Thank you, Waterville Valley

On July 29, 2010, in Uncategorized, by admin

When I reflect on what makes Waterville Valley special, I inevitably come up with a long list which includes its spectacular range of outdoor recreational opportunities and its beautiful, unspoiled natural setting.  There’s a palpable sense of history here, starting with farming but quickly passing to tourism, with guests at first flocking to spend summer months in the cool mountain air, and later to play in the natural snow pocket formed by the four thousand foot peaks which rim the valley.  There’s a purpose-built village that provides comfortable accommodations without sacrificing the small-town feel on the altar of commerce.  All of these things make Waterville Valley a great place to visit, to take time away and literally re-create oneself.  It’s a great spot for a weekend or a vacation week.

What’s not so obvious to the casual observer or first-time visitor is the compelling sense of community that long-time guests and residents feel.  It’s this sense of community that pulls us together in good times and bad — to support a sick neighbor in their time of greatest need, to celebrate important milestones and passages together.  In the past year, we’ve lost two of our own, at opposite ends of the life spectrum:  Howard Grimes and Marc Paul Decoteau were both mourned by our small, close-knit community.  No doubt tears were shed for both men, but both will be remembered well and fondly by us all.  Our community is much richer for having both men, and for our irresistible desire to pull together to celebrate their lives.

Last Saturday night, the Waterville Valley Foundation sponsored the first of what we hope will be the first of many gatherings designed to foster community.  Well over two hundred of the Waterville Valley faithful turned out to enjoy a truly excellent buffet dinner prepared by the Waterville Valley Conference Center, and to dance to the rousing sounds of the Wicked Smart Horn Band.  As I looked around the room, I was struck by the notion that, however diverse our backgrounds, we are welded into a single unit by our love of this special place.

I want to thank all the people who joined us for this special evening, and who came out in part to support the establishment of a memorial for Marc Paul Decoteau.  I’d also like to thank the generous donors who, even though they couldn’t attend the event, gave freely in support of the memorial.  Finally, I would like to thank once again all the members of the event committee and the Waterville Valley Foundation board of directors, who worked so hard and tirelessly to make the event such a great success.  I think I can say with confidence that a good time was had by all.

Marc Paul Decoteau Memorial Flagpole at WVES

Amid the reconstruction project, the Marc Paul Decoteau memorial flagpole stands proudly against the summer sky.

I am also happy to report that the memorial flagpole has already been placed at the Waterville Valley Elementary School, and that a plaque will soon follow.  There will be a dedication ceremony in the fall, and I hope you’ll be able join us for this proud moment.  Watch this space for more news.


A busman’s holiday

On July 10, 2010, in Uncategorized, by admin

One of the great pleasures of spending a lot of time here in the Valley is living in close proximity with nature. Ironically, this has been brought home to me keenly during recent weeks, as my family has made its way across the country to experience the wonders of Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.  Both Parks are truly spectacular, both geologically and from a wildlife perspective, serving as they do as refuges for some of North America’s greatest and most endangered creatures.  There is an indescribable majesty in seeing bison herds close up – and no small measure of humor and joy in watching a 2000 pound bull bison rolling on his back in a dust bath.  There is a special, quiet thrill in walking across an Alpine snowfield to encounter a bighorn sheep or a mountain goat browsing on grasses poking through the snow.  Seeing a bull elk mere feet away is truly impressive. All these things have marked Nancy and me – to say nothing of our children – indelibly, and have made all the long miles in the Wagonback Family Truckster worthwhile. I  urge you to make the trip yourself someday soon.

All that said – and not to be an apologist for the White Mountains – being out west has made me appreciate all the more what we have back home in Waterville Valley.  What we lack in grizzly bears and interpretive ranger walks, we more than make up for in intimacy with our nature experience. It’s actually quite easy to find wildlife in our western national parks… just look for the big crowd of people or the “bearjam” on the narrow park roads.  You’ll invariably find some wonder of nature studiously ignoring the gaggle of tourists or backing warily away from some clueless Nimrod encroaching thoughtlessly on its comfort zone. That more tourists aren’t trampled, mauled or gored is no small wonder to me.  I think I have come to take for granted my regular, chance encounters with wild things, whether it’s a fox stepping lightly through my yard, a moose in a bog along 49, or a bear on his rounds of Town Square. In each case, however fleetingly, it’s most often a one-on-one, quiet experience, and I walk away feeling enriched. I think it’s endemic in those of us who love the Valley to also treasure such encounters.  Whether in Yellowstone or in the White Mountains, they are the stuff of lifetime memories.

And on the subject of memories: I want to remind you that it’s just two short weeks until the Waterville Valley Foundation’s “Memories in the Mountains” community gathering. My family has had a milestone this week with the passing of my 86-year old father after a long illness; some of my happiest recent memories of Dad are of his visits to our home in the Valley… lingering over dinner and enjoying each other’s company.  I’ll be thinking of my Dad and of other absent friends and loved ones on July 24th, but I will also be thinking of all the great memories I have of time well spent in the DubVee, and all the great memories yet to come.  Tickets to this event – which takes place on Saturday July 24th at 6pm at the WV Conference Center and includes a buffet barbeque and entertainment by the Wicked Smart Horn Band – are available by mail, through the WV Rec Department, or at the Concierge desk in Town Square.