“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”

BJ, the friend and fellow ski bum with whom Nancy Riggs Robart traversed the U.S. in the ’70s from Vermont to Florida. Photo courtesy of Nancy Riggs Robart

We crossed paths in the 1970s. She was from Pennsylvania and I from New York. We were kindred in our passion for skiing and the mountain life. The communal life was beckoning, and sharing a lifestyle was the norm at ski areas.

Our transplantation to Vermont was propelled by this shared passion for skiing, and our friendship welded as links in a chain held by an anchor.

We became friends, as only people with shared interests can become. We shared trying times, good times, broken bones, broken relationships, as well as food and lodging, while supporting ourselves with seasonal jobs of waitressing at the resorts, working for the lodging bureau and instructing children to ski.

After many years of renting houses as a group, we moved on from Killington to Stowe, sharing again our passion for skiing, once climbing to the top of Mount Mansfield and skimming the fresh powder, feeling the fluidity of briefly flying through the white, cloudy fluff. In the fall, we hiked the mountain trails with German shepherds leading the way, sniffing the dirt trails hidden by the fallen autumn leaves on Spruce Mountain. We cross-country skied through Smugglers Notch and swam in Vermont’s cold quarry water.

Off season, we took a trip to Florida in her little Honda. We drove straight through with a case of Tab in the backseat, which we drank to stay awake. We stopped at the Washington Monument at midnight to stare, awestruck, at its height against the starlit sky. We drove past the flaming slag heaps burning across Pennsylvania’s coal yards, and we stopped to swim in Daytona Beach’s warm water. Across Alligator Alley, and up the Gulf Coast to St. Pete, we  stuck to our detoured path and rolled on, as our country in the ’70s rebounded.

Returning to the mountains in Vermont, we spent a few more years performing the tasks of jobs allowing us to ski the wind-blown, snow-snaked trails above and under the powder.

Lifestyle was the most important thing for us transplants in the ’70s. And I have no regrets.

“A circle is round. It has no end. That’s how long I want to be your friend.”

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