And now for something completely different...grad school.
I'm probably completely off-base here, because I'm not sure "grad school" and "marketing" ever belong in the same sentence. FWIW (i.e., nothing - I'm just bloviating), here's what I did:
I obtained a graduate teaching assistantship at Colorado State University. In engineering, not marketing or anything like marketing. 90 minutes to the old Berthoud Pass ski area. I soon found friends who worked (sort of) as instructors at Berthoud Pass. I had a reliable 4WD vehicle, which made me instantly popular, despite severe personality defects. First year, 20 days, which was more than I had ever skied in one season in my life up until that point. And I never bought a lift ticket.
I began to learn how to ski correctly for the first time ever (ever ski Palli at A-Basin in a wedge - as a drill?). A couple of years later, I was teaching munchkins to wedge. I had young, strong knees and a more-or-less competent wedge, so there I was. On a good day, I could make $4. Wow! Nobody ever paid me to ski before! My number of ski days began to climb. The standard university schedule, with a lengthy Christmas break, spring break and other holidays, really helped.
The assistantship paid the bills, we shared gas, and I didn't have to buy lift tickets. Downside? No partying, didn't live in a ski town, and engineering grad school is brutal. Still, it leads to a reliable meal ticket.
Eventually, Berthoud closed and I graduated. Fortunately, the university offered me something like a Real Job, and I moved into the volunteer program at the National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) at Winter Park while still living in Fort Collins. It didn't pay, but I still didn't have to buy lift tickets. I was a weekend warrior, but I was skiing a minimum of 50 days a season at a major Colorado ski area. More than half of those days were free skiing days. 10+ days were devoted to NSCD.
A few years further along, when NSCD became affiliated with PSIA, advanced ski school clinics became available to me, and I started to work on certification. My seasonal day count climbed. One season, I managed to ski 75 days even though I had a full-time job. Most seasons, it was well over 60. Not as many as if I was living in WP teaching full-time, but the university job gave me more money and flexibility, and I could actually eat something besides Top Ramen. Plus, I didn't have to deliver pizza, paint or pound nails in the off-season. (I'm an engineer. Giving me a hammer is a very Bad Idea.)
By the time I wrapped it up in Colorado, over 20 years had passed. I had an Alpine L3, worked (for actual money) at the ski school on weekends and breaks, and occasionally did very well when someone tipped generously. I also had a master's in engineering, which is a pretty handy credential to have.
It wasn't just a break year experience. It was a good portion of a life. I learned a lot more, including how to ski much better than I would have in just a year or two, and I ultimately skied a lot more. Sometimes it was brutal, working five days per week and teaching the other two days. Don't make the mistake that teaching isn't work. It is.
Today, many years later, I still work as an engineer and I ski in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia every weekend.
Do you want to be another dirtbag board bum for a year, or do you want to ride many days every season for many years to come?
This is your chance. Raise the bar.
Totally- this is kind of what I meant when I pointed out that there is a huge amount of room between living in Texas and skiing once a year, and sleeping on a couch in a studio shared by 3 people and skiing 100+ times a year.
Bumming is the ultimate statement that skiing is all that matters, but there are ways to live in ski towns/in ski country, ski a lot, and not put everything else in life on hold while you do so.
As for the college idea, let me point out that Western State is located in Gunnison, a few minutes downvalley from CB. Fort Lewis is in Durango. College ski passes are very cheap at both of these schools.
My wife and I are in our 30's. She's a schoolteacher, I don't quite know what I am- in a few weeks I switch from investigating mortgage fraud to being a case manager for folks with developmental disabilities.
We aren't bums. Most of our skiing is on the weekends, although my new job has a 4 day workweek which I am stoked about. Given our weekend warrior status, we gravitate to places where weekend skiing doesn't suck- it doesn't suck down here.
But we live in a ski town. We own a house in a ski town. We aren't rich, but we make enough money to live comfortably, save for the future, and avoid a lot of the pitfalls that flush people out of ski towns- stuff like injuries with no health insurance, financial instability, substance abuse, etc.
In a typical year, we get about 50 days in. In crummy years like the past one, we had to settle for 30. That is not even close to ski bum levels of skiing, but we get to do this for our foreseeable future.
One common theme that comes up when talking about being a ski bum is what things get pushed down the road- things like owning a home, having a family, saving for retirement, etc. It is certainly not a given that all of those things are put on hold when one goes "full on bum," but it makes all of those goals a lot more difficult.
On the flipside, I rather like the idea of having good, solid roots. I like the idea of being able to raise my kids in a mountain town, and this is the lifestyle that fits me. As mentioned, I have another family member that went the archetypal bum route. After eleven years, he's looking for ways to get out, but that is also a really difficult transition.
I'm not saying that the way I have structured my life is best- getting to live in the mountains with decent jobs involved a LOT of luck, some gambles, and some sacrifices both on the skiing and income fronts.
I'm just saying that being a bum is not the only way to live in ski country/ski a lot. I'm really not feeling like I am missing that much being a weekend warrior (at the right place).