Audre Engleman and Dimitri Moursellas lived a vagabond life before finding a home in Vail
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VAIL — Audre Engleman and Dimitri Moursellas for 20 years lived a vagabond life. It took random chance and Lindsey Vonn for them to settle in Vail.
In about 2010, Engleman and Moursellas decided they wanted to give up their traveling ways and settle down for a while. They wanted a ski resort in North America with a lot of terrain and interconnected lifts and had narrowed their choices down to Vail and Whistler.
When Moursellas won a drawing for a season ski pass — awarded by Vonn — the couple decided to settle in Vail.
Well, that and the fact that summer is a more pleasant season in Vail than in and around Vancouver and Whistler.
There’s more to this couple’s story in Vail, but first comes the story of how Engleman and Moursellas spent two decades of what Moursellas calls “global meandering.”
The couple met in Los Angeles in 1989, introduced by mutual friends. At the time, Engleman was a partner in a Los Angeles law firm and Moursellas had a career in the software industry.
The two started traveling together and were married in 1993, when Engleman took a job as a contract employee for the Bank of Indonesia. The bank would cover Moursellas’ move there if the couple was “lawfully wedded.”
Both worked for the bank, and when their contracts expired, there was enough money left over for a few months of travel. The couple traveled from Jakarta, Indonesia, to Istanbul, Turkey and then into Egypt.
On a mountaintop in Sinai, they made a decision: They were financially secure enough not to have to work anymore. At the time, she was 49 and he was 54.
A former workaholic
“I’d never taken off more than a month,” Engleman said. Now, though, “a workaholic lifestyle can’t compare to this. Getting to really know a place seemed worth the risk.”
Since then, Engleman and Moursellas haven’t really looked back. The original plan, such as it was, was to winter in a ski resort and then travel in the summer.
There were a few winters in France and a couple in Italy to start. While enjoying their winters — which often saw the couple posting 100 days or more on the mountains — Engleman and Moursellas became fond of big ski areas. More specifically, they came to enjoy ski areas with plenty of interconnected lifts. Trois Vallees and Val d’Isere remain favorite spots.
One winter in the 1990s, the U.S. stock markets took one of the three big reversals Engleman and Moursellas have lived through while living the vagabond life.
That reversal came while the couple was wintering in France. That ended quickly.
The couple moved to India and cut their living expenses by about two-thirds.
“We had no fixed expenses except (health insurance), so we just kept our heads down,” Engleman said.
But living frugally didn’t stop the couple’s global meandering, with stops in New Zealand, Australia, Asia and South America.
With the ups and downs of the market, Engleman and Moursellas always knew they’d end up back in the United States.
“Our model is still working,” Moursellas said. “Having survived three market debacles, you just need to have the guts to keep going.”
Having guts also means being able to shrug off the occasional pitfalls of foreign travel. The couple has been robbed a couple of times, and they were once detained briefly while jogging near a military base near Istanbul.
That time, there had been a terrorist attack on the base the previous week, and sentries were a little nervous, even of an American couple jogging.
Engleman and Moursellas have also gotten out of countries right before a couple of natural disasters.
“We’ve been lucky,” Engleman said.
Falling for Vail
When Engleman and Moursellas did decide to settle down in the United States, they started looking in resort towns. Vail summers and a free Epic Pass kept them in Vail as renters.
They also discovered Vail Club 50, a local social club.
“It was perfect for us,” Engleman said. “You start knowing a few people and suddenly you know 800. … There are people in it who are older than us and are in much better shape.”
After getting hooked on Vail, the couple in 2014 bought a small condo in the Four Seasons Resort Vail. With no extended family, a one-bedroom unit with a den exactly fit their needs.
Living at the Four Seasons is like belonging to another social group. The staff knows the couple, and they spend a good bit of time at the pool and hot tub.
Engleman and Moursellas have also come to love Vail’s cultural activities, and they’ve been to a few town council meetings when issues arise that are close to their hearts.
For now, Engleman and Moursellas are living in roughly the middle of a 10-year plan. At the end of that decade — 2024 — Moursellas will be 83. But, as always, it’s hard to see what the future holds.
For now, there’s still a bit of skiing to be found on Vail Mountain, and there are Vail Club 50 friends to catch up with.
But the vagabond days may not be at an end yet.
Referring to the new senior-living center in Eagle, Moursellas said, “We may end up at Castle Peak!”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.
Paul Cuthbertson, a lifelong local of Eagle and Summit counties, died while skiing up to the Polar Star Inn to meet some friends for a celebration of his 21st birthday on Friday night.