A friend of my husband’s called late last week offering us a free condo on Main Street for this week in Aspen, Colorado. Needless to say, we rescheduled meetings, cleared the decks, packed the car and headed north.
After being slowed up by an overturned truck in the Glenwood Canyon tunnel, extending our leisurely 7 hour drive to over 13 long harrowing hours, we safely arrived in the heart of downtown Aspen. The first thing I noticed was the Roaring Fork River not as roaring as in the summer. More like a hibernating fork. The second thing I noticed were the remarkable ski outfits.
On the first chairlift we rode, our lift mate wanted to talk with us about his stock portfolio and the dive it has taken over the past several years resulting in him refusing to live in any state that has income tax since he simply can no longer afford it. Today’s lift mate talked about UPS losing 2 of her family’s 9 bags including her makeup bag so she was at a total loss, though thrilled to have had to shop the night before for all new ski clothes. Contrary to my suspicion that women with gorgeous expensive ski outfits are not good skiers…. au contraire here in Aspen. They can carve as nice a turn and handle moguls with the best of the hard-core skiers.
The prices at the restaurants, in the shops, and the lift tickets create sticker shock even for us Santa Feans. However, we discovered the locals’ way to eat great food at reasonable prices. Most of the best restaurants have bar menus that are extraordinarily reasonable – same chef, kitchen etc., with tables you can sit at. We tried it at L’ Hostaria tonight and had a phenomenal meal at very reasonable prices. Eating at the bar is the way to go if you do not mind not having reservations.
The not so stereotypical Aspen is the high number of older folks skiing. Many, many folks over 70 and lots in their 60s – surprising given that this week is spring break for many schools. There are more ski hill ambassadors and helpers on the mountain almost than skiers. And the hot apple cider served at the mountain summit to anyone who wants it, is a nice touch.
The Sundeck restaurant at the top of the mountain puts the newly expanded Santa Fe lodge at the ski base to shame. It is LEED certified, with soaring gorgeous windows and views and the food is excellent. The restrooms are on the main floor of the lodge which is highly unusual and very luxurious to not have to tramp up and down stairs in ski boots. So, some stereotypes are well founded, others not so.
All in all, it is a charming city and Aspen Mountain is gorgeous and free of lift lines.