The town of Frisco, Colorado sits high in the Rocky Mountains on the shores of Lake Dillon. Frisco and I go way back. I still remember driving by the place where Lake Dillon would be and hearing my mom say, “There’s going to be a lake over in that valley soon.” The dam was completed in 1963 and the lake filled up a space formerly occupied by trees, homes and businesses.
Little did I know back in 1963 that I would live in Frisco off-and-on for more than 16 years. It was a small town without the fuss of nearby Breckenridge when I moved to Summit County in 1978. I mainly hung out in Silverthorne where I lived with a high school buddy who had moved up to be close to great skiing. He told me one day when we were both off work “I’m going to take you to Frisco to see a bar that’s right up your alley.” We went to the Moose Jaw and that fateful day set in motion a whole lot of years with a whole lot of stories.
There would be moonlight cross-country ski trips up North Tenmile Creek Trail under moonlight so bright it almost hurt to look at the moon directly. We’d howl and tear up the silence of the near-wilderness we were in skiing and drinking the night away. Several dogs would usually be in on the fun and it was as good as it gets for a canine to enjoy such freedom. My German Shepherd “Bear” never even wore a collar!
Frisco stayed quiet until the time around 1981 when the town council decided to get fancy and put in sidewalks. For us old-timers we’d remark, “The town went to hell when they put in the sidewalks.” That was about the time the speed limit was dropped to a mere 20 mph and the police did quite a business racking up the speeding tickets. New buildings were going up and some old ones were being torn down; all in the name of progress.
I lived in several places over the years but will never forget a tiny cabin just off Main Street behind Mrs. Footes historic shop and home. The cabin was about ten feet by ten feet but still had room for an antique claw-foot bathtub. There was a knitted wall hanging for decoration the stated “cubicle sweet cubicle” instead of the more common home sweet home. Someone had a sense of humor on that piece of artwork.
As progress took hold the Fourth of July parades became bigger productions and the fireworks over the lake a true spectacle. Crowds that used to be only in the ski season were now common from late June to the end of August. When the Walmart came to town I knew little Frisco had gone commercial. Still most residents and visitors seem to love it there. Real estate prices compete with Breckenridge and keep it hard for youngsters trying to be ski bums to make a living for just a season.
On a recent trip back to Colorado I decided to spend an afternoon in Frisco and meet my friend Jeff for lunch at the Moose Jaw. I got into town an hour before lunch and walked around looking for places that still stood from my earliest days there. The old cabin I had lived in with my 2 roommates on the hill at 5th and Frisco still stood, but was joined by a newer home close by. The “Green Ghettos” apartment building was sporting a coat of beige paint and looked pretty good considering it seemed to be falling apart back in 1979 when I first occupied one of four apartments I would live in over the coming years .
The Moose Jaw was looking great. They have gained some awards in my absence like “Best dive bar” and such. The photo collages are still hanging and my photo is on the one where the bar ends and the restrooms begin. I was young and stoned when the photo was shot and it cracks me up to this day to see how far I’ve come.
Jeff showed up and we had a meal for old time’s sake soaking up the October sun on the back deck. Looking up at Mount Royal I reminisced about several hikes up that slippery steep trail where one slip and you would get bigtime road rash from sliding down a gravely section of trail until a tree stopped your rapid descent. We parted ways, Jeff going off to Carbondale and me on to Denver to fly back to Baltimore. It had been a good visit worth giving up three valuable hours for.
Though I’ll never live up high in Frisco again I love that there is still much to see and do in this town in the middle of Summit County’s playground. It’s a great place to create your own Frisco, Colorado Rocky Mountain Memories. The list of things to do is long: fishing, hiking, biking, ski and sailing. If you’re driving by on I-70 stop in at the Moose Jaw and order up a Motherlode hamburger. Just for grins tell them Kurt sent you. You might even get someone that remembers me and tell you stories of the good old days?