You are looking at the beautiful vacation homes of Ross Perot, Jr. And Sr., right next to each other! (Ross Jr.’s is to the right of this picture, Ross Perot Sr. to the left.) They are nested right next to the famous ski area, located¬†across from¬†The Four Seasons Residence¬†Club¬†in beautiful Vail, Colorado.
This was my first trip to Vail, a veritable second home playground to many Texans besides the Perots. Other celebs with homes there include hair magnate Paul Mitchell and Kelsey Grammer. Vail was perfection, warm in the day, cool at night, loaded with hikers, rafters, fly fishermen, bikers, mountain bike fanatics and peaceful tourists. They are gearing up for the fourth of July, Vail’s busiest day of the year. Meanwhile, far away poor Colorado residents and second home owners are dealing¬†with at least eight ¬†scary forest fires¬†that have burned thousands of acres of forest lands and that have destroyed some vacation homes, shut down tourist spots. Some major state highways were closed in southern Colorado over the weekend. Passengers who hiked the tall peaks told me of seeing smoke from about¬†a half-dozen fires across the state, some threatening places like Estes Park, home of the Stanley Hotel, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and even Boulder.¬†And we saw the firefighters stopping in Georgetown, Colo. With the bone-dry, Texas-type weather conditions — Denver ¬†is “enjoying” 100 degree plus temps — the whole state is under a fire ban. Some people were telling me the fires could have started because some residents are trying to rid the state of the annoying bark beetle that is killing off the tall lodgepole pine pine trees and markedly affecting the appearance of the usually lush, green mountainsides. The pest is thinning out the pretty pines with dying trees leaving piles of dead wood poles, the wood some say completely useless. Others, like our fly fishing guide, told me you can use the wood for furniture after it dries out and the beetles depart. Just don’t build houses with it! Local journalists told me the beetle is caused by global warming, as the critters thrive and reproduce in warmer climates.¬†Do the beetles fuel the fires? Good question. The director of bark beetle operations in¬†Medicine¬†Bow-Routt National Forest says people are alarmed by the timber loss:¬†
“The beetles aren’t killing every tree,” Currey says, “but they are killing a majority of mature lodgepole pine, and we’ve lost half our limber pine, too.” More than 116 million acres in the North American Rocky Mountains have been affected. “People are beginning to understand that this thing is too big to stop.”
Vail was just fine, evidence of the bark beetle here as well, but Vail fortunately has a huge variety of trees covering it’s 14,000 foot-tall peaks, including those gorgeous Aspens. And¬†Vail is undergoing a billion dollar plus enhancement, one of the most major nip/tucks I’ve seen. No wonder Texans and Dallasites like the Perots love to vacation here come summer or winter.