blog:Snowshoeing to Chuck E Cheese’s |

blog:Snowshoeing to Chuck E Cheese’s

JoAnn Chaney
Vail CO, Colorado

The topic of affordable housing in Vail Valley has been an extremely hot topic lately, and I would agree that it is something that is desperately needed. But I think the Valley desperately needs something else as well…a Chuck E. Cheese.

My family and I moved here about a year ago from Denver. In Denver, we would make a monthly stop at Chuck E. Cheese to dine on pizza and sip soda from the oh-so elegant plastic 8-ounce cups as our son scurried through the tubes of the play area like a rat on a mission for a hunk of cheese.

The robotic band of animals would hammer out a tune in the corner, the excited screams and cries of children would fill the air, and the faint smell of dirty diapers would intermingle with the scent of burning cheese. A Chuck E. Cheese is more like a battlefield than a play-area for children, but damnit”I miss it.

I could crawl in to a corner booth and let my eyes glaze over as my son would run from game to game with a bucket of tokens. I could relax for a few minutes, thanks to the zitty teenager guarding the exit. And I wasn’t the only mother enjoying a few moments of bliss”there were droves of them leaning back on the plastic seats and taking in a deep breath of relief.

Ah. Heaven. A greasy, loud, smelly heaven”but still heaven.

Don’t get me wrong”Vail Valley is a beautiful place to live. Lots of things to do outdoors, plenty of wonderful scenery, days full of sunshine to enjoy. But when conditions aren’t the best outside, what is a mother to do?

I once made the mistake of complaining to another mother about the cold winter. “Take your kids snowshoeing.” She advised me. “So I would have to carry my extremely chubby baby through the snow, AND watch my pre-schooler struggle and sweat until he throws a tantrum from frustration? Sounds like fun, but I think I’ll pass.” I told her.

“That’s too bad. A more ACTIVE, healthy mother would love to do something like that.” I could have cheerfully strangled that woman after that conversation.)

I don’t only miss those fine-dining child-geared eateries. I miss the mall too. I long for the days when I could cruise the freshly waxed mall floors with my gigantic stroller (kids unwilling strapped down) and bathe in the sweet smell of retail. (There really is an odor to retail”and if you’ve never noticed it before, I highly recommend getting a big whiff.)

The kids could spend some time crawling all over the indoor playground and ogle every dog in the pet store. I could get a Starbucks for me and an Orange Julius for the young ‘uns, and enjoy. It didn’t matter if I couldn’t afford to buy anything”looking is free. (My husband and I call this “wish” shopping, as in “I sure wish I could buy that.”) But my days of pawing through the clearance bin of bras and panties at Victoria Secret and fondling the 800 thread count sheets at Macy’s are over”unless I want to make the two hour trek to Denver. And I don’t.

So if I could wish for something”along with affordable housing, of course”it would be for somewhere fun for the parents and young children of the Valley to gather. Somewhere to beat the heat (or cold) and get back some sanity.

Because there’s only so much snowshoeing that a person can do.

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