Reminders from outside the bubble




There are not many better things than a long fall in Crested Butte. You would think I would know better than to schedule a vacation at the end of September when the mountains can be absolutely perfect. But apparently, I don’t know better, and leaving before peak leaf season was not easy. I honestly had expected to return to stick season but as luck would have it, the colors held on and this past weekend the constant mantra of how beautiful the valley is was echoed everywhere. In theory given the forecast, those that took off for the Crested Butte Community School fall break will return to stick season…but who really knows anymore?

Travel is the opportunity to leave the high mountain bubble and add to perspective. Diane and I left Colorado and arrived in the late summer of Dallas for a wedding. Late summer there meant temperatures in the high 90s. No offense to the home of the Cowboys, but I now more clearly understand the reason so many of our visitors and second homeowners like coming here from Dallas. While the neighborhoods are nice, the city itself is a testament to urban sprawl. The amount of traffic and concrete is pretty incredible to a country bumpkin like me. The packed freeways with more lanes being built was impressive. I will say that the people are great and we even went to a museum, but the Dallas perspective was a jolt to the system.

New Orleans in October was also holding onto summer. Temps there were in the high 80s with no shortage of humidity. The traffic there was muted compared to Dallas and after Ubering to our hotel we had no need for our own car. The hubs were walkable and offered a variety of different neighborhood experiences. We purchased a cheap transit pass and grabbed the streetcar outside the hotel when we wanted to get somewhere faster than we could walk. It reinforced in me that public transportation can work but before making it hard for people to use a car, it is more important to provide easy, convenient alternatives. Ahhh, perspective.

The people in the Big Easy were as friendly and happy as the food was fantastic. New Orleans is a special spot and they’ve figured some stuff out. But it’s a city and I wouldn’t want to live there. In fact, I’d agree with the advice I was given before I left that staying there more than three or four nights (which we did) is probably too much. Still, the locals are proud of their city, and we appreciated what was probably an off-season for them and we’ll be going back in the future. 

Coming back here before the weekend was a bit of a jolt for us given the still vibrant colors and the amount of people in town. It certainly wasn’t July weekend visitor numbers, but it could have been late August. Elk Avenue was packed and talking to those in the service industry, they were caught a bit off guard by the surprise busyness. We were still able to find trails into the autumn yellow that were not overwhelmed with people but part of that comes with living here and knowing where to go…or not to go (Kebler Pass!). More perspective. 

I returned from vacation with a few of the big CBs (CBMR, the town of CB, the CB Mountain Bike Association) all peeved at me to varying degrees for assorted stuff that has recently run in the paper. That’s not really unusual and it is the way it is here. Part of the role of the paper is to inform, challenge, debate and poke at ourselves. That will come with some peeving fallout, even from friends. Compared to everywhere else, I’m glad that’s the way we roll in CB. 

Oh, and we returned to discover that the Colorado Court of Appeals didn’t agree with our position that people trying to move or ban books in public libraries should do so with accountability and in the public sunshine instead of beneath the cloak of anonymity. Sigh. We’ll figure out what to do with that later soon…

Once again, it is good to exit the high mountain bubble if for no other reason than to appreciate its offerings when you get back. We can fight about CB South trails, alleys, Teo 2 or climate change all we want but it falls into perspective when you leave and come back. We may feel there are too many people here but compared to pretty much everywhere else, we provide an island of space and breathability. Summer is holding on in the south. Fall is lingering in the mountains. We might think going net zero with greenhouse gas emissions in the North Valley will save the world — it won’t. That would be gobbled up in a day on the freeways near DFW. Still, thinking globally and acting locally is an honorable pursuit and we have opportunity to show what can be done on a scalable level. 

If the most important fight we have is over a trail, an alley or the addition of Teo 2 to the ski area, just look at the literal hell that opened up in Israel last weekend. Keep it all in real perspective.

Grabbing a Monday afternoon ride to spin through the gold; listening to the elk bugling in the wee hours beneath the Milky Way and a bright Jupiter; being gobsmacked by the stunning colors below the mountain — those are treasures of our home not to be taken for granted. I am so grateful for the gifts of this special place. Experience it while you can and then appreciate the move to stick season which portends the coming white of ski season. And don’t be afraid to leave the bubble and absorb the lessons from other places that put it all in perspective.

—Mark Reaman

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