This past month, my increasingly “nomadic intern” ways have taken me to a variety of scenic and frosty alpine locales. Beaver Creek, Keystone, Echo Lake, and Copper Mountain all spring to mind as appropriate venues for an excitable snowshoer to discover and explore.
So when Ryan (publisher of Snowshoemag) phoned me with the itinerary for our most unusual expedition to date, my mind was ablaze with the possibilities. There were an infinite number of destinations we’d yet to experience. Would it be a trek across Yellowstone or a journey to the frozen tundra of Alaska? Perhaps some ice fishing in Minnesota or seal-clubbing in the Artic Circle? My jaw dropped when he uttered these two words: “Vegas baby”.
I instantly envisioned what snowshoe tracks would look like creeping up a desert dune toward the horizon like a National Geographic photo of a mother sea turtle. I saw my own skeleton clutching ski poles leaning against a giant cactus, buzzards perched on my clavicle with my snowshoes wedged in the sand at my feet. Then I imagined the two of us “high-rolling” in suits, placing friendly wagers on the Beaver Creek Snowshoe Adventure Series while we sipped our complimentary cocktails. It turns out we were headed to the 2005 Snowsports Show (or SIA 05) at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Needless to say I would be leaving my canteen and GORE-TEX behind for this adventure.
We arrived at 9 a.m., ready to take Sin City by storm. It was my first trip to Las Vegas and I certainly felt like a tourist, wide-eyed and overwhelmed with the sensation of ubiquitous movement. Glistening advertisements and television screens burst with color and motion from every angle; it was the first time I’ve ever felt like I needed to pop my Dramamine AFTER I got off the plane.
The convention itself was a microcosm of the city, booths and people filling-up every inch of your line-of-sight competing for your attention. We met our kind hosts from SIA, adorned our press-pass laminates and set-up camp in the Nordic Village – our home away from home.
The word of the day was “enthusiasm” and every solicitor was anxious to shake our hands and tell us what they were all about. We entered the main hall through the snowboarding area, and we quickly discovered that the “alternative” winter sports were determined uphold their edgy reputations. Thumping base from enormous speakers created more the feel of an urban dance club than a showcase for winter products. And oh the products we saw! From fancy personal headlights for winter sports at night to a nifty transforming ski/snowshoe apparatus to a whole kaleidoscope of energy bars, drinks and gels.
We met up with the representatives of all the present major snowshoe manufacturers (Atlas, Tubbs, and Yukon Charlie’s to name a few), who greeted us with smiles and optimism. It was a good day for winter sports and a good day for commerce.
After a full day of hob-knobbing and networking, we felt we’d earned a night on the town. Off we went to the hotel, then on to roam the strip and randomly quote the late Hunter S. Thompson, Frank Sinatra and “Swingers” to whoever would listen. It was a night of fiscal fun and frivolity where I spent every loose quarter hoping to win big at the slots (I didn’t) and to get in some PG-13 trouble (I didn’t).
Mostly what I took from my trip with Snowshoe Magazine is that Vegas IS a place where the average person (even “Marcus the Intern”) can live like a king. The buffets, free drinks and roulette wheels are their own form of winter wonderland not unlike a Rocky Mountain forest. You must tread carefully, stay your course, and avoid injury. Otherwise it can cost you tremendously.