Sunday, July 4, 2010

Rocky Mountain High, Colorado!

I had a long, hard, stressful week. By Thursday, I knew I needed to do something. More of the same just wasn’t going to cut it. I was facing a long 4th of July weekend at our complex, which had already sent out the warning about using illegal fireworks. The pools would be full of screaming teenagers, the street in front of us would be full of kids, and the same people would be sitting in their lawn chairs and talking. All weekend.

I hadn’t been able to get a camping reservation in time, and while this was a disappointment, the thought of crowds there too didn’t seem appealing. I was feeling rather disenchanted with my fellow man. I wanted to get away.

As luck would have it, I had an email from one of the web-based travel agent sites. It was advertising summer discounts at hotels. It got me thinking about what I really wanted from this weekend – quiet, beauty, getting away from it all. I thought about how there are so many places right here in Colorado that I haven’t seen yet. And I have a credit card.

I started looking for hotels up in the mountains. I found one in Aspen that sounded like it was just the thing: in the winter, during ski season, this hotel is situated so that skiers can “ski in, ski out” – which means it is up on the mountain and not in town. I could hear the Aspen leaves rustling in the breeze already. I booked a room. And then I realized that I’d have to go home and pack, because leaving on a Friday afternoon to head up I-70 is guaranteed to be crazy crowded, so I’d have to be ready to leave immediately after work.

As expected, the first hour of the drive was spent just trying to get from where I picked up my daughter in town to Idaho Springs, which is kind of a trail marker on the way up to better things, and usually takes about 30 minutes. Once we got past Dillon Reservoir the traffic lightened up, and I started to enjoy the scenery. Even the rest stops are pretty.

It rained for a while before we got to Glenwood Springs and the turnoff to Aspen. Glenwood Canyon is truly spectacular, and the road follows the Colorado River. I thought about how lovely it would be to be on a boat, floating along on the water. Clearly, I was seeking a respite from my busy life.

Glenwood Springs is a pretty town. I could live there, if I didn’t need a job. The road takes you past the towns of Carbondale and Basalt until you come upon Snowmass, and then Snowmass Village, which is actually just before Aspen. Between the Village and Aspen is the Airport. While we were watching a fancy plane land I missed my turnoff, so we got to check out the row of expensive airplanes parked at Sardy Field. My daughter loves the Fancy Nancy books, so we talked out how fun it would be to fly from Denver to Aspen.

Snowmass Village is all about catering to the skier. In summer, it is definitely sleepier, but this suits me fine. The surroundings are gorgeous; steep mountainsides of conifer and aspen, wildflowers and rocky outcroppings. Many of the shops are closed for the season, but the sporting goods stores have simply shifted their focus to mountain biking and hiking, and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes. It is still possible to spend an obscene amount of money, even without the snow.

We were given a condo in the building furthest up the hill, bigger than I had reserved, just because they had the availability and the front desk guy was being very nice to us. Our unit is nestled into the hill, and the living room windows look right out at the lush tangle of aspen trees. We have a large equipped kitchen, a wood burning fireplace (totally unnecessary right now, but would be so lovely in the wintertime), and two bedrooms (I had asked for one) and two bathrooms, both with showers/tubs. The “kid’s” bedroom has two twin beds and built-in bunk beds, which M thought was fascinating and had to climb up and inspect immediately. The whole unit has been (over) decorated in a Western/Cowboy/Ski theme, and is so kitschy and profuse that it is kind of endearing. Everywhere you look, there is an artifact or symbol of some kind, including the requisite elk head over the mantle (which was rendered in carved wood, thank god).

I brought groceries, so we have been just poking around, going for little walks, reading, watching movies, playing cards, and enjoying not having to care what time it is. This morning, we going for a short hike and may hit the pool, if it is warm enough. It’s been in the 90s in Denver while we’ve been up here in the cool mountain air, and I’ve absolutely loved being able to open the windows and not hear air conditioning running.

Not being in Aspen Proper, I couldn’t say how it compares with the surrounding towns. (The airport is a clue) but I’m glad we are here. The Village is full of tourists, many of them from outside this country, judging from the different languages I’ve heard, and it has a definite Vacation feel to it. Most people are walking around in hiking boots and shorts or bicycling gear, and so I am unnoticeable in my jeans and flip flops, hair up and sunglasses on. Heaven.


  1. Pictures of M always make me smile.

    "I am unnoticeable in my jeans and flip flops, hair up and sunglasses on."

    You celebrity, you!

  2. Jealousy abounds! That sounds wonderful. Good for you for seizing the moment. M is one lucky little girl to have such a great mama.

  3. Sounds like a lovely getaway. I'm glad you were able to go. :)

  4. Sounds like a great weekend. M is growing up fast, I see. Such a cutie.

  5. I must get back to CO soon. This sounds like the perfect place to get away too.
    You have a beautiful daughter.

  6. I LOVE that you did this! Who's the coolest mom ever? THIS GIRL!

    Looks like a wonderful weekend. I adore the pics - thanks for sharing!


  7. Sounds like a wonderful time! Two weeks from today and I should be pulling into CO. Yay!!! Can't wait to meet you and M! I'll be the one in jeans, flip flops, hair up, and sunglasses.