Tom Ross: Wake me from this mid-winter reverie

There's 5 feet of snow on my roof, and the beaches of Mexico are calling

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I was standing on my rooftop in brilliant sunshine Sunday and up to my armpits in snow when a vision of Mexico came to me.

Ahh, Mexico -- the hot tropical wind, salt water drying on my skin, fresh Dorado for dinner and a cool tile floor in the hotel room.

Strangely, though, the vision that popped into my head yesterday as I leaned on my snow shovel was one of Bud Root hot-footin' it down the beach in Mazatlan.

"Damn, he has white legs!" I remember thinking, right before I looked down at my own legs and was nearly blinded by their alabaster whiteness.

Many of you don't remember Bud Root. He retired more than a decade ago from his post as principal of Steamboat Springs Middle School. Our unexpected encounter on the beach in Mazatlan was even further in the past -- maybe 20 years ago. So why does that momentary encounter with a fellow Steamboater far from home still occupy one of my brain cells?

At the time, I thought it was pretty novel that the first person I spotted in Mexico, even before I got my feet wet in the ocean, was someone I knew from home. I have since learned that it is impossible to go to any beach in Mexico during the month of April without bumping into people from home.

Bud is a fine fellow, who at last word, was living in Arizona, but I'm sure he'll understand when I say that the recollection of his mayonnaise white legs does not make my list of the most sublime memories of Mexico.

If, like me, you found your mind drifting off to a tropical location this frigid week, you might enjoy dredging up some old memories.

I'll never forget helping naturalists to release newly hatched sea turtles (from a beach side hatchery) at a small crescent of sand south of Ixtapa.

Sadly, seas gulls arrived, as if they'd been sent invitations, to pluck the little turtles out of the waves.

We stayed in Akumal before the Riviera Maya had become heavily developed, and we found our own private stretch of Caribbean beach south of Tulum. We were there for hours without encountering another person.

On a snorkeling excursion at a group of islands off Puerto Vallarta, our boat was surrounded by a large pod of dolphins that seemed content to travel with us for a few minutes.

Years earlier, on that same trip to Mazatlan, I landed a 25-pound Dorado. I paid the equivalent of $1.75 to have the fish filleted, placed the meat in the trunk of a taxi, then prevailed upon the hotel cook at the Costa d'Oro to prepare the fish. He baked the fillets in milk and nutmeg and charged us $4.50 a plate for a full fish dinner that still reigns as one of the best I've ever consumed.

For some reason, I have a vivid memory of a conversation with a cab driver, who explained, as he drove along the jarring cobblestone streets of Puerto Vallarta, of how he'd become disenchanted with Los Angeles.

In Akumal, I smeared Vaseline on my moustache to allow a good seal between my face and my snorkeling mask. Then I dove the reef where French angelfish and parrotfish swam unconcerned.

I'll never forget the sights and smells of the open-air butcher shops of Mazatlan.Nor will I forget the time we sat in the colonial town square of that city and tried to explain to a man who understood less English than we did Spanish, that there was snow on the ground at home in Colorado.

The truth is, I've only visited the tourist resorts of Mexico and haven't made a serious attempt to explore its culture and customs. And that is something that I regret.

But right about now, a beach sounds good. Make that just about any beach.

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