‘Bumming’ it at the ‘boat
Four Australians discover AmericaSteamboat style
Editors note: The Steamboat Pilot & Today presents a four-part series on the lives of four “ski bums” in Steamboat. The stereotype of a ski bum an unshaven, baggy clothed slob with little money no longer applies. This series will focus on the experiences these Australians encounter during their stay here, providing an insight to how they interact with the community and how the community interacts with them.
They don’t drink Fosters and “shrimp on the barbie” is a catch phrase that never passes their lips.
Four 23-year-old Australian men living under one roof may sound like the latest in television sit-coms but it isn’t so much a rarity in Steamboat Springs during the winter.
And while it may be routine in Steamboat, there’s nothing routine about the new lives Chris Crea, Anthony Martin, Dave Cook and Johnny McGirr are uncovering.
“You wouldn’t really call us ski bums, would you?” Crea said.
They’ve been in Steamboat a month to the day enhancing the dynamics of friendship, experiencing the unforgettable and catching glimpses of a lifestyle they only dreamed about before.
“When we came (from the Denver airport), we thought it was beautiful stunning countryside. But there’s absolutely no women,” McGirr said. “But we are the best looking guys in Steamboat.”
Under the layers of humorous arrogance and unrelenting charm, these college graduates have found the ski bum lifestyle is unpredictable but worthwhile.
The four men, who have been “mates” since age 10, left the North Shore of Sydney with the intent of traveling around the world after graduation from “uni” to gain real life experience.
Their first stop Steamboat Springs will be followed by visits to Penn State, New York, Mexico and Europe.
“Rather than head for a future job, I wanted to get away. Do what you have to do and do it right away,” Martin said. “We want to do some growing up.”
Since attending college is much like an extension of high school, McGirr explained that many young Australians continue to live with their parents until graduation from a university.
For these men, traveling to America and beyond is like walking into a world of freedom.
Crea said he had heard about Steamboat Springs through a job fair that featured resorts in the United States. The original plan had Crea and Martin traveling to Steamboat and then McGirr and Cook signed on.
When they arrived in Steamboat, Cook said he tried to gain employment as a Internet supervisor for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. but found himself watching children all day at Kid’s Vacation Center.
“I didn’t think I’d end up there,” said Cook, who’s been taken off the slopes by a knee injury.
McGirr said he didn’t think Cook could work well with children but said he’s really good at his job.
“I was promoted straight away to part time,” Cook said.
With the other three working many 10-hour days at Mount Werner’s chairlifts, all said they think the work is tougher than they expected.
“We thought we’d walk into an easy job. We’re not used to physical work,” Anthony Martin said. “At night we can’t get up to go out.”
Tired as they may have been, the quartet walked into Levelz nightclub Wednesday night looking for “real” dance music and women. What they got for their efforts, however, included the love of a new bar drink and the makings for a headache.
As old school jams played until the wee hours of the morning, the hugs became more continuous, the “love” intensified and the jokes rolled off tongues faster than the taxi came to take them home to a cramped but comfortable two-bedroom apartment.
Although the nightlife hasn’t lived up to expectations, the four men said that in the last month they have found Steamboat “an easy place to live” and larger than they thought.
“Ski resorts in Australia are smaller and not attached to towns,” Crea said.
The second part of this series will appear in the Feb. 10 edition of the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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