Happy Place

Watching cattle meander at their own pace through the Four-way Stop on a late fall morning is one of the happy things about Crested Butte, at least for me. Not everyone likes the future burgers and steaks slowing down traffic and leaving their mark on Sixth Street, but I’m a fan. Think of it as a leisurely bovine Townie Takeover that never happens at 4:20. It happened Tuesday morning.

As I mentioned last week, cow poop is worth its weight in gold since it is hard proof (or soft proof, actually) that the ranching community is active and alive in this valley. And that remains a huge difference from this valley and other mountain resort town communities. It separates us in a good way. Seeing cows instead of condos as we drive up and down 135 is a blessing still and one not to be taken for granted.

Off-season timing makes it possible on occasion to slip out of work and take a bike ride. That’s one reason I’m always harping that we shouldn’t promote the hell out of spring and fall. Off-season in a resort community is a blessing. It provides a time to refresh the soul and become centered between busy tourism seasons that pay the bills. The pace slows, the outdoor quiet expands and the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends is there if you want it.

Honestly, any bike ride makes me happy but getting a Lupine or Bridges ride in on a Monday afternoon before covering a brutal Crested Butte Town Council meeting makes me really happy. Running into people I don’t often see, smiling as the sun drops behind Gibson’s Ridge and also getting out on the final rides of this season makes me happy.

Adding to that joy is that I’m able to pedal single track at this end of the valley less than nine days before the ski lifts start turning. There is little better than getting to recreate out the front door on a bike on Monday and then a week later catching the bus out the office door to sit on a lift and ski down the mountain. That’s close to the perfect light switch transition. The only thing better might be three feet of powder next Tuesday on top of the man-made.

Looking at the Paradise Park affordable housing units go up makes me happy. They are zipping to completion at a super-speedy pace. And if it makes me happy, I know it makes those with their names on the homes ecstatic. Word is that there will be some people moving into the new units by early January. I know of some longtime locals who’ve worked in the valley for decades who now will get to own their own place in Crested Butte. Talk about a blessing. That makes me happy.

While the definitive angst associated with the issues brought up in the “Poor Little Rich Town” series doesn’t make me happy, the fact that a lot of people still see the underlying specialness of Crested Butte and the valley does. It ain’t what it used to be but the fact that there is still strong social connection, incredible and accessible beauty, and an esprit de corps among those who together tolerate the hardships of living in an increasingly expensive mountain community at 9,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains remains better than the alternative. This is still a happy place.

As someone noted to me in an email this week when corresponding about the definition of Crestitude, “Ah, to live in and love Crested Butte. We are all pretty lucky…”

We are indeed. And that makes me happy.

Here’s to the end of a great single track bike season and the start of a great downhill ski season. Be where you are and enjoy all that comes with it.

—Mark Reaman

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