Many locals jokingly refer to the Yampa Valley curse as what keeps them in Steamboat. For Mike Kimmes and his family, it’s been anything but.
“It’s that draw of nature and sense of community that’s kept us here,” Kimmes says. “There’s a great sense of belonging here, and everybody cares about each other.”
Kimmes, 41, knew of no such curse when he first moved to the area in 1992 on the advice of a friend when enrolled at Michigan Technological University. Struggling with academia, he left school, relocated here and began working at Skeeter Werner’s shop in Ski Time Square. “I needed to rediscover myself, and it just sucked me in,” he says. “Since then, I’ve made my home here.”
Having skied since age 2 on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, he was familiar to the slopes. But it took some time to acclimate to Steamboat’s level of skiing. “I thought I was holy hot snot, but I got schooled immediately,” he says.
Just as he conquered the mountain on skis and began taking up snowboarding, a familiar face appeared. In 1998, he met his wife, Angie, whom he had known growing up in Michigan and who recently had moved here from Breckenridge.
“His friends like to say he imported me,” says Angie, who’s still amazed at how many people her husband knows here. “He goes out of his way to help anyone.”
Their courtship played like a list of tourist favorites. Their first date was at the hot springs, then in 2000, Kimmes arranged a scavenger hunt that took her to the library for a book of love poems, a jeweler for a mysterious package and a florist for a bouquet until they finally met at the Fish Creek Falls overlook, where he proposed. They married later that year at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp.
In 2003, their daughter Kaisa was born, prompting them to move to Madison, Wis., to be closer to family. But it wasn’t long before they felt the call of Northwest Colorado. “That just wasn’t where we could see her growing up,” Kimmes says.
Within a few years, they were back in Steamboat, thanks to a new job for Kimmes, who has worked with local lumber and construction companies since the mid-’90s. He currently works in sales for ProBuild.
Kimmes says the chance to raise his family, which now includes 4-year-old son Grayson, in Steamboat is what drives him to help others do the same. “I get to be a part of everything from large custom homes to single-family residences people are building,” he says. “I love making the process less painful for people. It’s great to help people maintain their homes and build something they can be proud of.”
More than anything, Kimmes’ enjoyment of the area comes from the surroundings, where biking, camping, snowshoeing and skiing are so readily available, and the chance for him to be able to share that with the people he loves.
“I’m an extremely lucky man to live in such a fantastic town with great schools and healthy living and to be able to raise my kids here with a loving wife,” he says. “It’s truly a blessing.”