Joel Reichenberger: Steamboat rubs off |

Joel Reichenberger: Steamboat rubs off

— I like spring break season in Colorado.

There's never any shortage of tourists in Steamboat Springs, of course, especially during ski season. The middle weeks of March, though, usually signal spring break for the Midwest states, where I grew up.

It's always fun, after months of working next to Colorado Buffaloes and riding the lifts with people from all corners of the world, to encounter a few Kansans at and around Steamboat Ski Area.

I wasn't in Steamboat, but that was the case Tuesday as I sat in the Noodles & Co. in Dillon, 90 minutes from the end of a quick one-day, semi-business Vail road trip.

I spent most of my time shifting my focus between the restaurant's depressingly empty ice machine, my chicken pad thai and my book, "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus," by Charles Mann.

Finally, I looked up long enough to see that the family sitting next to me hailed from Kansas. Their sweatshirts told me they were from Burlington, Kan., a town on the eastern end of the state where I've spent very little, if any, time.

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One family member's T-shirt told me that they, like me, were K-State fans.

In the past, I've always enjoyed seeing and saying hello to groups like that in Steamboat. I figure they might like a little advice about where to ski or eat or that they just might get a kick out of seeing a Wildcat in mountain country.

I didn't say "hi" on Tuesday, though.

It's probably best to blame it on the book — I can really sink in when I'm reading over dinner — but as I drove home, the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if they'd even believe I'm from Kansas.

I looked positively scruffy.

I hadn't shaved in probably five days. I'm a clean-shaven kind of guy, but I hadn't actually spent any time around people I knew for a couple days at that point, and when I left the house that morning, it didn't seem worth my time.

I hadn't gotten a haircut in at least four months. That's not very long in the grand scheme of things. For me, it's an eternity, and anyone who saw my curly mop knows why.

I was wearing long underwear and ski pants for probably the fifth day in the past seven and a beanie from Arc'teryx, a company I hadn't heard of before moving to Steamboat four years ago and one I still can't pronounce without getting weird looks from friends.

I had just finished my 30th day of skiing on the season. That's not a high number for a local, but it's not that bad given this season's uniqueness.

Yeah, there wasn't much about me Tuesday that said "wheat farmer."

That's not a good thing or a bad thing, but as I chuckled about it as I flew through Kremmling and climbed up toward Rabbit Ears Pass, I realized it's definitely a thing. I've been here four years and three weeks, and Steamboat has definitely rubbed off on me.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email

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