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Eugene Buchanan: There’s no place like home

Eugene Buchanan has been skinning up Emerald Mountain and Mt. Werner over the last few days to kill time amid COVID-19 prompted closures. That's just one of the many things he suggests people do while social distancing.
Shelby Reardon

Editor’s note: While we all need to take the novel coronavirus seriously, this column offers a lighthearted look at a few things we can do to social distance ourselves from the doldrums. 

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Dorothy had it right in The Wizard of Oz. There really is no place like home, as we’re all finding out right now in wake of the coronavirus shutdowns. 

So let’s try to make the most of it, elbowing doom and gloom out the door while elbow-bumping and spending time with our friends and loved ones. There’s still a lot to be thankful for, one of which is this place we all live. After all, would you rather be holed up here or Detroit? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Dust off your creative juices and there’s plenty to be grateful for in our own back yard. Following is a sampler of things to do both inside and out that will help keep corona claustrophobia in check. 

Outdoors

Skin to win: Who needs a lift? Yep, with Steamboat Resort closing, people are earning their turns by skinning. Sunday likely saw its record number of uphill skiers ever, with those equipped with Alpine touring, telemark or splitboard bindings trudging up to take advantage of the snow sans lift. Like a stream of ants, the uphill entourage came the day after Alterra Mountain Co. abruptly shuttered Steamboat and its other resorts. By the time I made it up, schussers of all sorts had already snagged their lines — including Andrew Farney, who did it a whopping five times (for 10,000 vert).  

“There must’ve been 1,000 people up there today,” said friend Dan Gilchrist, who was coming down as I made my way up. “I even saw a couple of snowboarders go by naked.” Still others brought up camping gear to make a night of it. The bright side? It’s easy to keep 6 feet of social distance when you’re lagging behind.

Ode to the bike path: Perhaps no other recreation area got more use over the past week than the good ol’ Yampa River Core Trail, which saw every manner of locomotion imaginable. People of all ages and sizes whipped by on skateboards, OneWheels, bikes, tandems, inline skates, scooters, Wave Boards (AKA Razor Ripstiks), running shoes and, yes, kid you not, even pogo sticks. Couples could be seen walking arm in arm, kids darting this way and that, and families frolicking. In fact, it was exactly how it should be used (minus the guy rollerblading in a Speedo). 

The river delivers: The spread of the virus isn’t the only thing heating up. The temperature has also been rising, meaning the winter’s more-than-ample snowpack has started melting off into the Yampa River. What better way to self-isolate than by going out solo in a kayak or on a SUP? You’re certainly well out of the social distance range, and the resultant sinus-douches will likely flush out any lingering germs. Note to suppers: You still might want to take off your fin. Otherwise, you could be Supermanning into the drink. 

Tangling with angling: Not that ardent anglers needed the coronavirus as an excuse to fish, but the coincidence of its timing couldn’t have been better. It came right as the river opened up, drawing out fishermen in droves. There’s nothing better than standing in the water — the medium responsible for all life itself — to appreciate the own life you have. And you learn about life every time you go (i.e. If the fish hadn’t opened its mouth, it would never have been caught). 

Corona cross-country: Scaling back on what you can do? Put on the fish scales (or kick wax or skate skis) and stride into a sport that offers fresh air, built-in social distancing and the chance to splat down like a doofus, one of our inherent attributes as humans. Even though Nordic centers might be closed, cross country skiing options abound, from Rabbit Ears Pass to Spring Creek and Buffalo Pass. Rumor has it the city is also planning to periodically groom the Howelsen trails. And after the upcoming storms pass, keep your eyes on the crust, which lets you color outside the lines. 

Like to hike: Done with skiing? Strap on the hiking boots and stroll the slush on our slowly melting trails. Seriously, there’s no better cure for the indoor blahs than a simple walk outside, listening to the birds of spring — many of which just completed an arduous journey up the entire Colorado/Green/Yampa river system to get here. In fact, a friend just saw the first bluebird of the year. Just beware the re-emergence of canine landmines making their appearance, also.

Gone to the dogs: Probably no animal species is happier about the outbreak than Man’s Best Friend. Seriously, look around. As the shutdown has freed up time for a lot of people and gotten them outside, they’re bringing their pooches with them, who are wagging their tails, sniffing butts and chasing sticks with reckless abandon. Measure the Gross Domestic Tail Wagging (and weight) of our dogs now vs. a year ago and you’ll see that these are indeed true dog day afternoons. 

Indoors 

Home hygiene: A lot of us are working from home now, but let’s do us all a collective favor and not let ourselves go completely to pot. Instead of lounging around in sweat pants all day — or embracing our bathrobed Big Lebowski — let’s brush our teeth, shave and, for God’s sake, put on our collective pants. It’ll make you feel more like a contributing member of society instead of a sloth-like star of a mouthwash commercial. The good news? At least now I can wear all of my shirts that have holes in the left elbow. 

Board games: Dust off that Parcheesi box. With town in a shutdown, there’s no better way to spend time indoors than playing games with the family. You just have to remember how to set up the Backgammon table and suffer through the monotony of Monopoly. Or perhaps it would be a good time for Risk, staying away from the hotspot countries.

Clean the garage: Yep, you have the time, so get to it. In fact, I’m betting that local garages will be as organized and clean as they’ve ever been in history, with paint cans stacked perfectly on shelves, bikes hanging from hooks and screwdrivers notched perfectly onto pegboard. Just don’t put that winter gear away for good; Old Man Winter likely still has a storm our two up his sleeve. But do enough juggling to make room for bikes, fishing gear, boating equipment and everything else that’s been hibernating like our bears. 

Rearrange your rooms: Been thinking about moving the master bed over to the other wall? There’s no better time to get after it, even if it leads you on an endless spiral of other chores, like cleaning the top of the long-hidden electric baseboard heater. If you give a moose a muffin …

House projects: Now’s also the perfect time to fix that kitchen drawer knob that keeps spinning off, dust off those top shelves, tighten the hinge so the guestroom door closes and (gasp!) finally get to the bottom of that weird, ghoulish noise the fridge makes in the middle of the night. And then there’s always proactively replacing those annoying batteries in the fire alarms (on second thought, maybe that can wait). 

Cozy up to a book: Yep, there’s no better time to read and catch up on those novels and self-help books you got for Christmas. (Mine from my mom: “The Mask of Apollo” by Mary Renault). Shameless self plug: perhaps “Tales from a Mountain Town”? Just keep them upbeat. It’s probably not the best time to dive into “The Stand” by Stephen King or “The Andromeda Strain” by Michael Crichton. 

Cozy up to something else: When all else fails, snuggle on up to your loved one. Am I not the only one thinking there could be a population spike next December? #coronaconception, #quaranteens, #coronachristmaskids, #coronials, #generationQ. And if Corona beer was smart, they’d plan a special campaign for 21 years, nine months from now. 


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