The ritual is always the same. Move everything from its summer berth in the garage — the kayaks, rafts, bikes, pogo sticks, tents, backpacks, fishing gear, coolers and more — back into its crawl space nook to make room for two cars and ski gear. Then dig through that same crawl space to find the trash bags full of children’s and grown-ups’ winter apparel and shuttle it up to the mudroom to replace flip-flops, rain jackets, umbrellas and other fair-weather fare.
The change in seasons means an annual gear shuffle, the price of admission for living in a ski town. The rite of passage comes without fanfare; it’s just something you have to do, a formality signaling the end of fall, year in and year out.
The inaugural car frost kicks you into gear. A couple of early-morning, bare-handed scrapes in your slippers are enough to prompt you into making the transition. If you ignore this harbinger, the first snowfall snaps you into action.
There are plenty of other chores. You have to move hula hoops, dog dishes, dolls, scooters and soccer balls from the yard before they’re buried until April. You have to call the sprinkler-blowout guy to clear your lines before they break in two. You have to detach hoses from their faucets, schedule a time to get the tires changed, move the table and chairs from the porch’s avalanche zone to the south side of the house, and figure out a way to prevent the raft frame stored outside from being ensconced in a frozen tomb come spring.
You have to pull the snowblower out and hope it starts — which it should since you finally, after 17 years, learned how to drain it properly. (Hint: Fire it up and let it run itself dry.) You have to restow ice scrapers and snow brushes beneath car seats, find and move snow shovels into their respective corners, and take the trampoline down — including pads, mats and skin-pinching springs — before a freeze glues the pad knots solid.
You have to visit the rental store and ski swap to get the kids outfitted, finding out later that their gloves and snow boots are too small, forcing you to pay full retail; swap out snorkels for goggles in mudroom cubbies; and move bike socks out of your sock drawer for longer ones.
Add a wood-burning stove to the mix and the laundry list grows even longer. And none of this considers waxing and tuning snowboards and skis, sewing that duct-taped hole in your ski pants or fixing that broken pole basket.
So life up here isn’t all powder days and pub crawls. Come winter, a variety of tasks come with the transition into Ski Town USA. But it’s all part of surviving the change of seasons here in Steamboat. And if you’re like me and don’t remember a few things, don’t worry — it’s nothing a powder day won’t help you forget.