Tom Ross: Catch a chill in Steamboat |

Tom Ross: Catch a chill in Steamboat

Streams in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area are still running cold and clear with melting snow, and wildflowers continue to bloom unusually late in the summer.

— When I stood up from the campfire Saturday night it was to dig a fleece vest out of my pack so I could put it on over my fleece turtleneck.

The waning half moon hadn't come over the horizon, but the sky was bright and a chill breeze was pouring off the top of the Flat Tops. My thoughts drifted to the millions of Americans holed-up in their air-conditioned houses in cities like Houston and Phoenix.

The forecast high for Houston today calls for 101 degrees and a heat index rating of as high as 107 degrees. There's a 20 percent chance of showers. Do ya think it's going to be humid in Houston today? The overnight low will be in the range of 78 degrees. I guess it could be worse.

Steamboat's forecast high of 83 degrees today is just five degrees warmer than the overnight low in Houston.

Dallas set an all-time record this summer for really hot overnight lows. After a 40-day string of afternoons that saw the daily high eclipse 100 degrees (two short of the record set in 1980), Dallas saw a morning last week when the temperature did not dip below 86 degrees Fahrenheit. That was an all-time record.

What we couldn't figure out as we casually stomped on the orange embers that leapt out of the campfire Saturday night was: "With the heat wave in the American Southwest, how is it possible there were any empty hotel rooms and condos in Steamboat this summer?"

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I know — it's the economy, and the marketing professionals who manage Steamboat's hotels and vacation condominiums are competing on rates in a terrifically competitive environment. But Houston is a city of 2 million souls (6 million in the greater metro area). Aren't there enough well-heeled sweltering people there to book Steamboat solid for the summer?

Call me naïve. It's just that we have it so good in Routt County.

I got up from the bumpy log I was sitting on at the campfire and went to the creek to retrieve a can of Miller High Life in an effort to improve my thinking problem. The stream must have been flowing out of one of the big snow banks up in the ramparts of the Flat Tops because the beer can was so cold I could hardly bear to hold it in my hand.

It was the only can of beer we afforded ourselves for the trip, so I shared it with my hiking buddy.

I wasn't a marketing major, but I've spent enough time talking to marketing vice presidents over the past two decades that I figure I could fake it for a week or 10 days. And the question on my mind today is, "Do the people sweating through their shirts in Scottsdale, Dallas, New Orleans and Tampa this summer realize that it gets down to the mid-40s every night in August in Steamboat Springs?"

Y'all come! Bring your laptops. You can work remotely from your condo. It will take your boss at least four days to notice you are missing. You can chill out in the literal sense of the word.

What we need is a Steamboat version of that fantasy world Coors Light TV commercial that takes place in a commuter railroad car packed with 30 gorgeous people. You know the one — the commercial where the dude pops the top on a Silver Bullet and instantly transforms the rail car into a party-down version of the inside of a freezer that needs defrosting.

Come to Steamboat. Get on the soul train. Spend money. Bring your sweaters. Catch a chill.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email

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