House For Sale: New Ipswich, NH
As to Windblown’s future, well, Al is convinced that a new owner (or owners) could expand it into a four-season resort featuring not only winter sports but also activities such as wilderness training workshops, mountain biking, horseback riding, trail running, rope courses, disc golf, and camping. Even now, as strictly a winter resort, the Jenks family has been able to realize $30,000 to $100,000 a year after expenses, and if anyone wants proof of that, Al would be glad to show Windblown’s tax returns.
“On good snow years,” Al says, “we’ve built new buildings, and on poor snow years we’ve simply repaired and improved things. We’ve never spent money we didn’t have.”
Of course, an ice storm last December was devastating to the trails, but since then everything has been cleaned up, and this month Windblown is back in tiptop shape, ready to start another great season. (The Old Farmer’s Almanac, you know, is predicting a snowstorm in New Hampshire for Thanksgiving. Maybe for Christmas, too!)
Al and Irene’s asking price, $2,200,000, includes far more than we can even begin to describe here. The list of equipment alone goes for two typewritten pages. (It includes two big snowcats for trail grooming, as well as various trucks, a tractor, and snowmobiles kept in the many barns, garages, and workshops Al has built.)
In our view, the price is actually a bargain, but then again, money may not be the major consideration. A family taking over Windblown would be starting a new life–and leaving their past life behind. There’s really no other way to put it.
At some point while sitting with Al and Irene on their deck overlooking that incredible view, we asked about the challenges a new owner would have to be willing to face.
“The hardest part of the job for me,” Al replied, “is waking up at 3:00 a.m. to find the rain-soaked snow firmly frozen, and realizing that it will take many hours of difficult grooming to make it skiable–but maybe the machinery won’t start and 400 skiers are expected within a few hours. For Irene, it would be finding enough workers among our family and friends to staff the various jobs that get us through another weekend.”
And the good parts? “Well,” Al continued, “our joys come from accepting the challenges, overcoming them, and seeing the happiness it brings to others. We live in a beautiful place in a special corner of the world, experiencing a life that’s close to nature. We feel very fortunate.”
One thing we can guarantee: When an e-mail goes out to the 3,000 people on Windblown’s customer list saying that Al and Irene have found someone–or some family, or families–to take over and carry on, there will be cheering and great joy throughout southern New England.
Now, how much is that worth?