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The good, the bad, the prepared; 2020 wildfire predictions for Eagle County

Positive outlook

Thanks to above average snowfall in our beloved Rocky Mountains, Eagle County and Colorado in general are looking forward to an average wildfire season, according to the 2020 Wildfire Preparedness Plan released in April by the state’s Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

This is great news for our rural community nestled along the edge of the White River National Forest, and could not have come at a better time as we work our way through the effects of an unprecedented pandemic that has rocked our community to the core.

For those owning a home in a region that can be very susceptible to wildfires, this is a breath of fresh air. However, despite the positive outlook, awareness and proactive approaches to protecting a property from nature’s wrath should always be a top priority.

As such, the Vail Board of REALTORS® (VBR) created the REALFire program six years ago to aid homeowners in preparing for the unexpected.

Co-developed with Eagle County in 2014, REALFire promotes wildfire education, awareness and action. By engaging local residents, Realtors, fire protection districts, and the professional expertise of qualified assessors, homeowners can assess their property’s vulnerability to wildfires at no cost. This free service provides owners with an understanding of wildfire hazards in the “ignition zone” surrounding their homes, and guidance to fortifying this area by converting it to “defensible space”.

“From a broker community perspective, this free program is an extremely beneficial opportunity that we feel is critical for more than protecting property values, it’s protecting our families and our memories from destruction,” said Laura Sellards, VBR Board Chair. “After seeing the recent devastation in Australia, and experiencing the close proximity of the Lake Christine Fire in 2018, we know preparedness is critical to avoid tragedy.”

A recent local success of wildfire mitigation was the April 2018 fire just west of Edwards in the Brett Trail neighborhood. Wildfire risk was high from the start of the season that year. Residents of Brett Trail were ordered to evacuate for safety. However, the neighborhood was planned with wildfire mitigation in mind and homeowners actively maintain the defensible space around their homes. This allowed firefighters to contain the fire within hours of ignition and no homes were lost.

A challenging virus

Although our wildfire season is predicted to be average, COVID-19 has made it anything but normal. According to a recent Denver Post story, fire officials state that “firefighters will fight more than 4,400 fires with less flexibility and fewer resources due to the coronavirus.”

According to the article, our first line of attack, local firefighters, will be short staffed. Moreover, traveling firefighters may not be able to leave their home districts to aid with fires across the region. In fact, fire officials are challenged with rethinking the way wildfire crews currently work including riding closely together in fire trucks and living in close quarters in fire camps that are far from hospitals and medical care while they work to contain a fire.

State fire officials are in the process of revising fire camp management by altering how crews sleep, eat and bathe. Currently, the way camps and larger fire Incident Command Posts run creates an “environment conducive to the transmission of an infectious disease.”

Importance of preparedness

Now, more than ever, Eagle County homeowners should practice preparedness and consider ways of protecting their properties from wildfire. Colorado fire seasons have become longer and more intense in recent years. And, because of the coronavirus challenges, our state’s fire officials are erring on the side of caution. Like many rural mountain fire districts, Eagle County was placed in a Stage 1 fire restriction in April.

Sellards recommends action now, “At the moment, thoughts of wildfire may be low on priority lists with all that we are challenged with. But, now is the perfect time to have your home assessed.

In addition to saving what we hold most precious, there are other benefits like the possibility of saving on homeowner insurance premiums, grants and funding assistance for mitigation costs, and income tax benefits.”

For more information and benefits about the REALFire program, and to apply for a free assessment, visit REALfire.net

COVID-19’s impacts on Vail Valley real estate

Over the last month, the nation’s economy as a whole has seen a significant impact due to the coronavirus. The Vail Board of Realtors® is supporting our members of the real estate community by providing education and tools to get them through a challenging time and prepare for the future. As we look to helping each other and the community, the question of how the market is doing comes up.

‘People are still buying and selling real estate’

“The Vail MLS March indicators prove that uncertainty relating to the coronavirus has impacted Vail Valley real estate,” Betsy Laughlin, Vail Board of Realtors® Past Chair, said. “The reports for April and May will be more telling in terms of the bigger picture impact. We’re still seeing properties come onto the market daily — people are still buying and selling.”

For example, there were two recent listings in EagleVail that went under contract in less than a week. Two large units at the Four Seasons went under contract in March — one priced at $16.9 million and the other at $8.2 million. “People still believe in Vail,” Laughlin said.

Compared to March of last year, transactions in Eagle County were down almost 24%, but sales prices were up 1%. Total dollar volume was down 25%, but the average price per square foot went up 13.4%.

Immediate impacts

“Since March 15, 88 properties in the county were either withdrawn from the market or had contracts canceled. Homes coming off the market are most likely seller-initiated, especially if the homes are occupied,” said Laughlin. Starting April 27th, Realtors are allowed to do showings following social distancing measures, though open houses are not allowed until we know it is safe for the community. Potential buyers can view properties, virtually or online, thanks to virtual tours, videos and 3D walkthrough technology. 

“It’s not business as usual, however with advancements in technology, we’re still able to get things done,” Laughlin said. “Inspectors and appraisers are allowed to enter homes and conduct business, so they have not been stifled under the current situation.” 

Not like the last recession

The Great Recession from 2007 to 2009 was due to the subprime mortgage crisis. It devastated financial markets, banking and real estate, but the current economic situation is much different. “After a run-up in housing prices in the early part of the decade, home prices plummeted, and thousands of borrowers couldn’t afford to pay their loans, which was what caused the recession last time,” Laughlin said.  “Colorado overall, and especially the resort areas, remain attractive locations for real estate investment. We should all try to remain calm and positive.”

Sellers

Sellers who removed listings in March are likely in a temporary holding pattern to see what happens next with the coronavirus rather than keeping the listing active only to accumulate days on the market. Laughlin has sellers who are keeping their listings on the market for online exposure. “We’re in a transitional or shifting market, and time will tell — depending on how long this pandemic lasts — whether we’ll see an adjustment on pricing and an increase in inventory,”  Laughlin said. “Typically, this is a time when you’d see homeowners list their homes to gear up for summer marketing, yet we haven’t seen a flood of properties come on the market,”

Buyers

After the recession, there was an influx of buyers from urban areas who decided to ditch the city lifestyle for the mountains. Laughlin expects a similar impact  from the coronavirus. 

“People want to experience the resort lifestyle,” she said. “Not every sector has been shut down, and there are buyers out there looking online for the right home.” Historically low-interest rates are also positive for buyers, which can help increase their buying power. Someone who may not have been able to afford a home previously might be able to afford a home now. 

“If you are comfortable with the new virtual way of buying and selling real estate right now, there are some great opportunities for everyone,” Laughlin said. 

The March indicators for Eagle County, real estate show, declines in both pending and closed sales. However, an increase in new listings is a promising indicator for the local market. A slowdown in the market was expected with the recent coronavirus pandemic. Real estate transactions were postponed in the short term, but many Realtors® believe buyers and sellers will return to the market soon.

“Local supply has been low over the past few years and has become the new normal before the coronavirus pandemic closed Colorado ski resorts in mid-March,” said Laughlin. “There could be a pandemic-related surge of listings in the coming months. It’s all uncharted waters at this point,” Laughlin said. 

“Home is where the heart is”

In this time of uncertainty, homes have become so much more than they have ever been. They are not only shelter, they are now also offices and schools. The real estate community is following the stay-at-home work orders and taking precautions for buyers and sellers and the community as a whole. We will get through this together. If you have questions regarding the market, contact a Realtor® who will help guide you during this time.  

Visit vbr.net for additional information about Vail Valley real estate and to find a local Realtor®.

Official COVID updates from Eagle County in real time

Editor’s Note: This sponsored content was brought to you by Eagle County Government.

One Valley Voice is Eagle County’s official Facebook forum. Come here with your questions and receive factual answers from your local government officials.

Ecemergency.org is the official website for Eagle County’s public safety information and is managed by a community of local communication professionals.

These feeds are operating in real-time. Bookmark a link to this article page to view timely information from the county and its partners. Both feeds will be used to communicate local news relating to COVID-19 in Eagle County with the public.

En espanol:

De ahora en adelante esta es la página de Facebook de condado de Eagle para COVID-19, en adición a la pagina de www.ecemergency.org/.

Este es el canal principal que utilizaremos para comunicar noticias de última hora al público. Visítela seguido, para obtener información oportuna del condado y sus asociados.

Eagle County’s official forum about its response to COVID-19 (www.facebook.com/onevalleyvoice):

Eagle County Public Safety Information about COVID-19 (ecemergency.org):

375 Mill Creek Circle offers the best of all worlds

Mill Creek Circle is one of those coveted addresses in Vail where once a property comes up in that area, it’s not there for long. 375 Mill Creek Circle is steps away from the base of Golden Peak and a short, flat stroll into town. Not only is the home site unique, but the home itself was built with such thoughtfulness and care to sleep 18 people but still maintains a cozy, comfortable atmosphere with custom touches throughout this Austrian chalet-style home.

“When I walked into this home I said, ‘this is one for the ages.’ We don’t know what trends will come and go, and I love the mountain modern look, too, but an Austrian chalet looking at the Gore Range with close proximity to town will never go out of style,” said Tye Stockton of The Stockton Group of LIV Sotheby’s International Realty.

At over 7,700 square feet, there’s plenty of room for seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a professional-grade kitchen, library, dining room and great room that has massive views of the Gore Range. Entertain in a media room large enough to watch a movie or the big game with your guests and play a round of pool on the billiards table. Take a dip in the pool that is open year-round, all surrounded by old-growth aspens and fencing that gives plenty of privacy.

“One thing to note about the Vail Valley market right now is that there are only 14 ski-in, ski-out single-family homes in all of Vail,” Stockton said.

“Your chances of getting your hands on any of those 14 homes are very small,” Stockton said. “Here’s one, right now. This is very rare.”

Square footage and odds aside, 375 Mill Creek Circle is a memory maker for families.

“In talking to the family that currently owns this home, the memories that they’ve created here since the mid-90s are irreplaceable. The family lives all over the place now but they talk about their time in Vail more than anything else,” Stockton said. Start making your own memories and learn more about this rare opportunity by contacting Tye Stockton at 970.471.2557.

How to find the right REALTOR®

In today’s world, there are so many options at your fingertips with modern technology. It can be daunting to ensure the person you’re hiring to sell or buy a home is a savvy, trustworthy professional. These tips will help guide you through finding the right person for the job.

“It is integral to choose a REALTOR® who not only makes your best interests their No. 1 priority, but also someone who has a strong moral compass, and a personality that is compatible with yours,” says Alex Griffin, chair of the Vail Multi-List Service (VMLS). “Buying and selling real estate is rated as one of the most stressful things in your life — a good REALTOR® will ease your stress and help successfully navigate the intricacies of a real estate transaction.”

Here are a few more tips from the Vail Board of REALTORS® on how to find the right REALTOR®.

Look for the “R” – REALTOR®

When it comes time for you to buy or sell your home, “Look for the R.” A REALTOR® expert provides the Reassurance, the Resources, and the Reliable guidance on the path to property ownership — “That is who we R.”

One of the easiest and most efficient ways to narrow your list of potential real estate agents is to choose a REALTOR® over just someone with a license. REALTORS® are professionals that belong to the National Association of REALTORS® and, locally, the Vail Board of REALTORS®. The reason this distinction matters is because REALTORS® are heavily invested in their profession and hold themselves to a higher code of ethics than agents who might be trying their hand at real estate as a side gig.

“There are so many subtle nuances in our industry that you really want to rely on someone who is competent, very well connected to the industry, who has a daily pulse on the ever-changing market, and who stays on
top of industry changes,” says Griffin. “If you are not well represented by a competent, well-connected REALTOR®, you could be leaving thousands on the table and exposing yourself to a lot of liability.”

A hot topic in the real estate industry is short-term rentals. In the Vail Valley, each area, community, homeowners associations, etc., have different regulations on short-term rentals. REALTORS® know these and a for-sale-by-owner might not have the knowledge of this information, which could lead to a lot of issues.

“It’s so important to hire someone who’s trained, does their homework and knows the area,” Griffin says.

One program that was created exclusively for VBR members is the Vail Pro Designation. This program was established to increase members’ local knowledge and requires members take courses on the history of
the valley, a community update course, a course on the Realfire wildfire education program, and a presentation on schools in the valley.

Do your research

If you know anyone who has bought or sold real estate in Eagle County, ask them for REALTOR® recommendations. “Hopefully, they can make it easy by referring a rockstar, but if they had a bad experience, you’ll know who to avoid,” Griffin says.

Many REALTORS® get business via referrals, but they’re increasingly relying on their online presence to bring in business. Griffin says good REALTORS® present well online, so it is easy for consumers to look at their bios, their listings, previous sales, accreditations, specialties, testimonials, and other available online data.

Ask detailed questions

When meeting with or talking to REALTORS®, here are some good questions to ask:

• How long have you been in the business?
• How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood in the past year?
• What’s the typical price range of homes you sell and where?
• What’s your fee and what comes with it?
• How will you market my home?
• Will I be working with just you or with a team?
• How long are your listings typically on the market? • What’s your average sold-to-list price ratio?
• What separates you from other REALTORS® in our market?

Interview before choosing a REALTOR®

Before choosing a seller’s or buyer’s agent, don’t be afraid to talk to a few REALTORS® to see which person is the right fit. You want to ask the questions mentioned above, but you’re also looking for someone who can meet your specific needs.

“I think it’s worth talking to at least two or three REALTORS®,” Griffin says. “The best agents always provide value— they always look out for your best interests while also adapting their style to the personality, needs, and goals of their clients.”

Value of Multiple-List Service (MLS)

Starting your home search using online real estate sites helps provides a home buyer or seller quick and easy data on some of the available listings in their area, but a REALTOR® is part of the MLS system which has the most up-to-date and real-time information available on the market — ahead of the other websites. Most, if not all, real estate sites syndicate and pull data from the core MLS, but sometimes the algorithms involved don’t always provide the most accurate, real-time data.

For example, some sites refer to a duplex property type as a multifamily property, which are actually two different classifications. One of the biggest values of using a REALTOR® is having an advocate who knows how to use the MLS, along with their boots-on-the ground market knowledge, to help you buy or sell your next home with ease.

Visit VBR.net for additional information about Vail Valley real estate and to find a local REALTOR®.

The Happiness Factor

The holiday season is finally over. As a ski resort community, we get exceptionally busy, and often the cozy fireplaces, wonderful dinners, amazing holiday lights, Christmas movies, and family gatherings that we associate with this time of year, get put on hold, we are too busy to enjoy the holidays, the coveted time of year when we should be out having fun, laughing and celebrating. We think we may take some time to relax and enjoy it after the masses have left town. Yet somehow, celebrating afterward does not have the same feeling.

Many who live here, are not near family. Various reasons bring us to the mountains, and distance, along with the cost of travel during high seasons, can make family visits cost-prohibitive. So, while we help others make incredible family memories, we often miss out.

Even those with spouses and children, find that because of intense work schedules, they are not home during holiday events, because they are needed at work, making it feel as though they are apart, even when only a few miles away. Loneliness in a crowd… it’s all too abundant in this valley, where we live, in an area where people come from around the world, to reconnect with family.

Yet, we keep on going, reminding ourselves, we are living the dream.

But that dream, the dream so many crave, leaves us with a sense of loneliness and that loneliness creeps in and takes up residence. How do we overcome that feeling of isolation? How can we feel so alone, when we are constantly surrounded by people? How can we be so connected on social media, yet feel so disconnected? Why does everyone else look so happy and we feel so sad? What’s wrong with me? Am I not worthy of friends, family, and happiness? How do I get over this slump?

During the last few weeks, I have just not been me. Normally, I celebrate holidays in full force… trees, lights, music, food, parties, movies, all the accouterments surrounding the holiday season.

My family is strung all over the country and because of logistics and cost, they had no ability to get together this year, which made me sad because I really wanted a Christmas like we used to have, particularly before my dad died. Intellectually, I know that life happens, challenges occur, and many people up here don’t spend the holidays with family.

I found myself closing off emotionally; not caring about any of it… not Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, none of it. There was an emptiness and sadness to the entire season instead of tradition and happiness. I was beginning to understand Scrooge’s perspective. Was I becoming one of those bitter people?

Could I party my way into a celebratory mood? By joining in on the overeating of too much rich food; the consumption of more alcohol than normal; and random sleep patterns, my normal routine was replaced with an odd array of activities, to keep me busy, and away from thinking about how sad I was. Pretending to be happy became a full-time job for December. It was a blur of activity that accomplished absolutely nothing; not at work, home, or in the community. Pretending to celebrate the holidays was exhausting.

In order to distract myself I booked a quick trip for me and my husband, only to return on Christmas Eve and it hit like a brick wall. I wasn’t ok and my emotions were boiling over. A new loss in my life brought up so much suppressed emotion and grief from the death of my dad. I guess, this is what they mean by “holiday blues”. Trying to make things perfect in an imperfect world is not only tiring but unrealistic, yet, as if a glutton for punishment, we attempt it every year. Yet, we must carry on, and carry on I did.

Speaking with friends, I realized that I was not alone. Some variation of this happens to everyone at some point. Living in a beautiful place comes at a price, and we all understand that logically, but emotionally it’s a different story. Yet, loneliness is felt by all of us from time to time. So what happens when things get so low that we begin to wonder if we’ll ever get beyond it? What can we do to move forward? Part is strategy, and part is attitude. So what can we all do:

Gratitude: Once we are able to identify happiness, we can build upon it. From the big things, like the love of someone special, a wonderful career or home; to the smaller blessings like a good cup of coffee, seat heaters on a cold morning, a friendly driver letting you in at a traffic jam; or the things we take for granted, like being in good health. Gratitude is the first step towards happiness. Begin your day listing 5-things you are grateful for and end your day with recalling 5-things that went really well. That gratitude-happiness perspective will train you to notice the best of everything around you, and the not-so-good parts will pale in comparison. Noticing the good around you will soon become habit; a habit that brings with it, happiness.

Be kind to yourself: Keep your machine in top shape. Your body needs nourishment and rest, particularly under duress. Giving our body what it needs for optimal performance, assures better results. If we are in crisis mode, we cannot afford for our body to give out to sickness or injury because of neglect. Eat well, sleep more; there are many strategies available for both.

Mix up the routine: Nothing screams boredom more than doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result (Einstein… not so dumb). Yet, we all do it! We must evaluate what we truly want in our lives and examine if we are working towards those goals.

Get Outdoors: People feel inspired and tranquil in the mountains. There is something magical that happens here. When stressed, just take an hour (you’re going to waste it worrying, anyway) and go for a walk or simply sit outside, in admiration of the majesty of our surroundings. Notice nature, the sights and sounds around you, the beauty of it all. Feel the synergy and calm. It will transform you.

Put a smile on your face: When sad, your body will assume a weak position… frown, slump, eyes down, mumbled slow speech, basically a defeated stance. It is your mind telling your body what to do when you’re sad. However, it’s a two-way communication. Your body often tells your mind how to react… ever stubbed your toe?

Take the time you need to decompress and feel the raw emotions: If feeling sad, experience it, then after a period of time, set it aside and make a decision, that while it’s okay to be disappointed and unhappy, we all go through it, it is not a place where you want to take up permanent residency. Stand up straight, walk with authority, put a smile on your face (yes, force it), and instead of thinking of loneliness, think about how wonderful it is that you have the freedom of time, to yourself, to plan and prepare for your future. There is a difference between being alone and being lonely.

Volunteer: It builds community, you make connections with the people you are helping, and you cultivate friendships with other volunteers. Loneliness and social isolation are two of the most severe epidemics in the world today and volunteering increases socializing ultimately reducing loneliness. The benefits of consistent socializing include better brain function and lower risk for depression and anxiety. You also improve your immune system.

Finally, surround yourself with people who bring the best out in you. While, it is tempting to drown your sorrows with people who are in even worse shape than you, being with those who regularly overcome their challenges, will inspire you to press beyond what you think is possible. They may see a vision of you that you can’t quite imagine, yet. You are not alone; we’ve all been there.

Chasing Nirvana

We are told how lucky we are to be living here; a place where others travel across the globe to experience, and we have it every day. We live in Nirvana, yet…

What does it take to live “the good life”? Those that consider the good life to be within a resort community, face a high cost of living, low wages, few childcare options, limited career opportunities, remote locations, and other daily challenges. Many choose the lifestyle; some feel trapped by it.

Inevitably, wherever you live, pressure builds up and an escape valve is necessary to prevent an explosion. When that explosion feels imminent, an immediate solution becomes oh-so-tempting. While alcohol has been a go-to release mechanism for centuries, many have praised the availability of marijuana as a substitute, but regulations make its consumption sometimes di cult, particularly if a need is felt during working hours or away from home.

Where then, can one seek solace from the day-to-day pressures? Expectations are increased if your role is that of a parent, an executive, or a prominent member of the community. When everyone praises your accomplishments or ability to “live the good life”, will you appear ungrateful for not appreciating your many blessings?

Escape can become an obsession, and discretion is key. You just want a little something to take the edge off. A small shot of that warm golden liquid or maybe, just one gummy.

Now, if we could just repeat that feeling again. Maybe one more, not a lot, just once more. You don’t really need it; you only want it to help you over this momentary situation. But, that second hit didn’t quite feel like the first. Perhaps, it wasn’t enough. Just one more… and then, only if needed, another.

It may not keep you as sharp as you could be, but when you were “sharp” you were edgy, moody, unable to concentrate, angry, and all of the things, you despise. With just one tiny sip or hit, you are now, more in control, and can do a much better job.

Addicted… of course not, you could stop at any time.

Yet, the times when you feel it necessary to open that escape hatch, are becoming more frequent, and it is taking more to help you feel less. Life in Nirvana comes at a price.

That price is often stress, and stress can be painful. Can you live up to the image… the perfect employee/business owner, parent, spouse, community member or person.

We logically realize that perfection is impossible, but still see others who are “perfect” in our eyes or on social media.

When is enough, okay? Everything comes at a price. Life is stressful because unanticipated events result in unpredictable results, which by its very nature, cause stress.

Rather than explode, we decide to take that hit or drink and suddenly everything is a bit softer, more calm, easier to deal with. What we fail to realize at that moment, is that it is only an illusion. As everyone coming o a high will tell you, the hangover is the easiest part; it’s dealing with the aftermath of your response or lack of action, that causes long-term disasters. Precisely, what you were trying to avoid.

What do people do to avoid the temptation of substance abuse, when there appears to be little substitute?

First, we must realize that if we’ve accustomed our bodies to ingesting alcohol or drugs on a regular basis, our body has adapted and there will be a physical withdrawal. It will be painful; much more so, than what we were avoiding to experience in the first place. Sometimes people will seek substitutes, such as smoking or eating, and if we are to evaluate the detrimental effects, those transitions may be temporarily acceptable.

Secondly, there is no such thing as cutting back. Both physically and psychologically, the body has adapted to needing a certain amount of what you are taking, and cutting back will only cause the body to crave its regular amount. Cold-turkey is the only way to spark the body into creating a different response and returning to its normal state. It will seek healthier, more traditional responses to the stress you experience.

How do you change your routine when the rest of your life remains the same?

While you may not be able to change your environment, you can change your response and routine. The new year is the perfect time to say, instead of going to Happy Hour, I have begun a workout routine. Maybe a gym membership, where you can engage in healthy activity while socializing with a new group of friends. It doesn’t have to be strenuous.

When friends o er a drink or something stronger, you can say, in a disappointed tone, that you’ve discovered that you are allergic to it. In a way, you are correct, as your body no longer responds well to alcohol or drugs.

We all know the triggers our body sends, as we begin to experience what prompted drinking or drugs in the past. As we feel that beginning to happen, create an alternative response before it becomes too intense. Shock our body into a different state and create new associations to the stress. Maybe, you excuse yourself for a 3-minute restroom break, while you blast your favorite music into your headphones. Nothing can change a mood quicker than music. Then return.

If you’re a parent, feeling stressed (and who doesn’t), do things that involve physical activity with your children, to engage and change up the routine.

Think about your passions, and you will certainly find kindred spirits. Are you a secret artist or wannabe? Take a class or join a club. If you like the outdoors but aren’t a skilled athlete, check out the nearest sporting goods store and ask for a club contact; chance are, you’ll discover people who simply want to take regular outdoor hikes (which may simply consist of walks on trails). If you like animals but don’t want to own one, volunteer; there are shelters and rescue organizations, who would love your help. Speaking of volunteering, nothing reminds you more of what you have, than being with those who have even less.

Drink alternatives at parties could be sparkling waters, sodas, or drink mixers. We live in a town where people pride themselves on being “health nuts” and you can simply say that you are on a body cleanse, or that you have made a commitment to eat and drink healthier. You don’t need to discuss addiction or anything else… just declare it, a matter-of-fact lifestyle choice.

Some people think that they must be intoxicated in order to loosen up and have fun… yet, nothing could be further from the truth. What people fear is making a fool of themselves. If you are not hindered by alcohol or drugs, you can develop ways in which you can be yourself, without being embarrassed. Substances will only make you apologetic the next day, and the excuses will get old, making you look weak, not better. The freedom to be the real you is more powerful than any drug you can take.

Make the decision to not drown in liquor or bury in drugs, the person you are meant to be. You were born with special gifts that only you can develop. There are so many people who would love to get to know you. Be present, and you will discover a new world, awaiting all that you have to give.

Behavioral Health Appointments
Colorado Mountain Medical- 970-445-2489

Mountain Family Health- 970-945-2840

Local Support Group Meetings AA:

www.vailalcoholicsanonymous.com/meetings

Local Support Group Meeting NA: www.narconon-colorado.org

Hope and Help for families and friends of alcoholics: al-anon.org

Colorado Crisis Services: 844-493-8255

Hope Center Eagle: 970-306-HOPE

Eagle Valley Behavioral Health

www.EagleValleyBH.org

A glimmer of hope during the holidays

While it seems that everyone is surrounded in joy and celebration during the holidays, we must remember that for many, it’s just another workday, and for some, it is a reminder of all they feel they lack.

With a focus on family, friends, parties, shopping, bright lights, happy music, and fun celebrations of all sorts, we can feel overwhelmed; and after seeing such merriment posted all over social media, and watching movies that always have happy endings, it is easy to begin wondering why our lives aren’t as perfect as everyone else’s. We forget that most of what we see is staged and we are fortunate if we have even a couple of those things during the holidays… happy music and bright lights may be all we get some years.

If we have a cloud of darkness following us around, those bright holiday lights seem to cast an even darker shadow on our path. When it gets too dark, we begin to lose our way, and it’s almost as if it becomes a dark pit, from which we feel as though we cannot escape.

Desperate, we seek any way out, for it is a much- too-familiar scene. We first noticed it years ago, and while we are able to periodically lose it, it manages to always find its way back. And, each time it returns, it brings with it, heightened agony.

If it’s possible, the darkness actually becomes blacker and, as if it could speak, it creates a sound of doom. An overall encompassing sense of loss, heartbreak, worthlessness, loneliness, and pain… oh, so much pain.

After a while, getting rid of the pain becomes all that we can think about. We try everything to dull its effect; alcohol, drugs, risky behavior… anything that will distract or end the torment.

Some of us, lose our sense of reason and go to such extremes, that unwittingly, we can cause permanent harm to ourselves or others, and in a last-ditch effort to end the pain, we end our lives. We begin to imagine a peaceful sleep, an end to the horror we are feeling. Suicide becomes our respite. We really don’t want to leave; we just need tranquility and peace.

On Christmas Day 2014, instead of celebrating joyfully with family and friends, surrounded by delicious food, laughter and a warm fire, our family received the dreaded news that no family deserves to hear.

On the other end of the line, “your brother has died.” He died by suicide after a long and agonizing fight with addiction and depression, a decision made out of desperation, hopelessness, isolation and loneliness. A person who never had a bad word to say about anyone… who was known as a fun-loving sportsman and would often walk away from a golf course with his friend’s gambled money in his pocket and a smile on his face. A person who seemed to love life, yet one, for whom that dark cloud sought solace.

Special to the Daily

A year earlier, our family spent Christmas Day in the Eagle County jail talking to my brother through a screen. He had been incarcerated, his decision-making capacity blurred by sadness and pain. Scotty’s behavior had taken a dark turn and we could see the culmination of 14 years, over 5000 days, of grief all over his face. We wanted to think that it would pass, but instead, it became more erratic, more prevalent, and more ominous.

Instead, for years, during the holidays we had spent our time, trying to “ x Scotty”, only to realize that these demons were coming from within. There is no sense of helplessness greater than watching a loved one descend into darkness, without a glimmer of light, hoping they emerge to face another day.

He had gone to extremes before and thankfully survived, yet we feared that one day, he might not, and that dread was overwhelming. It engulfed the holidays and left our family filled with uncertainty, fear, and all-consuming sadness.

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With the holiday season here, please take a few moments to notice the expression on a stranger’s face or look deep into the eyes of a loved one. Take note of subtle differences. Pain has many disguises.

Make time to share a friendly thought. Take a few moments to engage and listen, that simple act of kindness can go a long way, it may just save their life. Just a few caring words can provide that bit of light one needs to get past the threshold of despair… to live another day, and perhaps regain an inner strength, a feeling of hope, that they had long-thought disappeared.

If any of this is familiar, please call the numbers below. Please recognize that just because you don’t know someone personally, doesn’t mean they haven’t been where you are and can’t guide you out.

We too, have been on this journey of unimaginable pain and have come to know that it truly will subside. Please, let us be your friend, your guide towards emerging on the other side of this very di cult path.

You are not alone…We are here for you!

Scotty Lamothe… Forever in our hearts. Dec. 16, 1981 – Dec. 25, 2014

Extreme Risk: 911

Moderate Risk: CO Crisis Ctr 844-493-8255

Hope Center: 970-306-4673

Eagle Valley Behavioral Health: for multiple resources: www.EagleValleyBH.org

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Ideas for surviving the holidays: https://afsp.org/ handling-special-occasions/

Speak Up Reach Out:

www.SpeakUpReachOut.org

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please reach out at www.eaglevalleybh.org/get-help-now

Docs who make house calls

Editor’s Note: This sponsored contest is brought to you by Visit Vail Valley – The Official Visitors Guide.

Photo by jack affleck

Though Vail is, first and foremost, a giant playground, sometimes a little medical advice and attention is in order. Rather than traipse to a hospital clinic, some opt for a concierge medical experience. Alpine Mobile Physicians has been providing convenient, professional medical house calls for residents and visitors of the Vail Valley for nearly 14 years. Their board-certified physicians have decades of experience and provide open, honest and understandable treatment. They offer oxygen and IVs, medication, pediatric services, expedited x-rays, altitude illness treatment and prevention and all general medical, orthopedic evaluations. The physicians also perform minor surgical procedures. 

As specialists in altitude treatment, their research center has a new, state-of-the art altitude simulation chamber, which replicates conditions of elevations from sea level up to 18,000 feet. The chamber aids in ongoing treatment, research and high-elevation training for athletes.

“Altitude sickness is very common in the Rocky Mountain elevations around 8,000 feet,” says Dr. Douglas Van Mayeda. “If left untreated, it may develop, on occasion, into more serious conditions. However, our altitude simulation chamber can provide the safe medical environment needed for recovery.”

To help prevent altitude sickness, Dr. Doug recommends staying rested and hydrated prior to travel, and contacting your physician prior to your trip on specific recommendations, as one’s medical history does play a role in susceptibilities.

Small Town, USA

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Visit Vail Valley – The Official Visitors Guide

Photo by Eagle Ranch Golf Course

Eagle

With pristine and abundant access to epic mountain biking, trail running, hiking, golf, parks and Gold Medal fly-fishing, Eagle is a year-round paradise. 

“Surrounded by BLM, state park and open space lands, Eagle is your springboard for adventure,” says spokesperson Mavis Fitzgerald.

Over 100 miles of single track are accessible right from downtown for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter and biking and hiking in the summer. The town also offers a BMX park, pool and ice rink. The Eagle River Park offers 4.3 acres of whitewater rafting, which includes four in-stream features in the new world-class whitewater park. And the area is also home to game management Unit 44, one of the most coveted deer areas in the Western states. Summer events include Yoga in the Park and Showdown Town.

Cordillera

Cordillera is a luxury residential mountain community — a place in the renowned Vail Valley that is close to it all, yet still away from it all. It’s a serene place embedded in unparalleled natural beauty with a deep connection to, and respect for, the natural environment. 

Cordillera is, by design, a quiet place where people connect with family, friends and nature to share their passion for outdoor activities. Here, a person can hike for miles without running into anyone else, golf on some of the nation’s best private courses, fish on private ponds and river parcels and relax at home without any noise from clustered neighbors. 

Edwards/ Riverwalk

The charm of Riverwalk revolves around a babbling stream, dotted with multiple restaurants, retail stores and countless business services. The area includes a hotel, theater, market and liquor store, and the majority of businesses are locally owned and operated.

“It is the one place in the valley where you can park once and get everything you need without having to drive elsewhere,” says Todd Williams, community manager. “We even have residents who have retired to Riverwalk because of the ease of access to everything they need.”

Summers are especially busy, with a summer concert series every Friday in July and August.

Avon

For those seeking vibrant and inspiring Rocky Mountain experiences in a comfortable, unpretentious, small-town setting, Avon is a year-round mountain resort community at the base of Beaver Creek Resort. Family-inspired events and activities at Nottingham Park pair with lively bistro patios, freshly forged mountain bike trails and major outdoor music festivals for a vibrant, genuine, progressive experience in a true mountain town.

“It is a town that connects the shared values of both its residents and visitors, creating a one-of-a-kind place to visit, work, grow a business, raise a family and play in a spectacular outdoor setting,” says Elizabeth Woods, communication and marketing manager.

Minturn

Minturn is a small town with a big backyard. Sandwiched between Vail and Beaver Creek ski resorts on the confluence of the Eagle River and Gore Creek, Minturn is a great alternative — or addition — to the typical resort vacation. 

With a population of just over 1,000 people, the town is virtually surrounded by havens for backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, fly-fishing, hiking, mountain biking, rafting and kayaking. Main Street is full of unique, local (and sometimes funky) shops and restaurants that make day and weekend trips a pleasure. 

Summertime highlights include the Minturn Market, a weekly artisan market, and a free summer concert series on Thursday nights, throughout July and August. And in the winter, check out the barstool races.

For more information about Minturn and its events, visit www.minturn.org.