Skiing With the Mayor King
Three Days in the Taos Ski Valley By Ringo Boitano Photographs by Deb Roskamp
Whoever created the Taos Ski Valley
took extra special care."
- Neal King, Mayor, Taos Ski Valley
here was a look of horror on his face. I easily had 30 pounds on him,
and probably the same in years. A collision would certainly be of greater
harm to him than to me. For just a fraction of a second our eyes met.
He then made a perfect Stem Christie to the safety of the hill on my
left. I had no choice but to ski to the bottom of the slope, my only
option taking an embarrassing fall. As I caught my breath, I looked
up at the towering mountain of skiers above me. I remembered the locals
line that Taos is another word for vertical. I also remembered
what a friend had told me earlier, If its been that long
since you last skied, then a beginners ski class is advised.
That beginners class would begin tomorrow.
At a base elevation of 9,207 feet, The
Taos Ski Valley is considered a skiers ski resort.
Located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Northern
New Mexico, the Taos
Ski Valley is nestled 15 miles northeast of Taos. Originally
a mining community, the resort was the dream of German native
Ernie Blake to create a Bavarian style ski resort. He moved his
family to a camper there in 1955 and the building of the world-class
resort began. To this day it remains one of the few family owned
and operated ski resorts in North America, with Blakes children
and grandchildren now running the operation. At a base elevation
of 9,207 feet, it is considered a skiers ski resort.
As I joined the ranks of seven beginning skiers, ranging
in ages thirteen to seventy, the monkey wrench tightening in my gut
made me wonder if I had make the right decision. I was never good at
group instruction and the boot camp sequences from Full Metal Jacket
came to mind. Before I could duck out, we were approached by a gentile
Englishman by the name of Neal King. After formal introductions, he
proceeded to tell us a couple of self-deprecating stories and we were
immediately in laughter and, most importantly, relaxed. Neal
started with the most basic of instructions - learning to take our skis
off and on. We did it a couple of times until he was completely sure
that everyone got it right. With a strong emphasis on safety, Neal made
us understand that we were always in control of our actions. An hour
later we were taking baby runs down the hill.
Neal - the Mayor King
Neal is one of those rare individuals who guides
you with seamless instruction, but makes you feel as if you were
doing it on your own. I wanted to please him as much as I wanted
to improve my skiing.
During break, I chatted with Neal and asked him
about his life. As a life-long skier, he has a deep passion for
the Taos Ski Valley. This passion transcends skiing; for Neal
is also the mayor of the community. Much of his time is spent
promoting the TSV as a summer resort.
At the end of the day it was obvious why the ski
school is consistently rated one of the finest in North America.
Not only did it offer 4 1/2 hours of world-class lessons, but
great value with beginner lift ticket, skis and boot rentals included
in the rate. TSV also offers popular Ski Weeks, designed for skiers
of all abilities, to help them learn to be better skiers.
I couldnt wait to hit the slopes the next morning.
But first it was important that I get an objective overview of the TSVs
après-ski pleasures, represented in seven different bars, many
offering live entertainment.
Just down the mountain from the TSV is Taos - a fascinating
mosaic of different cultures, architecture, museums, galleries, shopping
and regional New Mexican cuisine. It makes for a great break from skiing
and is worth visiting regardless of the season.
Pueblo is a UNESCO
World Heritage site, continuously inhabited for over 1,000 years
by the Tiwa-speaking Native American Pueblo people. With a population
of approximately 2000 people, the Pueblo is multi-leveled homes made
of adobe, built side-by-side. It is open to visitors, except during
The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is the second highest
suspension bridge in the U.S.
Circle is an 86-mile road trip through the southern Rocky Mountains.
With Taos at its center, highlights include Angel Fire Resort, the Vietnam
Veterans National Memorial, Eagle Nest, Red River and the Rio Grande
is located between Taos and the Albuquerque Airport. World-famous, it
is Americas oldest capital city and home to the nations
third largest art market.
Feedback for Ringo
I love Ringo's piece on historic hotels. I once stayed
at the Laurentian in Montreal - is it still around, is it historic?
And then there was the Heups in Bismark.
It is interesting that two of your entries are in CANADA.
Brent, Seattle, WA
It's no mystery that you are great at what you do.
Sandee, Seattle, WA
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The Mystery on the Oasis pics are very funny!
Ramon, Kansas City, MO
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Ha ha ha ha ha...love your "schtick" Ringo!!
Dolly, Las Vegas, NV
Hello the travelling Boitano's hope you enjoy. Best
My Irish roots understand terrible beauty. So do my
human roots. The concept has such a ring of truth to it, doesn't it?
Great article, Ringo. I hope to get to Ireland eventually, and thanks
for blazing the trail!
Sandeee Bleu, Seattle, WA
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No wonder I've been hearing all these wonderful stories
about Ireland. I used to think that it was just for Irish Americans
seeking their ancestral roots but your article seems to call out to
the non-Irish like me. Fascinating and intriguing.
Peter Paul, Pasadena, CA
Thanks for this great post wow... it's very wonderful.
Key Logger, New York
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Lets not forget that the Marriot Harbor Beach is within
walking distance to the world famous Elbo Room - Fort Lauderdale's oldest
Jeff, Fort Lauderdale, FL
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Thanks for taking the time
for the message and reminder. Indeed, I had a quick drink at the Elbo
Room. My trip to Ft. Lauderdale would not have been complete without
a visit to this historic institution.I have been reading about it for
years, and was not disappointed. It felt like a real local's hangout.
thoroughly enjoyed your article about Dick and Liz. I remember seeing
that article back in the heyday of Life Magazine.
To remember the "behind-the-scenes" stories
like that makes you genuine fan of the 60's. The famous couple's turbulent
relationship was just a precursor of today's headline-grabbing media
stars like Britney Spears and her colleagues. Life was simpler then.
The paparazzis still had some sense of decency. You "coulda"
been a good paparazzi. I say "coulda" because you kept this
to yourself all these many years.
Looking forward to other media trivia you can remember.
Peter Paul, South Pasadena, CA
Enjoyed your article on Antarctica --- cool photos,
too. One thing, you mentioned that Ushuaia in Argentina is considered
the most southern city in the world. I read that Chile lays claim to
that distinction, with Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in the world.
Mick, Greenbay, WI
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Now that football season is
over --- Ive often wondered what you Packer fans did in the off
season ---- its great that you took the time to visit TravelingBoy.
Great question, unlike my older brother, I adore all lamb products,
and Patagonian Lamb --- cooked in a restricted area at the restaurant
in an opened wood-fueled fire pit --- is amazing. The chef actually
uses an ax to carve it. Frankly, I found it superior to Norwegian fjord
lamb, Irish Burren lamb and even those much esteemed creatures down
in New Zealand. The crab in Ushuaia is the other thing to eat. Wait
a sec, you asked about Punta Arenas vs. Ushuaia as the furthermost city
in the world. Well, they both have little disclaimers re populations
--- you know, whats a city, which one is a town, ect so
better let Chile and Argentina brass it out. They seem to be able to
argue about any subject.
Three Musical Pilgrimages: Mozart, Grieg and Hendrix
Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
could read and compose music, plus play the violin and piano, when he was
five years old. Born into a musical family in Salzburg, Austria (then the
Holy Roman Empire), he had a unique ability for imitating music, which first
became evident when he recited a musical piece by simply observing his father
conducting a lesson to his older sister. This led to a childhood on the
road, where the young prodigy performed before many of the royal courts
Treasures of Ireland: The Irish Goodbye (Dispatch
The Palladian Traveler brings to a close his 20-part
series on the Emerald Isle from an upscale restaurant in downtown Dublin
where he files his final dispatch and then quietly slips away.