Tales from a Mountain Town: 117 guest days and counting
Editor’s note: The following is excerpted from Magazine Editor Eugene Buchanan’s new second edition of “Tales from a Mountain Town.”
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A lot of people have grandiose dreams of building a house in a ski town. A minimal commute to the slopes, a ski rack inside the front door, a cackling fire … maybe even a strategically positioned “dump” light outside the living room that lets you monitor snowfall.
But after we built our home in the Fairview neighborhood of town, we learned it’s not without its pitfalls. It’s not the property taxes or snowplow bills that cause consternation, but the guests and their “license to poach” floorspace. It doesn’t matter if they’re invited or not: they all take up the same amount of room, use the same amount of toilet paper and leave the same number of socks buried in the sofa.
At first it didn’t bother us. My wife and I were excited to show our 1,800 square feet of log-strewn splendor to less fortunate souls from the city. Besides, I had more than a few favors to repay from my time spent on the other end of the couch.
We didn’t start keeping track of the accommodation avalanche until it began to rumble out of control. Trashcans overflowed, the coffee maker sounded its last gurgle and ground pads lay scattered in a half-curled disarray. The municipality also began to take notice: bottles flowed incessantly to the recycle curb; our electric meter spun like a compass at the North Pole; and the sanitation department called in for reinforcements.
The motel mayhem started Thanksgiving weekend when Tim showed up with three friends. Counting each body imprint as one “guest night” — four people, two nights — the tally quickly soared to eight. Two days later Jeff, an old high school friend, arrived, staying for six nights and bringing the total to 14.
Then came the in-laws … cousins from Nebraska outfitted with 160-cm. skis with safety straps and silver-toed Tyrolias. Three of them for two nights, snowballing the count to 20 before the holiday season even started. A few stragglers brought us to Christmas and the dreaded Family Onslaught — Mom, sister, sister’s husband, another sister, brother, another brother, brother’s wife. Three nights each, except for mom who stayed four more until she could completely rearrange the kitchen.
The day she left saw the couch pillows fluffed just in time for John and Keith, more holdouts from high school: two more nights, bringing the total to 49. Then it was my wife’s turn to contribute to the count as her twin, overlapping with John and Keith, set up camp for nine nights. Fifty-eight and counting.
A brief reprieve let us vacuum and restock paper towels before the next deluge. By February’s Winter Carnival weekend, two more sets of friends had played weekend warrior and a brother and repeat visitor had returned for seconds. Then came the Great Infiltration, six friends for two nights, followed by the Second Coming of Mom and the Father- and Mother-in-law Penetration. Eighty-nine and it was only mid-February.
Things slowed down, but we eclipsed the 100 milestone on March 19 with another visit from Thanksgiving Tim. The Infant Infringement, consisting of two couples, two cribs and two food-flinging babies, brought the total to 112 (we had no problem treating the babies as equals in the tally). By season’s end, the final number would read 117, with dogs adding another 32.
The folks at Guinness might not have a couch-surfer record in their annual compilation — and if they did, it’d likely be behind egg-eating and pogo-stick jumping — but it’s a number we can’t help but be proud of, and one we hope will still stand after this season’s surfers have all come and gone.
To reach Eugene Buchanan, call 970-871-4276 or email ebuchanan@SteamboatPilot.com.
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