NOT ME. BUT YOU GET THE IDEA.
In the winter of 2016, I had given up on my dreams of ever moving to Colorado. The first time I tried, I applied to be an instructor at Vail and at Breckenridge. I laughed at them when they made offers because the wages were so dismal. They were going to pay me less as an instructor than my local area in Michigan did. I really wanted to go, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to survive on such a poor wage.
When I was still planning on moving, I’d bought tickets to go see Trans Siberian Orchestra in Colorado Springs. I didn’t want to miss the show and resorts were starting to open. So I bought an Epic Local and sent it to go shred and see the concert. I had never been to Colorado before but when I saw Summit County, I realized it wasn’t a place where I wanted to live. It just didn’t feel like somewhere that I would be happy. With that, my desire to move to Colorado was over.
But for some reason, Aspen had never occurred to me. Not until I was riding the gondie down at Breck and was talking to one of the instructors there and he told me that a lot of people went to Aspen because they pay so well. I figured it was just a rumor and didn’t put much stock into what the guy said and still planned on heading back to the Midwest.
That past winter in Michigan that year had been horrible and I still had the itch after cruising Summit County. Armed with an Epic Local, almost free flight, and a place to stay in Avon, I decided to go close out ABasin. While I was in town, I was perusing Tinder to see if there was someone who could help show me around or give me ideas of things to go do. While swiping through, I saw an instructor at Aspen Snowmass. Super Like! I had to talk to this girl and ask about Aspen.
AHHHHH, ASPEN. photo Toby Harriman/Flickr
A day or so later we matched and I started asking questions about Aspen: What’s the town like? How is it teaching for SkiCo? We talked snow in general and she told me that the Ajax chair would be spinning during my last weekend in town. While she wouldn’t be able to make it, she encouraged me to go see the place for myself. It was only $30 and I had never been there, so what the hell why not?
As soon as I drove into town, the first thing that I noticed is that it’s not a resort village, but a real town. It feels like any small town in the United States except that the gondola practically drops you off on Main St.
I let her know that I made it and was on the gondola up. As fate would have it, her plans changed and she was able to come ride.
THE FATEFUL ASPEN GONDOLA. Photo: Mike Wilkins/Flickr
I saw her first and she was riding with a crew. I’m a shy bloke, so I had to take a couple more laps to work up the courage to talk to her. The next time I saw her, I skated over to say hello. As soon as I did, she came over and hugged me then introduces me to everyone she was riding with.
We rode till last chair and I already felt like I was somewhat included in the crew. When the chairs stopped moving, I got to hang out with several of the Snowboard Snowmass Crew. We sat outside on the Sun Deck and all I could think was “This is where I belong. This is where I need to be.” I sat among a group of people who loved the shred and didn’t want to be adults except when required.
She and I rode the gondie down. As we rode she told me about some of the lessons she taught and how laid back life in Aspen is. As she spoke, it became more clear to me that Aspen was where I wanted to be. We went our seperate ways and I walked back to my car.
GENERIC ASPEN APRES PHOTO: KATE HOWE/ FLICKR
On the way down, I watched a guy skitching through town on a long board. As he let go and passed the van he was holding on to, he thanked the driver and went on his way. I thought to myself,
“This is my town. These are my people. This is where I want to be.”
As soon as the winter positions were posted, I applied for work and was offered a position that I accepted and now I call Aspen my winter home. When I tell this story, people usually ask about the girl. Usually they ask if she is here with me in Portland or back in Colorado. Sadly we don’t speak much anymore. However, last I knew she and her girlfriend were talking about moving to California and I wish them the best of luck.