Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Natural Progression of Things, Part 2

I always expect the Sunday New York Times to have one or two heart wrenching articles per issue, but I did not expect to find this week’s bawler in the travel section. 36 hours in Breckenridge. Cool, I can’t wait to see some of our old haunts mentioned. Maybe they will talk about the Brown, or the Hearthstone, or the St. Bernard. The memories came flooding back; back to the days of unfiltered Fat Tire, skinny skis, and mountain bikes without shocks. Days spent idling, afternoons searching for free happy hour buffets, and drunken nights ending at the Shoebox. Crap, back to the days when I actually had hair. Unfortunately, of the 13 or 14 places mentioned, I knew only two of them. We are not talking about a small town being razed here, just apparently, the natural progression of things. I was always saddened by the turnover of people in my beloved resort town due to its seasonality, but the turnover of businesses and places is maddening. I remember scaring my ex-father in law during a conversation when I spoke venomously about the development in town and the lack of control with which it was happening. I remember going in the direction of ‘Monkey Wrench Gang’ in the conversation and him looking at me like I was insane.

We used to live in French Creek, an area with crappy modular homes that were essentially one step above a trailer. One step above a trailer, but had million dollar views of the Ten Mile Range. We paid way too much rent to a Boulder slum lord, but could hop on a mountain bike and be away from civilization within 10 minutes. I would ride the old flume trails which the miners had used to sluice away refuse and transport goods. One day I came ripping around one of the bends and almost decapitated myself on a mocked up barbed wire fence that a developer had put in place to curtail trail usage. We thought the area was National Forest, we were wrong. Apparently, a small portion of the trail ran across an area that was to become trophy homes. A debate in City Council ensued and as always, the little guy lost. The trail was destroyed; errr, re-routed and the vacation homes went in. This story replayed itself throughout Breckenridge and Summit County year after year. Most of us worked two and three jobs in order to enjoy the quality of life, only to have it slowly eroded by money, greed, and power.

I have not been back in years. I have avoided returning for two reasons. One of course, is her. As anyone who has ever read a word I have written knows, those wounds are far from healed, and visiting the town of Breckenridge would probably be akin to hopping in an acid bath after running through a scrub oak field. The other is my fear. I fear the town I remember and hold so dear will be gone, replaced by corporate restaurants and glamorous resorts, gondolas instead of t-bars. Sadly, the two reasons are intertwined; without the tangible evidence of our years there together did those pictures in my mind really occur? Were those days real or just some odd waking dreams? Frankly, I am not certain anymore.

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