New to the Vail Valley: Moving to a small community
I grew up just outside of Denver and then moved to Fort Collins to go to college. Both are overpopulated cities with too little parking and too many Starbucks.
You can imagine that coming to a community such as the Vail Valley was a bit of a culture shock to me. Here’s my take on being new to the Vail Valley.
So far away
In both Fort Collins and Denver, I lived about 10 minutes from a mall. In fact, in Fort Collins, I lived on the main street running through town — for my entire life, everything I could ever need and anywhere I could want to go was relatively close and easy to get to.
Then I moved up here, and I realized that the closest mall is 30 minutes away from my apartment. I can count the number of fast food chains up here on one hand. The local college is smaller than my high school.
If you’ve experienced a similar change in culture, you understand how this is a bit daunting — where are you supposed to go when you need to pick up a new jacket as the weather turns? Why is everyone around me suddenly older than me (as opposed to a college town where 21-year-olds rule the world)?
Here’s what I’ve found most valuable: asking people for help. Believe it or not, people up here seem to know what they’re talking about. I’ve gotten suggestions for restaurants, places to hike and so much more from the people that I’ve met up here, which certainly helps with the transition.
My friend, the local celebrity
When I came up here, I first moved to Gypsum for about two weeks to stay with some family. I was a bit surprised when my aunt mentioned that I’d be working with a woman named Tricia Swenson, but then I figured she’s seen her name in the paper a hundred times or something like that, so I shook it off.
A few weeks later, I began to do more exploring. I visited a shop in Lionshead Village and started talking to the woman at the front counter. We got to talking about work, and I told her that I work for the Vail Daily.
“Oh you get to work with Tricia Swenson,” she said. “I loved her stuff on TV 8.”
“Yeah, Tricia’s great,” I said. “Do you know her?”
I got a bit of a blank stare for a moment before she said, “No, I’ve just seen her stuff on TV and in the paper.”
I didn’t know exactly how to respond to that, so I just repeated myself, “Yeah, Tricia’s great.”
OK, coincidences happen, I guess. People love their TV anchors, and I was one in college, so I understand that a bit.
Then, a few days later, I had a meeting with a community member who greeted me by saying “I went to a concert last night with Tricia Swenson, she said you’re settling in well.”
Now there comes a time when coincidences aren’t coincidences, right?
Over my time at the Vail Daily (I’ve been here since early August), I’ve slowly learned more and more about Swenson and her connections around town, and I’m honored to now call Swenson my friend.
Swenson’s not the only local celebrity that I’ve met, either. It seems at least once a week, someone asks me if I’ve met so-and-so and it’s really cool that I get to work with that person.
It’s kind of exciting really, I had to bust my butt to make connections like that in Denver and Fort Collins, and here, it seems to be at my fingertips.
Now, of only that “stars never pay” thing were true …
I have to say, people here are pretty bad at giving directions. You’d think it would be easy to get around since everything is right along I-70, which runs due east and west through the valley, but between everyone being so familiar with the area and the 10,000 roundabouts in the area, it’s easy to get lost.
Saying “it’s in Gypsum” is the type of answer I get when I ask where a certain store or restaurant is.
Where I come from, I’d get a bit more detail, something like: “It’s in Gypsum, you just take a right at that first roundabout off the highway and then it’s, like, five minutes down the road.”
Thankfully, I have Apple Maps to give me directions about four full seconds after I needed them.
Nate Day is the Arts & Entertainment editor at the Vail Daily, and moved to the Vail Valley in early August.