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Posts Tagged ‘ski towns’

Hillside Cemetery, Silverton, CO Photo love: Live Do Grow

Hillside Cemetery, Silverton, CO
Photo love: Live Do Grow

I think I sufficiently established in a recent post about my dad why I’m obsessed with pasttimes most (read: normal) people find revolting. While I do enjoy dead things- particularly mounting them on my walls- one thing I’m not into is the paranormal. For this, I may also thank my dad, who calls himself a “compulsive realist.” While I’m better able to suspend belief than him (seriously, he’s the only person who found “Star Wars” preposterous), never, at any time have I believed in ghosts, zombies, vampires (yawn), aliens, or their brethren. I did have a brief flirtation with Bigfoot at age 8, but that’s only because we were on a camping trip in Northern California and my brother persisted in fucking with my head all week.

But. I do love me a good cemetery. I’m not sure when or how this interest developed, but having visited boneyards big and small, famous and unknown the world over, I can say that I find them oddly relaxing, as well as a great way to learn about the cultural, religious, and medical histories of a community. I love to wander amongst the headstones, reading the names and wondering about the lives of those beneath my feet. What compelled them to travel so far, to such an isolated spot? What must have it been like for parents to lose three children in rapid succession (influenza?)? How would Jim Morrison feel knowing weepy dirtbags still populate his grave and litter it with cigarette butts and bottles of  Jim Beam? And where the hell is Evita Peron’s tomb amongst all those vaults?

A seaside cemetery on the island of Chiloe, Chile

A seaside cemetery on the island of Chiloe, Chile

Given my life in ski towns, I have a particular fondness, and fascination for, Old West graveyards. I’m not what you’d call a history buff, but I love learning more about the (admittedly brutal) life of the pioneers, miners, ranchers, outlaws, and others who founded these mountain hamelets. Butch and Sundance may have ended up in Bolivia, but here in Colorado, you’ll find the remains of Doc Holliday, Buffalo Bill, Kid Curry, and others.

Ski towns are also notoriously haunted, if you’re a believer.  I’m obviously not, but I do love the stories and history behind the saloons, hotels, former brothels, mines, and private homes allegedly besieged by spirits. This is why my editor at Curbed Ski tasked me with writing up some Halloween posts on the dead and undead sides of ski country.  If you’re in the mood for some creepy, Halloween-style tales of murder, mayhem, and mine collapse, check ’em out…with the lights on, of course.

A grave at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Abiquiu, New Mexico

A grave at the Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Abiquiu, New Mexico

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Colorado 185Ski towns are famously dichotomous, the division between the Haves and the genuine dirtballs (aka “service industry employees”) best-described as a kind of first-world caste system. It’s a symbiotic relationship, but one often fraught with tension.

Having lived in the mountains of Colorado off-and-on for 19 years, I’ve logged my share of hours waiting tables, scrubbing condo toilets, and drooling on the bar. And herein lies the curious thing about ski towns: they all have a dive or two that bridges the divide. Think of them as skanky alpine “Cheers’,” places where everybody may not know your name because you’re all collectively wasted every time you meet, but you’re welcomed just the same.

Ski town dives- the kind that draw grizzled day-drinkers, coke/methheads, tourists looking for a “local” experience, on-the-DL millionaires, and post-shift townies unwinding after catering to the douchey moneyed masses, are a dying breed.

The American penchant for tearing down really cool historic places to make way for  “redevelopment” and “downtown core revitalization” will be a never-ending debate in ski towns nationwide. But there’s one thing we can agree upon: Whether you’re quasi-homeless, a Trustafarian, college student earning tuition, or just a garden-variety ski bum, our local hangs don’t discriminate.

Hence, this love letter to the best ski town dive bars. Long may they reign.

My college BFF and I having a moment at "The Buck" in Telluride

My college BFF and I having a moment at “The Buck” in Telluride

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