Veteran Parkite still on ‘long ski vacation’
July 8, 2011
As a teenager, Matt Lindon vowed to make his life "one big ski vacation." On skis by age six, the Long Island, N.Y., native fell victim to the addictive lifestyle after years of family ski vacations to Vermont and Maine. A road trip with college ski buddies to Park City in the mid-1970s sealed his fate.
"We stayed in Old Town, ate "Hungry Miners" at the Eating Establishment and "Mucker’s Specials" at the Utah Coal and Lumber Company. Back then it was just a nice quiet place and the living was easy. I decided this is where I wanted to live after college," he recounts. And it is here where he is living out his long-held dream. Over 30 years later, the veteran Parkite swears he’s still on vacation, still skiing after all these years.
Lindon grew up in Massapequa, a pleasant Long Island suburb. "It was an ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ childhood, living in a home filled with love and humor and the freedom to roam. I think the lyrics from a John Gorka song best describe my formative years: ‘I was born under Eisenhower skies and raised by a Kerouac stream,’" he grins.
Lindon excelled at Chaminade High School, displaying a knack for math and science. "But mostly I was interested in girls, sports, road trips and beer," he confesses. His academic acumen earned him admission to Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, where he took a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. "My emphasis was in traffic engineering and hydrology, but I realized after graduation that I’d have to go to a place where there was traffic to do traffic engineering," Lindon recalls. The newly-minted graduate steered toward hydrology instead and headed west to Park City (where else) in 1979 to start his career.
Lindon soon landed a job with JJ Johnson and Associates designing and building the water and snowmaking systems at a new resort called Deer Valley. "I also designed and built several small dams on the Mayflower side and even designed some condominiums. We did everything and everybody was learning very quickly back then," he says. After several years with the firm, Lindon took some time off to travel, ski and do some guiding and freelance writing. In 1985, he returned to his engineering roots when he took a position as a dam safety specialist with the Utah Department of Natural Resources. During his career he eventually rose to the position of assistant state engineer.
He met his wife, Tracey, in the mid-1990s at Alliance Engineering, a venerable Park City engineering firm with offices on Main Street for three decades. "It’s a great story," Lindon chuckles. "She’s a landscape architect at Alliance, where they have a long-standing tradition called ‘Whiskey Friday.’ "Every Friday at ‘Beer-30,’ [a.k.a. 4:30 p.m.] the staff clocks out and knocks off a bottle of whiskey or a bunch of beers. I stopped by one day to visit some friends and there she was. We had the same twisted sense of humor and were both pretty aggressive outdoor enthusiasts. She’s a great companion," he beams. They were married in 2000.
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Lindon recently retired after 25 years with Utah state government. He says after working in an office in Salt Lake City for so long, he wanted to reconnect and become more involved with the community here. "I joined the Rotary Club and was accepted into the Park City Leadership Class this year. Our leadership class project is to develop a ‘civility’ plan to implement in the city. We want to facilitate a process where people can interact in a civil manner. He points to some recent problems around town: some bullying in the schools; dogs, people, skiers and bikers all using the same trails; rich versus poor; even some ethnic-diversity issues.
"Park City used to be like a big ‘Cheers’ bar, where everybody knew your name. You’d say hello to everybody walking up Main Street. It’s a bigger place now, not as cozy-comfortable as it used to be, but I don’t think that’s a reason we should have to sacrifice that sense of civility we used to have. We need to respect each other and celebrate our diversity. We change as we grow but we need empathy and perspective with one another. By trying to understand each other, it sort of forces us to be more civil."
Lindon still exercises his engineering chops around town. He does some contract engineering and hydrology work with Loughlin Water Associates, a Park City-based firm. And, though he admits the town has changed a lot, he says there’s no place he’d rather be.
"I have roots here. Tracy and I plan to travel more, maybe build a cabin on our property in Torrey, but we’ll always call Park City home. Sure, the town is different now, but it’s still a great place to live and a great place to ski."
Yup, he’s definitely still on vacation.
Steve Phillips is a Park City-based writer and actor. Send your profile comments and suggestions to him at email@example.com
Favorite things to do: Ski the ridges on powder days; bike the Mid-Mountain Trail, Old Town single track, Snyderville and Kamas loops; hike the Uintas; float the Green & Colorado rivers.
Favorite foods: "Breakfast anywhere. You can’t screw up breakfast."
Favorite authors: Farley Mowat, Vardis Fisher, Wallace Stegner, Ken Kesey, Ed Abbey, John Steinbeck, Cormac McCarthy.
Favorite music: "Rock, folk, bluegrass, jazz, funk, punk, grunge, metal, big hair and angry German monster techno. Oh yeah, Bruce Springsteen and the Grateful Dead."
Animal companions: Cleopatra, a.k.a. "the Queen of Silver Springs," age 8, a black Lab-blue heeler mix; and Cooper McFlea, age 9, a golden retriever, "a knucklehead but very sensitive."