Dear Drewbie: Why the “Summit snowbox” isn’t a country club — and better for it |

Dear Drewbie: Why the “Summit snowbox” isn’t a country club — and better for it

Drew Mikita
Dear Drewbie
The author and his dad, Phil Mikita, at Snowmass sometime in the 1990s. Since moving from Cleveland to Summit County a decade back, the author has learned a thing or two about what it means to be a courteous tourist and kind local.
Special to the Daily |

Casting call

In this year’s production of Summit County Theater, tourists and locals share supporting roles in downtown Breckenridge, on the Copper slopes and everywhere in between — even the traffic jams on Interstate 70. A viewer’s guide to the show:


Local: 3-6 months old, used 75-100 times, likely has stickers, core shots and P-tex

Tourist: 15-20 years old, used 10-20 times, in perfect shape — and that shape is old-school

Ski carrying

Local: Tips down, poles in one hand or on a pack

Tourist: “Houston Handbag” (pole straps around skis and carried like a briefcase), ski tote, or other weird gimmick

Ski clothing

Local: Insanely warm, recently obtained through pro-form (or other hook up) and already duct taped

Tourist: Starter jacket, camo, jeans, old-school North Face, possibly fur

Ski terrain

Local: Steeps, trees, glades, anywhere away from people

Tourist: Blue and green runs no local can identify by name


Local: A killer leg workout and mess of fun

Tourist: “Where do they store them in the summer?”

Definition of ‘local’

Local: Born here or live here year-round for some number of years (often seven years minimum), employed, engaged in the community

Tourist: Front Range, second-home owners and multiple-time visitors, “People don’t really live here in town, right?”

As I stand on South Aspen street, a starry-eyed 10-year-old from Ohio gaping at what must be the biggest mountain on Earth, excitement mounts. They’re the same streets TJ and Dexter walked in “Aspen Extreme.” Wonderland. I’m talking about Aspen, Colorado, baby! Colorado.

Locals walking down the street are heroes, icons — the coolest, all with a story like TJ Burke, I assume. That’ll be Mikey Flood and I some day. I better act cool, ya know? Try to fit in, make ‘em think I’m a local. I’m a ski instructor: “He must be so good at moguls and getting chicks.” I bet I fit right in.

I gotta stop gawking. Better get out there, practice for the Powder 8s, ya know? The things us locals do. No one can tell I am a tourist — nailed it.


Hindsight Tourist Dear Drewbie

As a Cleveland kid who was fortunate enough to take the occasional Colorado ski trip, I longed to be a local. As an adult, I realize the exorbitant cost of living here and am even more grateful today.

I dreamed of being in the mountains, skiing. The problem with many dreams is that they get lost in the shuffle of life. After grad school in Ohio, I packed up and moved in with Mikey (the same Mikey 10-year-old Drewbie wanted to relocate with). Like sitting in Mrs. Unger’s fourth grade class with Powder magazine, we did it: Mikey in Boulder, I in Breck, and a college roomie, Eric, in the Roaring Fork Valley. We are all living our dreams. Thanks families!

Summit County auditions

After a decade, I feel local. Cleveland will always be my hometown, but I belong here. And as locals, we are all part of a show, the Summit County Theater (SCT) annual production. It’s a fabulous production for tourists, and first-year residents have an audition to see if they can cut it up here or not.

This production is a wonderful and lucrative show — made possible by us, in a place we live — because you visit. It’s a beautiful and dichotomous relationship. We should both be grateful for our roles. We need tourists.

That doesn’t mean we always like them. In Nepal and Peru, Molly (with Norwegian blonde hair) and I (with 6-foot-something frame, clumsy, chatty, awkward and loud) didn’t exactly blend with the much shorter, gentler, quieter local folks. Locations are all unique — clothing, expectations, budgets, weather, culture, traditions and values will vary. We should embrace and celebrate our differences. When abroad, locals are far more welcoming of the necessary tourists.

People who live here are not the untouchable cool kids I once thought. No, we are outdoor/nature/yoga/powder nerds! But we do look damn good while being super nerds and crushing legendary terrain.

When traveling out of the High Country, I stick out like a massive, blue, Melanzana-cookie-monster dirt bag in a sea of dark, appropriate-sized, normal-people clothes. I offer strangers rides, buy random people coffee and assume someone is talking to me when they are on a blue-tooth headset. I am a mountain bumpkin, and damn proud. Mock me all you like.

While tourists can be frustrating and everywhere, we need them. They pay our bills, fiscally support the improvement of our ski hills and remind us that we live in a snow-globe bubble (with our own problems). We cook their food, groom their runs, pour their beers and clean their rentals.

Despite this symbiotic relationship, we mock, belittle and complain about our lifeblood, even when it’s deserved. Can’t we all get along?

Love thy tourist

Stay positive: Being negative and complaining will only bring you down, along with everyone else. Think they’ll tip well if you’re rude?

It’s OK to laugh, but not at people: People often look ridiculous, including us. Skiing is awkward and can be scary. So can Main Street Breck and City Market. Help people up.

Don’t be holier than thou: The arrogant local is not my favorite character. Be the friendly, down-to-earth local who helps the show.

Slow down: If we weren’t always in such a rush, tourists wouldn’t be in the way as much. Take your time.

Take the buses: Sick of parking? Bus it. This minimizes traffic, parking and, most importantly, overall rage.

You’ve been a tourist too: When you travel, you can stick out as much as Johnny Texas here. Cool it with the judgment.

Give directions: You know they’re lost. Just help.

The hierarchy: Locals define themselves by years lived here, like badges of honor. If you live here, care about this community, love it, improve it and cherish it, no matter how long you stay.

Love thy local

Stop complaining about cost: Yes, prices are slightly higher than your norm. But these are the mountains, where shorter seasons, cost of living and weather impact pricing at restaurants, rentals and the mountain. Tipping is caring.

This is our home, just like your home: We all have things to do, places to be, appointments to keep, bad days at work and more. This is our daily normal, for better and worse.

Don’t try to hide — just blend in: Be you, but chameleon you. This place is not like home, so embrace the culture and people.

Don’t be dumb: People seem to shut their brain off when they pass through Eisenhower Tunnel. You are not stupid, so don’t act that way on the road, at the grocery store or in the lift line.

Be aware: At the ski hill, restaurant, parking structure and roundabout — everywhere. Pay attention to your surroundings, but don’t gawk. Park your car before taking photos.


In the end, this place is not a country club. We don’t pick and choose who gets to be here, and so playing nice in the snowbox is best for everyone. When cast and crew at SCT have fun putting on a show, the audience (following a few house rules) will be happy and be safe.

Welcome to the winter production of Summit County Theater.

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