Monday, March 31, 2008

March 31, 2008 It is a myth that there are four seasons in the high country


Consider This for March 31, 2008-It is a Myth that there are Four Seasons in the High Country

One comment that I hear quite often that always brings a smile to my face is that some people believe that there are four seasons in the high country. I think that some people like to believe that we enjoy four seasons but it is simply not true.

The statement that is truer is that there are two seasons in the high country. Winter and the Fourth of July. Or the Ski Season and the rest of the year. Or Spring Break and the rest of the year.

I spent the first eighteen years of my life living in Iowa. In Iowa there are four seasons. There is cold, colder, hot and very hot. There is no in between.

Yes, there are places in Colorado and in Iowa where the leaves on the trees change color and fall to the ground eventually. In Iowa that lasts for about a month and in Colorado it lasts for a day or two. But falling leaves does not a season make.

As we leave the month of March and the pressing Spring Break crowds we can come home again to our wonderful place in the mountains. I always liked the slogan that, “We came to the mountains for the winter but stayed because of the summers.” I have lamented many times about how I hope that our guests will not ever discover that secret.

This winter we also had an excessive amount of snow. So much snow that the towns, the county and the state ran out of places to store it along the sides of the roads and especially at intersections. What a marketing dream but what a headache at times. I bought a new snowblower last fall and for a while I was using it every day.

I started skiing in 1970 when I moved here but stopped skiing a few years ago because the magic was lost in the long lift lines and the crowds on the slopes. I just could not enjoy something that reminded me of the transportation systems in the New York City that I had just left to come here.

I am not sure that these numbers are still correct but a few years ago we were told that there were as many as 150,000 people in Summit County during the busiest parts of the ski season. That included the week between Christmas and New Years, President’s Day Weekend and the entire month of March. This month that really became true when it took me almost an hour to drive the six miles from my house to Breckenridge.

Be careful of what you market for because you are liable to get it. I get the feeling that we have oversold the Summit County experience and that we have attracted too many people to come here when the total gridlock on Highway 9 becomes part of the Summit County Ski experience. I am sure that there are a lot of business owners who would disagree with me.

In contrast the same people who projected the high winter population numbers also said that during July and August the peak population was closer to 50,000. I think that number is also true. I always wondered how they counted the number of people who were hiking, camping or climbing mountains in the back country. Maybe it was mystical and something that I would rather not know.

I had a conversation recently about how the level of police and fire services must be kept at the higher level year round. It would be nice to be able to share staff and services with other communities but that is not possible. I suppose we do that to a certain extent with staff from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Our summer is their winter and our winter is their summer. Nice how that works.

Having said all of that I still believe that Summit County is the most beautiful and nicest place to live in the entire world. The best views, the best air and the best people. Temper that with the worst traffic and you end up with what we have most of the time.

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