Vail is a remarkable story. No other place compares. At least for me.
It's Pete Seibert making the dream happen, taking people like Pepi Gramshammer to the Back Bowls, before they were named. It's Earl Eaton in a trench, building the first gondola. It's Dick Hauserman's how ya doing smile, just knowing that somehow this would work.
It's Rod Slifer selling homes before anyone, the Gallegos brothers pushing wheelbarrows of rocks as teens.
It's Bob Parker, Sarge Brown, John Donovan, Doc Steinberg and a small bunch of other folks I should be naming here who made Vail happen.
It's flat amazing.
I believe that Vail in its own way, in its own time, is as big a deal as Google, Amazon or Apple today.
Sure, the scale is different. But the inventiveness, the sheer backbone and no-quit of the founders isn't so different.
The next waves carried Vail, too, and on down the Vail Valley clear to where proud Eagle Valley citizens grump about marketing slogans and only grudgingly accept the economic boon that rippled out from the headwaters.
One of my favorite memories was my then 14-year-old punk teen son shaking hands with Earl Eaton after I hissed at him during a 40th anniversary celebration at Mid-Vail not to smart off like he just did to Vail Resorts CEO Adam Aron ("What do you like about Vail, Ben?" "Well, actually, I prefer Beaver Creek ..."), stand up, shake hands, look him in the eye and it's Mr. Eaton ... dude.
The kid got it. Founder. He already knew instinctively when I pointed Earl out. Never saw him so respectful.
To this day, a certain ethic endures. The best of the millionaire-billionaires go by their first names, dress in jeans and blend with us hoi poloi just fine.
Kids still have their ski bum glory years, later to frown at how everything has changed - like their predecessors who haven't realized that graying hair isn't the only inevitable part of aging.
Alas, I wasted my glory time on the California coast. If I'd known then what Vail really was like, why, I'd never have bothered with that whole education and career thing, I'm sure.
My family got here just in time to know some of our pioneers in real life. That's special, too, and much of the young spirit that built this community in the first place yet has spark.
We're all the pioneers of the next 50 years. Are we up to this, able to ignore the everyday doomsayers and continue building this place to its Olympic potential?
I think so. Yes, most definitely. In any case, we have the torch now.
Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at email@example.com or 970-748-2920.