This is my real estate blog. But really, it’s more of a Mad River Valley blog. A lifestyle blog. When people ask me why so little of what I write is actually about real estate, the answer is pretty simple. I live in the Mad River Valley because it’s one of the most idyllic places I have ever been, and I live a lifestyle that I love to share; the Mad River Valley is a place where the intangibles are ju
st as good as the attractions. We play at world class ski area’s as an afterthought, grabbing a few runs after work before flying home (a little late) to make dinner. Our kids get out of school at 11:00 am one day a week to go skiing, as part of their curriculum, and ride the bus home from the ski area. They participate in after-school nordic skiing, and play outdoors at recess, no matter the weather. During the heat of the summer I frequently abandon my office and work from a beach chair along the river, while my children and their friends swim nearby. I don’t see a stoplight for months on end, and I get excited when the ski socks go on sale in November. Maple syrup flows like water in every restaurant and kitchen I know. In the summer it is so green here that it feels like we live in a painting. And when I drive home in the winter I still marvel at the sight of Mt Ellen towering over me as I go. How much better can it be?
I stopped here on my way home from a summer of camping one year and I never left. I fell in love with the place and that’s not a hard thing to do. The mountains are amazing, the air is clean, and the swagger is decidedly unique. Local select boards, planning commissions and zoning boards have fought hard to keep the Mad River Valley different, by keeping things just the same as they have been since the ski industry arrived here in 1948, and changed the landscape forever.
But what makes this Valley truly unique is not just those efforts to keep it Vermont, but to keep it from turning into what so many have come to view as Vermont. To keep it from turning into Killington and Stowe, where micro-economies have grown out of what were once quaint New England towns, and now stand as beacons of commercialism on a once pristine mountainside. In fact, when Roland Palmedo founded Mad River Glen he felt that sport, not profit, should be the cornerstone of the industry, and much of the Mad River Valleys collective resistance to change seems to have developed from that mantra. And Roland should know; he was one of the original investors in the Stowe Mountain Resort.
Still, it comes at a cost. While the weekend traffic and crowds in the Mad River Valley are more manageable than at resorts to the south and the north, restaurants and local shops rely more heavily here on the fortunes of the ski industry, while in other resort communities their commercial nature alone seems to attract visitors no matter the conditions on the hill. And while real estate here booms just like in other resort communities, restrictions on development in historic districts dictate that prime real estate must remain residential in many areas, driving commercial enterprises further afield, or to other less restrictive resort communities altogether. Many rue the deleterious effect this may have on their own fortunes, while they relish in the tranquility they enjoy at the same time. And as technology changes, so do people’s reliance on that technology, digitally short-cutting travelers past open signs and restaurants in an increasing need to move faster and more efficiently in space and time. The technological age has not been kind to those that survive on small roads in resort towns that Google may not recognize as the shortest point between A and B.
Still, as the world around us speeds up, synergizes and optimizes, the Mad River Valley remains delightfully unchanged. While that slow pace of progress may require us to work a bit harder and more often than we like or might otherwise need, it may also be the price of the lifestyle so many seek but have difficulty finding. So when people ask why my real estate blog has so little about real estate the answer really is pretty simple. I’m not selling real estate so much as I’m selling my dream to anyone who seems to agree. Because if this is not what they seek, we are probably all better off if their instincts take them further up the road where they and we will be a whole lot happier. The Mad River Valley is not for everyone, but for those who know that it is, there is no other place on earth they would rather call home, and THAT is what I’m selling.