Tom Clyde: Ski Tulsa
I came across an article that said there are numerous cities around the country that are paying people to move there. Baltimore will give you several years of property tax exemptions, cash for moving expenses and so on. Tulsa, Oklahoma, was offering a cash payment of $10,000 to move there. I’ve been there. $10,000 isn’t enough. Not even close. But it was an interesting contrast that there are places where they are so economically distressed that paying people to move there is reasonable.
I’m not aware of any city that does the reverse, but if Summit County floated a bond issue to pay people to leave, I would vote for it. They don’t necessarily need to move someplace as depressing as Tulsa. Where they move is none of our business. But if they are interested in leaving, we should be willing to assist with the moving costs. It’s cheaper than the school bonds coming down the road for all three of our redundant school districts, the water and sewer rate increases and rebuilding all the county roads to handle our current growth rate.
The idea of paying people to leave came to me while standing in a 37-minute lift line to get on the Orange Bubble chair on the Canyons side of PCMR this week. It’s apparently spring break around the country, and people who would probably be happier at the beach are here. They are spending a ton of money, which eventually is what pays for most of what we enjoy. So we should be nice to our valued customers. It’s easy in a general sort of way, but pretty difficult when the base of the resort is completely gummed up with crowds.
The Park City base has lots of uphill lift capacity to get skiers on the mountain. But you have to get there the night before to find a parking place. The Canyons side has an enormous parking lot (which actually fills and spills sometimes), and two very inefficient ways up the mountain. Under the best of circumstances, it’s a goat rodeo. With the plague precautions, there are lots of empty seats going up the mountain. Cut lift occupancy by half and you double the lift lines. No getting around that.
The switch to daylight saving time always messes things up. This time of year, the snow needs a good while to soften up. We compensate by screwing around with the clocks so that the sun is barely up when the lifts start turning. The adjustment for that is to start skiing at the crack of noon. Starting at noon seems lazy and unambitious and guarantees that nothing productive will get done all day. But the corn ripens about noon and skiing is almost as good as powder for a few hours. So we’ve been starting at noon. The trade-off is parking.
I guess there’s always the alternative of arriving late and parking in the park-and-ride lot, and taking the free, frequent and efficient shuttle bus to the resort base. Except that after a decade of parking nightmares at the Park City base, there isn’t one. The Ecker Hill lot is 15 miles out of my way. So we parked at Canyons.
There was no line at all at the cabriolet. “Cabriolet” is a French term that translates to “we built the base in the wrong place.” But up on the plaza level, things completely crashed. There was no interest at all in riding the gondola, vaccinated or not. The line there looked to be well over an hour. We walked down to the Orange Bubble chair. Actually, we walked sort of in that direction before discovering that we were already in the lift line when we got off the cabriolet. I timed it, and from the minute we got into what was officially the back of the line to getting on the chair was 37 minutes. Short by Colorado standards, but not what we’re used to here. The interesting thing is that once we got out of the base area, there was no crowd at all. We skied into the chair on every run on Super Condor, and had some excellent skiing all to ourselves. Maybe everybody was at Tombstone, or the overall mountain is big enough to spread people out once they are past the design failure at the base.
Deer Valley has been advertising on its website that the resort was “sold out” this week. I skied there a couple of days. The parking lot didn’t fill, there was a bit of a line at Carpenter (it had been pretty bad at 9 a.m., I’m told), but we skied into the chair on almost every run on several lifts. Last week, when things were not sold out, the place was packed to the gills with very long lines and terrifying traffic flow in places. So I don’t understand what was going on at Deer Valley. Maybe the “sold out” warning is some much-needed brand repair, convincing Ikon Pass holders from Salt Lake not to come during peak travel season. If so, it worked.
Anyway, Tusla is quite nice this time of year. Just saying.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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This ski season was great once it got going, writes Tom Clyde. Being outdoors on the slopes was “a powerful and necessary thing this year.”