Wissot: It doesn’t get any better than this
My wife, Alyn, and I moved into our Vail Village condo 19 years ago on June 30, 2000. This is our 20th summer living in a place we both agree has brought us more happiness than we could ever have imagined.
Our condo is in the Wall Street building, two floors up from Wild Bill’s Emporium on one end and the American Ski Exchange on the other. Our balcony is diagonally across from Pepi’s where for so many years we could see President Gerald R. Ford and his wife Betty taking in the July 4 parade festivities along with the rest of us.
Vendetta’s patio is down the street and close enough to our windows to hear the sounds of revelers into the wee hours of the morning. It never bothered us. We liked hearing the voices of people having inebriated fun.
The restaurant inside is where we have always ordered our favorite pizza, a large white with sausage and chicken. Sean, who began work there a year before we arrived, swears that we used to order it only with sausage. Who am I to argue? I just placed the order. He filled it.
The Lancelot Restaurant, next to the Children’s Fountain, has been our go-to spot for dinners, especially on our anniversary, December 30. The owner, Werner Schadl, has made us feel like VIPs every time we visit. We never fail to order the apple strudel topped with vanilla ice cream for dessert. It’s the best.
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The summers have caught up with the winters in making Vail a year-round destination for tourists. Winter skiing and snowboarding were once the chief reasons for coming to Vail. Summer fun paled in comparison. Not anymore.
I’m biased, but I don’t think there is a place in the country that can match the quality of music and dance available each summer in Vail. From renowned symphony orchestras and extraordinary musicians in July for the Bravo! Vail Music Festival to breathlessly exquisite dancers and world-famous dance companies in early August with the Vail Dance Festival to internationally acclaimed jazz artists treating audiences to 75 performances beginning with the summer solstice and running through Labor Day weekend at the Vail Jazz Festival, nobody makes the hills come alive with the sound of music like Vail does.
Many years ago I visited Prague and was impressed with the fact that the streets, concert halls and churches pulsated with music. Vail in the summer reminds me of Prague.
The enjoyment of concerts is not limited to those with fat wallets. You don’t need a pile of shekels to get your music fix in the summer here. During the week of July 15 there were seven free music concerts up and down the Valley: two in Vail, one in Avon, one in Beaver Creek, one in Minturn, one in Edwards and one in Eagle.
The variety of music heard in the Valley is matched by the cultural diversity seen in the Village. Yarmulkes, hijabs, red bindis in the center of women’s foreheads, colorful African headscarves, point to the fact that Vail is not an exclusive enclave anymore for retired white folks and ski bums who came in their 20s and never left. This vibrancy adds to our reputation for being a community that welcomes change and wants to be connected to the world at large.
One thing about Vail in the summer remains the same as Vail in the winter: the mountains, laced in verdant color instead of snow-packed white; ready to be walked, hiked, biked, run, rather than skied; to be enjoyed in a water tube, a go-cart, or on a zip line at 10,000 feet, instead of riding up a ski lift.
Some of my favorite summer memories over these past years have taken place hiking Berrypicker, running the Forest Service roads to Mid-Vail and Eagle’s Nest, the singletrack across the Grand Traverse, Red Sandstone Road headed to Piney Lake, the bike path up Vail Pass.
When I was a kid growing up in the Bronx my summer fun was limited to city street games like boxball, stoop ball, punchball, stickball. Now as an old man I get to enjoy the best that nature and the arts have to offer in a magnificent mountain setting.
Who says growing old is without its rewards?
Jay Wissot is a resident of Denver and Vail. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.