Up and coming


When it comes to the trend bandwagon, I’ll admit I’m a little off the back. Maybe even under the wheels, some would say. Which would explain why my car boasts a factory-stock cassette deck (although it does have the latest in auto-reverse technology), and I am utterly incapable of operating a cell phone. However, these shortcomings also have their advantages. For example, think of how excited I was to find out that the shearling-lined corduroy coat I scored at the Cortez thrift store years ago is actually considered kind of cool now or that the beloved PBR of my high school days, once verging on the brink of extinction, has blossomed into the beer of choice among the hipster drinking set. At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before dog hair-covered fleece becomes high fashion, permanently cementing my fate as a true cultural icon.

Of course, I’d venture to say that deep down inside, most of us would like to fancy ourselves as pioneers of cool – and we have the massive bootleg tape, zipper knee scars and antiquated ski collections to prove it. Well now, thanks to some corporate desk jockey hundreds of miles from the nearest high-speed quad, we all have been vindicated, in front of a national audience, no less.

Seems our dusty little, celebrity-starved, ridiculously remote, hopelessly unfashionable, nightlife-bereft burg is the “Next Great Place.” That’s right. According to Ski Magazine (apparently the all-knowing source on skiing for anyone who doesn’t actually reside in a mountain town) Durango – the place where bikes are garaged and cars aren’t, in-depth discussions revolve around AT vs. tele, and status is measured in river and singletrack miles – is among the top “up and coming” places to be. Now, for those of us who thought we had come and gone the day the Rocket was torn down, this may come as a surprise. But for the rest of us too busy working two jobs to pay for a 10-by-12-foot room in a drafty tenement shared by five others, we can apparently go ahead and pat ourselves on the back, between shifts, that is. So the median home price here is hovering in the low $400s, the magazine points out that hey, it’s still half that of Aspen or Vail, two towns we all aspire to emulate. I mean, who doesn’t love faux Bavaria and bumping into Heidi and Seal on the way to check out the Prada bargain rack?

Call me a Nimby, if you will. I know, it makes no difference whether your great grandparents arrived here via covered wagon in the 1800s, you white-knuckled it over three mountain passes in a beat-up Subaru Loyale toting all your worldly possessions 20 years ago or you booked your tickets just yesterday after reading the latest skizine while stuck in gridlock traffic – we all come from somewhere else. And perhaps the thing I detest even more than being told where to go (particularly when it’s screamed out in the glossy pages of a mass-produced publication) is being told once I get there, that I am not welcome.

I mean, I like to think of myself as an open-minded individual. And although I have been known to occasionally have a laugh or two at the expense of our lone-star and yellow license-plated brethren, it is all in good fun. So what if they can’t enunciate syllables or drive like zombies on crack? They get out of bed and put on their jeans to go skiing one leg at a time, just like everybody else. Besides, coming from the Midwest myself, I know what it’s like to be the girl with the big hair trying to master the high-speed snowplow on a pair of skis shorter than her Lee Press-On nails.

Thus, as I sat on a chairlift recently and found myself engaged in conversation with a man from L.A. about living in Colorado, I found myself faced with a tough decision. I was visiting my former haunt, a small town adjoined to a big resort, which lies several hours to the north. It’s a town I had once called home but was now pushing the $90-lift ticket mark with season passes well into four figures. A town where, had it not been for the benevolence of friends who still eeked out an existence there, I would no longer be able to afford to visit. A town where a “fixer-upper” was pushing a cool mill but they couldn’t find anybody to stock the grocery store shelves or drive the shuttle buses. A town where the working class put in ungodly long hours to afford to pay their mortgages and keep leaky roofs over their kids’ heads – and they were considered the lucky ones. A town where condos as far as the eye could see overran a once vacant meadow where lazy summer nights were spent sleeping under the stars. A town that not too long ago was touted as the “Next Great Place.”

“So, do you live here?” the man from L.A. asked as we headed up the mountain together. Seems the Rockies had been working their magic on him, and he was entertaining thoughts of making the big move.

I told him although I used to live there, I had moved south to Durango several years ago.

“I heard Durango’s great,” he exclaimed, possibly privy to the latest Top 10 list. “How do you like it?”

I sat for a second and thought long and hard about the ramifications of my answer. “It sucks,” I lied.

– Missy Votel



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