Here in Crested Butte, moments take my breath away daily. I am finally living my dream. Every day I look look around in awe and suddenly realize, I actually live here.
I grew up in the flatlands of Ohio, on the coast of Lake Erie, where water skiing and sailing were my typical summer activities. So, how did a flatlander make her way to a small ski town in Colorado? Read on.
I began skiing in Ohio at the ripe old age of 4, skiing slopes that were piled with ice with a whopping vertical drop of sub-250 feet. Somehow I still grew to love it. Maybe it happened when my dad brought me out to Colorado for the first time when I was a little kid. I remember the Colorado sky so vividly, still. I'd never seen sky so blue before. I was at home in the mountains. I suppose it was only natural that I made my way out to Colorado as soon as I could- to go to college at CU in Boulder.
While at CU, I first studied Chemical Engineering. After a couple of years of torture, I decided the whole engineering thing wasn't for me. What was easier? Chemistry. I didn't know what else to do, so I changed my major to that instead.
During that time I also began competing in freestyle skiing. I loved it and found much success in the sport. I had large ambitions of perhaps making the US Ski Team, but came a bit short. Finally, it was just time to move on in life.
I was lucky to have my first job out of college as a lab rat in Boulder. The company was kind to me, allowing me to take long lunches to work out, and allowing me to work part time during the ski season to pursue my competitive skiing. But, I didn't see a future for me in that field. So, back to school I went. This time, I was seeking a licensure in Secondary Science Education.
I taught secondary science for six magnificent years in the suburbia of Denver. I taught both Physics and Chemistry. Since my specialty was Chemistry, I taught that subject on all levels, from remedial through AP.
During that time I also stumbled upon an incredible job where I could integrate two of my top passions - coaching freestyle skiing. I spent four winters as a part-time coach for the Competition Center at Winter Park, loving every moment of it.
Over the last few years I have found a renewed passion for skiing which stems from my experiences in the backcountry. I have always loved skiing, but the added challenges and rewards of the backcountry and ski mountaineering have made me love skiing now more than ever.
With this renewed passion came a need for renewed goals. In the spring of 2006, I decided to take on the challenge of skiing all of Colorado's 54 fourteeners- a task that only one person (Lou Dawson) had accomplished at the time. Shortly after setting this goal for myself, I met Frank Konsella. He helped me ski over 30 fourteeners before becoming only the fourth person to ski them all himself, following Chris Davenport and Ted Mahon. As of September 2008, I have only nine fourteeners left to ski in Colorado.
While I loved my jobs in the Denver area, something was slowly nagging at me, and it was growing more and more every year. It was a feeling of unrest and discontent. I was outgrowing the Front Range. My heart was in the mountains and while I could gaze upon the mountains every day, I did not live in them. I had to drive at least 30 minutes to go ride my mountain bike on single track and an hour and a half to ski at a resort. It was not unusual for me to drive my car 40,000 miles a year. And while this was fine at first, the stresses of travel and traffic gradually began to wear on me. Waking up to smog-filled sunrises and the "Denver brown cloud" was getting old and hurting my health, causing me to develop asthma over time. I longed to wake up in the mountains every morning, where the air was fresh and cool. I also knew that to finish skiing the rest of Colorado's fourteeners, I would need to train, and that training had to happen in the mountains.
I wanted to live in the mountains, but it didn't happen quickly. I tried for years, applying to be a teacher in various mountain towns. But, finally, a break came. In April of 2008 I was hired by the Crested Butte Academy to begin the following August. I quickly made plans for the move, and was excited to be living in one of my favorite places in Colorado.
Imagine my devastation when in mid-June, I was told that the Crested Butte Academy was closing it's doors. I no longer had a job in Crested Butte. But, plans were in place for the move, and I decided to stick with them.
This move was the best decisions I've made in my whole life. I am much happier in Crested Butte than in the Denver area. I'm not rich - at least in terms of money. But, I'm rich in so many other ways. My car is happy that I don't drive it nearly 1000 miles a week. When it was 104 degrees in Denver, it was only 84 degrees here. I can ride my bike on epic single track right outside my door and the ski area is only a five minute walk across the street. People make an effort to say "hello" to you here. Most are friendly and easy-going- a relief from the stress-ridden rudeness of the city folk. I love living in a community where my vote can actually make a difference, where my doctor's office is in a log-cabin, where the bus is free, and where mere acquaintances will help you out just because they know you. I'm finally living my dream.
I have found my niche here in Crested Butte. Currently, I am teaching math at the Crested Butte Community School and also tutoring students privately. Frank and I also married in June of 2011. And, I completed my goal of skiing all of Colorado's fourteeners on May 14, 2011.
I don't know where life will take me next, but I've had a good ride so far. I know I'll enjoy the journey the whole way!