Nepal 26: Smoking Alone

[The featured image will make sense if you read the whole entry. Photo was taken in Feb 2014, two years before I was in Nepal. If you are new to this story, I suggest starting at chapter 1].

When I returned to my room, the gratitude turned to sadness.

The high had faded, and I was alone again.

I sat down at the smoking table, slumping in the chair. I laid the joint down, and looked across the tiny table. A second chair sat empty.  No one to smoke with.

I checked my email.

An Austrian company, Runtastic, was trying to recruit me.

We had been going back and forth ever since I lost my job in Bali, sending work samples and writing pieces, discussing the logistics of potentially moving to Austria, obtaining a red-white-red card, learning German. It was an exciting opportunity which had colored the tail end of my trip; an optimistic pallor hanging over a cold and dreary month in Taipei.

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Nepal 25: Smoking with Sujan

cannabis nepal

Sujan walked me around Kathmandu for a few hours.

As we spent more time together, our chemistry grew and my walls started to drop, a little bit. We went to the monastery, where we spun prayer wheels and spoke of the mixture of Hinduism and Buddhism. Although in the U.S. we are taught the two religions are separate, here, as in many places in Asia, they have intermingled.

“Do not be afraid,” Sujan says when I hesitate to enter a temple. “Is touristic place.”

He shows me an array of butter lamps inside the temple. “Do you have someone to light one for? Good health, good thoughts? Prayers? Love?”

I light a lamp for Holly, and we return to the streets of Kathmandu.

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A Day in the Life

[ed. note: ski town content is finally resuming, courtesy of a friend in Vail. He’s a great writer and a better ski bum than I. His writing will run alongside my travel content as we move towards a more diverse magazine. Hope you all are enjoying your winters!]

Wham!  A slap of the snooze button and a groan, I’m awake at 5am.  Time to video chat with the now ex-girlfriend in Bulgaria, it’s already 2pm there.  After a shower and a quick breakfast I’m out the door by 6, just enough time to walk to work for my 6:15 shift.

I breath in the crisp Rocky Mountain air and start walking through 6 inches of fresh snow, thinking to myself – ‘Damn, too bad I’m not cruising this fresh powder instead of serving breakfast to tourists. . .’

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Soon after I get to work I devise a plan to get out early. Sure enough, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Working fast and talking faster, I’m out the door by 8.  Smell ya later, it’s time for some much needed snowboarding.  I’m heading back home and a friend, let’s call him T, excitedly calls me and asks if I’m going to shred the gnar.  Fuck ya.  Back home by 8:30.  A quick snack and the addition of some very warm socks later and it’s time to head to the village.  We meet up at Gondola One and by the looks of things, we’re among the first skiers on the mountain.  Hells Yes.

Excitement builds as we are comfortably lifted up the mountain in the padded and heated gondola.  Gloves, goggles, face mask, powder skirt and a pounding heart.  The trees are laden with fresh snow, and in some places, ice; a real winter wonderland.  The doors open, we strap in and off we go.  Cruising thick stacks of fresh snow, running my fingers through it as I’m rocketing down the mountain parallel to the ground.  I catch air and boom! A shot of cold champagne powder slams into my face, nearly choking me. In the ski world this is called a face shot.  In this town if you’re not taking fresh snow to the dome, it’s not a powder day.

If you’ve ever surfed before, riding fresh powder is very similar, however, I ironically think that snowboarding is much more fluid.  The waves are moving and pushing beneath you, exerting their force on you, but with snowboarding everything just flows.  It doesn’t matter how you move your board, it’s like sliding down whipped cream.  And the best part is that wiping out is fun.  Ever jumped into a pile of waist deep snow?  Might as well be falling onto a pile of feathers.  These are the days when you drop cliffs and try crazy tricks.

The deep snow also has a very surreal calming effect.  Sound is dampened and being surrounded by an entire world of white allows you to drift into a totally different plane of reality.  It’s just you, the mountain, and your board.  In some ways snowboarding has been one of the most spiritual experiences of my life (the exception, by far, being DMT).

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T and I meet up at the bottom of the lift, giant, stupid grins spread across our faces.  A fist bump later and we’re traveling up the mountain again, this time on an open chair lift, cold air on our faces, shouting playful encouragement at the skiers below us.  T looks over at me; ‘safety meeting?’  ‘You know it.’  We cruise into the trees, find a nice smoke shack to post up in and spark a bowl.  Taking full advantage of legal marijuana has been one of my favorite parts about living in Colorado.  At times I smoke too much – Ha!  But blazing up on the mountain (among other things) is always recommended.  I always feel a bit more connected to my board and the mountain after inhaling a bit of ganja and usually end up pushing myself just because I’ll get into sketchier situations, say ‘fuck it, let’s do this’ and flow through them.

T and I do a few more runs, zipping through the trees and traversing most of the front side of the mountain.  But soon enough, the munchies kick in and it’s time for the classic chicken & bean burrito at La Cantina, a very ski bum budget friendly Mexican bar not far from the slopes.

Then it’s time for the 10 minute walk home, a game of zombies with the roommate and a freshly cooked meal before getting ready to wake up and do it all over again.

 

This is my life.

I’m very excited to share it with you.  Stories of adventure, drugs, danger, love and life decisions.  Battles with depression and coming of age.  The joys and turmoils of a fast paced life.  The behind the scenes of what it really means to be a ski bum.  Of letting go and allowing life to take you where you need to go – whether it’s dropping out of college to follow your dreams or opening your heart to another human being.

I live, work and play in the resort town of Vail, Colorado, where everything revolves around the snow.  Whether it’s good or bad drastically affects the tourism business and can mean the difference between a lucrative season or going out of business.  For example, I-70 – the interstate that connects Vail to the rest of the world – causes millions of dollars in losses every time it is shut down.  That being said, living in a resort town allows you to make amazing money with very little experience; really, only the skill of being able to talk to people is required.  It also means 5 star meals and fresh seafood in the middle of the Rockies.  And, working for the company Vail Resorts means that you have the opportunity to snowboard 7 days a week for FREE.  Really can’t beat that.  Stay tuned.

 

– C

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Like it, love it, hate it? Tell me what to write about next in the comments below.

A Local’s Guide to Recreational Marijuana in Vail, Colorado

Native Roots Eagle Vail

“You’re from Colorado huh? How are those new weed laws treating you?”

Colorado Flag Pot Leaf

This is the first thing anyone ever asks me when I leave the state. No one wants to know about anything in Colorado except the recreational marijuana. Prior to the passage of Amendment 64 that question was “oh you’re from Colorado, do you guys like ski and snowboard every day?” (only the really lucky among us).

Since most of my readers are from outside of Colorado, allow me to answer the above question for you.

Marijuana has been a part of life in Colorado as far back as I was aware.

Growing up in Boulder, Colorado, it was more uncommon to find someone who didn’t smoke than to find someone who did. Now Boulder is “nine square miles surrounded by reality,” as the saying goes, but I’ve lived up and down the front range and now in the mountains, and this attitude isn’t limited to Boulder. When someone in Colorado asks you if you smoke, they’re usually not talking about cigarettes.

Recreational Marijuana has changed little in Colorado. It’s unobtrusive and it’s convenient. It’s expensive. It matters more to the tourists than it does to the locals.

Marijuana tourism is a huge industry here in Colorado, and the shops have only been open for a year. Tourists are allowed to purchase marijuana products, but are restricted to a quarter of an ounce. Let me reassure you: if you are the type of person who is traveling to Colorado to buy your weed, a quarter of an ounce will be plenty.

A guide to marijuana tourism in Vail

  1. Marijuana is technically illegal to use on Vail Mountain and in the town of Vail
  2. There are no recreational marijuana shops in Vail
  3. Neither of these things present a significant challenge if you want to check out Colorado’s pot shops while you are on vacation in Vail.

Can international travelers buy marijuana in Colorado?

Yes. You must be over 21 with valid ID.

How do I purchase marijuana in Colorado?

It’s honestly nothing intimidating— about the same as purchasing beer at a liquor store. Upon entering the store, you will be required to show a valid driver’s license to prove you are over the age of 21. Recreational marijuana sales are limited to those above the age of 21. Those underage cannot even enter the stores.

Most stores won’t take down your information or put you into any sort of database, so you don’t have to worry about being tracked or entrapped or whatever else your paranoid mind will can come up with after you’ve indulged in a joint or two. I have not heard of any stores in the Vail Valley which take permanent customer records.

After your ID is verified, you may be asked to wait in a lobby if the store is busy, or you may be shown into the bud room. If you have to wait, the dispensary will usually have menus and educational material available for your perusal. I would suggest reading the edible education card, lest you end up like hapless NYT columnist Maureen Dowd.

Tips on edible dosage

Once you are allowed into the bud room, you will wait in line and eventually talk to a budtender at the counter. This person can educate you on the wide variety of marijuana products available. This selection can be a little overwhelming for some people. As a tourist, stay away from some of the more gimmicky products, such as lotions and bath soaks, as these can be both gimmicky and expensive. Pre-rolled joints and vaporizer pens are safe, simple choices.

Make sure to factor a 30 percent tax onto any prices which are told to you— this hefty tax rate is used to support Colorado schools and other public works. It is a huge part of how Amendment 64 got passed and is a necessary evil at this point.

Where can I buy legal weed in Vail?

The town of Vail has no recreational marijuana shops as of January 2015. However, there are several only five minutes down the road in nearby Eagle-Vail. Many tourists charter taxis over to the shops. Some shops, such as Native Roots in Eagle-Vail, have partnered directly with taxi companies to make things even easier.

The Eagle-Vail dispensaries are the closest to Vail Mountain, but there are many other options throughout the Vail Valley, including in Eagle and Edwards. There are also a few recreational pot shops in Glenwood Springs, if you fancy a soak in the world’s largest hot springs pool after a few days skiing on the mountain has worn out your legs.

steamy hot springs winter night Glenwood Springs Colorado

The Glenwood Hot Springs is only a one hour drive from Vail, and an excellent way to close out your trip

Weedmaps.com provides an interactive, searchable map and database of the shops in the Vail Valley area, as well as elsewhere around CO.

How do I pay for recreational marijuana?

Cash, credit or debit are accepted at most shops. If a shop is cash-only they will always provide an ATM. You should not need to worry about this aspect.

Can I make a late-night run for pot?

No. Colorado law requires all transactions at these recreational marijuana shops to be closed before 7:00 p.m. This means that you should arrive no later than 6:30— the shop cannot legally sell you anything after 7:00 p.m., even if you are waiting in line.

What is the price of recreational marijuana in Colorado?

You can expect to pay 10-15 dollars for a joint of good quality bud, with occasional discounts or specials available.

Edibles will generally run between 10 and 35 dollars, depending on the concentration of THC. For a casual user, a 10mg dose of THC is usually more than enough to get quite stoned. The strongest edible legally allowed in Colorado is a 100 mg package. Be sure to examine the packaging or ask the budtender about the strength of the edible you are purchasing.

Marijuana by weight tends to cost around $20 a gram and $50-70 for an eighth of an ounce. The price you may have paid in high school, if you were buying illegally. Marijuana in the Vail Valley is extra pricey, like almost everything else in the area. Side effect of so many affluent tourists coming through. Prices are somewhat lower in other areas of the state.

If you are from Colorado many places will offer a local’s discount or an exemption on sales tax, so be sure to ask about that.

You can peruse the menu of the Eagle Vail Native Roots dispensary online to get a more thorough picture of product pricing.

Can I fire up a joint on the chairlift?

Legally: no. Practically: yes. While marijuana consumption is technically illegal on ski resort property, no one is going to bother you about it unless you are being a jackass. Be considerate of other people and the fact that a ski resort is a family destination, and you should be fine.

Where can I smoke weed in Vail?

Technically, if you are a tourist staying in a hotel, nowhere. Smoking marijuana in public is still illegal under Colorado law, and there are no cafes or bars which allow the activity yet. (One cafe in Nederland does allow indoor smoking but Nederland is a town full of old hippies and I’m pretty sure local authorities are kind of just looking the other way on it). But, as I said in the previous section: if you are reasonably discreet and not causing a public nuisance, you generally will not be bothered. Vail wants your money too much to make harassing you a priority.

In 2014 Vail police handed out only 19 citations for public consumption of marijuana, roughly one point five a month. So again, let me emphasize: be considerate and discreet, and you should be fine. If you know a local, you can smoke in their place of residence.

Marijuana is part of the ski town culture in a lot of ways, so although Vail does not like to emphasize it, it is there and it is accessible.

(As are many other substances rich people often indulge in, but that’s a post for another day).

Can I take recreational marijuana home with me?

If you are flying back home, then no. If you try, you will get caught. Period.

If you drove to Colorado and plan on driving back to your home state, then you could try and risk it. Bringing recreational pot outside of Colorado is illegal, but as you can imagine it does happen. Cops and state patrol in neighboring states are quite aware of marijuana bleeding out of Colorado, so be extra careful to properly seal your products and follow all rules of the road. It’s not the smartest idea, but if you think it’s worth the risk you’re welcome to try. Just don’t say I told you to.

If you have any other questions you’d like answered, leave them in the comments. I’ll respond.