Riding the chairlift, I asked the two skiers to my left if they were having a good day.  They replied enthusiastically about how great it was to ski the “powder”.  Powder, what powder, I’m thinking.  Sure we got a couple of inches of snow last night, but any Coloradan knows that you have to get at least six inches of snow to count it as a “powder” day.  A clue to their perception came at the end of their sentence, when I got “ma’amed.”  I’ve been around enough southerners to know that when I get “ma’amed”, the person I’m talking to hails from the deep south.  Not that I’m offended by this, I actually find the courtesy endearing, especially in this day and age where most people lack manners of any sort.

Turns out the skiers I was sharing my lift ride were from Louisiana, and were here in wintry Colorado for the week to enjoy some skiing.  I guess that’s not all that surprising, as frequently people like to vacation in places that are far different than their homes.  Bryon and I took a trip to Kauai a couple of years ago, and a great part of the allure was how incredibly different it was to explore a tropical island compared to our land-locked mountains of Colorado.  During the last few weeks skiing in December and early January, I’ve met people from all over the southeastern United States — South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.  They usually spend their time puttering back and forth across the green and blue groomed trails — you know, the trails most of us snobby Colorado skiers don’t spend much time on.   I admire their spirit in tackling a sport that they get very little practice with — skiing at best maybe 7 days a year.  They rarely get past the intermediate stage, but it doesn’t seem to really matter to them — they are smiling, laughing and seem to be having their times of their lives.

What’s more amazing is their commitment to the sport, considering their lack of opportunity.  Most of the people I met happily told me they try to come skiing every season despite the lengths they must travel to do that.  A gentleman from Florida boasted that the largest ski club in the country is in Florida.  Florida?  Really?  The state renowned for summer-like temperatures all year long, and miles of white sand beaches.  Sure enough, Florida has a Florida Ski Council, with 16 member clubs and over 16,000 members dedicated to pursuing fun on the ski slopes around the country and world.  Per their website, they organize up to 80 trips per year for people to go to various resorts, including those in Colorado, for fun on and off the slopes.

The southern invasion will continue throughout the winter, and reach its peak during the month of March during spring break.  Or maybe we should just call it Texas break, because that is the month when the Texas invasion takes over Colorado ski resorts.  People from Dallas, Houston, Austin and all things Texas make the trek for skiing and hot-tubbing Colorado style.  The great irony of this “spring break” is that March can often be the snowiest month in the Rocky Mountains, with many of the resorts receiving upwards of 10 feet of snow during the course of the month.  I once met a group of intrepid college boys dressed in blue jeans and sweatshirts, wedging down the slopes who bragged to me they had driven 16 hours straight for three days of skiing and then would be driving back to their college town in Texas.  Now that’s real commitment!

Who know, maybe knowing all of this, those of us in Colorado ought to organize some beach clubs, and plan trips to the tropics or Florida.  Turnabout’s fair play, don’t you think?