When the going gets tough, the smart get lost.
- Robert Byrne
My family just returned from the free vacation ski trip we won last December at an Atlanta sports event.
I had put off traveling as long as possible because I don't like snow, spending money, long plane flights, airport security checks, spending money, cold weather, hotel bath towels and spending money.
I lost the family vote 2-1.
No matter. The trip was taken. I made it back. And I learned something.
I learned a lot of things, actually.
l I learned downtown Denver traffic is nowhere near as daunting as Atlanta's.
"There's hardly anyone out," my wife said, as I steered the small rental car through an April snowstorm.
"That's because they know better than to drive in blizzards," I said as the car shimmied through another fishtail.
l I learned that there are many ways to injure yourself skiing. That's why the resort hotel had a clinic on the first floor.
l I learned I had no problem sitting in a comfortable chair before a roaring fire reading Rocky Mountain newspapers, ignoring all suggestions I risk fractures.
l I learned where all those hippies from my 1970 college days ended up.
l I learned they're big on recycling, Starbucks coffee shops and exercise.
l I learned they are friendly and peaceful, reserving the state's death penalty for the heinous crime of improper parking, which was enforced with death-row zeal.
l I learned skiers don't care much for color coordination. They either have a very odd fashion sense or consider red and purple outerwear valuable because it's easy to spot when they come looking for you after an avalanche.
l I learned ski resorts are big on stylish boutiques, which sell apparel featuring eagle feathers, fur and rawhide - a sort of American Indian theme if, for example, an Indian tribe happened to live on New York's Fifth Avenue.
l I learned you could spend a dollar on a postcard in one of these places, or find them a fourth that price at a grocery store in the Denver suburbs.
l I did not learn the Colorado state motto, but I suspect it's "Steer car in direction of skid."
l I learned my wife has a travel motto: "Charge!"
l And I learned there's no such thing as a "free trip." Like its cousin, "free lunch," it comes with costs you never considered.
OK, maybe I already knew that.
Maybe we all do.
Reach Bill Kirby at (706) 823-3344 or email@example.com.