The Off-Season

I’m back in Breckenridge, this time for a Writing Away Retreat, which I agreed to do a couple of years ago. Funny.

It’s again the slow season.  The gondola to the slopes is closed, and mostly the tourists are elderly, stopping to shoot a photo of the river. I walked five miles in the autumn sunshine, feeling all the stress of the past couple of weeks drop away, and last night slept like a five-year-old.

I keep looping back here. It’s a tourist town, plain and simple. The streets rare filled with milling out of towers all the time, winter, summer, spring, even now on this off-midweek in September.  So why do I like it so much? I don’t even (downhill) ski.

We’ve been looking for a long time for the place where we might have a little condo or cabin or something.  Both CR and I love to be in the high mountains. I love to hike, and he loves to run, and I’m just a mountain girl.   I find it healing to be in the thin air, amid the trees and on the lakes.  He just loves altitude. The more the better.  At 10,000 feet, he starts to talk.  At 11,000, he’s positively chatty.

We visited a lot of places.  There are some that are just too glitzy. Some that are too small or far away or backward or ridiculously expensive.  We were enamored for awhile with Buena Vista, which is not far away from Breckenridge.  There are hot springs, and it’s quiet, away from the tourist hordes, and there is a big hiking area that both of us like–he for orienteering, me for, well, hiking.  Also, the views of Mount Princeton are amazing.  It’s one of my favorite mountains in the state.

But Buena Vista is quiet.  REALLY quiet.  I finally nixed it, and that was when CR cast his net another direction.  We ambled into Breckenridge one summer afternoon and there was an art fair. I bought a small painting, and we looked at glass, and ate at decent cafe and walked around with the HORDES of tourists and I thought, “Hmmm.”  I never mind a tourist town. I grew up in one.

The thing is, I love the mountains, but I don’t love really small towns.  I spent a lot of time in Sedalia and CAstle Rock when I was a kid, and it was just….boring.  (For locals, I know it is hard to imagine a Castle Rock that was a small town, but trust me, it was tiny and boring.)  I also don’t want a place that’s as glitzy and monied as Aspen or Vail.  Breck is absolutely nothing but a ski and outdoor-lure town, but that’s kinda what makes it possible to consider actually spending lots of time here.  There is a ton of hiking and running, and in ten minutes, you can be in the serious backwoods. There’s a giant lake not far down the road, where we could kayak in summer.  My kids could come ski (neither of us downhill ski).  There are some good restaurants, and a movie theater down the road in Frisco, and a long, long, long bike path and the mountains are IN YOUR FACE in every direction.

And I can drive here in two hours, on my own.  Maybe not in the wintertime on my own, but that’s not the season I care about.  I like the others.

Let’s see how much work I get done this time.  That’s part of the equation–one reason for a condo is to have a retreat center where I can work without distraction when I need to.  (We’ve been using hotel rooms and time shares, but they don’t allow animals and I need to have the company of critters if I’m working for a week at a time on my own. It’s okay if there are no humans, but I need a snoring dog or a purring cat.)

I have to admit, too, that it’s sort of funny to imagine that we’re actually going to think about buying a vacation condo.  My inner working class kid thinks simultaneously, whoa! and who do you think you are?  My adult self who has worked a long time at a profession she loves thinks it’s just fine.  😉

Happy to find the spot! Even better, CR loves this place.

If you could have a second home or a retreat anywhere you liked, where would you choose? 



10 thoughts on “The Off-Season

  1. I’d like a summer home in Maine, mostly because my body (and my spirit) can no longer handle the heat in Nebraska. But I’d love a second home in England some day, just a small cottage somewhere in a small village.

  2. Melina

    Northern California coast, or Irish coast, that’s where my heart is.

  3. Kristin Noel

    The beach, hands down. I can sit on the porch watching the waves and people all day long.

    Barbara, I loved your book, “The Garden of Happy Endings.” This is the first book I’ve read by you and am looking forward to reading more. Love your blog, too.

  4. Kimberly

    Oooh…what a fun question. LOVE the Durango, Colorado area, but is one of those “can’t get there from here (reasonably)” places for us. Beech Mtn, NC highest elevation east of the Mississippi. Still a 12 hour drive. If it’s got to be nearby, then a condo in Destin, FL on the harbor.

  5. I know a lot of people who love Main, Melissa. I’ve never been there.

    Irish coast….that would be lovely. I spent a few days on the coast in Dingle with my children and mother, and it was fantastic, even when it rained. (A lot.)

    Kristin, I hope you enjoy other books, too.

    Durango really is intriguing, Kimberly. But so is The condo in Florida!

    I came home and told CR that I think I can manage the west-facing view in Breck. We shall see what happens!

  6. Barbara

    Maine. Sigh.

  7. K. Ann

    Breck is lovely and I adore Colorado (I live here) but my choice for a second home is Santa Fe, New Mexico….it is just magical for me.

  8. I go away every year on a writing retreat with a small group of writer friends. It’s always a magic experience, and I wouldn;t miss it for the world. We’ve tried several different spots, but the common factor is always the sea. Only once have we gone somewhere far inland, and though it was beautiful, somehow we missed the sea.

  9. K. Ann, I love Santa Fe, too. There’s something about Northern New Mexico that really speaks to me.

    Anne, a retreat by the sea does sound magical. Walking on the beach, listening to the music of the waves…

  10. Ellen B

    Barbara, I would have to have a house on the sea in Dingle. The wildness of the water and the carved land around Dingle calls to me. At our B & B in Dingle, the owner told me that a writer’s group books the entire house every year for a retreat. sounded like heaven to me

    Write and talk about writing all day, and then go have wonderful fresh seafood and listen to amazing local musicians? It doesn’t get much better than that.

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