Steamboat Springs When we moved to Steamboat last May, someone told us we needed to give it two winters before we made any decisions on whether to stay.
Well, winter No. 1 is in the books, and if No. 2 is anything like the one that just passed, I might be able to hang around.
Except for a summer in Maine, I have spent my entire life in the South.
My wife is from South Texas and has spent much of her life there. We'd never experienced snow that didn't melt within 24 hours of falling.
Our vacations were spent at beaches.
No one in our family had ever strapped on a pair of ski boots.
Over the last 10 years in Texas, we had become accustomed to life without coats, much less, sweaters, hats and scarves.
When we arrived, our wardrobes were woefully inadequate.
Then it snowed the weekend after Labor Day. We panicked.
We loaded up the truck and we drove to Silverthorne.
Outlet stores. Credit cards. It cost us a lot of money, but on that trip we bought enough hats, sweaters, coats, boots, gloves and thermal underwear, we figured, to make it through the imminent arctic winter. (Turns out, we were wrong about the gloves. A 7-year-old and 3-year-old, we learned, go through about 23 pairs each during a normal winter.)
Then it got warm again.
We were lulled into a false sense of security until mid-October when I came out of a late night at the office to find a couple of inches of snow on the ground.
As cars whizzed by me as if there weren't two inches of snow on the ground, I gently steered my two-wheel drive pickup onto Lincoln Avenue.
I had no trouble until Clubhouse Drive where the weightless rear of the truck got tired of trying to push the heavier front end through the snow and dang near quit on me.
I managed to work the truck into my driveway -- albeit sideways -- and went into the house announcing to my wife that we were doomed.
The next day I spent about $600 on a set of Blizzacks and 500 pounds of sand.
Though I did slide into the rear of another pickup and clip the side of a couple buildings in the next few months, for the most part, the snow tires and sand did the trick.
And lucky for me they did -- there's not much market in these parts for a two-wheel, rear-wheel drive F150 with a couple dings in it, especially when you consider what I still owe on it.
Once it finally started snowing on Thanksgiving, we were ready for our next Steamboat winter experience -- skiing.
Early on, I made a commitment that I would spend this first winter skiing every chance I got and either learn to ski or quit with the satisfaction that I tried as hard as I could and couldn't do it.
I almost didn't make it through the first lesson.
I Nearly passed out trying to get the boots on. My $12 Wal-Mart goggles started fogging up before I got them out of the blue bag.
The first two times I knocked the ski instructor down trying to get off the Preview lift he seemed to take it in good humor.
The last four times, I think, he was a little annoyed.
But I hung in there and got to where I could ski Why Not without falling.
Still skittish about getting off lifts I would ski Why Not to BC Skyway to the gondola, ride the gondola up and repeat the process.
I figured there was nothing wrong with spending the entire ski season doing this.
But in January, I made the mistake of going skiing with friends who were not content to just ski Why Not.
After a couple of Saturdays spent falling down the blue runs, I started to get the hang of it.
I skied Tomahawk without falling.
Then High Noon and Buddy's Run. I made it down Heavenly Daze in one piece and then I worked up the nerve to try Vogue.
Hot dog, I thought, I can ski.
Then in February, I went skiing with co-workers in the midst of a 22-inch snowfall. I was eager to show them what I had learned, and I was psyched for a little of this powder skiing I'd heard so much about.
But somebody forgot to tell me skiing powder is different from regular skiing. I realize that I may think differently in a few years, but in my current opinion, powder sucks.
Anyway, I can ski passably, at last well enough to impress my southern kinfolk.
And I can also now drive in the snow, again, at least well enough to impress my southern kinfolk.
And, other than that minus-25 morning back in February, this winter was never as bad as I anticipated.
Yeah, yeah, yeah I know this was nothing. I know that in 1900-whatever it snowed 48 straight days and got to minus-60 degrees.
Yes, I know those winters are coming.
But I made through the first one. And for a southern boy with more shorts than pants, that's no small feat.
So I say, bring on No. 2.
Just don't chintz on the snow this time.