Janet Day: Is it safe to come out now?
Its Over, For Now. I almost expect Glinda, the good witch, to start singing come out, come out, wherever you are to all of us munchkins. It is safe to go out now. The holiday hoards are gone after what seemed like many, many weeks of crowded slopes, crowded roads, crowded restaurants and crowded stores. But early, unofficial, really-just-gossip reports indicate the holiday period was a good one for our businesses. Lodging was full and sales were strong. There are still 1,200 college students visiting and, from what Ive seen, spending plenty on food.Two weeks of holiday family togetherness can be a bit much for many people. Tempers became short and moods turned sour among the many visitors I had contact with late last week. They were griping about everything, yelling at each other, crying, cursing or throwing equipment (rental of course, not their own) across the pavement. I keep my own collection of brothers, nieces and in-laws on a limited visiting schedule so they can have fun, stay happy and leave before we revert to the roles we played at age 14 (bossy big sister in my case) and start fighting.One thing people werent complaining about, surprisingly, was the horrendous weather and unnerving emergency evacuation of the Pioneer Express chairlift. Lessons are always learned in situations like that, but everyone Ive talked to had nothing but praise for the heroic efforts of the Winter Park Ski Patrol and other resort employees assisting guests last Sunday.Equally heroic, Im told, were the efforts of the Colorado Department of Transportation road crews working to get Berthoud Pass and Interstate 70 open. But why didnt CDOT, other state officials, the county and towns learn anything from last years pass-closing avalanche? Why cant we get adequate electronic highway signage in or just outside of town so that drivers know when the pass is closed? The sign just pass the Jane entrance that usually tells us the road is icy in spots, or to watch out for wildlife, is too far south to be useful. By the time people see it on a road-closure day, its too late.Imagine how much easier it would have been if a sign near town had told drivers that the pass and I-70 were closed? Perhaps we wouldnt have had US 40 again turn into a parking lot from the bottom of the pass back nearly to the resort entrance. All the lower Mary Jane lifts were open last Monday, but no one could get over there to park because of drivers backed up the highway waiting for the pass to open. And if we get one sign, couldnt we get two? Another useful spot would be on the north side of Fraser telling drivers that Rabbit Ears Pass is closed, or that Highway 9 to I-70 is closed, or whatever information would be useful to report. The Fraser Valley is not isolated; its one leg of the bigger Winter Park-Steamboat-Summit County ski industry triangle with traffic flowing in all directions, all the time. KCMV, the FM radio station that broadcasts out of Kremmling, has realized that fact and covers Grand, Routt, Summit and Eagle counties as if it were one large recreational area, which it is, so why cant CDOT see the connections?Tipping Point. I didnt venture out to eat much during the holiday period, but when I did, and for some weeks before, I noticed an unpleasant trend from some local servers and pourers asking guests to leave a tip in cash. Im generally a generous tipper, but the decision of whether to tip, how much and in what form (cash or on the credit/debit card) is mine to make. Having a server ask, or seem to demand, a tip in cash is rude, presumptuous and unprofessional. An Empty Place Where the Chocolate Should Be. Im still withdrawing from all the holiday sweets, but nonetheless am disappointed to find out one of my favorite winter events, the Subaru Womens Winter Tour, wont be here this year. The tour combined cross-country skiing or snowshoeing with chocolate eating and a silent auction to benefit anti-domestic violence agencies. For the past few years, the event has been held at Snow Mountain Ranch, but this year it seems to be only in Michigan.Lesson Learned. That was one startled teenager in the parking lot of Rocky Mountain Moonshine on New Years Eve. He learned the hard way that the man he asked to buy him some booze was an off-duty Winter Park-Fraser police officer.Taking Care of Business. Business Without Borders, the support network for local businesses, enters its third year of helping bring the valleys entrepreneurs together. It costs nothing to join and there are no dues, just networking opportunities a couple times a month at local businesses. Even if you have a one-person business running out of a computer in a corner of your kitchen, BWB is a great way to learn best practices and get help or recommendations from those who have gone before. The next gatherings are Jan. 9 at the Wildhorse B&B on County Road 83 (8:30 a.m.) and Jan. 23 at Cooper Creek Square (5:30 p.m.).Keep in Touch: Whats got your attention around the area? Let me know. Ill try to find the answer or spread the news. Send it all to JDayQuilts@msn.com.
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