Monday, March 22, 2004

From 'Bavarian' to 'Buddhist'

When I was a kid in the 1960s, the decor and nomenclature of Colorado ski towns relied heavily on the ersatz-Austrian, sort-of-Swiss, or bogus-Bavarian model. Everywhere you looked (and still look, in some cases), was "Alpen-this" or the "Something Haus" or "Hof." For the full flower of the bogus-Bavarian 1960s, visit the older parts of Vail.

It's not just Colorado, of course. Park City, Utah, has its Edelweiss Haus condominiums; if I had $10 for every "Edelweiss" and "Haus," I would be much richer. (The Edelweiss flower does not bloom in the Rockies except on signboards.) Now, when I see these Berchtesgarden School houses, restaurants, etc., I think that they should be next in line for historic preservation, after the Mining Boom structures of the late 1800s.

Over the equinoctal weekend, Mary and I took a room at the Mining Boom-era Delaware Hotel in decidedly non-Bavarian Leadville. (It has an "Alps Motel," that's all.) We put in a few miles of cross-country skiing on snow that was turned to mush and slop by a week of unusually warm weather. On Sunday, we skied to the Tennessee Pass Cookhouse for lunch.

On the wall were several Tibetan-style Buddhist pictures: a mandala and a landscape of a Himalayan monastery. Right next to the last was a painting of the Cookhouse itself, done in the same Tibetan style. Is that going to be the next trend? The Cookhouse itself is a big yurt (or ger, as my friends who have visited Mongolia insist that it should be called), possibly produced by this firm or someone with a similar product.

LEFT: The Tennesee Pass Cookhouse

What comes next, the Potala Condominiums? A few people are already raising yaks, I know. Trendy-Buddhism already has a toehold in interior decorating and, for a local-history angle, the CIA trained fighters in the doomed early 1960s Tibetan resistance movement just down the road at Camp Hale, the old mountain-troops base.


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