A parting shot

Life is a balance. I’ve heard that a lot lately. Juggling work, family and free time is an ongoing exercise that requires patience and compromise. A week on the water or a day in the saddle is often the mental flush needed to justify hours of eye-numbing work in front of a computer monitor. Unfortunately, one too many trips through Desolation Canyon or the addictive lure of the desert doesn’t pay the mortgage. Durangoans, I feel, understand this ongoing battle well and balance it better than most.

It wasn’t that long ago that I found my life in complete imbalance. I was working in Vail and living the oxymoronic life of a career-motivated ski bum. I wasn’t getting the quantity of days on the mountain that I had envisioned, and my job was less than stimulating. Furthermore, Vail took on a completely different aura than it had when I was ditching classes at the University of Colorado and making day trips for the large, weekday dumps. The faux Bavarian village seemed more like the plastic façade of Disneyland, and the fur shops hawking their high-priced wears made me perfectly aware that I had yet to find my people.

It was an odd realization for me to discover that Vail’s transitory population and the absence of a true sense of community made a huge impact on me. It was especially surprising since I’ve never been one to get involved and participate. I rarely stand up and speak my mind, and when I do my delivery is far from Shakespearean. I leave those more outgoing, philanthropic qualities to my wife, who does an infinitely better job. So, to discover that a true sense of community was valuable to me was quite a shock.

After Vail, I spent a summer in Montana and then decided it was time to find a home that was a better fit than either Vail or Missoula. I had been to Durango numerous times throughout college, as I had a friend down here who routinely kicked my ass on Kennebec and Heromosa Creek. Despite being supremely inferior on my mountain bike and usually leaving Durango in a cramped ball of leg muscles, I realized it was a place that fit the requirements for both work and play. Not long after, my wife and I spent a weekend in the San Juans and decided it was time to make the move. On little more than a whim, we packed up and headed south.


Despite my awesome ability to stay uninvolved and disconnected, I quickly found myself caring immensely for this town and its future. I realized I had found Vail’s antithesis, and I liked it. I began making a conscious effort, contrary to my pocket book, to buy my nuts and bolts at Kroeger’s rather than Home Depot. My shipments from Amazon.com went down dramatically as I became a loyal Maria’s patron. A morning at Carvers watching kids bounce from booth to booth sitting on the laps of welcoming strangers was exactly why we made the move and why we so quickly made Durango our true home.

Durango’s commitment to quality of life and the positive involvement of its residents are what make this a great town. It’s not the Animas River. It’s not the mountain biking. It’s not the skiing. You can find all those things in a multitude of places, not only in Colorado but throughout the entire western United States. What makes this town unlike any other is the people who will gladly pledge $100 for a CD that costs $10 just to support KSUT. It’s the people who leave their bike at home for an afternoon and pick up a shovel for a day in the heat and dust with Trails 2000. It’s the people who truly make a conscious effort to buy locally because they know just how hard it is to earn and retain a buck here. As this town continues to grow and the small, intimate community we all love becomes harder to identify, supporting the people and businesses that make this town unique will take on an even greater importance.

Although the balance in my life has shifted once again, my wife and I leave the community we have truly grown to love with heavy hearts. As we make that transition, I can only hope we take those values that Durango has instilled in us and plant those seeds elsewhere. I also hope that Durango can retain all those qualities that make it a truly special place. For us, the move might be permanent, but we can’t stay away long. The draw of one smiling 2-year-old in particular will keep us coming back again and again, as well as harassment from my mountain bike and the need for a little punishment along the Colorado Trail. •

– Todd Newcomer



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows