Bargell: 13 years and almost a Summit County local |

Bargell: 13 years and almost a Summit County local

We sure know how to celebrate anniversaries. Just last week I read about the 50th anniversary of the Ken doll, and he hardly looks a day older. I confess I did not realize the Civil War began 150 years ago, or that the Titanic set sail a mere 50 years later. We all know Ronald Regan would have been 100 this year, but I didn’t know the Peace Corps, Wayne Gretzke and Charlie the Tuna, in no particular order, each reach the half century mark this year. Since we celebrate all kinds of anniversaries, I’m taking a moment to celebrate one of mine.

Thirteen years ago on Friday, March 13, 1998, I made my first solo trip to Summit County. I’d recently gone on a hut trip with friends and returned determined to learn how to float down a hill on tele skis. The sport looked so darn graceful, especially when other folks were doing it. So I headed for the hills to take a clinic, sure to help me join the ranks of graceful free-heelers.

After dining at the Backcountry Brewery (that’s still the Backcountry Brewery) I decided to take in the country music act at the ODI (that sadly no longer is). It was there I first met my soon-to-be spouse. There are times however I wonder if we truly were at the same place at the same time that long ago evening, so different are our versions of our first encounter. No matter, as eight months later, again on Friday the 13th, we tied the knot. With 13 years in the county under my belt (my lucky number), I recognize I’m still not exactly a local – not like Melvin Long anyway. But, looking back on this auspicious anniversary I think I’ve learned a thing or two.

Like, if you wear matching ski clothes, you must be a gaper. When I first came to the county, I had no idea what a gaper was. Actually, I thought I was looking pretty smart in my new red ski jacket and matching black pants. Not so much, I learned (also from the soon-to-be spouse).

I’ve learned it’s true that living in a mountain resort community means people – dear friends – will leave for greener pastures. My initial reaction to the steady exodus was to clam up. Why bother getting to know someone if they’re just going to leave anyway? I’ve since shed my shell recognizing that it’s even more important in a transient community to open up and support each other. It’s also amazing how many folks leave, only to return a few months or years later, it’s twice the fun. Plus, there probably is some sort of civic duty associated with explaining what a gaper is to all newcomers.

And, even though there are five towns spread from Montezuma to Breckenridge, everyone knows we live in a small “town.” If you need a reminder just walk into City Market on any given Sunday. What I did not originally know is that the statistical probability of running into someone I have not seen in a while increases in direct proportion to the number of days I have put off washing my hair. Fortunately, we both often are wearing baseball caps.

Finally, I refused to believe, at least initially, that winter does indeed last for six months. During my first six years here I was in the denial phase, certain that each warm April day would bring an onslaught of chirping birds and blooming crocuses. Now, I softly say “thank you” and a gentle “good-bye” to the flowers brave enough to bloom in May, appreciating their fleeting existence while I brace for that final flurry. It’s OK though, when June rolls around I am certain summer finally has arrived (almost every time).

Perhaps my insights will be far keener after another 13 years. Will there be rapid transit? What new education debate will surface? I look forward to watching it all unfold. If I make it to that magic 26th anniversary, however, I plan to still be a gaper, and may even propose making gaping on occasion a requirement of residency. Still no guarantee I’ll ever make those teles gracefully glide, but if I’m lucky I’ll still be giving it a try.

Cindy Bargell lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters. She is a card-carrying PTSA member, real estate and natural resources lawyer and part-time gymnastics coach. She welcomes your comments at

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