Vail Valley Voices: Have you ever wondered?
Vail, CO, Colorado
I was making some turns down the side of the hill the other day, and when it started to flatten out to where I could stand in line for another ride on the chairlift, my brain started to wonder about a lot of different things.
For example, I wondered at what rate 379,842 pairs of skis passing over the same new snowflake I just skied over changes the molecular composition of that particular snowflake. I wondered where the water would have gone if it hadn’t been forced through the snow gun nozzles at high velocity to make snow so you can spend $87 for your all-day ski-lift ticket.
What does that pretty ski-patrol lady do during the summer to be in good enough shape to haul the toboggan straight down an ice-covered slope and then lift one end of the 247-pound broken body into the waiting ambulance?
How can 12 ski-resort employees from three different countries live in a two-bedroom condo and still be good friends after four months?
And why are there more than a hundred different lift-ticket prices at most major ski resorts? Why can someone who buys their groceries in a 7-Eleven 100 miles away pay $38 less for a ski-lift ticket than you pay when you buy your lift ticket for cash at the ski resort?
Why is it that 50 years ago, you skied all winter on the same pair of $49 skis and you never had to sharpen your edges? You only screwed the edges back on when they fell off. Today, why do you need to file the edges of your $943 skis every time you use them?
What kind of a car does the man who drives the snowplow drive to work? And why are most ski-resort condominium purchases signed on the hood of a car within an hour of when the airplane takes off?
No matter what ski resort you are vacationing at, why does the snow report at all of the rest of them always sound better? And how come no matter how good the snow and the weather are, someone always says, “You should have been here last week”?
Where do they find the hostess at most ski-resort restaurants that operates on a clock that has only 10 minutes in one hour? This is always verified when she says, “You can have a table for six in about 10 minutes. I’ll call you in the bar.”
Why do end-of-season ski sales always begin the first week of January?
How come whenever you get into the singles-only line for the gondola, the other five people who you will ride with all work for the same tobacco company and are smoking their new, nonfiltered cigarettes?
There has to be a reason why you always exceed the parking time limit by at least five minutes and have to pay a $30 fine.
And why do they always print ski-resort trail maps as though you are going to be reading them while you are in the parking lot? At the top of the mountain, you have to turn them upside down.
Why do your children ski as well as you do for only one day of your life?
Why do people always get out of their car and take their skis off the roof and lean them against the car while they are putting on their ski boots? Is it so the skis always can fall over and scratch their fenders?
Why does the lift-loader who has a college degree in sports medicine and a master’s degree in ecology chew tobacco or smoke a pipe?
Why is it, when you finally have enough float left on your credit card to hire a private instructor for the day, you get to take a lesson from the kid who used to live down the street from you? He used to have long hair and a beard, wore an earring, rode a Harley and tried to date your daughter when she was a freshman in high school.
Why did you save $35 a night on your room without a great view to instead get a view of the Dempsey Dumpster bin with the garbage man waking you up every morning at 5:30?
Why is the police car in the town you just went through at 3:30 in the morning always a plain, unmarked one that has concealed spotlights bright enough to light up the city of Detroit, while the overweight policeman is writing you your $150 ticket for going 32 in a 25?
And how come when the street is covered with black ice and an inch of new snow, a 93-pound secretary will walk out in front of your 4,000-pound Suburban thinking that you will be able to stop it in time?
I wondered, as I stood there, how long it had been my turn to catch the chair!
Then I wondered where the white goes when the snow melts.
Filmmaker Warren Miller lived in Vail for 12 years, and his column began in the Vail Daily before being syndicated to more than 50 publications. We’ve brought him back to where he started. For more of Miller’s stories and stuff, log onto Warren Miller.net