Joanne Palmer: Let me count the ways we love our visitors
January 1, 2013
What do you call a woman who carries five tubes of lipstick in her purse and never wears any? A Steamboat local. What do you call a woman who wears lipstick, red nail polish and a fur-trimmed coat to the grocery store? A tourist.
Not only was Steamboat blessed with an abundance of more than 100 inches of snow in December, but thankfully, thousands of tourists came to town to enjoy it with the nearly 14,000 people on the mountain on peak days. It seems fitting to salute these visitors who make us so much more than just another sleepy mountain town. So how and why do we love them? Let me count the ways:
T is for travel
Tourists are tenacious, and nothing stops them from getting here. Even with direct flights, airline travel can be a bit of an adventure. Chicago O'Hare canceled 200 flights shortly before Christmas, but did that deter our intrepid visitors? No. Legend has it that some got in their cars and drove. That's the spirit! But we can't forget those who crossed oceans to make it to Steamboat. International visitors add a multicultural dimension we need, and I love that Aussie accent.
O is for outlandish
You just can't make up some of the outlandish things we see and hear. We worry when we watch you walk down the middle of an icy road in ski boots, and we wonder why you stop in the middle of a ski run to take photos with your smartphone and post them to your Facebook account. We know you wonder where the moguls go in the summer, but we're not telling because when we go on vacation, we ask equally peculiar questions. But if you can't be outlandish on vacation, when can you be?
U is for unmistakable
When you see a fly-fisherman on the Yampa or a skier on the slopes in subzero temperatures, it just might be a tourist. We locals too often wimp out and go only when conditions are perfect, the temperature is just right and our skis are waxed to perfection. Tourists remind us of what indomitable really means.
R is for remind
Love is blind, and some of us locals need tourists to remind us of the magic that keeps us here. It's easy to take it for granted. A tree trimmer from West Palm Beach, Fla., told me on a recent gondola ride that he and his family were enjoying a white Christmas unlike their friends, who went to other ski resorts and were disappointed. I listened to him marvel at the sweeping view, and it made me appreciate once again what a bewitchingly beautiful place in which we live.
I is for income
We rejoice in your disposable income. It keeps our restaurants busy, our retailers happy and provides many of us with steady paychecks. The estimated economic impact of our tourists is significant, so thank you for purchasing those T-shirts and souvenirs to take home. It was unsettlingly quiet around here during the Great Recession.
S is for style
An orange ski jacket and green pants are not what I would wear on the slopes, but our visitors wouldn't be caught wearing duct-taped ski pants and mismatched gloves. Let's face it: Steamboat locals are in a fashion-free zone. Clumping around in Sorels and fleece and having perennial hat hair is enough not only to call out the fashion police but also to keep them working overtime.
T is for Texas
Y'all gotta love our visitors from the Lone Star State of Texas. After Colorado, it supplies the most visitors, followed by Florida and Illinois.
Happy new year to all of our visitors, thanks for choosing Steamboat and keep on coming back.