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Search for Shangri-la lands in Eagle

Don Rogers

Life as a vagrant smalltime journalist is pretty much a ticket to a slow motion tour of the country, and we’d already had more postings than most Army brat families by the time we stepped off the career carousel into Eagle County. California to Michigan, Illinois and New York, then California again, having children and picking up stray pets all along the way.

For the more ambitious, the moths drawn to the bright lights, this business demands lots of moves. That’s part of what attracted me. There’s no better way to learn America than to see her as a journalist from the small town up. And I was especially enthusiastic, having lost time to a first career in the woods, to which I’d sacrificed a fully functioning knee and as a result dead-ended as a firefighter. Bummer.

The journalism career flight topped out in the San Diego area, at No. 3 in a newsroom serving 95,000 readers. The career-minded steps from there would lead deeper into metropolis, assuming the Peter Principle hadn’t kicked in. For hicks at heart, the prospects looked downright dreary.



If this opportunity was serendipitous, the consequence of the wife pulling an ad off the Web and telling her husband, “Here, they’re looking for you,” actually landing the job changed our entire outlook on life. The search for that just right place to settle is over.

The job is challenging enough. Always is at small papers, where the blessing is you get to do a lot of things and the bane is you have to do a lot of things.



The benefits for the family, the community and of course the mountains make this an American Shangrila.

The high cost of living, tender resort economy, realization that everyday stresses afflict even paradise and a host of made-up dramas where reality isn’t enough all conspire to bring plenty of challenges to life up here. Still, we’ll take our chances here rather than anywhere else we’ve ever lived. Even with a mountain recession lingering for a good two years now.

Snow still brings excitement in place of that dread in normal America. We just know how to board much, much better. My legs hurt more, but my waist has shrunken a couple sizes from regular running and regular recess playing lunchtime basketball.



Our newspaper competition has withered, between the other daily retreating to a weekly and my company buying the longtime downvalley weekly and turning it into a sister paper. But an upstart launched with Halloween, I see, and no doubt more will bloom. Growth areas are ripe with opportunity, and obviously, Eagle County is still very much in growth mode. Our population may yet fill Invesco Field someday.

The most conservative of the mountain communities embraces this growth with ambivalence. The advent of big boxes, at the Village at Avon, brings outcry but will keep local consumer dollars here, rest assured. Voting with our dollars, in the main we’ll bless this retail “experience.” Suburbia clutters Edwards, but delivers the critical mass needed for a topflight cancer center, too. And the wild country is still just five minutes from the densest block of buildings. Build-out, still a good 20 go-go years away, appalls, but it’s nothing compared to Los Angeles, or Denver. Assuming there’s enough water, we’ll decry the traffic and the sprawl, and embrace the conveniences that come with them. Some folks will throw up their hands and scoot, and more will move in.

God willing, we’ll still be here. We’ve taken stock of the rest of the country, the best country for all its flaws. For us, Eagle County is the best of the best – for the kids, for me and we already know where my wife stands. She called it on day one.

Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 600, or editor@vaildaily.com


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