Carnes: Happy to read the fine print anytime Happy Valley shows up on a ranked list (column) |

Carnes: Happy to read the fine print anytime Happy Valley shows up on a ranked list (column)

How could we possibly be the 20th happiest county in America if our “Boat Building” is sinking?

Seriously, restaurants are closing due to disintegrating staff, “help wanted” signs are more prevalent in windows than “sale” banners, and guests to Adventure Ridge are handed gas masks as they load the gondola “just in case” a fresh fire flares up.

Sure, I made that last one up, but the point remains that last week’s Vail Daily article proclaiming Eagle County as America’s 20th happiest county (brought to us by the “blue collar” comedic stylings of our very own Randy Wyrick) is to be taken with the same large grain of salt as when’s Index of Micropolitan Money (aka small-town wealth) ranked little ol’ Edwards as the second wealthiest small town in the entire U.S. of A.

Or way back in September 2006 when Edwards was chosen by as a top 10 town in which to live compared to 577 other micropolitan areas across the country and in July 2009 when Money Magazine chose Edwards as the sixth best micropolitan area in the country for the “rich and single.”

We discovered “micropolitan Edwards” meant “Eagle County” in each report.

And here we are today, still having to teach one another how to maneuver roundabouts, complaining about country singers being too loud up at the Vail Performing Arts Center (some still call it that other name, but I refuse to honor convicted criminals) and the ever-elusive creature known as “affordable housing” has still yet to have its picture taken.

Us, happy?

The devil is in the details, as they say, or perhaps “reality is in the referenced,” and though Eagle County didn’t crack the top 25 in 2015 (the first year of this particular study), we’ve been 14th, 16th and 20th the last three years, respectively.

Ah, but even though our Founding Fathers declared our inalienable right to pursue it, there’s so much more to “it” than the simple word “happy,” especially considering the source — — whose sole reason for existence is to sell internet-based financial services.

I question such motives.

A much more thorough database of U.S. counties is compiled annually by, which scours 80 different metrics to reach conclusions (such as education, housing, environment, income, etc.), as opposed to only eight by the Happy people.

Out of almost 3,000 counties across the nation, Colorado rules the top 100 with 18 spots, but unfortunately our County of Eagles sits in the No. 98 position, behind such notables as Summit, Routt and the ever-pretentious Pitkin counties.

Then again, as an overall quality of life ranking, almost 20 percent of the top 100 counties in the nation being from Colorado is nothing to sneeze at, as we’re surrounded by happy counties every direction we turn to say “gesundheit.”

Me? I’m as happy as a local firefighter on a rainy day, and I don’t require a grouping of data points to verify or contradict me in either direction.

And neither should you.

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

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