HOW TO MAKE FAST FRIENDS WHILE TRAVELING
Conversations are a funny thing especially now with the social media influences changing how people communicate.
The art of making fast friends is a dying art form and the alternative leaves people feeling lonely and disconnected to the spaces they occupy. I hear passive conversations around me about “where to go” and “what to do” in a city and immediately see people begin clicking on their phones all while they’re standing in the company of a community of locals and others travelers.
While there are many amazing travel blogs and websites there are unfortunately many of them that explore only regurgitated travel information pre-gathered through query of other travelers and online searches and they’re missing the hidden adventures and gems that can be discovered through talking in person with a local or educated traveler along their paths.
I still enjoy making personal connections with people and listening to the parts of their lives they choose to share. Wherever we travel I’m frequently engaged in conversations with strangers and gain knowledge of an area.
During our Christmas ski trip to Steamboat Resort in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, I had the pleasure of speaking with many people as we rode the ski lifts, journeyed out on shuttles, waited in lines and relaxed at various eateries.
Of my favorite conversations was one with a young teenage girl from Chicago that we had the pleasure of sitting down next to at the lobby of the Steamboat Grand while waiting for our shuttle downtown. She told me she skis Steamboat every year with her brother as they spend the holidays here with her grandparents.
I wonder if I can get my parents to relocate to Colorado so we can spend Christmas with them as well as on the slopes? My son met and chatted with Steamboat Realtor, Doug Labor on our flight and apparently they had a good discussion of market trends. I’m pretty sure my parents will never go for a move to Colorado as they’ve had enough cold weather and are well-settled with 25 years in the southern sunshine but, my tween son has a real estate connection in case they change their minds.
Back to the conversation in the lobby: Our conversation took us down the various runs and the challenges of Steamboat. It makes me smile whenever I see the cautionary statement “Degree of difficulty ratings and symbols are relative to Steamboat Ski Resort only,” and what that means is that the easy-going green circles of the Midwest are more closely related to the Midwest black diamond. It’s all relative! Einstein actually said, “Everything is relative” and vantage points are the point here as is understanding your skiing abilities and ego.
Our new friend started talking about her early morning on the slopes following a long night of snowfall; first tracks.
First Tracks. Freshies: The first to hit the newly fallen snow and groomed slopes. AKA: Morning people. I spent my years as a competitive figure skater hitting the ice at 4:15am. I did my time. I’ve earned my mornings to sleep late and with that said there is still the draw to those early mornings that athletes know too well… there’s something in the air that’s a tangible excitement of what’s ahead in the day.
I digress: She said it was an amazing few hours with several inches of fresh champagne powder topping the packed powder and how her edges were precise and carving deep.
The quiet of a morning on the slopes with fresh snowfall; effortlessly leaning forward into your turns and carving your tracks. I know this feeling well…
Yes, we missed it. I told our new friend we decided to sleep late and order breakfast to the room. She had a look of sympathy for our ski-day loss.
The way she articulated her morning on the slopes was incredible. We were right there with her sharing her stories of excitement over the fresh powder. We really should have set an early alarm for first tracks… next time.
We spoke of various ski resorts and she shared with my two young skiers her path toward Steamboat black diamonds. She reminded me of my own teenage years and the fearless pursuit of conquering black diamond slopes.
Steamboat black diamond runs: As I age the ground gets further away and hurts more when I unintentionally crash into it, so I keep it at intermediate skiing skills with my kids and maintain my vertical position. I did push myself and my alter-ego told me I could take a jump to catch up with my lightning-fast daughter and after I actually landed and pulled it off my cautious-side yelled “Let’s not do that again!” Truth be told… when my kids advance to being able to handle Steamboats black diamond runs I will be right there behind them.
When the shuttle arrived our new friend politely said, “It was a joy talking with you. Have a wonderful stay.” What an amazing way to end an enjoyable conversation. I’m going to start saying this when it’s time to leave. What a wonderful young girl.
Whenever we find ourselves in Steamboat Springs we always visit Old Town Hot Springs. The springs are amazing and only get better when the snow falls. It’s breathtaking to see the mist hover above the springs and to feel the cold on your face as you soak in the healing hot waters. Getting out can be moderately traumatic and eventually you must get out; all good things come to an end. This end comes with a brisk walk to the locker room.
After soaking in the various healing pools we made our dash inside to get out of our wet swimsuits. I struggled to get my daughter out of her wet suit and into dry clothing; she wasn’t completely dry and dressing a damp child is like trying to hand-stuff a sausage casing with a live pig.
I was officially tired from the day on the slopes and from soaking in the hot springs; just wanting to get back to the condo and into my bed for the evening and the war with her leggings was getting the best of me.
The woman across from me on the benches in the locker room was a local and mentioned she had her entire family in town for the holidays. We laughed about how difficult it is to dress a wet child and how difficult it is to then get on our own clothes. This could possibly be one of those “put your oxygen mask on first and then help others around you” moments you hear on every in-flight instruction. Next time I get dressed first then battle my daughters leggings.
We talked about the hot springs and laughed about the joys and the struggles of motherhood. We both concluded we would have Christmas cookies and hot cocoa to finish up our evening. As we were finishing up the battles of getting into our dry clothing she asked my daughter, “Do you know why your mommy and I are talking like old friends?” Then she tells her, “because we’re both mothers and we share some of the same stories of parenthood.” We laughed and she agreed that so often strangers are friends you just haven’t met yet. I look forward to bumping into her again on our next trip around to the springs.
There were many other conversations along the way during this trip and I’m always reminded how much we all have in common in the ski towns: It’s a collective experience.
As I sat in the hot springs I heard a gentleman talking to the man seated across from him about his summer biking, as in motorcycles, all around the west and how he joined a group that made him feel he belonged.
We all do so much on our own. We work to handle the loads but really the comorodery of shared life experiences, passions, parenthood, awesome slopes, injuries, heartaches and celebrations connect us together and make us feel connected to something larger than ourselves in small ski town USA and beyond. It’s always wonderful making new friends in passing and hearing another’s stories of life.
Listening to a conversation on the shuttle ride we started talking to a family who was recalling a conversation they had the previous year with a gentleman from Arkansas that shared many strange but true Arkansas facts including that it’s not permitted to transport a goat in the back of a truck on Sundays.
I didn’t know that tidbit.
Conversations are a funny thing because you never know where they’ll take you or what you’ll learn if you take the time to engage with those living their lives around you.