Saturday, August 07, 2010

Four Corners Furtherance: Gerald R. Ford Memorial Highway

Like most Americans my age or older, I hadn't heard of Vail, Colorado, an Eagle County town that had incorporated in 1966--until President Gerald R. Ford and his family vacationed there in 1974. Ford, an avid and skilled skier--his image as a bumbler was incorrect--had been there many times before--but of course he wasn't president at that time.

After leaving the White House, Ford split his time between his Rancho Mirage, California home and Beaver Creek, an unincorporated community near Vail. Ford was among its first residents.

Knee replacements ended Ford's days on the slopes, but swimming and tennis became new avocations for the man who was arguably the most athletically-gifted of our presidents. He was an accomplished golfer as well, and of course was a star center for the University of Michigan football team.

Ford and his wife Betty were known as the First Family of the Vail Valley and the couple continued to return to Beaver Creek, ignoring doctor's warnings about the altitude, until the summer of 2006. The thirty-eighth president passed away on December 26 of that year; the former first lady lives in Rancho Mirage and is in poor health.

The stretch of Interstate 70 that passes through Eagle County is known as the Gerald R. Ford Memorial Highway. Besides that stretch of road, other reminders of the Fords nearby are Vail's Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, and Ford Park.

Because of the shortness of his presidency, he can never be ranked among the greats, but this "regular guy" was surely one of the most well-intentioned men to call the White House home.

Oh, if you have some spare change, you might want to consider buying the old Ford home in Beaver Creek. Asking price is $12,950,000.

Next: Mesa Verde National Park

Earlier posts:

Flatlanders battle the Rocky Mountains and a car gets altitude sickness

Buffalo Bill's gravesite

Buffalo Bill's Scout's Rest Ranch

My rattlesnake sighting

Related posts:

Beaver Creek, Colorado's "two-fer" Obama stimulus campaign signs

Gerald Ford on government-run health care

Ford postage stamp inked for August release

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