SNOWMASS VILLAGE - One of the biggest myths about the Aspen/Snowmass area is that everyone who lives here is wealthy or living on a trust fund.
Oh, do they have it wrong; just ask most restaurant workers or virtually anyone you see working in Snowmass Village. The reality is that many, if not most, of Snowmass' workers need more than one job or one business to survive here in our little Rocky Mountain paradise.
Linda and Mark Chapdelaine are two Snowmass worker bees with multiple businesses. Mark owns and operates MC Landscape and Snowplow, mowing lawns and tending gardens in the summer while getting up in the middle of the night and plowing snow in the winter. Linda has her own graphic design business. And, together, the two of them own and operate Aspen Airstream Rentals and Aspen Pops.
"This is our third summer for Aspen Airstream Rentals," said Linda Chapdelaine. "We went camping three years ago and (rented) a motor home. We were talking about how there are so many motor home rental places. Airstreams are an American icon, and we loved the name Aspen Airstreams, so we decided that's what we would rent."
They purchased a 2008 19-foot special edition Bambi Airstream trailer, which they rent out for weddings and special events. Camping was originally contemplated but the wear and tear proved to be excessive on both the Bambi and Linda so the couple cut out the camping.
The Bambi features include a three-burner gas stove with oven, refrigerator/freezer, water heater, 15" LCD television with antenna and booster, AM/FM/CD stereo, auxiliary battery, LPG gas/smoke detector, solar panel, air conditioning and heat, and an awning.
The Bambi Airstream has been particularly popular with outdoor weddings, providing a space for a bride to get ready and prepare for her big moment.
"I don't know what a bride would do without somewhere to change and get ready," said Linda. "And the Airstream is a great prop for some interesting wedding photos."
They also rent Bambi out for special events and photo shoots. And Mark and Linda used the Bambi Airstream at both last year's Labor Day Festival and at this year's event where they combined it with their other new business, Aspen Pops. Aspen Pops are handmade, all-natural ice pops.
"I came up with the idea this summer when Collette (their daughter) turned 3, and we had a party for her," said Linda. "I thought it would be like a lemonade stand, but different, and that the kids could get involved."
Thanks to Sen. Gail Schwartz's cottage industry bill in this last Colorado Legislature, small mom and pop businesses like Aspen Pops can legally sell their handmade edibles.
Aspen Pops are made in a commercial kitchen and are all-natural and use fresh fruit. Some of the pops use creme; some have fresh-squeezed lemon. They are sweetened with a simple syrup Linda makes from organic cane sugar. The Palisade Peach pop is made from real Palisade peaches that Linda cooks down first before adding a couple of squeezes of lemon juice.
This year, Linda and Mark Chapdelaine are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary. Linda moved to Snowmass in 1999 because one of her friends from high school lived here. Mark moved here from northern California a few years later. They met at a Snowmass Thursday night concert not long after Linda's arrival and were married three years later.
Linda and Mark have two children, 3-year-old Collette, and 7-year-old Reese. Hoodoo the cat and Ringo the dog make up the rest of the Chapdelaine clan.
"I like everything about Snowmass," said Linda, who worked as a graphic artist at Anderson Ranch Arts Center for seven years before going out on her own. "I love the trails, being outside, and being so close to the ski hill. I think the school system is great for the girls. And we love our employee housing." The Chapdelaines were the very first couple chosen in the first lottery for Rodeo Place employee housing.
They don't see themselves moving anytime soon. They love Snowmass, their house and their multiple jobs. And then there's skiing. Even with multiple businesses, Mark Chapdelaine got in 107 days of skiing last year. Now that's a Snowmass worker bee for you!
If you're planning your special wedding day and you think a cool Airstream trailer might be that ideal changing room or prop for after-wedding photos, check out Linda and Mark's website: AspenAirstreamrentals.com. Or if you are having an outdoor wedding and need the lawn mowed, need wedding invitations designed by a professional graphic artist, and you want an unusual wedding dessert like handmade, all-natural Aspen Pops, well, I know just the Snowmass couple for you.