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More Dogs on Main: Be that helping hand

Tom Clyde
  

Park Record columnist Tom Clyde.
Tom Clyde mug

The skiing has been very good, which is saying a lot considering that we normally are barely getting open this time of year. There are lots of lifts and plenty of terrain of all flavors up and running at Park City. I got a couple of powder runs on Blue Slip Bowl the day it opened, and was quickly reminded that the season is young and I am not. It took a couple of days to get the kinks worked out from that, but it was absolutely worth it. Deer Valley is opening Monday for pass holders and Tuesday for the hoi polloi. 

Both resorts are pretty proud of their conditions, and are charging plenty for it. For people who walk up to the window, daily rates for early season offerings are sort of shocking. The normal day rates in the heart of the season are around $250. The ski industry has adopted the airline pricing model that we all hate. Nothing makes a vacation more fun than having to spend hours on the computer trying to book the best price for a variable lift ticket.

They really want us all to buy season pass products, and there are enough options on those, up until early December, that if you actually are buying at the walk-up rate, you weren’t paying attention. But it’s not pickleball prices no matter how you cut it. It’s easy to see where people get the idea that skiing is for rich people. 



The season is off to a great start. Let’s hope the conditions hold up, the snow keeps coming, and the crowds go to Colorado this year. Being up on the mountain is good for the soul.

The best Thanksgiving opening I remember was many years ago. We were mountain biking in T-shirts on the Monday before Thanksgiving, and skiing Jupiter Bowl on Thanksgiving Day. Phil Jones was managing Park City Mountain back then, and with no snow, had told all the employees to go home and enjoy the holiday. Then a monster storm hit, and they opened things up with whatever staff they could drag away from the dinner table. Phil was bumping chairs on Payday if I remember right.



My nephew and I slipped away from a massive family gathering for what was going to be a few runs, and finally dragged ourselves back home well after the last dishes were done. We got sandwiches and pie, and a very crusty look from my sister who had prepared it all. Apparently she was not aware of the powder day exceptions built into every schedule. I’m not sure she ever got over it, but it was worth it.

Thanksgiving is a very nostalgic holiday for me. A lifetime of celebrations all compress into a sort of cluttered glob of memories that include childhood trips to my grandparents’ farm in Idaho, where we crammed too many people into a very small house. We ate a turkey that had met its end behind the tractor shed the day before. The kitchen stove was a strange contraption that was half electric and half wood burning, and my grandmother was equally comfortable cooking on either, but seemed to prefer the wood side. She was not having any of that microwave stuff.

Years later, at the ranch house in Woodland, the power went out. There is an antique wood cook stove in the kitchen there, mostly decorative, but functional. My mother panicked because the meal was uncooked, and un-cookable. Grandma went into action and produced the full Thanksgiving dinner on the wood stove, pulling dampers and draft controls on the old range like the boiler on a locomotive. It was a miracle to watch.

It’s always been a holiday surrounded by an extended, multi-generational family. For the last 40 years or so, it’s been in the family house at the ranch, with an almost liturgical menu and exactly the same dishes on the table — some of them from Grandma’s table in Idaho. The blessing of stability and continuity.  My sister’s grandchildren were playing on the living room floor with some puzzles that my sister and I had played with as children, in that same sunny spot on the floor. The plastic Lone Ranger and Tonto were still taming the West like they did when my brother and I were kids, even though Tonto has lost an arm and Silver is missing a leg and his tail is glued on crooked.

Not everybody is blessed with that kind of stability. I like to donate to groups who are “boots on the ground” ready in terms of providing services to fill in the gaps in others’ lives. Holy Cross Ministries provides great preschool and after school services to kids in need. The Christian Center of Park City has a long list of services for everybody from local families to the seasonal resort workers who are strangers in our strange land. Utah Food Bank runs statewide emergency food pantries. Child care is a serious barrier for people trying to work; PC Tots provides quality child care, and does it at weird hours that our restaurant workers need. The Peace House is a refuge for those who need a safe place to land. 

Do what you can to help those who are doing the helping this season. 


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