Steamboat Springs Rental housing was tough to come by in Steamboat Springs in the winter of 1978-79.
Ski bums didn't really stand a chance if they arrived after the lifts had opened for the season.
I only got lucky because I had a good friend who was already established here.
When I rolled into town in February, Mark said it would be no problem squeezing me into the place he shared with two other guys.
The condo was a one-bedroom unit at Meadowlark. My share of the rent was only $87, but the sleeping arrangements were unorthodox to say the least.
Kevin was handy with tools, and had built a partition down the middle of the bedroom, keeping the side with the window for himself.
Robert was on the other side of the master suite in what had magically become a two-bedroom condo.
The place lacked a dining room table, which was good news Mark and I were able to unroll our sleeping bags on opposite sides of the dining room.
I had my stuff in an orange crate I had stained a handsome chocolate-brown.
About a month later, Beth fled Sun Valley for Steamboat because there was no snow on Mt. Baldy, and we acquired a fifth roommate.
Beth was as intelligent as she was beautiful.
She wisely unrolled her sleeping bag on the far side of the living room, as far away from Mark and me as she could get.
We were perfect gentlemen for the duration.
Beth was a little appalled that the household had no vacuum cleaner, but she dealt with it. We were stunned that she actually owned a steam iron and an ironing board.
The winter rolled by and our lives followed their different paths. I have no clue where Kevin or Beth is today. Mark is in Jupiter (that's in Florida).
Robert and I were the only ones who caught the Yampa Valley curse for real. Each of us is fortunate to own a home here.
Drop us in a time warp, allow us to become 26 again, only now, it's 2002.
I don't know if we could make it in Steamboat again.
Things have changed in many ways in 23 years. Rental housing isn't so tight, but affordable homes are nonexistent.
I can recall a time when friends of mine were struggling to sell their home in Steamboat II for $50,000.
They listed it they didn't get any takers.
After spending the better part of the summer thinking, talking and writing about the dearth of affordable housing in Routt County, I'm pretty well convinced that no matter what we do, there will never be enough attainable housing here.
I'm just as convinced that without a supply of housing that working people can aspire to, some of the best qualities of our community will begin to erode.
I'm also pessimistic I don't anticipate any significant developments to materialize.
We lack the political will to build a beautifully-landscaped mobile home park near Milner. One that would have the nicest playground in the region, its own pre-school, a transit center, a laundromat and a small grocery.
A mobile home park where all the residents owned the little plot of ground under their double-wide, so that they too could own a piece of the 'Boat.
That's not going to happen.
That's urban sprawl.
And it's true it could get out of hand.
The blueprint for the future of the Yampa Valley already exists in the Roaring Fork Valley, where only the fabulously wealthy live in Aspen, the merely wealthy build spectacular golf course homes outside Carbondale, working professionals struggle to buy a home in Glenwood and housekeepers commute from Rifle.
Up here in Northwest Colorado, our best chance for a bedroom community lies in Baggs, Wyo.
I can see it now single family ranchettes in Antelope Acres from the low $180s.
Only 80 minutes from downtown Steamboat Springs.
But that's only because you haven't seen rush hour on Teton Pass, where commuters from Swan Valley, Idaho, brave blizzards and the threat of an avalanche to get to work in Jackson, Wyo., each day.
"Hey pardner, where do you work?"
"Well, I drive a school bus for the Teton County School District, but my own kids, they go to school in Driggs, Idaho."
Today, I live less than a mile from the old four-bachelor-one-bachelorette pad at Meadowlark.
I wonder who lives there now?
I wonder what they paid for it?
I wonder if they sleep on the dining room floor?
I wonder if it's still a one-bedroom condo with two bedrooms?