Opinion | Biff America: Love this place like a local

Jeffrey "Biff" Bergeron

If you are about to head off to the post office, the thermometer reads 20 degrees and you are torn about whether to bother wearing your warmest jacket, you must live in Summit County.

Life is distinctly different up here at nearly 2 miles above sea level. The weather can be harsh or magical — often at the same time. 

Priorities are unlike those in the rest of the nation. I have friends who have lived in a newly built home for years yet are still sitting on lawn furniture and sleeping on futons. (OK, that would be me.)

Almost everyone I know has a sleeping bag and snow shovel in the trunk of their car, and many put snow tires on both their vehicles and bicycles. That’s just the way it is up high.

If you are invited to a dinner party and the first thing you do when you enter the house is take off your shoes, you must live here. I’ve been to dinner parties in homes worth many millions (both as a guest and a crasher), and when you enter, you step over multiple pairs of shoes and boots just inside the door. I have written my initials on my Sorels, so I can quickly find mine among the 10 other pairs.

If you are having coffee with longtime locals and one is a retired homicide detective, another is a one-time personal physician of Michael Jackson, another lives in a van and then there’s a person who you saw the night before on CNN, you must live in Summit County.  

And if you live here, you probably have many friends who have had varying body parts repaired or improved. 

It’s not uncommon for two-thirds of those around that same table to have had knees, hips and shoulders repaired or replaced. I’ve been lucky; I’ve only had three knee surgeries, one shoulder reconstruction, one hernia repair and two colonoscopies — one of them done by a plumber.

If you are more impressed by a guy or gal who regularly skis over 100 days a year than you are of one who was a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you not only live in the mountains but you also have your priorities straight. 

We have some amazing folks with incredible backgrounds in corporate America who moved here and give countless hours of their time to nonprofits and community causes. They are not praised as much for who they were but rather who they are now and how much they have given back to our mountain home.

If you live here, you know that when someone says, “You (ski, bike, hike, run, golf) like a girl,” that is a compliment.   

You know you are a local if, during certain times of the year, you will go grocery shopping at 7 in the morning because the check-out lines are as long as the one to see the pope most other hours in the day. 

Our county of 30,000 can swell to several times that size on busy weekends. If you get frustrated with the long lines, traffic and lack of parking, yet are appreciative of all those visitors because they are the ones who allow you to live here, then you are a local.

If you choose to live here, whether for decades or months, and you love it and give back, you are a local. 

Living here, you not only run into people you know on the trails, but you also recognize their dogs.  

Like many of us who reside in the land of the chosen frozen, my mate and I are guilty of hiding out in our home or the backcountry where we recreate and seldom see anyone.  

But invariably, when we make the effort to get out and check out the various events or simply walk our streets as do our visitors, we will look at each other and say, “This is a pretty cool place.”

It is so cool and beautiful that many come to enjoy it, and that can present some of the aforementioned challenges. 

Whether you are a waiter, waitress, dishwasher, cook, tradesman, business owner or retired, if you think, “Yeah, it can be a challenge, but it is way worth it,” you must live in Summit County.

Jeffrey Bergeron’s column “Biff America” publishes Mondays in the Summit Daily News. Bergeron has worked in TV and radio for more than 30 years, and his column can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He is the author of “Mind, Body, Soul.” Bergeron arrived in Breckenridge when there was plenty of parking and no stop lights. Contact him at

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