Oh, east is east and west is west, and never the twain shall meet, sang Rudyard Kipling.

Ski resorts still sting this refrain. But in reality, after skiing the mountains east and the mountains west for more than two decades, I find more similarities than dissimilarities.

Of course, there are distinctions. I always know when Im skiing the slopes of Telluride in Colorado, or Sunday River in Maine. Theres not a dramatic difference in the skiing - but there certainly is in the scenery.

Eastern skiers weave their way down the rolling, forested Appalachians. In the West, the spectacular Rockies are the background for great ski runs.

There are other distinctions.

Most western resorts are anchored in a base town. The opposite is true in the East, where ski areas generally developed on suitable mountains with the nearest town anywhere from a few to a dozen miles away. However, whether eastern or western, all destination resorts now have extensive facilities at the base, including both on - and off-slope housing and a variety of shops, bars, and restaurants.

I find a decided appeal in the endeavor of many western resorts to maintain the traditions and mementos of their history. Its fascinating to wander through the streets of Jackson, Wyoming, or Price, Utah, after a day on the slopes and discover that the Old West has been kept alive with original buildings protected as landmarks and the re-created saloons, ancient mine shafts, and other memorials of the past. Or to watch real-life cowboys combine skiing and saddling horses in a rip - snortin, Wild West race at Steamboat Springs. Or to admire the cowboy hats the cheerful attendants wear tramping through the snow and operating the lifts at Grand Targhee.

In the New England towns and villages much of history never disappeared. Families still live in homes built two centuries ago. Tiny churches, which have been serving parishioners since the Revolution, or maybe the War of 1812, sit alongside computer stores. Weve slept in graceful country inns that have been welcoming guests since the days they arrived by carriage - while across the highway are modem motels.

The East has neither an Aspen, with its sizzling atmosphere; nor a Vail, whose town is a cluster of elegant hotels interspersed with expensive shops; nor the luxury of Sun Valley, which introduced resort skiing to America.

But it does have Stowe, in northern Vermont, a charming and traditional New England village laced with enough prim white churches, bars, restaurants, shops, and motels to keep every visitor happy. And Lake Placid, in the famed Adirondacks, where American athletes train for every type of Winter Olympic sport.

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