Bobbi and I are in the process of re-locating to Tucson, so I guess one might say we’re trading the mountains for the desert, which means tomorrow may be my last blog post until after we’ve moved, and I have a home-office again. When Bobbi and I bought our home 17 years ago we believed we would live here until the end of our days, but alas, at 77 and 74-years-old respectively, waking up early to get to the mountain to catch first tracks after a 14-inch overnight dump no longer holds the appeal it once did.
To Bobbi and me this home has been in a word, “magical,” which is why we thought we’d never leave. The house itself is nestled just inside an aspen forest with stunning mountain views to the north and east, not to mention the area of the valley we live in is well, just spectacular – I’ve attached a photo I took last October, about two miles south of our home (we’re located roughly dead center but hidden by the hill in the image.)
People have asked us why we’re moving, I mean let’s face it, starting over in a different state at this stage of life will have its share of challenges. But Bobbi and I have decided to make this move an adventure. Meanwhile, the biggest reason for our move is that like so many other places in this country, the Vail Valley has changed. The change has been gradual, but Vail is no longer a ski-town – the powers that be wanted Disneyland, and now they have it.
I’ve skied Vail Mountain for 40 plus years and on a typical ski day I would run into a least a dozen people I knew which is saying something in a ski area stretches more than 7 miles from east to west. I’d stop and kibitz with ski patrollers or fellow instructors who happened to be working that day, share information about powder stashes and enjoy what was arguably the most diverse and largest ski mountain in North America
Skiing was so more than just a winter activity – it was a way of life. And après ski was, well let your imagination run wild because if there was ever a quintessential ski-town watering hole, Pepi’s Bar on Bridge Street was it – imagine Cheers except all the patrons are wearing ski boots. During my wild & crazy single years, after leaving Pepi’s I would stop at Osaka’s Sushi located just catty-corner where the sushi chef would begin preparing a California roll (served with an Asahi beer of course) as soon as he saw me walk in the door and have it waiting for me as I sat down at the sushi bar. That was typical of life in Vail. Once I ran into Dwight Henniger, Vail’s police chief on the mountain and he said, “Butch, you ski like you drive” while giving me a knowing smile.
Shopkeepers, bartenders, waitstaff, (and cops 🙂 were friendly, courteous, and eager to share their day’s adventures on the mountain especially after a powder day when we’d all experience that exquisite end-of-ski-day exhaustion. But that was then – today Vail is a mega resort with a mega resort attitude. And now that we no longer ski, Vail winters are simply too long.
We chose Tucson by process of elimination. Now, there’s no insult intended, but once you’ve experienced the weather in the West where the humidity averages about 30% it’s really difficult to go back East, so anything east of Denver was immediately ruled out. Meanwhile, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho have long winters too, New Mexico & Nevada held little appeal, and the West Coast was out of the question for obvious reasons for those who read my commentaries. At the same time, we found the Phoenix/Scottsdale area too big, too manicured and too hot.
Tucson isn’t particularly cool in the summers either, but our new home is 2,500 feet above sea level and 10* cooler than Phoenix with low humidity. Meanwhile, what we’ve experienced in our limited time down there has us excited – no snow, the people are friendly & welcoming and frankly we are looking forward to outdoor living in a backyard with a shaded outdoor kitchen aside the pool & spa.
So, before I close, if anyone who reads my blog lives in the Tucson area, please send me an email (email@example.com) – I’d love to meet and perhaps share a cup of coffee.
Our current home is roughly dead center in this image, it’s just beyond that first hill – we’ll miss the setting, but not the crowds, the rudeness and the new culture