Time for a change

Aussies ready to move on to the next adventure

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— Editor's note: This is the third and final story in the three-part series on the lives of four "ski bums" in Steamboat. This series focuses on the experiences four Australians encounter during their stay here, providing an insight to how they interact with the community and how the community interacts with them. The following story looks at the men's impressions of Steamboat and what they have learned during their stay here.

The four Australian men living in Steamboat Springs for the winter are learning valuable lessons from their time spent here real life is not always a party.

"It's hard to live on the money you get paid working on the mountain," Chris Crea said.

"For the wages you get paid, the cost of living is high."

As they turn the corner into their fourth and final month in Steamboat, they're finding it's time for a change, because after all, this was meant to be a holiday.

Unlike many foreigners who move to Steamboat only for the winter, these men will travel throughout the world before returning to Australia. And knowing they have other places to go and people to meet, they've become somewhat antsy.

"You can stay in one place too long," Anthony Martin said. "We know we've got other things to do. (When traveling), you have to keep moving."

Said Crea: "I've found that it's really repetitive because we've done the same thing every day. I thought I was a person that preferred the cold I'm not."

Before arriving in America, the 23-year-old men lived with their parents and went to "uni." Cooking, cleaning and paying bills were tough acts to swallow when they traveled to the states on holiday.

"A lot of people come here to work, where as we're on the start of a travel experience," Dave Cook said.

Cook said living in Steamboat was their first experience living on their own. And Crea said he thinks they're coping pretty well.

Cook thought he wasn't going to ski while in Steamboat. Just months before arriving in the United States, he had knee surgery and has been working day care at Kids' Vacation Center since his arrival.

"I came over here unsure I would be able to ski. Now I'm able to," Cook said. "(Martin and Crea) have worked at the same jobs the whole time. I've been mixing it up a bit."

But just weeks ago, Cook moved up the totem pole and now works outside with children giving them instruction on how to make a slice of pizza with their skis.

So, for the next month, Crea and Martin will continue to work at the chairlifts, Cook will work with children and Johnny McGirr will continue driving buses for Steamboat Springs Transit.

However, the men are impressed with the snow compared to rumors of other Colorado and California resorts and, of course, Australia's snow.

"People say it's the best snow in the Rockies," Crea said. "It's definitely the best resort for skiing."

McGirr said the conditions of the snow and the mountain went above and beyond his expectations. The only thing he feels disappointed about in Steamboat is the nightlife scene.

"I'm way more independent and have broken away from the security blanket from home," McGirr said. "I've learned to fend for myself."

McGirr said he was in a different country with a job that he hated, so learning to create a healthier working situation has taught him a lesson for life.

"I was given a job, given a place to live. I don't want to be spoon-fed," McGirr said.

And he said he's amazed with the local ski bums. Much like a surfing community in beach towns, McGirr said he didn't know that existed in ski resort towns as well.

Although the nightlife isn't what they expected, or maybe it's what they miss most about home, taking trips down to Denver and heading out on snowmobiles has given them a glimpse of the diverse characteristics that make up America.

Las Vegas and New York will be a whole different story.

They will travel to those cities for quick trips before heading to Cancun for a two-week stay after leaving the cold and snow-covered Yampa Valley April 16. Then it's off to Europe for a couple of months before moving to the United Kingdom.

The men hope to stay a while and find work in Dublin, Ireland.

They have not experienced homesickness yet, but the one thing from home they are thankful to have brought to America is Vegemite a salty yeast extract they spread on toast.

"Australians live on it," said Anton Harris, a newfound Australian mate that lives upstairs.

One thing they will miss most about their stay in Steamboat is the friendship they've created with three other Australian men who live in their complex.

Meeting women has been more difficult or less intriguing than they originally thought, but the male bond has triumphed.

"Guys get closer a lot quicker," friend Dave Mattick said. "And we have similar backgrounds so we gel together well. It's like a taste of home in Steamboat."

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