Vail Valley Voices: Moving day |

Vail Valley Voices: Moving day

Warren Miller
Vail, CO Colorado

It has been decision time for the last week or so. We are once again on the move from our winter home in Montana to our summer home north of Seattle. Some of the decisions are very easy. Some of the things I won’t need on our small island are skis, boots, poles and ski clothes. As we started packing and I looked in all of the drawers, sometimes I think I would quit skiing if I didn’t have so many sweaters.

Many years ago, we bought a large white four-wheel cargo trailer to make our move from Vail to Washington for the summer, never to return full time. I knew we would need half a dozen moving van trailers to haul our accumulation of Colorado stuff but our good friend David Grabel with his almost 2,000 tractor trailers came to the rescue and stored most of it until we got a real house, as Laurie calls it.

Since our two houses are exactly the same, our moving twice a year is confined to some everyday clothes to wear (seven suitcases full), my wife, Laurie, and my office stuff. She has a lot of paper work to run the foundation and I have a lot of paper work and referenced books to write my weekly newspaper columns and my biography.

Most of my biography is coming out of my memory bank – some of it is very slow to surface. The entire rest of it comes from boxes and boxes and albums full of 86 years of stuff! People sometimes ask how long it takes to write. That is something I have been doing 10 to 100 hours a week for the last 20 years, but there is no increment of time I can clearly define as it depends upon how much I get into it.

When I’m writing about spending the night outside in a lean-to sitting on 8 feet of snow while embers from a burning tree stump are occasionally burning their way through my parka or pants, it requires more subtle choice of words to tell just how cold it was while we were waiting for dawn to arrive.

Laurie has some very old silverware that has come down from her great-grandparents, and at however many dollars an ounce for silver she could melt some of it down and charter a jet for us to fly back and forth. We would still have service for 19 people left.

It is about a 12-hour drive from Bozeman to Seattle, then an hour and a half north plus a long wait in the ferryboat line, and then we can once again unpack and settle down for a summer of fishing, crabbing, cruising, golfing, relaxing and getting reacquainted with our island friends.

I would be less than honest if I didn’t say I was getting anxious to hit a few golf balls. I don’t have any idea where they will go when I hit them, but I buy the cheap ones, and when I run out of them, the game is over!

I have a good friend who lives on a golf course in Southern California, and he and his wife take evening walks and know where all of the lost golf balls come to rest. He collects them and on occasions ships me a couple of hundred of them. Did you know that Americans lose over 300 trillion golf balls every year and someone has made it into big business to retrieve them and sell them at less than half the new price? They just pay the golf course a percentage for all of them they collect. Not including the ones that they retrieve from alligators’ stomachs, which is an unknown number.

By the time you read this, Laurie and I will have loaded up the trailer, driven 900 miles, ridden on a ferry boat for an hour and a half, unpacked, and, with some luck, played a couple of nine-hole rounds of golf, gone for an overnight cruise and adjusted completely to the slightly-above-sea-level altitude.

Sure, I will miss the skiing, the sub-zero mornings, scraping the ice off of the windshield, shoveling the sidewalks and in general doing all of what is necessary to live four months a year in a below freezing climate.

Laurie and I are two of the luckiest people in the world to have the lifestyle that we enjoy 24 hours, seven days a week.

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. For more of Miller’s stories and stuff, log on to

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