Had annual wonderful week’s vacation in Steamboat Springs, CO, last week. It tends to be the week that “gets me through” the rest of the year. I love the snow, the mountains, the skiing … the whole atmosphere and “vibe” of town.
I guess my love affair with Steamboat stems from my history with the place. Back when I was probably 9 or 10 years old, our family would head to Steamboat in the summer to visit friends who owned a fantastic cabin in Route National Forrest. I remember sleeping in the cabin loft with my sister and my friends, Karen and Kirsten – shrieking at the bats that would fly about the eaves on summer evenings. Also memories of my “Aunt Pat” waking us up every morning to the sound of the Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun. Hiking up to mountain lakes for some trout fishing, horseback riding, the July 4th rodeo, visiting F.M. Light’s in town … all part of those wonderful memories of the “cowboy” mountain town of Steamboat Springs.
My parents began taking us on winter ski vacations in Steamboat back in the 1970’s – after skiing at various places throughout the west, from CO to NM. I loved staying on the mountain at the Scandinavian Lodge, skiing right out our door onto the slopes. Although we had skied at many Colorado resorts – Aspen, Vail, Winter Park… – Steamboat somehow became our favorite place, and the place we kept returning to. Famous for their high altitude “Champagne Powder” along with maintaining their small-town atmosphere, it always seemed to be more laid-back and genuine than the developing glitz of places like Aspen.
Mark and I began taking our own boys to the mountain about 6 years ago. Despite the fact that the boys don’t have the opportunity to ski as often as I did when I was younger, they’ve become very skilled and competent skiers – able to tackle every black diamond run on the mountain, along with a few of the double-black diamond chutes. We’ve made a lot of wonderful memories skiing together, playing in the powder, finding our favorite outfitters and eateries in town. As Mark recently commented, I think we both wish that we’d started the tradition years earlier. And although we’ve seen the town changing, and some aspects have become rather uber-wealthy resort-ish, the town still manages to maintain a sense of charm that other resort areas are missing … at least in my opinion.
Although skiing remains at the top of my list of reasons to visit Steamboat, I have always been impressed by the great bike culture around town – whether summer or winter. We’ve seen a great Xtracycle conversion with a PVC tube used for hauling skis, lots of committed cyclists riding through the worst of weather and road conditions, lots of people going about their daily routine in town – by bicycle. One of my favorite sights in town one day this year, was this dad with his mini-pedalers and the family dog, riding down the main street. Sweet! 😀
Upon getting back home, the current issue of LAB’s (League of American Bicyclists) 2010 Bicycle Friendly America was in the mailbox. I was happy to read that Steamboat had achieved Silver status as a Bicycle Friendly City (I believe they moved up from Bronze within this past year?). According to the article:
The community boasts a 4 percent bicycling mode share; an ever growing network of on-road and off-road bicycling facilities – including 266 miles of natural-surface trails … The Open Space and Trails Master Plan includes over 25 miles of new bicycle routes and lanes to the city. More cyclists than ever are commuting and using their bicycles for errands around town. The local political bodies responded by ramping-up their support for bicycling in the form of budget allocations and Community Development Code provisions for bicycle facilities and transportation systems, instead of thinking of it as a marginal or luxury issue for a special sub-group.
Last year we rented some bicycles and rode along the Yampa River bike path … a beautiful multi-use path that links several communities and provides a great way to get to and from the heart of downtown. We’ve seen more and more people hauling skis by bike up to the base area of the mountain, as well bikes parked outside the grocery stores and restaurants around town. It’s inspiring – and often amazing, given the weather and road conditions we’ve seen some of them out riding in. Hat’s off!
So … vacation is over, and spring is well on its way. Although the sight of blooming daffodils is lovely, I somehow still would rather see sparkling snow on a sunny mountain. Just me. 😉
ap pur te nance |ə-ˈpərt-nən(t)s| noun (usu. appurtenances)
An accessory or other item associated with a particular activity; accessories, trappings, equipment, paraphernalia.
With memories of February’s “snowmageddon” starting to fade, the promise of springtime, warmer weather, and sunny roads gets alot of us dreaming of appurtenances … OK, bike stuff. New bike stuff. Maybe a new set of tires, new rims, a new pair of shoes, a new helmet, or even a complete new beautiful bicycle. (You guys know who you are … finish the thesis & you get the Salsa! 😉
To be clear, I don’t exclude myself from this Spring Fever. Thinking that my favorite bike shorts have seen better days, my brake cable should be replaced, a colorful new jersey would be nice … Anyone who steps into the colorful wonderland of a bike shop in the grey days of late winter knows the feeling.
Lately, I have also added camera “stuff” to my appurtenance cravings. Deciding to participate in a 365 photo project (a photo each day for a full calendar year) with ShutterCal, was big impetus to get a bit more serious. In the somewhat futile attempt(s) to improve my photography skills, I have spent a lot of time – and yes, admittedly, money – in recent months taking classes, reading books, attempting to master new post-processing software – as well as buying a few pieces of equipment I “really needed”.
I have to admit that I struggle with that inner voice that keeps whispering, “it’s not about the equipment…”. I believe this: it’s not. I know there is not a bike on the planet that will magically make me a super-human cyclist, yet I also know how pleasurable it is to ride beautifully equipped bike – whether an ultra-light road bike, an Xtracycle, or some stylish balloon-tired cruiser. The bike does not make the rider – but good equipment can make the ride divine.
And just as with the bicycle, the camera does not make the photographer. I’ve seen spectacular photos shot with a camera phone, or a cheap point-and-shoot. An artful and skilled eye will always more-than-compensate for lack of technical equipment; yet good equipment (and the knowledge to use it) can enhance the results for those of us who are considerably less talented, and make the process much more enjoyable and productive. Just like riding a beautifully equipped bicycle, shooting pictures with a good camera and lens can be an inspiring experience.
I’m not sure where that leaves me in the end? There is so much I want to learn, and improve upon – both in cycling and photography. It will likely require appurtenances. I don’t need to win races, ride around the globe, win awards or exhibit my photos – I just want to reach some personal level of accomplishment. I’m trying to find the right balance; I don’t want the desire for appurtenances to get in the way of the actual work. I need to climb more hills, I need to take millions of photos. Yet I also know that sometimes, appurtenances can help pave the path to getting there…
Spring is almost here…. dream on! 🙂