A survival guide for recent arrivals to the Vail Valley
Being the new person in town can be both an exciting and daunting experience. Lucky for many of the Vail Valley’s seasonal winter staff, they’re arriving to the area along with hundreds of other people in the same situation, so they’re in good company.
Joe Lacore, of Topeka, Kansas, arrived in town about a week ago to work as a lift operator for the season. He’s living in Vail and is eager for a season of snowboarding.
“I’ve always wanted to live in Colorado, so I was excited to get any job out here,” he said. “It’s exciting to move out of my hometown, and I’m eager to get to know people who have been here for awhile and find out what the lifestyle is like here. I’m 25, so I’m trying to figure out what I want to do. I hope to come here and talk to people who figured out what their passions are and see where it leads me.”
Like many other seasonal workers, he’s getting settled into a Vail apartment with some new roommates and has found his new town friendly and welcoming.
“I have pretty good impressions so far. Everyone I’ve come across has been super helpful,” he said.
Still, if it’s your first winter, there’s a lot to learn about the rhythm of this ski town. We can’t divulge all the locals’ secrets, but here are some insider’s tips that can’t hurt.
Where to live
As most new residents who don’t have employee housing have probably figured out, finding affordable housing in the Vail Valley is a huge pain. Ski school employee Joe Romano, 24, arrived in the area a few weeks ago from New York. He spent most of that time on a friend’s couch because he couldn’t find a place to rent.
“I’ve been looking for a place since late August,” he said. “I’m so glad I have friends here because I haven’t be able to find a place. I was kind of surprised that some places are about the same price as living in New York City. I didn’t expect that.”
There’s no easy answer, but a good place to start is to get the word out to friends and co-workers that you’re looking. Also check out http://www.eaglecounty.us under the housing department section and click on “rental properties” for a list of Eagle County-managed affordable rental properties.
Don’t forget to look as far as Eagle or Red Cliff, which are common commuter towns into Vail and Avon.
Where to meet people
There are plenty of bars in town of all stripes, but several host weekly events that combine fun activities with drinks and socializing. Bob’s Place (http://www.bobsplaceavon.com/events) in Avon hosts a weekly foosball tournament on Tuesday nights — plus there are cash or gift prizes for the top three winners. Loaded Joe’s in Avon (http://www.loadedjoes.com/events/) has an event almost every night, including Trivia Tuesdays, Free Game Night Wednesday, Karaoke Friday and Open Mic Sundays.
Not interested in the bar scene? Get a good workout and meet some new people at Vail and Avon’s rec leagues. Vail offers drop-in basketball, indoor soccer and volleyball at Red Sandstone Elementary School for $3 each time.
“These activities are important because it really brings a sense of community to our valley,” said Jessie Klehfoth, marketing and communications director at the Vail Recreation District. “It’s really a way for people to come together and do something they love and enjoy. We have something for everyone.”
See a full list of activities at http://www.vailrec.com.
The Avon Recreation Center also offers drop-in play for pickleball, volleyball, spikeball and basketball at Avon Elementary School. Once-a-week leagues start in January, beginning with broomball and followed by inner tube water polo in February.
“With Wednesday-evening league play over the course of a month, the goal is to offer a social evening focused around being active and having fun with a little competition,” said Matt Koch, Avon’s adult and youth programs coordinator.
Find out more at http://www.avon.org under “departments” and “recreation.”
How to get around
It’s easy to get around without a car in the Vail Valley. Town of Vail and Avon buses are free, and ECO Transit is the fare-based county bus system that can get you from Leadville to Gypsum. Find a bus map and fares at http://www.eaglecounty.us/transit.
If you’re using a car, don’t underestimate the importance of good tires. Snow tires are expensive, but recommended. At any rate, don’t be driving around this winter with bald, old tires, as that’s a sure way to get into an accident on snowy, icy days. In fact, the majority of passenger vehicle accidents that the Colorado Department of Transportation sees on Interstate 70 are related to insufficient tires.
“I think the key is having good tread on their car tires,” said Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger. “It doesn’t matter the quality of car — it is all about the tires!”
Where to get geared up
If it’s your first season in town, you likely want to get on the slopes. However, you’ve probably discovered that gear isn’t cheap. There are several ways to get geared up for a fraction of the cost of purchasing full retail. First, ask your employer if your company has any partnerships or deals you’re privy to. Also, consider buying used boards, boots and even clothes. The Thrifty Shops in Edwards and Eagle both offer an ever-changing inventory of all kinds of old gear. Transition Sports in Avon is a consignment sports store where you can find used ski and snowboard equipment up to five or six years old. For cross-country gear, alpine touring gear or snowshoes, check out the Vail Nordic Swap on Dec. 5 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Homestake Peak School in Eagle-Vail.
“The age and type of the gear depends on what people bring,” said organizer Dawes Wilson. “It varies from new stock that’s never been skied on from last year to three-pin set-ups that have been gathering dust for decades.”
Assistant Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.