Free to work as hard or play as hard as we want to


Sometimes the complicated mathematics of choosing what to write about in my weekly column bogs me down, and I have trouble getting started.

Life changes even as I look out my window at Pole Pass, and watch the occasional southbound boat that cruised an extra week, or two hundred more miles north. The weather has been as close to perfect as possible for almost two months straight, and the fortunate retired people who aren’t worried about mowing the lawn in front of their condominium have really been enjoying the extra time on their boats this summer.

The weekend loads on the ferryboats that come to our island are having the largest crowds that I have ever seen. It is further testimony to the fact that almost everyone is playing their life a little closer to home because of four and five dollar a gallon gasoline.

They are discovering wonderful places twice as close as where they used to go for a weekend.

Laurie and I are very fortunate because we live on this island, and have a dock right in front of our house. We have a small runabout on one side of the dock, and a larger boat for longer cruises, such as the thousand-mile trip we take to Glacier Bay in Alaska.

Last week we had some good friends from Boston and Montana come and stay with us for a few days. A trip around our island included a visit to a great pottery place, where everyone who stops spends whatever float they have left on interesting pieces.

Then we drive by the only lumberyard I have ever seen without a fence around it. I can go there on a Sunday, fill up my trailer, and leave a note listing what I had driven away with.

Next stop is one of the three best skateboard parks in the world, and then off to the summit of Mt. Constitution—2,400 feet above sea level and you can see almost half of the 178 islands in our neighborhood, only four of which have ferry service.

This was followed by lunch at the cooperative Art Gallery, and a visit to the golf course where I play as often as time permits, but not as often as I want to. We didn’t even have time to put out the crab pots and get fresh crab for everyone, but, with a 15-mile trip in our boat to Sidney, British Columbia, clearing customs, and then an overnight stay at Forrest Island, I knew my friends from Montana who lived there would have a fresh crab dinner!

Sitting by a campfire and watching all the boat traffic haul a lot of people back to reality in whatever large city they live in, always gives me a real dose of reality, when I know how lucky I am to live where I do. No smog, and very little crime, because “where would you go and hide after you commit your crime?” It would be at least a two-hour ride on the ferry to get there.

The primary business in this part of the world, of course, is tourism. Unfortunately, the word is getting out about what a great place it is. For example, a national magazine declared it as one of the 10 best places in America to get married. I personally think you can eliminate the other nine places and save looking around for a better one.

Years ago, my daughter got married in front of our house with the ferry boat giving a toot as it glided by in the late afternoon sun. Laurie cooked all of the food for the reception and my neighbor, Mike Brown, was the preacher.

As I sit on the front porch in the late afternoon sun, I watch it disappear behind Pole Pass. It is setting farther to the south every night. Before I know it, Laurie and I will be packing up our stuff for our annual migration to Montana to live on the side of a ski hill at the Yellowstone Club.

Our two houses are identical, and I can sit at the same desk there, use this same computer to finish up my biography, and have lunch in the Timberline Café. The top of the chairlift goes right by our bedroom window.

The ebb and flow of politics is uppermost in everyone’s mind right now, but let’s not forget that this country is all about freedom and anyone of us is free to work as hard or play as hard as we want to.

The trick is to always live a little below whatever your monthly income is. Tithe 10 percent of your growth income to yourself first and you can enjoy the last half of your life as much as you did the first half. I am glad I have followed this philosophy for most of my life, because doing so has given me the ultimate freedom to live exactly as I choose.

Warren Miller is an American ski and snowboarding filmmaker. He is the founder of Warren Miller Entertainment and produced, directed and narrated his films until 1988. His annual films on skiing and other outdoor sports are renowned for their stunning photography, witty narrative humor, and the impressive talents of athletes. He has received wide acclaim for his promotion of the sport of modern skiing through his films spanning over 50 years and is an iconic figure in ski movie filmmaking. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of the Mammoth Times.