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Mountain Mayhem: Behind the scenes of “9 to 5”

Once a year, an all volunteer cast and crew come together for the Aspen Community Theatre (ACT) fall production at the Aspen District Theatre, backed by a live orchestra over a multi-day run. “9 to 5 The Musical” was selected to be this year’s show with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and book by Patricia Resnick, based on the hit feature film from 1980. While the original plot’s themes of misogyny and inequality in the workplace should seem outdated (the film came out nearly 40 years ago!) they actually resonate today as contextually relevant in the #MeToo era.

To add to the press blitz already surrounding ACT’s show, I thought I’d go behind the scenes and ask the cast and crew what drives them to volunteer their time and energy to be a part of the production, namely this one.  

“This show is a commentary on how women are treated in society…. and it drove me to tell the story that women are extremely important to who we are as human beings.” Brandon Joseph, actor playing the part of Franklin Hart, Jr.

“Theatre can be such a positive thing for people who need something to get involved with – it can be a positive addiction!” Rita Hunter, costume coordinator and longtime ACT producer.

“It’s the people, the cast, the connections and friendships.” Dani Grace Kopf, actress playing the part of Violet Newstead. 

“I did it for the camaraderie, getting to meet people that we don’t see every day outside of our usual lives. You grow your circle of friends.” Shelly Marolt, actress playing the part of Margaret.

“Community theatre gives me a creative outlet and I build amazing friendships. It’s such a positive growing environment.” Katrina Kalwiter, actress playing the part of Doralee Rhodes.

“I always love to act in plays with Challenge Aspen, because I love to be with my friends and sing and dance in my own way. I really wanted to be in an ACT play with my friend Tammy for a long time and get out and be in an able-bodied play [like this one] that shows women can do anything that men can do.” Danielle Coulter, actress in the ensemble.

Camaraderie, fun, giving back and entertaining the community.” Julie Peters, actress in the ensemble. 

“We do it for friendships. My theatre family is so special.” Colleen Fawley, costume designer.

“I always learn something new…maybe get pushed out of my comfort zone. Above all – it makes me smile and when the audience smiles too, it’s priceless.” Katriona Hembury, actress playing the part of Kathy

“I do it for the community. We put on this show for us, for locals. It raises our spirits, brings people together, and lets us give back in a way that’s hard to do in other small communities.” Nate Baschamp, stage manager.

If you haven’t already, be sure to catch the show as it continues for a second round this weekend with performances on Nov. 14, 15 and 16 at 7 p.m.

www.aspencommunitytheatre.org.

An inspired feast: 7 crowd-favorite recipes to share on Thanksgiving

Editor’s Note: “See the original version of this story in the Aspen Times Weekly to view the QR codes for recipe links: http://origin.misc.pagesuite.com/pdfdownload/087f9b66-5eef-4c0a-88b2-af7b7b1523be.pdf

In the spirit of ‘giving, the Farm Collaborative is offering a free bag of local ingredients to folks who sign up online before pickup at the FarmPark at Cozy Point Ranch (Highway 82) on Nov. 20 from 2 to 6 p.m. Each farm-to-fridge share contains enough produce—mostly winter root vegetables, grown within 35 miles of Aspen—to feed five or six people. The program was created in lieu of the annual Farm Collaborative (formerly Aspen TREE) Farm to Table Community Meal, held for the past 11 years in the Hotel Jerome ballroom, as the landmark venue is currently under renovation.

While the seated dinner for 1,500 at the Jerome requires some 250 community volunteers as cooks, hosts and servers, this year do-gooders can sign up to prep and jar food the weekend before, Nov. 16 and 17, in the Bumps kitchen at the base of Buttermilk, or to distribute bagged shares at the Farm Collaborative on Nov. 20. Then, in an effort to create a “virtual” community celebration, participants are urged to share photos of their home feast on social media.

Aspenites who pick up a Farm Collaborative free farm share box this year will find recipes curated by farm director Ben Armstrong and Bosq Aspen chef-owner Barclay Dodge.

Here are a few other crowd-pleasing favorites to inspire your Thanksgiving meal or Friendsgiving soirée—just scan the QR code with a mobile device (QR code reader app required) to view each link. Bon app!

Scan this QR code to reserve a free farm-to-fridge share from the Farm Collaborative.

CHAMPAGNE TURKEY

If a turkey walked into Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro after 2 p.m., this is what it might taste like. Offered on recommendation from an Aspen Times colleague who prepared it years ago to major kudos, this recipe makes an herb-crusted turkey stuffed with savory vegetables (and orange segments) and bathed in bubbly. It’s covered with foil for the first part of cooking to create epic oven steam; a finishing blast of naked heat turns skin extra crispy. Ryan Lesar suggests doubling the quantity of rub (parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, and lemon pepper) and using a disposable, foil roasting pan for transport and easy cleanup. Choose a bottle of cheap stuff, and save the Veuve Clicquot for sipping during three-plus hours of roasting time.

Recipe: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/166160/juicy-thanksgiving-turkey/

SOUR CREAM MASHED POTATOES

In 2015, Alison Roman—Instagram-famous kitchen queen, New York Times columnist, and author of the bestselling cookbook “Dining In” and the new “Nothing Fancy”—published a buzzy guide for first-time Thanksgiving feast home cooks, including an aerial photo of all ingredients necessary to make a traditional meal for eight people. Her step-by-step pictorial, “Potatoes and Butter: A Love Story,” breaks down a lush, winning formula for the starchy staple, including what a fork-smashed test potato should look like when cooked properly. Of the finished dish, Roman says, “maybe plop some extra butter on there, because you deserve the best.”

Recipe: https://www.buzzfeed.com/alisonroman/mashed-potatoes-are-the-perfect-food

SQUASH & RADICCHIO SALAD WITH PECAN DRESSING

Chopped toasted pecans, citrus juice, shallot, maple syrup and Dijon mustard unite in a zippy, nutty vinaigrette for this salad of hardy winter vegetables (sliced and roasted butternut squash; wilt-resistant radicchio). This “Absolutely, Positively Perfect Thanksgiving Menu” recipe from the Bon Appétit test kitchen offers a clean counterpoint to other rich dishes. Find all notes of flavor and texture within; crunchy, sweet Asian pear; shaved piave or Parmesan for a welcome dose of umami salt; and whole parsley leaves lend brightness.

Recipe: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/squash-and-radicchio-salad-with-pecans

SPIKED CRANBERRY SAUCE

While homemade cranberry sauce is super simple to prepare (fresh cranberries, sugar, and citrus simmered until berries pop), you’ve likely got a long list of Thanksgiving prep ahead. Here’s a cheat-to-win tip from Ree “The Pioneer Woman” Drummond, hailed as one of the first American bloggers to make it in mainstream media: use canned cranberry, jazzed up with maple syrup, orange zest, thyme, and Port wine. (Sticklers for an all-scratch feast can make a base sauce also from her Food Network TV show, “The Pioneer Woman.”)

Recipe: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/spiked-cranberry-sauce-4530845

PARKER HOUSE ROLLS

Introduced when element 47 opened in late 2012, these fluffy, chewy dinner rolls topped with a generous sprinkle of flaky Maldon sea salt have been a mainstay of The Little Nell’s dining program ever since. An original recipe dating to Boston’s Parker House Hotel circa 1870, the doughy pull-aparts are served at e47 in a piping-hot cast iron pan, complimentary before lunch and dinner.

This year the Nell features a three-course plated Thanksgiving feast (not buffet) with choices of appetizer, entrée, and dessert plus four family-style sides on Nov. 28 from 3 to 9 p.m.—infamous Parker House Rolls included, natch. ($100++, wine pairing optional, children’s pricing available; RSVP required: 970-920-9330, thelittlenell.com)

Recipe: http://blog.thelittlenell.com/recipe-parker-house-rolls/

SOUTHWEST CORN BREAD STUFFING WITH GREEN CHILE

Anyone else haul down to Carbondale specifically to eat the Santa Fe Corn Cakes with pure maple syrup at The Village Smithy? This Southwestern stuffing recipe using day-old cornbread, corn kernels, and green chile showcases similar flavors. Though generally I prefer sausage stuffing, I’ll bake this one—in a glass dish for browned, crispy edges; stuffing the bird is for amateurs—and add a sprinkle of homemade maple-bacon bits for familiar Smithy flavor. Because, really, what isn’t made better by bacon?

Recipe: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/southwest-corn-bread-stuffing-with-corn-and-green-chilies-105807

APPLE PIE WITH CHEDDAR CHEESE CRUST

I baked this America’s Test Kitchen twist on classic apple pie once for the John Bemis Community Potluck Dinner, and it was a hit. While it did not nab top honors—good ’ol apple pie, apparently, is no match for chocolate desserts—I did receive a Great British Baking Show-style handshake from at least one stranger. Use yellow cheddar for a brilliant golden crust.

Recipe: https://www.americastestkitchen.com/recipes/7729-apple-pie-with-cheddar-cheese-crust

This year’s community potluck, hosted by the town of Snowmass and the Snowmass Village Rotary Club, is Sunday, Nov. 24, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., again at the Westin Snowmass Resort conference center. A buffet of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and stuffing will be provided by an on-site kitchen brigade; the rest is requested based on last name: A-H, salad; I-P side dish; Q-Z, dessert. Labeled dishes delivered before 6 p.m. will be entered to win $50 in each category, as selected by celebrity judges. See you there!

amandaraewashere@gmail.com

Kamo no Shizuku: The ‘Drops of God’ wine salon

If you have a clue what the above story title refers to, you are in for a treat. If not, prepare to be enlightened.

If I asked you what “manga” is, would you guess maybe an obscure Moroccan grape? Or perhaps a bottle holding something more than 750 mls, but something less than a magnum? Or would you know that manga is a Japanese art form engaging comics and graphic novels to tell complicated, serialized stories about all things in the human experience?

So what does that have to do with wine? Well, one of the most epic manga stories ever produced tells an intricate tale of intrigue and competition between two protagonists who must decipher and identify, through a series of clues and tastings, the world’s most revered wines.

Called “Drops of God,” the series of manga comics was created and curated by a brother-and-sister team, Shin and Yuko Kibayashi (under a pseudonym Tadashi Agi), from 2004 until 2014. It also became a Japanese television program in 2009 and recently Amazon’s Comixology and Kodansha Comics digitally published all 44 volumes of “Drops of God” translated into English.

“Drops of God” begins with the death of an esteemed Japanese wine critic, who has amassed a storied collection of wines of enormous value. His estranged son, Shizuku Kanzaki — who has made his career in the beer business, eschewing his father’s passion — may be the likely heir. But dad has created a deeply devious way of deciding whether Shizuku, or Issei Toominea, a young, intense wine critic who had been mentored by the deceased, will take the inheritance. The two must compete to identify what the critic has determined to be the Twelve Apostles, the world’s best case of wine, and a 13th wine, the baker’s dozen if you will, which would be the “Drops of God.”

What followed for 10 years, in hand-drawn form, was an obsessive hunt for and descriptions of wines from around the globe, as Shizuko and Issei competed to identify and describe the apostles. Wines like the 2000 Château Palmer (the second apostle) from Bordeaux or the 2003 Sine Qua Non The Inaugural (Eleven Confessions) Syrah Central Coast AVA (the seventh apostle) identified by Issei were dissected and analyzed in occasionally clinical, but mostly esoteric, heartfelt, emotional passages.

But the new news came this last month.

A “Drops of God Wine Salon” launched here in the U.S. with the idea of creating a unique “paradigm-shattering wine experience” for consumers. Essentially a wine club in “Drops” clothing, the idea is to engage members in the basic tenets of the story.

“We will be applying the same principles for the exploration of American wines we shared in the manga: Heaven, Earth, Man and Marriage,” Shin and Yuko explained in a press release about the Salon. “In ‘The Drops of God,’ Heaven represents the weather, and is a direct reference to the climate of a given geographical area. Earth refers to terroir, or soil and viticultural/cultural practices and conditions. Man refers to winemaking and cellar practices, while Marriage refers to the marriage of wine and food.”

For $300 per quarter (aside from various discounts) members will receive six bottles each season of New World wines curated by Shin and Yuko, along with their Napa Valley-based business partner Peter Chiang, president of Bijou USA and vice president of Bijou Japan, the global joint venture established with the Kibayashis to “better serve salon members in the United States, Japan and Taiwan.” That comes out to $50 per bottle and is a steal for wines produced by the likes of Ashes & Diamonds, Calera, Failla, Matthiasson, Massican, Noria, Kanpai, Robert Sinskey, Marietta, and Scribe.

But as crazy at it may seem, the wines are only one part of the “Drops of God” Wine Salon’s potential. Members will be immersed in a culture and community that reveres wine, the places it comes from and the people who make it. There will be members-only live-streaming events, an app including Chef José Andrés (yes, the one who threw out the first pitch at the World Series) and Rob Wilder’s WineGame, and opportunities to explore one’s own taste through the salon’s innovative “Palate Quiz.” And, in late 2020, an inn in Calistoga dedicated to “Drops of God” is expected to open.

“Drops of God” has generated an estimated 300-plus million impressions in television and manga form. Wineries featured in the print version have had to curtail releases of their wines due to excess demands placed by readers of the manga. At the release parties for the salons at chef Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville and Chef Andrés’ The Bazaar in Los Angeles, hundreds gathered to taste wines, pay homage to Shin and Yuko and just be a part of the scene.

If this is the next generation of wine clubs, I want in.

Libations: Find Your Inspiration at the Aspen Public House

It was Saturday night and I was searching for something to write about for this week’s libations.

I thought about touring Aspen’s seedy scene and searching for the cheapest cocktail with the most booze, mostly because a part of me was feeling nostalgic for the sticky, neon-lit bars on every corner in the old Irish mining town in Montana I was born in.

But I knew Aspen’s bars would never stoop low enough to meet “Butte Tough” standards and I didn’t really have the time to find out, so I settled for the establishment right next to the office: Aspen Public House.

At the bar, I searched the drink list for something column-worthy. The bartender said mules had been popular this offseason, a tempting choice, and I almost went for a White Claw mostly because the menu read in bold print “Yes, we have White Claw,” $7.

I almost went with a handful of different options, until I came across one that fit the situation all too well: a $12 cocktail titled “Writer’s Block.”

Of course, it came with one of those giant ice cubes you couldn’t possibly fit in your mouth without breaking teeth and a fancy orange peel slice, all dusted in cinnamon.

Yet the vintage-looking glass brought the whole drink down to Earth and after one sip I was in heaven.

The fresh grapefruit juice was the first flavor to hit the taste buds, then the spicy sweet cinnamon (or spiced rum) just as the rest of the liquid trickled down my throat.

It tasted like sour apple pie. I probably said it was “so good” six times over the 20 minutes I was sitting there. And it felt more like home than I ever thought it could with the kind people and copper-topped bar.

The rest is history. At first I was wordless, then a Writer’s Block later I was flowing with inspiration. Now that I think about it a few days later, though, I wonder if the drink was created to cure writer’s block or to cause it. I guess I’ll need a few more to find out.

Evolving Connections: Longtime service clubs in Aspen look to tradition and digital networking for the future

In a small office space on the second floor of the Aspen Eagles Club, treasurer Susan Saghatoleslami read from a cardstock history book of sorts.

On each page, stories from the local service club dating from 1899 to 1985 were detailed, including rowdy initiation ceremonies that had something to do with riding a goat and trips to the Aspen hospital to help give haircuts to the patients.

Saghatoleslami, an Aspen native who has been an Eagles member for over 10 years, has been working her way through the book in hopes of better understanding the club’s roots and preserving its past for future generations.

“When you read through this, you can see the longtime Aspen local names whose great-grandkids and relatives still live in this valley today,” Saghatoleslami said. “It’s really cool to see,”

Organizations like the Fraternal Order of Eagles and the Order of Elks have been an integral thread of America’s social fabric since the 1800s.

For decades, members of these social, civic and charitable groups have gathered across the country. But in the mid- to late-1900s, sociologists and political scientists found membership across the nation to be in decline for a multitude of reasons, including greater suburbanization, movement of women into the workforce, the civil rights revolution and the rise of television and other technologies.

Over the past several decades, social and civic activities like attending club meetings have declined by over 50% according to Robert Putnam, a political scientist and author of “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.” He sees this disconnect trend as detrimental to our health, physical and mental, and to our democracy.

However, as technology continues to advance and reshape the way Americans interact with each other on a day-to-day basis, these longtime participation-based organizations are seeing some membership comeback by connecting with more people through savvier websites and stronger social media presences. Yet, at the same, they are competing with more and more avenues for people to get involved in their communities, whether digitally or face to face.

In Aspen, many of the staple social and civic groups acknowledge this digital crux and the increasing average age of their memberships, but they don’t seem stressed.

For many local group leaders, the future of their organizations depends on the same mantras they’ve embodied all along: staying rooted in tradition, connecting with the larger community and giving back to those in need.

“Our social media is being social,” Saghatoleslami said. “Our motto is ‘people helping people,’ and I think we will always hold a place in the community because of our charitable contributions and volunteerism, and because we’re a strong community ourselves.”

MEMBERSHIP IN ASPEN

Like the local Eagles club, the Aspen Elks Lodge also has a long local history. Established in 1891, the lodge moved a few times before securing its current location on the corner of East Hyman Avenue and South Galena Street in 1904.

And like Saghatoleslami, many members are focused on using the lodge’s traditions as selling points for new inductees.

“Our priority isn’t to have higher membership numbers, but to appeal to higher quality, service-oriented members who can help us be more effective as a lodge in supporting the community,” said Michael Faas, an Aspen Elk.

Since its inception over 150 years ago, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks has aimed to give back to individual communities and society as a whole, especially by supporting children and veterans.

Faas said he is working with other Aspen Elks members to redevelop the lodge’s website so it includes more information on the organization’s key charitable missions and events by adding things like member bios and its paper newsletters online.

The lodge also is working with a public relations agency to get more information out to the media and community stakeholders about what Aspen Elks does to give back.

“The idea is to use the new website to help bring more people together in person, not for it to replace any part of the lodge,” Faas said. “We just want to get better information to people more accurately and quickly.”

Unlike other lodges across the U.S., Faas said the Aspen Elks hasn’t taken any major membership hits. The local lodge boasts over 900 members and relies on those members to recruit more high-quality people to join by simply being out in the community.

Faas said the average age of the Aspen Elks members is higher than the lodge would like — evident on a recent night at the lodge where he seemed to be one of just a few people younger than 50 — but feels that the in-person volunteerism offers something to younger generations that the internet alone can’t.

“You can’t really help people online, you need to be there for them in person,” Faas said. “We’re a real community that’s bonded together to improve the larger community. … This is a place where anytime you come here good things happen.”

Saghatoleslami also is working on beefing up the Aspen Eagles’ online presence. She’s taking digital marketing and website design courses through Colorado Mountain College, and hopes to get an online platform for members to make donations to charities live soon.

But like Faas, Saghatoleslami said the local club hasn’t had trouble with its membership. As of November, it claimed over 300 members of all ages and hosts multiple events at its East Bleeker Street location nearly every night of the week.

“There are always things to do and people love to come just to play games,” Saghatoleslami said, noting that the club has a shuffleboard, ping pong table, foosball, darts and the oldest pool table in the state. “It’s a fun crowd with really good camaraderie.”

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

While there are circles where Aspen’s older generations gather to do good, there also are similar circles for its younger generations, like the Aspen Young Professionals Association.

A 15-year-old nonprofit dedicated to supporting Aspen’s burgeoning leaders through networking, career development and promoting community involvement, AYPA is more of a social business group than a charitable one.

But according to Reilly Thimons, AYPA president, the organization is pushing to get its members more involved in giving back to the community, and often collaborates with groups like the Elks and Rotary Club of Aspen to do so.

As a result, the small group can serve as a sort of springboard to the more established Aspen membership organizations.

“A lot of our members self-select out of AYPA and find other avenues to stay involved in the community,” Thimons said. “They spend time with us, grow their leadership skills and connections, then continue to evolve into different roles elsewhere.”

Take Thimons’ boss, Chris Bendon, for example. He was a member of AYPA until he said he “40-ed” out and joined the Rotary Club of Aspen.

Bendon said young professionals join AYPA for any number of reasons, and that he was drawn to the group as a way to meet like-minded people close to his age.

After growing his connections and presenting at the Rotary Club of Aspen’s weekly meetings, he recognized a lot of the city’s longstanding leaders and was inspired to become a member.

“I had been on the (AYPA) board for a number of years and felt like I needed to make room for other folks to move up in leadership,” Bendon said. “AYPA was an avenue to create a foundation here (in Aspen), grow connections and leadership capacity to become a more vested member of the community.”

Similar to the Elks or Eagles, Rotary International clubs are centered on service above self and have encouraged members to do more for others for more than 110 years, which has a pull for younger people like Thimons.

When asked about how digital networking has affected younger generations’ desire to join groups like Rotary, Thimons said she feels that in some ways its made it harder for people to commit to one organization with so many options and opportunities available, but also cropped up as a tool for good.

“It’s a very interesting crux,” Thimons said. “I can see how it can be uncomfortable to get into that (digital networking) space, but it can be so effective in reaching people and doesn’t take a lot of effort.”

Deb Breen, an Aspen Rotarian on the membership engagement committee, expressed similar thoughts, noting that the level of commitment to a group like Rotary is much different than being a part of a group on Facebook.

“It’s easy to log in and check a few things, but this is a deeper commitment,” Breen said of Rotary. “You have to show up and if you’re not there people will notice and will miss you.”

Breen joined Rotary in her 20s and said while she didn’t have as many digital networking options to be a part of, she feels the online communities today won’t replace in-person organizations but instead serve in tandem with them.

That’s why, with Breen’s help, Rotary Club of Aspen has made a push to improve their digital presence, like many of the other area organizations.

“We’ve definitely looked at how we can be more transparent about what we do and how becoming a member works,” Breen said, noting that many people don’t fully understand what service clubs like Rotary do.

“Rotary helps you not just be in the community but to be a part of it and to make a difference. There’s a personal touch you can’t get on LinkedIn or Facebook.”

At the most recent Rotary of Aspen morning meeting at the Mountain Chalet, that personal touch was evident. Nearly a dozen members put money into a “happy bucks” jar and shared positive things that happened to them or within the community that week.

After about 15 minutes, the jar was bursting with bills slated to support the Aspen Homeless Shelter.

At the Aspen Elks on a recent evening, this personal touch also was evident as veteran services committee members discussed the logistics of sending more than 50 care packages to Colorado military officers serving in Afghanistan in one room, then moved to another to share dinner and drinks; at the Aspen Eagles, it was evident after one step inside of the front door, as the club celebrated the initiation of over 30 new members.

In all three Aspen service circles, those personal moments seemed to be what kept members coming back, regardless of age.

“In Aspen there’s a lot of talk about building a closer-knit community, which is right here,” said Alyssa Barclay, a recently sworn-in Aspen Eagle. “I see places like this as a refuge and a chance to build more local connections.”

mvincent@aspentimes.com

Gear Guide: REI’s tiny tent

Cats love it, chihuahuas tolerate it, and shoppers can’t get enough of it. The 2.25-square-foot namesake Tiny Tent might be the REI’s fastest-selling outdoors shelter ever.

It flew off shelves for three weeks this fall in REIs. After the Tiny Tent hit the store, the entire inventory of the 12-inch-tall tents sold out.

Not just that, but buyers’ reviews make the 9.5-ounce shelter one of the highest-rated as well.

The price tag is an affordable $20. Budget one for your pet, or a child to play with, and you’ll not be disappointed with the miniature fun.

Click here to read the full about the Tiny Tent.

Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.

Writing Switch: Into the (w)ri(d/t)erverse

As members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, we firmly and rigidly believe that there are an infinite number of universes. And thank God or whomever, right, because anything is better than this! But as we were discussing with other pastafarians what our parallel identities were up to, we realized it’s most likely that we are the last versions of ourselves left alive. Hypothetically speaking, then, which little tweak to Ben and Sean would create the most interesting alternate reality?

ZAGAT’S GUIDE SEAN

SB: When my pals come out for a ski vacation, I like to show them the second side of Aspen. After getting a couple of runs in on Fanny Hill — don’t want to do anything too steep because no one wants an unnecessary visit to the ski fairy — I like to unwind at Woody Creek Tavern.

It’s a locals spot that was frequented by the irreverent gonzo journalist/writer Hunter S. Thompson. Margaritas and Mexican food, oh my is it a prime spot for locals.

For my friends who don’t ski, there are other outdoor activities to occupy your alpine getaway. Perhaps snowshoeing up to Pine Creek Cookhouse for a bite sounds like a delight. It’s a great place to take in a view and a Rocky Mountain oyster or two.

Can I interest you in ice skates and s’mores? Try the rink outside Limelight if want to slide instead of ski. And for a family treat, make sure to catch the Hershey Highway to the free s’more show.

And you can’t get much more Aspen than a horse-drawn carriage ride around the core, so bundle up in blankets and take in the array of holiday hues. The magical illumination is the kind of eye candy that will capture kids’ attention — and hearts.

For the culinary inclined, the Italian food at Casa Tua will have you saying “Per favore” and “Prego” in a parsec. Try Creperie du Village if you’re looking for authentic alpine fare, featuring the best FUN-due you can find.

So say “bon voyage” and meet us in the mountains.

BEST SELF WELCH

BW: Sunday — my favorite day of the week. I’m giving the reading at the 8 a.m. service, and I enjoy screaming on the pulpit like a firebrand Sigma from “Overwatch” (who’s basically a young Salieri in “Amadeus,” for you non-gamers). “If you have hate in your heart, let it out!” the six-fingered pastor chants as worship comes to a close. “Hail!” we reply in unison.

We stop at Chili’s for breakfast before my 4 o’clock manager shift begins at Slaveway. Some may find it condescending to stack yogurt and exchange rolls of quarters for a living, but I make more money than Primary Ben so f–k you.

I also have a bangin’ wife that I met in PUBLIC SCHOOL and three children who are my WORLD. My exorbitant wage allows me to progenate, and even though I’m in my 20s I’m still fertile because I’ve never touched a drop in my life!

The only thing lacking is my favorite baseball team winning a World Series. They’re in the playoffs, but win or lose, it doesn’t really affect my life as long as they’re having fun. It’s not like people in Washington, D.C., have any power over my day-to-day routine.

Regardless, I’m still completely out of debt. I still have my doggos to walk. I still have to figure out how to dispose of that translucent cricket that crawled through my shower drain and found himself under a Mason jar for three weeks. That was two truths and a lie — go! The point I’m trying to make is that the success of other camels in leotards ultimately won’t mow the lawn for me, hee haw.

I feel the same way about voting and politics. Every little bit counts, and it’s my civic duty to burden myself with the concerns of the universe and ultimately it is I who empowers everything surrounding my happiness and well-being, even if I can hardly handle that and oh god I’m 12 years old and what is this?

GET OFF MY LAWN SEAN

SB: The night is cold, and the winds are strong. This isn’t anything new for a weathered Aspenite who’s been driving cattle since before Highway 82 was four lanes. It’s an interesting thing, technology. I like to hand write my pieces before sitting down in front of the ever-present screen.

The only time I can escape from iPads and iPods and iPhones is when I’m out in the field with my steed, good ol’ Willy. He’s a little hard to control and gets excited easily but he calms down after a few strokes.

Everyone is so caught up in their phones that they miss oppotunities provided by Mother Nature. I walked up hill to and from school, I never miss a chance to take a hike in the backcountry or nap under an oak tree. An op-ed in the Liberal Times recently stated, “Polluting is to nature what devices are to our brains.”

Getting old is darn hard, but not as hard as my hands from decades of manual labor. I remember when I had to go to town and order from the soda jerk for a glass of sarsaparilla. Now you can’t find the beverage anywhere. There’s Redbull, Bang, Monster and other energy drinks that have more pep than an untamed bull ready to mate.

Man, am I old but I can still stand the weather. Rain turns to sleet, sleet turns to snow, snow turns to ice but still I persevere. You know what won’t perservere? Cold temperatures and mountain lifestyle. If we don’t use every part of the buffalo, then the buffalo goes extinct. But with this planet, there is no endangered animal preserve to nurse it back to health. We’re burning the candle at both ends, and at on end of the wick is carbon pollution and at the other ISIS.

I can’t remember where I’m going with this, but then again I can’t remember much these days. I think I’ll watch the sunset and try to remember the time when my past self could throw bales of hay with ease. Hey, maybe that’s why they call it one’s “hay day.”

ESTROBEN: WORLD’S FINEST HANDYWOMAN

BW: “Stupid and frankly sophomoric.” “Even for the internet, that’s pretty bad.” “We’re not ‘Saturday Night Live.’” “I wouldn’t want my name attached to this.”

(STORY REDACTED)

bwelch@aspentimes.com sbeckwith@aspentimes.com

Birth of the Elks

“Lodge of the Elks at Aspen,” read a headline in the Aspen Daily Chronicle on Dec. 28, 1891. “General B.F. Klee, district deputy of the Elks, will institute a new lodge at Aspen next Sunday night, says the Denver Republican on Friday morning. He will be assisted by the officers and team of the Denver Lodge. A special car has been chartered on the Midland, and at least thirty-five Elks will leave Saturday night for Aspen. Charles R. Bell of that city has been instrumental in organizing the lodge, which will have thirty charter members.”

Hit the road: 6 marijuana tours to try in Denver

Most companies in cannabis-friendly cities across the country are still trying to navigate the confusion surrounding social consumption regulations (ahem, Aspen), but one workaround is through hosting official tours and bespoke experiences.

As the first metropolis to make marijuana legal for adult use, Denver has one of the most extensive selections of organized outings compared to locales like Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and San Francisco.

Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast or a canna-curious tourist, here are the six best tour operators to try the next time you make it down to the Mile High City.

Cultivating Spirits

Cannabis culinary expert Philip Wolf pioneered the art of pairing the plant with food and wine, forming Cultivating Spirits in 2014. Specializing in a three-course dining experience and working with a rotating roster of Colorado top chefs, his goal is to celebrate smoking cannabis instead of infusing with it. Each course is served with a different strain complementary to each dish, while Wolf acts as a cannabis sommelier to take you through the tasting notes of both the flower and food. Plus, he’ll even make a special trip to Aspen if you’d like to host an event of your own in High Country.

Book: cultivatingspirits.com

Seed & Smith

A cannabis cultivator, concentrate manufacturer and retailer, Seed & Smith is dedicated to perfecting the craft of producing high-quality cannabis in Denver. With customer education and transparency its primary focus, the dispensary offers a 45-minute “Seed-to-Sale Tour,” which takes guests through the on-site grow facility, harvest room, extraction lab and packaging process, with plenty of photo ops along the way.

Book: seedandsmith.com

My 420 Tours

Founded in 2013, My 420 Tours is technically North America’s first legal marijuana tourism company. Offering cannabis-friendly transportation to and from Denver International Airport and local lodging options, the company is best known for curated cultural experiences including its “Sushi & Joint Rolling” class, “Haunted Hash” party bus outing and immersive experience at the Church of Cannabis. All clients are also privy to complete package deals, plus discounts at partner dispensaries.

Book: my420tours.com

Puff, Pass & Paint

Landscape painter Heidi Keyes launched Puff, Pass & Paint in Denver in 2014 and has since expanded to offering cannabis-infused creative classes in 13 cities across the U.S. Held in private residences, budding artists are encouraged to BYOC (bring your own cannabis) to smoke, vape or eat while you follow step-by-step instructions to create your own mind-altered masterpiece. Each 120-minute session includes a teacher—Keyes herself hosts classes in Denver—and all of the art supplies you’ll need. Puff, Pass & Pottery, grow tours, hash-making classes, infused cooking classes, cannabis karaoke nights, and more are also offered through its parent company Colorado Cannabis Tours.

Book: cannabistours.com

Loopr

As Denver’s only smoking lounge on wheels, locals and tourists alike can take a ride in luxury while legally consuming cannabis. The tricked-out tour bus hops from hotspot to hotspot around downtown following its just-launched and “Green Line” route where riders can schedule pickups and drop-offs via its mobile app. Loopr also offers grow tours, special events for foodies, dispensary discounts, private rides and even a monthly punch pass.

Book: rideloopr.com

City Sessions Denver

Goldie Solodar starting giving private, high-minded tours for friends, family and visitors from around the globe in 2014. A year later, she hired her first employee at City Sessions Denver, which has grown into a go-to for immersive experiences in all areas of the industry. From sharing personal product picks and hosting behind-the-scenes grow tours to offering cannabis-friendly ski town shuttles and sightseeing adventures, City Sessions Denver creates custom itineraries for every level of cannabis connoisseur. It also publishes an annual City Sessions Guidebook and has an extensive inventory of vaporizing devices including PAX, Puffco and Volcano to rent while you’re in town.

Book: citysessionsdenver.com

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed on Twitter @bykatieshapiro.

Libations: Punching up Friends-giving

In my pre-Aspen life, I didn’t care much for Thanksgiving.

My mom doesn’t really like turkey or leftovers, so growing up Thanksgiving was treated as a less important holiday where my family would typically go out to eat.

But now that I’m in Aspen, I have a lot to be excited about surrounding Thanksgiving and, to be honest, I’m already looking forward to the holiday.

Besides the fact that opening day for Aspen Mountain and Snowmass is scheduled for Nov. 28 (provided they don’t open early), I’ve started to feed off others’ enthusiasm for the holiday in this town and have discovered just how fun Friends-giving can be.

In fact, I’m anticipating this year’s Turkey Day so much so that I’ve started plotting when I’m going to do trial runs of the new recipes I’m making for Friends-giving this year. (All the food websites I frequent recommend testing new recipes before making them for a crowd, so after one of the pies I made last year didn’t turn out, I’m going to take the recommendation.)

One recipe I’m extra excited to test early is for a festive libation called The Hippocras Punch.

According to Wikipedia, Hippocras is a drink made from wine that is steeped with sugar and spices and originated in the Roman Empire. The drink was also the inspiration for sangria.

This rendition from the good folks over at Hendrick’s Gin takes the drink into a punch format, which is perfect to keep a Thanksgiving crowd happy, and adds my personal liquor favorite: gin, of course.

“This hot punch is the perfect fall drink to share with friends and family at your next holiday party,” said Sebastien Derbomez, the national brand ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin and a recognizable face in Aspen from events such as the Apres Ski Cocktail Classic. “Combining white wine, spices, orange peels and exotic pineapple with our lovely Hendrick’s botanicals, this warm beverage is guaranteed to surprise and delight your guests!”

Since The Hippocras Punch is served warm, it seems just right for those coming from the mountain to the dinner table.

Additionally, I think it would work well during pre-turkey dinner appetizers or after the main feast as the herbs in Hendrick’s Gin, specifically juniper berries, can aid in digestion, which means more room for dessert.

The flavor profile of the punch, according to Derbomez, “is light and fruity with a hint of spice,” and sounds like a perfect accompaniment for any flavor that comes with a Thanksgiving meal.

The ingredients will be easy to source in Aspen, so I think the most difficult part of making this is going to be finding someone who has a punch bowl that I can borrow …