For Easy Ed Stallings, the past few years have been one long party. Now he’s dead broke, and has to flee his home – a decrepit trailer near, but not quite in, Key West. But on his last night in town, he suddenly strikes it rich.
While he’s out fishing in the mangroves, drug smugglers give him $60,000 worth of marijuana for pointing out where the cops are. It’s a pittance to them – a king’s ransom to him. Soon Ed finds himself the owner of Trappers, the only real bar in run-down, ramshackle Winterland, Colorado, a town on the verge of going under and fading into the collective memory of the West. In Winterland, the cattle yard has closed. Nearly everyone is out of work. The town has nothing going for it, except one thing. It gets 400 inches of snow a year. The local ski area – nearly bankrupt itself – attracts a growing stream of twentysomething ski bums, vagabonds, dope smokers and freaks. As the ski season approaches, they navigate the high mountain passes and into town; traveling in old cars, VW buses and camper vans. They come not so much because the skiing is exceptional, but because the rents are cheap. They can ski all winter without sleeping in their cars, without begging on the sidewalks, and without making meals out of saltine crackers and free condiment packets. Texas oil magnate Nut Richards wants to change all that. Richards is going to buy the ski area and half the town at distress sale prices, then subdivide the whole place and turn it into a second-rate Aspen or Vail. Part of his plan includes driving the ski bums, and people like Ed Stallings, out of town. Ed and his friends – bartender Danny Stewart, rabblerousing ex-hippie reporter Kent Jennings, and three young women who run the local burrito joint and call themselves Tres Hermanas – band together in a desperate battle against the Big Money that wants to take away their town, and erase a way of life.