Rocky Mountain high, the natural way

Opinion: Columns

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By John Rice

Columnist / Staff reporter

It pays to have friends in high places, 11,440 feet to be exact. Generous people let us stay at their time share in Beaver Creek, Colorado. It was appropriate that my wife and I celebrated our 38th anniversary there, because we honeymooned in Colorado and hadn't seen a mountain since. 

When we arrived at the resort, the valet parked our car and carried our luggage. I didn't realize I was about to be pampered more than a newborn.

The accommodations were lavish. Instead of a coffee maker with packets of regular and decaf, there were urns filled with hot beverages 24/7. Our room was cleaned twice a day and they left enough chocolates to cause serious weight gain.

The view from the room was breathtaking. Gazing at snow-capped peaks never gets old. Colorado has the fourth-largest supply of gravity in the U.S. and they use it well, for skiing, biking and whitewater rafting. Illinois, by contrast, has the second lowest supply and can barely provide a bunny hill.

It was off-season for skiing, of course, but there were gondolas to take us to even greater heights. At the top, we found downhill coasters and slides, zip-lines and bike trails. Colorado is one of the few places where you can have a snowball fight in June.

There was also an ice-skating rink in the center of town. We had packed two "in-case-we-need-them" sweatshirts but they became a staple of our daily wardrobe. Not that the resort lacked swimming pools and hot tubs. While we reclined by the pool, attendants fetched us food and drinks.

I was very careful about consuming alcohol, because I heard it has much greater effect at high altitudes. Fortunately, they have a local brew that is safe. It begins with a "C" and the bartender assured me it had almost the same alcohol content as water. 

Beers were pricey, though, like everything else. Pretending you're rich is expensive. We ordered $20 omelets and tried to hide our shock when the check came. Beaver Creek also charged a lot for activities. Two-hundred dollars could get you a ride on a zip-line or a round of golf. 

We opted for cheaper excursions, like going to a rodeo. To coin a phrase, it was my first rodeo. First, the bucking broncos charged out, coming close to trampling their riders. Then girls as young as 11 galloped around barrels on their mounts. 

It was mind-boggling, though, to see 3 year olds attempting to ride sheep. The sheep won. Finally, the bull riders crashed around. Their work day was only 4 seconds long, but literally death-defying.

We also saw wild animals, like the deer that visited in the afternoon. We even had the privilege of seeing a brown bear in its natural habitat – the parking garage in downtown Beaver Creek. He was last seen making a bear-line for the garbage containers. 

There was so much excitement and beauty, but what really struck me were the people. Everyone was in a good mood. The workers were cheerful, without a trace of phoniness. Apparently living so close to the sun produces a sunny disposition.

We especially found this in Breckenridge, where the people were more down-to-earth, for being so high up. The main streets were crammed with shops and restaurants, and I didn't see a single storefront for rent. 

There was one business, though, I failed to find. I was expecting Colorado to have plenty of pot dispensaries and wide-scale weed use. We didn't catch a whiff of weed the whole time we were there. I guess that's reserved for low-gravity states, where it's still illegal.

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries. Jrice1038@aol.com

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