Carnes: At least we’re not Aspen |

Carnes: At least we’re not Aspen

It has been an ongoing rivalry for over 60 years, one being known for overpriced glitz and glamour while the other for overpriced skiing.

But reality confirms it’s been a friendly competition all these years, neither actually condemning the other with malice or negative intent, just a good old-fashioned rivalry between two of the best-known ski areas on the planet.

It’s publicity for both regardless of how it is presented, and please note I am referring to Vail and Aspen towns and valleys, not their respective corporate ski overlords, which would pretty much ruin my entire point here.

On a much larger scale, however, the phrase, “At least we’re not …” is used when referring to life in general up among the peaks of the glorious Rocky Mountains, our respective secluded bubbles of day-to-day activity differing greatly from the vast majority of our American counterparts.

Put it this way: At least we’re not Denver.

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No offense to the weekend warriors that provide the bulk of bodies continually helping to keep our valley afloat, but each night I watch the top news stories from the Front Range beginning the same way: “A man was found murdered … another shooting at a local high school … teen killed in road rage incident … ex-wife hired a hitman … etc.”

The national news is even worse on a daily basis, and provides repeated acknowledgment between my bride and me as to one of the main reasons we grew our family roots here instead of there, with “there” being just about anywhere that’s not “here.”

But the iconography for all of Colorado comes into play when considering recent news headlines, such as the state that no longer even pretends to hide its racist roots (at least we’re not Tennessee), or is so deathly afraid of library books yet can’t wait to pardon convicted murderers (at least we’re not Texas), or the one allowing zero control over who carries concealed weapons without a permit yet won’t allow a woman to control her own uterus and hates all things LGBTQ-related (at least we’re not Florida).

Going more macro, at least we’re not Russia or China, where the government controls damn near everything, stifling innovation and progress every step of the way, or France, where hundreds of thousands keep protesting because the retirement age was raised from 62 to 64.

While I’m sure some of the above areas have at least a few redeeming qualities, being able to keep our distance is a tremendous benefit to living in our semi-secluded enclave.

But keeping it real, we are sadly not immune here in Happy Valley, as we have what I might suppose is our fair share of overly sensitive snowflakes offended by political cartoons and the type that now refuse to drink a Bud Light, and it was certainly disappointing to see the handful of parental puritanical heads exploding over little Johnny or Jennifer being exposed to a kids’ theatrical performance. 

So perhaps we’re not in as large a bubble as we thought, but it’s still a big part of what makes us — US — and them — THEM — and for that I am eternally grateful.

Either way, we still have to deal with those pretentious snobs and their jam-packed streets with pitiful parking and overpriced everything where celebrities go to be seen as opposed to here, where they come to ski.

So at least we’re still not Aspen.

Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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