More Dogs on Main Street
February 12, 2010
It’s been two weeks now since the local Rotary clubs hosted an international Rotary group for a week of skiing. The tradition is that the locals join them and show them around the local resorts. It was a tough assignment, but somebody had to do it. I ended up with a group of very strong skiers. We’d start off each morning with about a dozen and finish the day with three or four. The rest peeled off, all limbs intact, as the day wore on. They came from all over: Canada, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Holland and several states. They were insurance brokers, doctors, lawyers, professors, and a geoduck farmer from Washington. I learned that geoducks (pronounced "gooey duck" for some reason) are obscene-looking giant clams. The Chinese think it’s a delicacy.
I made the classic rookie-guide mistake of asking what they liked to ski and got an earful. The Swiss guy doesn’t make turns or stop mid-run. One didn’t go off piste; another was afraid of being eaten by wild beasts in the woods; that one didn’t do black diamond runs in the West; this one didn’t ski powder. "Well," I told them, "we’ll see about that." After one run, it was clear they could ski anything. By the end of the week, they were tree-skiing fiends, fully prepared to fight a grizzly to the death for the last bit of powder. There were no ER visits, nobody left unaccounted for, and I don’t think we skied a single groomed run except when absolutely necessary to get to lunch.
I’m not in the travel business and really don’t deal with our visitors firsthand other than short conversations on the lift. It was an eye-opener doing the whole ski vacation thing without actually leaving home. The perspective on how we do things around here was pretty interesting. The most amazing thing is that they all ski from 9 until 4. I haven’t seen 4 o’clock at a ski area in years.
At Deer Valley, there is a very nice folksy-bluegrassy duo playing music upstairs at Snow Park Lodge for après ski. Who knew? They were really good, and just the right tone for Deer Valley. Nothing too raucous, but not Perry Como favorites, either. There was a small but appreciative audience, including a family settled in by the fireplace with napping kids. It was all very nice. By 5:30, the band was bigger than the audience.
I was able to break all of their rules about where and what to ski. Despite some trepidation about it being the first day out for the season, coming from sea level, etc., they decided I wasn’t completely psycho and followed me pretty much anywhere. They were all strong skiers; some just needed a little shove to get off the cornices. The one rule that couldn’t be broken was that lunch was at noon. Lunch at 12:01 was something of an emergency, even if we were at the top of Jupiter and finding fresh powder. We fudged that a little, but not without complaining.
People on vacation go back to their hotel rooms and study the trail maps at night. I haven’t physically held a trail map in memory. I know the mountain, or so I thought. By midweek, the guided started making suggestions on where to go and what to explore. But they always got the names just slightly off, so I never knew exactly what they had in mind. The best suggestion of the week was a new run at Park City called Vista that ends up at the Silver Star Café. I eat there all summer after mountain biking but had never even thought of going there for lunch while skiing. It was good, and aside from having to deal with the King Con crowd to get back up to the good stuff, it worked.
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We found new gladed areas off Crescent that are great skiing. The geoduck lady had read up on that and thought its name was "Silver Willy," a wrong name that is so right it will stick. On the last day at Deer Valley, they insisted on doing the Centennial Trees. The guide became the guided. The first year the Lady Morgan lift opened, that area got hyped a bit and quickly developed frighteningly huge moguls. After a couple of times in there, I hadn’t been back. It’s really great.
The usual complaining about Utah liquor laws was gone. Killing the private-club foolishness and making a bar a bar completely solved that. Not a word about it. The only complicated explanations had to deal with nosebleed treatment for a guy who spent the week with a whole roll of t.p. stuffed in his nose. Yes, the air is dry around here.
On the whole, it was the best ski vacation ever.
Tom Clyde served as Park City attorney in the 1980s and is the author of "More Dogs On Main Street." He has been a columnist at The Park Record for more than 20 years.