It was a rare opportunity. The chance to explore the best outdoor towns in the United States, looking for the perfect place for an avid xc ski racer to live. I made it my goal for the entire off-season: to find XC Town USA. This is my journey.
Last spring, my life was in transition.
I had spent the past six years devoting my life to cross country ski racing. I had been living in Park City, Utah, training full time, as well as working a full-time job. When the 2002 season wrapped up, I was feeling burnt out. My results had been stagnant for three years and the frustration over lack of improvement was keeping me from enjoying skiing. Deep down, I knew that I still had a love of ski racing and I was not ready to give up the sport, but I knew I needed a change if I was going to regain the spark I had enjoyed years before.
At the same time I was having all these feeling, I also got laid off from my job as a software engineer. My job was essentially the only thing keeping me in the Park City. My girlfriend and I had talked about moving somewhere new, but I was reluctant to leave a well-paying job. But once I was cut loose by my former company, we both quickly decided that a change in scenery might be exactly what we needed.
Secondly, I miss water. I know this sounds strange. After all, skiers want water in its frozen form – and there is usually plenty of that in Park City. But Park City is a desert climate in the non-winter months. There are no lakes, there are few rivers, and as a result it doesn't have a lot of trees or woods. Sure, I loved having over 300 days of sunshine a year, I missed the lakes and lush forests of New England.
Third, we wanted to explore more of the country. My heart has always been in northern New England. My girlfriend and I both have all of our family there, and we plan on heading back there someday. But we both wanted to make sure we had exhausted the potential experiences in the rest of the country before we moved back. Park City was ripe with opportunities, and I made the most of them – countless trips to Moab, backpacking in the Uinta Mountains, backcountry skiing in the Wasatch, etc. And now I want to do the same in a new area.
Having established why we were leaving, and what we were looking for, in early July we packed up the car and left Utah.
First stop: Oregon