My bags were packed and I was ready to go… or so I thought! Moving to a ski town in 2007 was the next great adventure in my life, and while I was up for anything, it didn’t start out as smooth as I had hoped. We moved from San Diego, where I wisely had upgraded my Honda Accord to an AWD SUV. I asked the guys at the shop in San Diego how the tires were and if they would be okay in the snow. They assured me that these were all-weather tires and that I would be fine. Oh boy, did I have a rude awakening on my way in to my first day of work in Beaver Creek. My husband was out of town, and it was late November with the first major snowfall of the season. I excitedly woke up at 4:00 am so that I would be at work in time for my 5:30 am shift to start. I trudged outside in my new snow boots and found my car covered in a foot of snow! What now?!?! I quickly found a house broom and swept the snow off my car and then started the engine to defrost the windshield from all the ice crystals. Lesson 1: Buy a snow scraper and brush!
Away I drove in my new-to-me SUV that had all the bells and whistles…except for true snow tires! As I was driving down the freeway at probably 30 mph (as the roads had yet to be cleared because it was so early), and I was obviously new to driving in the snow, I noticed my car slipping on the road and I was sliding back and forth across the lanes. Thankfully I had the whole road to myself, because who else would be up this early? Then in my rear-view mirror, I saw this massive semi-truck coming fast on my heels! “Make it to the exit! Make it to the exit!” was the mantra in my head. But just after the semi-truck screamed by me at an alarming rate (probably a whopping 45 mph) my car slid again and side swiped the guard rail just before my exit. I ping-ponged back into the freeway, corrected slightly and was able to exit! WHEW! But my new car…. waaahhh!!!!!! I slowly made my way the rest of the way to work, and in the parking lot I checked my car for damage. Amazingly, I was lucky to have not gotten hurt but also lucky to gain just a small scratch on the rear side bumper! I was so shook up by it all that I shared with a few people on the shuttle up the hill what had just happened and inquired where I could purchase snow tires... ASAP! By lunchtime, word had gotten around quick and I was already known as the “New Cali Girl” that had hit the guard rail on her way in to work. Not exactly the first impression that I wanted to make, but on the upside, it opened conversations to make friends with some people that I still know to this day. Lesson 2: Buy snow tires!
So, in case you plan a move to the mountains in your near future, I’ll attempt to save you from making an unsavory first impression of your own, and share with you some DOs before you make the move:
- DO - Make sure your car is equipped!
- DO - Buy a snow scraper… you will need it!
- DO - Buy snow tires… not all-weather tires, but legit mac-daddy snow tires! If you have a 2-wheel drive car you may even want to consider studded tires.
- DO - Change your windshield wiper fluid BEFORE it freezes! Most other parts of the country don’t have the de-icing solution in their windshield wiper fluid, so your entire tank will freeze if you don’t have this in. You won’t believe how much you’ll need the fluid when passing a snow plow!
- DO - Slow down. You’re not in a city anymore and nobody is in a hurry!
- DO - Set up your PO Box ASAP!
- Most mountain towns don’t deliver your mail directly to your house and some towns even have a wait list for PO Boxes, so as soon as you have your physical address established, march down to your local post office and get this set-up right away.
- Also, be super kind to the postal workers. They will be delivering your boxes to you all year long and you’ll be waiting in lines around the holidays, so be patient and kind. The post office line is a great way to make friends!
- DO - Get a good pair of snow boots.
- Uggs (while looking warm), aren’t going to cut it in the snow. You need traction and warmth! Sorels are usually the standard go-to mountain boot, but in my opinion, they’ve never kept my feet warm. Recently I have found Santana Canada boots to do the trick! They have a ton of cute styles, have a side zipper for easy closure, and keep my feet super-duper toasty warm!
- DO – Sunglasses and sunscreen are a must… year-round!
- DON'T leave home without them. You don’t want a sunburn or go snow blind because you forgot to wear the right protection.
- DO – Keeps dogs on leash and pick up after them!
- We love dogs, but we don’t love dog poop or having dogs run up to our children and startle them. So please keep them on-leash unless you are in the back country. And please pick up after them. It seems like this is a no-brainer, but when it gets cold, people get lazy and don’t want to go out with their dogs when they need to do their business. And thus a pile of **** is leftover when the snow melts in the spring. It’s gross, so please just do your part!
- DO - Expect to always take your shoes off at other people’s houses.
- If you’re like Jennie Iverson, she’s gotten smart and brings a pair of house slippers with her wherever she goes! If you’re like me, just make sure you have cute socks on!
- DO - Make friends!
- Easier said than done, right? Thankfully living in a ski town, you can strike up a conversation with just about anyone and find common ground. Talk about the weather or ski conditions!
- Be receptive to locals that love to give you advice. They’ve been here longer than you, so you can likely learn from them.
- And finally, when meeting people, you will need to seek them out and maybe ask them to go ski with you, have a coffee, etc. Most people are functioning in their own day-to-day world and forget that someone new in town may not have someone to hang out with just yet. So, when you meet someone, be proactive and get their number or find them on social media so you can make a point to connect with them again in the future!
There is probably so much more advice that I could give, but this gets you started for now. Enjoy the ski town adventure that you have ahead!
And for you long-time ski town locals, feel free to comment and share any other DO’s or DONT's you feel are paramount in making a great transition to the Ski Town Life!!!