Travel usually brings a sense of perspective and appreciation of home. I’ve been traveling a lot lately and it has been interesting.
New York City doesn’t seem to have a lighting ordinance but it sure does have some energy. Philadelphia isn’t afraid of outside food vendors but Old City is soaked of history. Hilton Head, South Carolina has covenants that won’t allow you to remove a blade of grass without approval from its design review board but it is teeming with families riding bikes, playing golf or frolicking on the beach. The locals in each of these places all seem to be pleasant and welcoming (okay, not everyone in Philly was welcoming but that is part of the stereotype).
But there was no doubt what people could expect when they got to each city and it was delivered. The vibe of the place reflected at least some of the stereotype you’d expect of New York, Philly and Hilton Head.
Now, all three of these locations are attractive in their own way and have no shortage of visitors. The common denominator may be that they are true to the spirit of the place. They know what they are and they are comfortable with it.
Our valley at times seems to still be looking for that comfort and sense of real identity.
Is Crested Butte ‘Extreme’ or ‘Family’?
Are we a winter resort or a summer destination?
Is the ski hill one of North America’s Extreme Ski Meccas with a cool town or a nice family resort with some steep runs?
Are we the last vestige of open space preservation that will attract millions of people looking for nature?
Are we an arts haven? The real mountain bike capital of the world? A rebel, end-of-the-road outpost?
Do we want to attract more people or is it too crowded? Are we a land of ‘No’ or just focused on preserving our attributes?
Is the town too controlled in an effort to protect its historical character or not controlled enough?
Are we “funky” or “quirky”?
The collective body seems to have been struggling with these kinds of questions for decades.
And for Crested Butte, it seems to me that part of its reputation is that it can be extreme or have a rough edge. We can’t forget that. It is the essence of the place. It is part of the stereotype that people expect when they get here. And people want to see some of that element when they come to the valley. Now for some, extreme can mean an explosion of wildflowers in a field or a ski down the Peachtree run. Extreme can be the colorful buildings on Elk Avenue or the dragon art at the entrance to town. It can be the Adventure Park or a hike into the wilderness.
And in Crested Butte the extreme comes with a welcoming and accepting attitude. That too, is part of the stereotype.
Traveling this much has been interesting. I really enjoy it. But home in Crested Butte just feels right. The vibe and feeling is what we offer—and we shouldn’t try to smooth out every rough edge. That is what makes us, us. It is part of our stereotype.