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Aspen Princess: My bad, Buttermilk, you really are all that

A group of kids stand around the chocolate fountain in the base lodge, their mouths hanging open in despair when they learn there are no marshmallows left. Two older ladies stand idle at the station, unsure of what to do.

“Here, hon. Let’s do it this way,” one says, spooning a generous serving of chocolate syrup into an empty French fry boat. Soon the spacious room fills with the sounds of young children riding the high of a sugar buzz; the preschool equivalent of partying, Aspen-style.

It’s opening day at Buttermilk, also known as Chocolate Day. Maybe you knew that, but I didn’t. This is my first time.

It turns out I’m late to the party. The Aspen Times reported Wednesday that Buttermilk was selected as the third-best ski resort in the country, according to the 600,000 people who participated in the Conde Nast Traveler’s annual reader survey. (Sundance Mountain Resort and Telluride came in first and second, respectively, which makes me think these readers probably do know what they’re talking about.)

There was a time, like four years ago, I would have scoffed at this. Everyone knows Aspen Highlands blows every other ski area away, what, thanks to the hottest ski patrollers in the Lower 48. Actually, let me amend that statement. I love all of our four mountains equally, the way I might love all my children if I had more than one. They each have their strong attributes and we are so fortunate to have a choice; depending on the day, the conditions, the weather, and who we’re with, we can curate our own perfect shushing experience. It is a privilege that exists only in Aspen.

Little did any of us know, that despite the top-to-bottom bliss of Ajax, the endless expanse of Snowmass and the steep and deep of Highland Bowl, Buttermilk is one of the top-ranked ski resorts in the country.

This news couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. Chocolate Day blew my mind. Forget popping the cork off that bottle of Veuve Clicquot at Ajax Tavern when Aspen Mountain opens like three weeks early. Don’t even bother racing the 200 other people who are lined up for the annual opening of Highland Bowl so they can follow each other up the ridge butt-to-boot like a train of ants.

Buttermilk opening day is where it’s at.

All this time, I thought shredding fresh pow and drinking one too many Aspen Blondes at the Highlands Alehouse was what it was all about. This was before I discovered they have actual teddy bears at Panda Peak. We’re talking the kind of larger-than-life stuffed animals you see in the display windows at FAO Schwartz.

When they handed this giant teddy bear to Levi as he loaded onto the small double chair with his dad I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. (I’m too afraid to be the one to ride with him because there is no safety bar. Can someone please explain to me why there is no safety bar on the one chairlift in the world that should be protecting its tiny passengers?) There he was, my beautiful little boy, dressed to the nines in his brand-new Burton outfit, the brightly colored camo-pattern jacket and bright green pants with gray knee patches, clutching this huge bear. It was the Hallmark card moment for the lifelong ski and snowboard bum who has managed to fashion a life where her offspring are indoctrinated into the ways of her own lifestyle choices from a very young age.

I guess all children are naturally indoctrinated into their parent’s lifestyle, but instead of soccer practice and violin, our kids get to learn how to shred the gnar from the time they can walk. It is in fact Levi’s third season on skis, even if he only took one run that time he was 13 months old and we managed one run down the magic carpet at Elk Camp between diaper changes and naptime. The rest of the season he was stuffed into the backpack clad in the best down bunting money can buy and dragged up the mountain so Mom and Dad can skin up.

To say it’s a dream come true to see my kid experience the mountains, specifically the ski resort lifestyle, isn’t even the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Even better, Buttermilk takes it to the next level.

Seeing this place through my child’s eyes, it’s heaven on Earth. How did I drive past it so many times and not know? Where else in the world can you roll up mid-day and park a stone’s throw from the base lodge? Where else in the world is there a small, remote lift with picnic benches and plenty of sun and no crowds where you can get together with your friends and have a picnic, as if the modern ski resort didn’t yet exist?

Rather than toss back tequila shots and strut around in designer skiwear, I had no idea how much fun it would be to sit around the firepit in an oversized, “Alice in Wonderland” Adirondack chair and enjoy a fresh-made s’more that cost zero dollars. Not to mention the fried ribs at Home Team BBQ are enough to make me mostly vegan, except every Sunday when I polish off every finger-licking bite of what I’m claiming is the best plate of meat in the valley.

Last but not least, it turns out all the cool kids, or at least their parents, are at Buttermilk, too! It’s the first time since I went from Aspen Princess to Desperate Housewife of Basalt that I felt like I was in the mix, hobnobbing with none other than All the Way May herself, donned in her infamous Moncler one-piece.

I can’t believe it took me 18 years to find my sweet spot. I just can’t believe it turned out to be Buttermilk.

The Princess is sporting black Burton overalls this season. Email your love to alisonmargo@gmail.com.

More questions than answers regarding 5G in Aspen

On Dec. 4, I attended the public forum at the limelight. My questions were related to the 5G rollout.

Question: Can installation be delayed until more studies are conducted regarding health concerns and the consistency of speed is remedied?

Answer: I was told that 4G cells would be installed first, then replaced with 5G cells.

Q: There is more than one cellular carrier in Aspen. Will each carrier have a 4G cell on each pole until the 5G cells are installed?

A: I was told four carriers have applied to install 5G in Aspen.

Q. Will only one carrier be selected and one 5G cell installed? Or will more than one carrier be selected, requiring multiple 5G cells on each pole? If there is more than one 5G cell at a location, will the RF radiation emitted be multiplied by the number of 5G cells on that pole?

A. That’s a good question.

Q. Will the city of Aspen petition the state to keep 5G out of residential areas like Mill Valley, California, did? Mill Valley enacted an urgency ordinance to block 5G towers in its residential areas. The legislation allows authorities to enact regulations affecting the health and safety of residents. San Anselmo and Ross have already adapted similar ordinances.

A. No, the legislation in Colorado allows 5G in residential areas.

More questions I thought of after I left the forum:

• Verizon has said objects like foliage can interfere with 5G wavelengths and make the signal less effective. There are a lot of trees in Aspen. How will this be addressed?

• Each cell location will require power and fiber optic. What will the construction look like, will the fiber optic installation require trenching to each cell location? How will this be implemented in the core, down Main Street, in residential areas?

You can find arguments on both sides of the issues, yes and no to health effects, consistency of speed, interference caused by trees, foliage, buildings, glass, concrete, etc.

It would alleviate a lot of concerns if more time could be taken to taken to truly understand the impacts of this technology. Have the cities that have rolled out 5G provided concrete information as to health effects, benefit to the community, impacts of installation?

The city of Aspen is not going to stop or slow the installation of 5G; the public forum was to address aesthetics.

Please visit http://www.electrosmogprevention.org/stop-5g-action-plan/10-actions-to-help-stop-5g/ if you want information on how to contact your elected officials to create new legislation for installation locations, to slow or stop 5G.

Jensue Hawks


Postal Service can’t be trusted

We recently sent a card with two gift cards enclosed (total value of $150) to our son in Belleview, Washington, for his birthday. It was sent U.S. Postal Service, in person, from the Carbondale post office. Extra postage was added at that time as required by the post office employee. This was Nov. 25; our son’s birthday is Dec. 4.

Our son called us on Dec. 9 (14 days after the postmark) to say he had finally received the card. The card had been opened prior to delivery and the gift cards were gone.

So, two things here. First, once again, the inefficiency and ineptness of the USPS has been demonstrated. This seems to be a chronic problem. Second, and more importantly, it is a federal crime to tamper with U.S. mail. When any of us mails something, a bill, a letter, a package, we expect honesty and safety and reliability. Clearly this is not the case. From the time this item was mailed, to the time it was delivered to our son’s mailbox, it should not have left the possession of the USPS. My conclusion is that the USPS is not to be trusted or relied upon.

I urge everyone, at this busy time of year for mailings, to consider who you want your carrier to be. There are options.

Keven Goodwin


Meredith C. Carroll: Sarah Palin’s heir apparent emerges in Lauren Boebert

If you supported Barack Obama’s presidential aspirations in 2008, then you weren’t happy waking up Aug. 29 of that year to headlines that his Republican opponent, John McCain, had picked a woman to be his running mate. Advocating for women in positions of power is a trick usually reserved for the left, so for a few hours Democrats quaked in their Birkenstocks.

A few hours was all it took, though. No one outside of Alaska had heard of Sarah Palin, but immediately upon hearing from her, it was as plain as seeing Russia from her house that Sarah Palin would not be the nation’s first female vice president. (To be fair, it wasn’t just the first impression that did her in; it was all of them.)

Lauren Boebert is poised to join Palin in also not making any firsts during her premiere campaign with a national audience. On Sunday, the 33-year-old Silt resident announced plans to mount a primary challenge against Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton for Colorado’s 3rd district, a seat that has been held exclusively by men since it was established in 1915. (To be fair, Palin was up for a job that, in 2008, boasted a 219-year male streak.)

“Hardworking, patriotic Americans like you and me don’t want the Green New Deal and socialized medicine,” Boebert, owner of the open-carry-friendly Shooters restaurant in Rifle that offers firearm safety instruction training but no health insurance to employees, said in a news release. “Every time AOC and the rest of the squad pipes up with another crazy idea I will remind them that our belief in God, country and family are what built the United States of America into the greatest nation the world has ever known.”

Considering the wild implausibility of Donald Trump’s first victory and the distinct plausibility of his second, Boebert, whose National Rifle Association tea-towel rhetoric doesn’t demonstrate an especially sophisticated grasp of the Second Amendment (or, frankly, the First), almost seems shrewd enough to win. Her “Hell, no” quip at an Aurora Beto O’Rourke rally this fall in response to his “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR15s” Democratic debate-stage comment from a week earlier earned her an appearance on Fox News.

A few days later, with a gun strapped to her leg, she addressed Aspen City Council during public comments about an ordinance banning firearms from municipal spaces.

“Entities like (Aspen City Council) have been found guilty by the Supreme Court for passing just such laws because they absolutely infringe on our Second Amendment rights,” she said.

How much she understands about actual law and government became more clear this week during interviews about her candidacy. In Tuesday’s Aspen Daily News, she said she heard “from people who work in hospitals” that Colorado nurses turn a blind eye to “post-term” abortions, whereby “the mother has delivered her child, and decides she does not want that child, and they leave the infant to die.”

“Why haven’t we heard of that?” Boebert said. “Why isn’t our representation telling us that this is happening? Maybe they don’t have time to do something about it, but they can speak up and let us know.”

She alluded to Tipton when telling The Colorado Sun she wouldn’t have had to run “if I felt that we were being represented properly,” especially on gun-related matters like Colorado’s red-flag law, which goes into effect next month.

(The Sun then asked her “Why she decided to run for Congress and not the state legislature, where those measures were passed?” to which she replied “She wanted to have the most impact as quickly as possible: ‘This is not a career move for me,’” Boebert told them.)

The list of what Boebert doesn’t know about what she doesn’t know seems to be at the beginning, although if anything useful is being gleaned from Trump’s impeachment process it’s a reminder that voters have a duty to elect people, whether career politicians or lay people, who demonstrate a clear understanding of the difference between how they think stuff works versus how stuff, in fact, works.

2020 could well be a strong one for women if 2019 is any indication: Sports Illustrated just named Megan Rapinoe as its Sportsperson of the Year, making her only the fourth woman to receive the honor by herself since the award originated in 1953. This week Variety magazine declared 2019 “the year of the woman” cinematically (only in the documentary category, but still).

That two women (Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush also has thrown her hat in the race to unseat Tipton) are running for a seat only ever held by men is an excellent omen for Colorado (less so that one of them seems fated to discover via Ancestry.com that she’s got distant cousins in Wasilla, but still). It’s worth keeping an eye on all the women running for office in 2020, although maybe keep both eyes on a few in particular.

More at MeredithCarroll.com and on Twitter @MCCarroll.

Pilots party takes off Wednesday

The Aspen Chapter of the 99’s would like to invite all aviation enthusiasts to our annual Pilots Holiday Party on Wednesday. It will be held at the Mountain Chalet Aspen (333 E. Durant Ave., top floor) from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be a cash bar and potluck snacks. It’s free and open to the public.

Come celebrate the holidays while talking flying. Suzanne Pfister will be there with information about her new and exciting Betty Flies Foundation.

For more information, please call 970-925-5510.

Polly Ross


Aspen: Love it or leave it

Surprise! This year’s Aspen citizen survey reveals locals want lower housing costs, more restaurant choices, lower restaurant prices and a lot fewer annoying tourists in town. They could realize their dreams in many places such as Buena Vista, Lake George, Pueblo, Fruita, Montrose or Wiggins. What are they doing here?

Maurice Emmer


Replace Beaton with Veazy

Jim Pausa is right: Reading Glen Beaton is a waste of time (“Beaton not worth the time of day,” letters, Dec. 9, aspentimes.com). The Times should hire a more intelligent, intriguing conservative writer like Emzy Veazy!

Carl Heck


Ugly wreaths in Basalt run afoul of Constitution

Once again Basalt ignores constitutional practices and displays specific religious symbols on public property. The wreaths that are being displayed, in addition to being ugly, have no place on public property.

Bah humbug this is not. It is a call for Basalt to respect the separation of church and state.

Mark Kwiecienski


Aspen transit should fly high with Santa

Almost all my 2019 wishes with a lot of hard work have come true. A few still need work on but here goes. First, many thanks to Santa and all his helpers (which means you, the reader) for helping make these wishes come true.

1. Basalt — The new 50-foot-by-20-foot warm water, “robot” pool design replacing the kiddie pool should be coming out soon. It is incredible. Other improvements are also in the works.

2. Aspen — The open houses for community feedback on designs for Galena Plaza, which Aspen City Council will be updated on followed by a mix-and-match session of the three design concepts.

3. Pitkin County — Airport Advisory Committee recommends studying an aerial connection from Brush Creek Park and Ride along Highway 82 to the airport, then onward to Buttermilk, Aspen and a leg to Aspen Highlands. Also included is a leg from Brush Creek Park and Ride along Brush Creek Road to Snowmass Village.

Rail and all rubber-tired solutions have already been studied. Now it is time to research the aerial gondola solution. If Santa’s reindeer’s can fly, why can’t we?

4. Snowmass Village — Connecting Base Village with Town Center with either an aerial gondola or a pedestrian bridge will shortly be reviewed by Town Council as part of the Town Center land-use application.

I would rather ride an aerial with my skis, groceries, kids and dog than push a shopping cart through a pounding blizzard, which makes for good skiing. If Santa’s reindeer can fly, why can’t we?

Speaking of flying reindeers, before Santa delivers his presents, he always checks in with the elected officials of Snowmass, Aspen, Basalt and Pitkin County and their staffs for their approval. Looks like we have been good. Hot cocoa and brownies for Santa.

Toni Kronberg


Trashy post office below Aspen standards

Horrible embarrassment. We have lived in Aspen for 50 years and have never been more embarrassed about anything in this beautiful, successful and wealthy town than our post office.

How can we have a post office with trashed mail and junk all over the bins and floors? It is disgusting! Can the city help by hiring a couple of people to clean twice a week? Two hours would do it! Apparently the USPS doesn’t care. Please do something, City Council, and thank you.

Ron and Claudine Austin