horizon, all of the snow reflected the moonlight and it was beautiful. A perfect Colorado winter's day and night. Breathtaking all of it. But guess what, it's snowing again...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

and they said let there be snow

Snow to the left of us:

Snow to the right of us:

Snow behind us:
Egads!! We're surrounded! It's been snowing pretty much since Thanksgiving and there are several more feet out there than depicted. We should thaw out around August 2nd before it starts up again... Are you all still coming to visit? There are extra snowshoes available.

watching humanity

I realize that I've been amiss in my posting duties and for all of you perched on the edges of your seats awaiting the next riveting installment; I apologize profusely for shirking my duties so thoroughly.

You see, I've been busy watching the phenomenon of humanity here in the greater Vail Valley. Vail you say? Home of the Richie McRichers? (thank you Toph for that apt description) Aspen's brother (or sister) in the family of mega-expensive resorts? Then why do people complain about paying $4.95 for a chapstick? Why are there 5 pages of help wanted ads in the local newspaper? Why do only 30% of the population speak English as a first language? Why is no one skiing here? Didn't this used to be a skier's mountain?

These questions and more have been swirling about my newly un-blonded head and here I will pose my thoughts and opinions - which do not necessarily reflect those of the people around me here (but mostly they do).

Observation #1: There is a money problem here in Vail. Just like Cape Cod but on a much, much higher level. Actually the rich who live here make the rich who live in Chatham or Nantucket look like homeless beggars. I mean really - $13M for a 2 bedroom condo? Which was purchased only to have $7M in upgrades done to it? Shouldn't $13M buy you an already PERFECT place to live? With all furniture, housewares, maid(s) and food pre-installed?? This just happened in a new Vail Resort's building called Arabelle in Lionshead which is at the foot of the Eagle Bahn gondola at Vail. I think that this condo was the one next to the one Oprah bought. Which, as an aside, now explains why EVERY person is wearing Uggs here. And I do mean everyone. Oprah's coming people! Better buy everything on her O List and do it fast! Uggs are sold out at Zappos until March I understand. Sorels are better anyway. Oh, that's right, I actually wear winter shoes for going outside and doing things like, say, starting my car and shoveling the walk. Ha!

Observation #2: There are 5 pages of help wanteds. I repeat, 5 pages of jobs for a valley that is 3 miles long and 1 mile wide. Local businesses are hurting big time to fill open positions. Rents are astronomical ($3-9K for a house/month + utilities), however, employers are only paying $10/hour. So how do you pay the rent? You move to Eagle and Gypsum of course. The McRichers complain that there is no one to haul their luggage and serve them at restaurants. That there are only foreigners here to do it all those things they require to make their world go 'round. Well, those foreigners are living 14 to a house and have 3 jobs apiece (there is quite a large seasonal population here from Argentina, Brazil and Bulgaria). On the flip side, if you have a admin/clerical/professional bent, you can have full bene's in a month including dental and life insurance and a ski pass. And start at $18/hour. Actually, you can scoop gelato in Arabelle for $18/hour too. But there are no bodies to fill even the "great jobs" here. Employers (including my own) don't see the need to up wages and property owners have to pay off their soaring mortgages before their values hit the toilet when their neighbors foreclose. Oh, there were 2 pages of foreclosures in the paper last week too.

Observation #3: Illegal labor. OK, I'll say it. Illegal immigrants are taking a huge chunk of the open job market as they will work for far less money. That is a indisputable fact. Period. However, they are primarily in the construction and restaurant business here in the Happy Valley which are the jobs many seek when they aspire to be ski bums (and don't have a trust fund). This influx of cheap labor has the added bonus of inner-racial tensions. The illegals from Mexico HATE the Mexicans born here (or who are naturalized) and they all HATE the Mexicans from Mexico City. And Spaniards. And Hondurans can't be near Equadorians. Seriously, why has no one noticed this before? If I see it, then it must be pretty obvious as usually I am oblivious to that sort of thing.

Observation #4: Bad fur. Really bad fur. If you own a fur coat, shouldn't it at least be attractive? If you have any say in it's purchase or display, shouldn't it be stunning? There are a LOT of UUUGG-LEEE fur coats here. I can't even think about the morality involved with the fur issue. I feel sorry that many of the animals' lives were clearly wasted in the making of these monstrosities.

Observation #5: People are still nice at heart. The majority of people I believe are nice at heart. We've all just lost our way in the chaos of life. When you smile at someone or say "have a nice day" it really does work and come back to you. Society is so caught up on being bigger, better, faster, more and focusing on the individual that we've all forgotten how to interact with our neighbor. Video games and computers keep us away from interacting with others in a positive manner. I like the idea of the Wii video games that actually get several people together to play but why don't they just go to the bowling alley instead of playing a virtual game? I try to make a point of being nice and positive to everyone I meet. Even if they are a complete asshole. Perhaps they will be inspired to pass it along and who knows, maybe we can start being a society of interactive people again. It has to start somewhere.

Observation #6: Plastic surgery. There is a lot of that here. I've been told it's like an addiction - once you get something lifted, tucked, tweaked, pulled or removed, you need to have more. A woman I know works at a local dermatology clinic that does plastic surgery as well. A client came in to have her earlobes plumped. That was just the start. Egads! What the heck is wrong with getting old? It happens and is unavoidable. Do it with grace and love what the Universe gave you. Having yourself cut and scarred or injecting diseases into your body in the name of beauty is NOT worth it. Ever.

Observation #7: I can never remember all of the blogs I want to write. Need to keep lists. As soon as I go through all of the previously written lists.

More soon from the Wild, Wild West....