Vail Chamber column: After traveling the country, there’s no place like home |

Vail Chamber column: After traveling the country, there’s no place like home

I had a unique opportunity, and some would say daunting challenge, of spending a month on the road with my wife, 7-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. We visited some beautiful country in Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier and Banff national parks and everywhere in between.

We met people traveling from all over the world — and when I say people I mean lots of people — to experience a small slice of these natural wonders created predominantly by glaciers that have a history that dates back millions of years (we’ll save the climate change discussion for another day).

Our many hikes introduced us to a variety of different landscapes, each special in its own way; and based on my kids’ reactions, they were all seemingly uphill both ways, much like our parents’ walk to and from school back in the “good old days.” The kids found their happy place in the shallow beaches of the hundreds of glacial lakes in the parks building rock dams to keep their crocs from floating away. No better reminder to appreciate the simple things in life.

After 30 days and 3,760 miles on the road, we finished the journey driving the Trough Road along the Colorado River, and as we pulled up to our house I remember thinking that “there’s no place like home.” After such an amazing adventure, I was instantly reminded of the natural beauty right here in our backyards.

I started thinking about the rich 55-year history of Vail and the life-altering chances many of the original settlers and residents took to make this place their home and to create a path for each of us to enjoy and appreciate the Vail Valley in our own way.

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The Vail Chamber and Business Association will be sponsoring Pioneer Weekend, Sept. 22 to 24, this year to celebrate those pioneers who laid the foundation for many of us to call a place home that millions travel to from around the world as their escape from day-to-day responsibilities.

Our rich history extends beyond the pioneers and to the many residents, business owners and visitors of our community. I have been blessed to cross paths with so many of you during my time in the valley, including 16 years working at FirstBank. Those of us at FirstBank are celebrating our 50-year anniversary in the Vail Valley on Nov. 30, and we will be recognizing each of you who have played an integral role in our success with a variety of events during the month of November.

We genuinely value the opportunities we’ve had to work with you on realizing your dreams of home ownership and starting and growing businesses in fields that your passionate about. Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful to call this place home.

David Portman is the executive vice president of FirstBank. The Vail Chamber and Business Association is a business advocacy group in Vail and a communications outlet for businesses that want to have a voice in community affairs. For more information, call 970-477-0075 or email

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