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Ode to the Ski Commute

Even driving to the hill is special.
posted: 08/06/2008

Three hundred days a year commute about 18 feet to the bathroom and another 10 to make coffee. Then it's back in bed to flip open the laptop and call it honest labor. The other 13 workweeks' worth, I commute to my real job, the bidness of skiing. It's a 90-minute ritual, door to gondola door, west to the mountains, and we carpool it as routinely as the necktied zombies pouring into the city from the suburbs. Yet we're chumps too, I guess. We should live in ski towns but we don't. Ullr, forgive us our carbon bootprint.

Obviously it's a weekday thing. On Saturday you'd just be another kook in a hotbox, elbowing down a stream of others exactly like you. But for us the vibe is always pure Monday, all business. Morning, Sam. Morning, Ralph. Yo, Scamper. 'Sup, Playah. Better have your pass, because this rig don't turn around. Spaced your pants? You're buying a pair at the hill. Other than gas, there aren't even stops for coffee or takeout. The only permissible pause is to lay some beer down in the trunk. Otherwise, mach schnell. Metal is calling pedal.

It would be distressingly monotonous if we weren't driving to the hill. Talking about skiing for an hour and a half with dudes back home would just be silly. So we watch for the dawn light to crack onto the Rockies, anxious to spot the roiling, blurry clouds that frequently double the depth from the 6 a.m. report by the time we reach the parking lot. Thankfully, the chinook-scoured east slope combined with the Continental Divide means that our mantra, "Dry roads, dry powder," applies freakishly often. Only two or three times a season is it a white-knuckle hell, with a few dozen vehicles, mostly SUVs, littering the ditches. Like good clock punchers anywhere, however, we pilot front-wheel-drive Japanese sedans - rolling smugly through the carnage.

Life is about compromise, they say. Which is what we tell our wives when they contemplate real estate purchases on the east side of town, where nobody is willing to spend the extra half hour to pick you up. Meanwhile, the commute - especially the dark, spent, cruise-controlled trip home - reminds us that we live in the city for a reason. Hell yeah, we can have it all. We just need to drive hard to get it.

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