Tom Clyde: Skiing got good, and crowded
After a disappointing ski season, it suddenly got really good last weekend with that big storm. Both resorts have been pretty vacant this winter. There’s nothing like the combination of plague and bad snow to dampen enthusiasm. And then we got 15 inches and the entire world showed up last weekend. I’m not sure what the capacity limits at either resort are supposed to be, but last weekend was surely a superspreader event. And well worth it.
In fairness, the lines looked longer than they really were because of the “social distance” gaps between maze lines. Whether those add any real measure of protection is anybody’s guess. But they do make the lanes that are open twice as long. That’s a principle we see demonstrated on S.R. 248, where traffic backs up to the U.S. 40 interchange every morning. I’ve come to the conclusion that the city actually likes having the traffic back up in all directions. It’s a reminder to those of us who choose to live outside the city bubble that we are only paradise adjacent.
The traffic problem could be easily fixed by restriping the road. Another alternative, given the impossible parking situation at Park City Mountain Resort, would be to actually use the Richardson Flat park-and-ride lot. But that would involve running a bus out there with some frequency, and apparently that is too difficult a problem to solve. This year, nobody is riding the bus anyway. Despite the traffic, the skiing was very good and stayed good through the week. Even with cold and windy weather, skiing has been fun, and a great diversion from other stuff.
If you’re feeling like nothing makes sense, it’s because the Utah Legislature is in session, pumping out a choking cloud of stupid. It’s early, so the real crazy is yet to come. One bill that is being proposed would partially reinstate vehicle safety checks. It’s been several years since the annual safety inspection requirement was eliminated. You used to have to get your car inspected to see that you had working lights, wipers, exhaust, steering, tires and brakes. But the Legislature thought that was silly. What business is it of the state whether you are sharing the freeways with the rest of us in a car with no brakes and bad steering?
Under the proposed bill, when people take their cars in for the required emissions test, the inspection station would also be required to check that the lights all work. That’s it, just the lights. There would be no penalty for having broken turn signals (and we all know that they are optional in Summit County anyway), but at least the owner would be told they should get them fixed. So between the lack of enforcement, and the fact that vehicle emissions inspections are only required in a few of the most populated and smog-choked counties, it doesn’t do much. Nobody is checking your brakes, or those bald tires that have you sliding sideways across three lanes of I-80. It’s become controversial, and probably won’t pass.
There is a proposal to repeal the permit requirement to carry concealed weapons. Under current law, you don’t need a permit to “open carry” any kind of firearms that properly accessorize your outfit. But if you want to stick it in your pocket, or your jacket covers the holster on your hip, well, then you have to get a permit. I’ve never fully understood why.
The class required to get a permit is not exactly a post-graduate degree. It is a reasonable overview of basic gun safety, and something everybody packing should refresh every now and then. But apparently that, like inspecting your brakes, is too great an infringement on personal liberty to be tolerated. This one is likely to pass.
I’m not sure it will make any difference. There are a whole lot of concealed weapons out there, and surely many people carrying them don’t have permits. In terms of the general atmospherics of it, I think I’m happier if people who feel the need to carry a gun keep that to themselves, rather than walking down the aisle of Whole Foods with their rifle butt crushing the tofu. There was a time when wearing a gun on your hip was considered more or less normal. The current direction of things in the country hints that it might be making a comeback. But for now, people openly carrying weapons while grocery shopping is weird, and when it happens, it sends off a creepy and uncomfortable vibe. Permitted or not, concealed seems better.
My guess is that it will pass, and given the level of crazy in the Utah Legislature, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them amend the bill to make carrying a gun mandatory for everybody. Maybe if we can conceal them in our face masks, it will slow the spread.
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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Tom Kelly spent a day at Woodward Park City with snowboarding legend Jeremy Jones. He didn’t hit any rail boxes — this time — but left wanting to change that by the time the season ends.