Richard Carnes: 2008 tough on the Vail Valley; glad to see it go |

Richard Carnes: 2008 tough on the Vail Valley; glad to see it go

Maybe it’s just me, but the holiday season, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, so far seems to have a, how should I put it, a less-than-normal feel this year.

I’m not sure if it is my age (possibly), my financial frame of mind (arguably) or just a general awareness of a different world right around the corner (probably), but it’s definitely not the same.

That’s not to necessarily mean anything negative, just different. And it’s not foreboding or scary, nor is it political, spiritual or physical and sure as hell not metaphysical, but, as you can tell, it is hard to describe.

Whatever it is, I’m glad this year is about to end, and here are a few reasons why:

2008 blissfully began with Wall Street having its worst start in 25 years and continued the happy trend to end with its worst finish in 80 years.

Meanwhile, Britney Spears made Amy Winehouse look sane, Hillary Clinton cried on cue (a.k.a. camera), and Bill Jensen left a slowly sinking ship.

Also in January, President Bush promised to solve the Palestinian conflict before he left office, while David Pfahler asked a local judge for a gag order against Robb and Sue Swimm, whose 8-year-old son, Scott, he was busy suing for a ski accident.

Neither received what they wanted.

In February, a tornado ripped through the Midwest, killing 55. Survivors called it a

miracle from God. Those who did not were mum on the subject.

President Bush approved the borrowing of the unprecedented amount (at the time) of $168 billion to allow more HDTVs in trailer parks, while locally the first approvals were provided by the town of Ginnturn for more “really high-end” trailer parks.

Eliot Spitzer, then the governor of New York, spent quality time and money studying the world’s oldest profession for a viable alternative to having a wife, while the town of Vail spent time and quality money studying the viability of a massive hot tub with intermittent flaming flatulence at the top of Bridge Street as an alternative to having a staff.

Both were screwed in the end.

In the spring, former Vail Daily columnist Kaye Ferry used the phrase “riff-raff” when referring to Front Range skiers, while oddly, a few weeks later, Vail Resorts slashed the price of a Front Range season pass in half.

We said a sad goodbye to Earl Eaton.

Summer began with more than 75,000 dead in a Burma hurricane and 50,000 dead in a Chinese earthquake. Survivors briefly looked up to the sky but then realized they were just damned lucky.

Eagle County proudly announced that after spending $90,000 discussing the matter, it was not going to change the name of the Eagle County Regional Airport to Vail Resorts International.

Meanwhile, oil peaked at $147 per barrel while the Vail Valley Foundation canceled the return of professional cycling to the valley due to a lack of sponsorship dollars.

Repeated calls to OPEC nations for funding were not returned.

Jesse Jackson questioned Obama’s ball handling, while Phil Gramm said we are a nation of whiners and that believing we were in a recession was akin to believing a black man could be president.

Summer ended with a politician named Edwards admitting to a previously denied love child while another politician came to a town named Edwards admitting a previously denied need for Eagle County votes.

Coors moved to Chicago, and Budweiser moved to Belgium.

In the fall, Jay Leno, in his weekly “Headlines” skit, poked fun at a news story about $1 million homes in Vail being considered “affordable housing” and the very next week, in his monologue, joked about a bloody fight at a baby shower here in good ol’ Edwards.

Happy Valley was a tad embarrassed.

Meanwhile, Ted Stevens and Alberto Vilar were convicted of being sleazebags, while Plaxico Burress shot his career in the upper thigh and O.J. shot his mouth off one too many times.

Obama, Runyon and Stavney all won, while Hasan and Crowley the dog lost.

We said a sad goodbye to Harry Gray.

The philanthropic world was betrayed when a guy named Bernie made off with more than $50 billion of Steven Spielberg’s money, and we were introduced to the phrase “forensic accounting.”

A lot of previously wealthy jerks became just normal jerks.

Vail Resorts began its first round of layoffs, and the Vail Trail was published for the last time.

And this is just a mere glimpse into why I am happy 2008 is over. But let’s make a toast anyway, look outside, smile at the record snowfall for December and remember that chances are very slim that 2009 will be worse.

About as slim as the Broncos winning the Super Bowl.

NOTE: The preceding opinions belong to Richard and are not necessarily shared by this newspaper, but for the sake of a new year, he thinks they should be.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at

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