Linda Boyne: Vail’s temptress, Snow
Vail, CO, Colorado
It’s one of the great ironies of the Vail Valley. Here it sits, nature’s greatest winter playground, the place so many people want to be for the holidays, and yet, it can be so hard to get here.
Not getting to a remote South American fishing village kind of hard, however. We are a world-class resort, after all. But Mother Nature likes to throw a wrench into the best-laid plans just to see how we’ll react.
Snowstorms and canceled flights and closed freeways, oh my! The very thing that brings people here is the same thing that keeps them away. Our mistress Snow is so fickle. She taunts and teases: “Oh, yes, I know you want to ski. I am burying the slopes, the skiing is phenomenal. But you are going to have to work to get here. I will keep you stashed away in some far off airport, longing for me, but cursing me.”
For people visiting our great valley, making the trip to Vail can be a bit like “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” hopefully minus John Candy. Oh, sure, they sit at their computers at home planning out their journey, scheduling their flights, arranging ground transportation once they’ve reached Colorado, making all the pieces fit together just right so they get here right in time for check-in or the cocktail hour at the home of their loved ones that they’re visiting.
All the planning just works out so perfectly. Until all hell breaks lose and Snow unleashes her fury. Then all bets are off.
My poor parents get waylaid every time they visit me. They’re seasoned travelers and thank God for that because the travel gods challenge them every time. I half expected a freak snowstorm to hit when they came last August.
Two years ago at Christmas they narrowly missed being stranded in the massive storm that shut down the entire region when their flight was canceled before they left Oregon. Unfortunately they had already flown to Portland, and couldn’t get a flight back to the coast, so they had to rent a car, drive four hours home and wait three more days before they could drive back to Portland in the rental car, get on a flight on Christmas Eve and come to see us for the holiday.
The whole thing repeated itself on their return when they changed their plans to fly home a day early so they would miss the next gigantic snowstorm swooping in. It was like a Christmas drive-by. They rolled in, peppered us with gifts and sped off.
This year, they came in a snowstorm and left in a snowstorm. Now, I have to disclose something about my family: We are a very weather-obssessed people. We like to know the forecast, the current temperature, the wind speed and direction, the possibility of precipitation. I don’t know why that is, but I think it gives us peace of mind if know what to expect. We don’t like nasty weather surprises. It throws us off our game.
So when we caught wind of another storm coming the day before my parents’ departure back to Oregon, we went into high weather alert. Christmas Storm Watch ’08 began 16 hours before departure. Commence worrying.
We had the Denver news going to check for conditions at DIA. We bounced between weather.com to check for any updates in the forecast and cotrip.org for the latest road conditions between here and Denver. We put CME on speed dial so we could change the time of their pickup if and when there were any real developments in the storm.
Carry-on bags were supplied with extra snacks, warm socks, blankets and flashlights. Enough water to fill a camel was set out for the drive to DIA. We made a plan for every possible contingency.
As it ended up, they left on time, made every flight without problems and made it home safe, sound and on time. But not for lack of planning and preparation. I feel fortunate that they were among the lucky ones.
For those whose journey was more challenging, hopefully they will forget the agony as soon as they see the beauty of our freshly covered mountains.
Linda Boyne of Edwards writes weekly for the Vail Daily. She can be contacted through email@example.com