In southwestern Montana, Pioneer Peak is located almost in the center of the world's only private ski and golf resort, The Yellowstone Club.
Over the years, the club has attracted a large number of very ambitious and talented employees. Last winter, I spent some time with a ski instructor, who also worked the night shift in the dining room. After my conversation with him, I know that he will be very successful with his life's goals.
His name is Blake, and he is 24 years old. He is several years out of college, where he got his degree in sustainable farming. Soon after graduation, he headed to South America and spent his first summer out of school very far away from civilization by traveling a long way up the Amazon River, the widest and longest river in the world.
He finally went ashore and settled in a small village that was located about 20 miles from the closest radio.
The people in the village spoke a language that he had never even heard of, much less knew how to speak. He spent the summer learning the local language and teaching the people in the village how to prosper using his college degree on sustainable farming techniques.
In October, he said goodbye to his newfound family of friends and paddled down the Amazon until he got to a larger village where he could pay for a ride in a boat with an outboard motor to get him close enough to a village or city large enough for an airport to get back to Montana and his winter job at the Yellowstone Club, teaching people all about freedom by making better ski turns all day long.
His second year out of college, he traveled to Southeast Asia, instead of a second trip up the Amazon, to once again teach sustainable farming. That summer he was able to snag a job teaching English in the city of his choice.
His job included a round trip from San Francisco to the Far East, where he was able to teach sustainable farming during his time off. Long days in Southeast Asia were the same long days that he worked when he was in Montana.
In October, he once again he made his way back to Montana to teach skiing and work nights in the dining room after they shut down the ski lift for the day.
Blake's third year out of college, he went back to Southeast Asia and taught English in Bangkok. He learned quickly that in the country, you never deviate from a foot path because there might be a landmine alongside of it. "The country is reported to have more landmines buried than in the rest of the world combined," Blake said.
Another winter of working two jobs and in the spring, when the Yellowstone Club closed in April, he was headed out again to teach English. After a good summer of making people in Bangkok speak with a New England accent, he was again in Montana for the winter.
When I talked with Blake last spring, he was very excited about the summer of 2012. Blake apparently is saving all of his money to buy some property and build a house as soon as possible. After a winter of working two jobs, he set aside all of his money and did not want to spend the money to climb aboard a plane to get to the West Coast.
Good at solving problems, he had a sleeping bag, a rucksack and a skateboard. He did have enough extra money to buy a small tent so he could sleep out of the rain during his trip. He put the tent in his rucksack and set out on his skateboard for San Francisco.
Yes, he was going to skateboard the whole way.
"It's no big deal because I have a long board," he said. Besides that, San Francisco is 7,000 feet lower than the Yellowstone Club, so there has to be a lot of downhill rides to get there.
His journey started near Bozeman and went south as far as Bryce Canyon National Park. From there it was on to Las Vegas and eventually to Los Angeles.
He did admit that he hitchhiked up the longer hills rather than pushing his skateboard up the hill by pumping with his right leg.
When he finally got to Los Angeles, he said, "My right leg was a lot stronger than my left."
Blake had an adventure-filled trip on that skateboard. I think more people should have the same kind of initiative to achieve their current and long-range goals, whatever they may be. What were you doing after four years of college besides owning a large student loan?
What is wrong when you don't have the money to get where you want to be to simply stick out your thumb and ask someone to haul you as far as you want to go on the route that they are traveling?
When Blake got to Los Angeles to head for China, he called his grandmother, who had not seen him for two years. She wanted him to visit with her, and she offered him a lot of free airline miles to get there.
So instead of skateboarding from Los Angeles to San Francisco to leave for China, he flew to Florida and then to San Francisco.
He should have called his grandmother while he was still in Montana! But he would have missed an adventure of a lifetime if he had. In his luggage was a rucksack with a tent, a sleeping bag and a
He did finally fly to China to teach young Chinese students English with a New England accent and more important, how to ride a skateboard - so they could have real freedom with a second language and a new look at life.
Filmmaker Warren Miller lived in Vail for 12 years, and his column began in the Vail Daily before being syndicated to over 50 publications. For more of Miller's stories and stuff log onto Warren Miller.net. For information about his foundation, The Warren Miller Freedom Foundation, go to www.warrenmiller.org.