By Dawne Belloise
Bowie Lipowitz grew up in the Albany, New York area with a love of animals and reading. In high school, she volunteered for the Capital District Humane Association rescuing animals and busting puppy mills. It’s also why she’s now the head veterinary tech at the Animal Hospital of Crested Butte, a job she’s had and loved since 2020.
With her broad smile and vibrant hair the color of a Colorado bluebird summer sky, Bowie laughs that she was one of the “little ski brats” who schussed around Hunter Mountain in New York with her ski instructor dad. “I was on skis by the time I was 2 years old.” Bowie’s dad also taught her how to tune her own skis. Although she lived primarily with her mom, who moved around the area frequently for work, Bowie spent much time with her father. In the summers, she’d follow her dad around the golf course where he was a golf instructor, “So I learned how to play and would hang out on the putting and driving ranges. He got me involved in the Junior PGA and I played in tournaments. He made my clubs and I’d help him make clubs.”
From the ages of 14 through 22, Bowie worked full-time at a marina doing pretty much everything. “I docked boats, ran the ship store, stained docks, hauled boats and drove the travel lift a bit.” She also lived at the marina on her dad’s and stepmom’s 36-foot sailboat named “Selkie,” docked on Rondout Creek just off the Hudson River in Kingston, New York. In high school, Bowie was into theater and music, played the sax in both the jazz and concert bands and figured she wanted to live and work on Broadway in New York City. She graduated from high school in 2005.
She chose Hofstra University for college, mostly because they had a good theater department and a replica of the Shakespeare Globe Theatre. She wanted to focus on production, but that winter she began as a weekend ski instructor at Hunter Mountain. Hofstra was a four-hour drive to the mountain and as she puts it, “Not a fun drive in the winter.” Plus, she then understood, “The mentality differences of the people, city versus mountain life, made me realize I was not a city girl but actually a mountain girl.” Although she wasn’t sure of what she wanted to do, Bowie left school in 2005 to be a full-time ski instructor. After two years, she became a ski instructor at Belleayre Mountain, also in upstate New York.
Because she loved skiing so much, her stepmother suggested that Bowie get a degree in it. Thinking that was an excellent idea, Bowie enrolled in State University of New York (SUNY) at Delhi in its Adventure Recreation program, an associate degree in applied science that encompassed hiking and backpacking, kayaking and whitewater rafting, snowshoeing and cross country skiing, plus the general courses and managerial aspects. For one of her finals, Bowie took her professor to Belleayre and taught him how to ski. She graduated in 2008.
She was teaching at Belleayre during the season of 2010-11 when she met Nate Meckes, an instructor who had taught snowboarding in Crested Butte. When the Belleayre’s budget cuts ensnared the staff of ski instructors, Nate got Bowie hired at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. They packed the car, drove west and two days later she was teaching skiing over spring break in CB. “It’s the ski bum life,” she laughs. Bowie had never been to Colorado but as a kid had always dreamed of moving out west. “It was the TV show Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman where the opening scene for the show was running horses in an open field and mountains.” She says that the nature and the freedom and the peacefulness called to her. “It made me think of Colorado as this dream. I left on a Thursday, drove straight through and arrived Friday night at 5 p.m. in March. Nate pointed out CB mountain as we were coming up the valley and of course, you see the backside and I thought how the hell do you ski that?”
On her first day teaching, Bowie was given the Explorers to deal with, the 4- to 6-year-olds and she recalls, “It was a long day. No one told me the layout of the day, that there was a morning break, so I pushed the kids on the Magic Carpet until lunch and they were exhausted. I had to carry some of them inside. I was exhausted,” she laughs. “You have them all day, you bring them lunch, then it’s back on the hill until 3:30.” With no plans for when the lifts closed that first season, her friend Gail Barto told her about a summer job at Rocky Mountain Trees. “I got hired on there and never left Crested Butte.”
The next winter Bowie was hired back to teach at CBMR, where she worked until the winter season of 2017-18 but by then, she says, “I was burnt out. The Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) training just sucked all the fun out of it.” She was working on her level 3, passing the movement analysis, the written exam and two out of the three parts of the practical skiing. “The one I didn’t pass was applied skiing. I was broken up over it and couldn’t even have fun skiing anymore. I decided to not teach anymore.” She left on good terms and decided she wanted to pursue a career with animals.
She worked at the Brown Lab bar on the mountain and also Treasury Liquors. She was still landscaping but with Spring Creek Landscaping, where she met her husband Rob, who was previously working at Rocky Mountain Trees and then at Spring Creek. “I had a schoolgirl crush on him,” she giggles, ”I couldn’t even talk in front him.” But she reveals that when they initially hooked up, it was all about booty calls but that changed, she said, “When Trump was elected, we decided we’d be in a relationship, because we felt this is real and the world’s coming to an end. We stocked our basement with dog food, dehydrated meals and ammo,” she mused. They married in 2018 and are the proud parents of three dogs and three cats.
Two winters after leaving CBMR, she manifested her dream of working with animals and was hired at the Animal Hospital of CB (AHCB). For the past two years while working full-time at AHCB, Bowie has been back in school with online studies in Veterinarian Technology at the American Veterinary Medical Association, certified out of San Juan Community College in Farmington, New Mexico. She’s also planning to become a Certified Veterinarian Technician in addition to the degree.
Bowie loves working at the AHCB. “I finally wake up and look forward to going to work. I feel excited. I love helping animals. I absolutely love driving around town and seeing all these dogs I know. They’re usually pretty excited about seeing me too outside of the office, I like to think.” The vets and techs are the heroes of town quite often and Bowie also knows the difficulties. “There are definitely a lot of hard times and sometimes you get the sick animals that you can’t save even though you try your hardest.”
Bowie has a vision in her quest to help animals. “My dream is to have a rescue ranch. I really want to have a bunch of land to take in all the homeless animals and give them a place to stay if we can’t find a home for them.” And she’d love to be able to do that in the valley because it’s home. “Crested Butte is like fairytale land; it just sucks you in. Every aspect of my life here is tied with nature — the mountains, the animals and Vinotok. Vinotok has been a big part of my life. And then there’s the skiing, the real locals and the sense of community.”