Mountain Project Part One: Moving to a Resort Town.

Resort towns are cities of lost children paved with yellow bricks covered in snow. You can trade in rush-hour traffic for multiple jobs, rising debt, and the type of freedom that you can only find on the downward slope of a mountain leading to your front door. All you need is a good excuse to move: you just broke up with your significant other, you got laid off. Then rent a Uhaul and join the legacy of snowboard bums everywhere.

Let’s start with the details. Sign up for a P.O. Box immediately. There is no home delivery in most towns, so avoid being wait listed and having to face long postal lines and forwarding your mail to General Delivery. Invest in an expensive pair of sunglasses and stock up on chain-store merchandise. This means Gap, J.Crew, Circuit City, Petsmart, Target, and reasonably priced grocery stores. Buy your last tickets to a stadium-seating movie theatre, and oh yeah, make sure you have health insurance–life will be about cleaning up empty beer bottles and fixing broken bones while living in an apartment where toilet paper is a novelty.

Making the decision to move to a mountain town isn’t easy. It involves phone calls to your parents defending your direction in life, but you gain the privilege of a life dictated by weather patterns. Make friends with lifties, retail salesmen, and cops if you get the chance–DUIs get handed out like herpes.

Your new alibi is winter, and it only works in securing a season pass. I suggest saving up enough money to buy one while you still have a job, unless you want to become a slave to the resort. If you do work for the lift company, apply for a job in which you make tips. Other options include volunteering for the mountain or buying a merchant pass from your new minimum-wage job. Your season pass will become your most valuable asset next to the new board you’ll need every six weeks. You can “pro form” new equipment if you work in a retail shop, otherwise hit the pre-season or post-season sales.

The only way to get a sweet apartment is from hand me downs, but couch surfing and living out of your car is totally acceptable. Multiple roommates are a must for affordable housing, but think twice before you even consider employee housing. If you move to a town before Thanksgiving (hurry your ass up), you will learn what “mud season” is. A relief from tourists, but without tourism dollars, jobs and incomes are scarce. It’s your time to meet the locals and unpack before your winter fantasy evolves.

Now you can say, I’m home. Mom and Dad, school, or corporate America have disappeared in your rearview mirror and you are free-mind, body, boots and bindings. It’s kind of like regressing back to college life (unless you’ve done the right thing by postponing that step) where you feel rich and poor at the same time. The boys are easy and the scenery is spectacular. Cold, brisk mornings numb your responsibility to do anything but ride.