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Roger Marolt: Trying to make glass of warm milk into a margarita

Years ago in Los Angeles, I thought it would be fun to pump some iron at Muscle Beach. This was back when yoga was for freaks and men aspired to look normal, like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I thought it might be one of those amazing things I could tell the grandkids about.

It sounded like a really good idea I had hatched, and my wife encouraged me. I can’t recall what I must have been doing to drive her to the brink of needing to get me out of her hair for a while. Obviously, she was not thinking about my safety, not even after we arrived and got a look at the gaggle of glistening gladiators battling dumbbells inside the cage surrounding the open-air gym, clad in nothing but Speedo bathing suits.

“Have a great time,” she said as she snapped a picture of the dumbest bell of all before herding our perplexed children down to the seashore to build sandcastles. “Daddy looks scared,” one said, or at least I hope they did.

Back in the hotel I felt bold hamming it up in front of a full-length mirror in my boarder shorts, flexing stringy muscles whittled down from natural size by years of endurance runs and bike rides designed to wear bodies out quickly, and which deliver on that promise with the added effect of making you look twice as old as you are.

The fun and games where clearly over as the gargantuan hand attached to an oak branch of a forearm reached out from the booth and took my $5 entry fee. He had my money. Whatever embarrassment I would find at the bench press, I deserved.

My first impression was that nobody was here to have fun. Weightlifting was not about cranking the music and socializing with the regulars like it was in the pretend world from which I came. I was surrounded by serious faces grunting and groaning. There was no shame in straining so hard that gas was expelled as an exclamation point at the end of a hard set. The men were just as bad.

And then a funny thing happened on my way to the curling bar. It seemed people were suddenly courteous. Some said things like, “Hi.” A few neck-less lifters gave me pointers and huffed encouraging words. It seemed the regulars liked me, but why?

I deduced it was because I was weak. I was the wimp that they dreamed would show up to the gym someday. I was tiny but tried hard. I was visibly in awe of their physical strength. Standing next to me they became the Adonis they aspired to be. In short, I was the perspective they needed to realize all their hard work was paying the dividends they strove for. Just by being me, I made them feel good about themselves.

Afterward, I felt great, and it wasn’t just the endorphin high you get lifting pieces of solid steel up and down until you can’t anymore. I thought I had made a discovery about human nature and, with it, forged the golden key to making friends everywhere.

Pondering this on the beach afterward, my formula for universal acceptance fell flat in the foam of a wave petered out in a patch of kelp. If I had gone surfing with the locals, just paddling out humbly and surfing pathetically, things would not have turned out so harmoniously as at Muscle Beach. There would have been a moment of dirty looks before words sharper than honed sticks and harder than reef stones would be hurled my way. I would have been lucky to escape with my life. Somewhere in a dream I have had this experience.

In the end, I realized that outcasts, wannabes and experts coexist everywhere, and I had only noticed the distinct groups under the influence of a vacation induced stupor. I had gotten lucky falling into the mix of it and come out floating near the top with the toast crumbs and bubbles. In the end, there is no great discovery to be made. There is no startling revelation. When all the societal ingredients are mixed, we end up with something like a glass of warm milk. If you have trouble sleeping at night, sip it slowly until you doze off. If not, put it back in the fridge to stir into your coffee in the morning.

Roger Marolt is glad nobody kicked sand in his face. Email at roger@maroltllp.com.

Rodeo Lot ropes in the Pitkin County Fair

In the May 17, 1979 issue of The Aspen Times, the Pitkin County Fair Board announced the annual August event’s official move to the Snowmass Resort, specifically the Snowmass Rodeo Lot. Previous years had been held on various ranches within the county including the Punkoney Ranch in Snowmass Canyon, however, the Rodeo Lot provided space for the growing fair and could accommodate carnival rides, craft booths, rodeo events as well as a circus tent for indoor activities like the 4-H projects that ranged from woodworking, raising animals of all sizes, fashion shows and first aid displays as well as adult agricultural wares and home baked goods all vying for titles. Special events included a pancake breakfast, barbecue pit, fiddle contest, live music and dancing, and the “traditional calf-catch, horse gymkhana and horse show, the dog show, the parade of champion cattle.” This proved to be a semi-permanent move until 1987 when it shifted to the Tiehack side of Buttermilk Mountain.

Snowmass Village annual cleanup day unearths some unique finds each spring

From nasty, old mattresses to lost concert tickets, the annual Snowmass Village Cleanup day has taken a variety of items from the streets and paths to the landfill or the town clerk’s desk.

When the snow melts and the leftover litter of winter is exposed, residents of Snowmass have hit the streets, parking lots and paths for nearly 40 years to clean up the junk left by others.

The 39th annual Town Cleanup Day is Friday, and come rain or shine residents will spend the morning walking the village to pick up junk, help stain railings or help with a number of other beautification projects.

Town clerk Ronda Coxon moved to the village in 1981 and has helped at all but one of the cleanup days. The first years were as a resident/employee in the town, and the past 26 years she’s been organizing the event.

In a desk drawer at her Town Hall office she has what she deems the oddest find: an unused 1997 Jazz Aspen at Snowmass ticket for the Chuck Berry and Little Richard show.

“I kept it because it was so bizarre. What’s crazy is somebody found it at the 2008 cleanup day,” Coxon said. “I can’t remember where it was found, but I’m think it was on a residential road.”

The event started because town officials were figuring out a way to clean up after the snowmelt, she said. Back then, there wasn’t a big public works department or a trails crew like there is now, so the residents were invited to come out and to help out.

The parking lots typically are where the big junk is left, said Coxon and Snowmass director of parks, rec and trails Andy Worline, but there have been some finds: watches, wallets, sunglasses. And the not-so-great stuff: underwear, toothbrushes, hub cabs, unopened beers (well, maybe that’s a good find).

“A few years back, the front end of an old car was found in the creek,” Coxon said.

Worline estimates they picked up about 30 truckloads of trash last year, which is “quite a bit, especially for this small geographical size of the area we go.”

Friday’s event starts at 9 a.m. at the Daly Lane Depot at the Snowmass Mall. Volunteers can help for all or part of the time. Lunch, which is hosted by the Snowmass Rotary, will start at about noon at the rec center. There will be prizes and raffles during the lunch.

Those interested in helping should wear clothes that can get dirty and also be ready for weather changes. Gloves and bags will be provided, and at the morning meeting volunteers will be set up in groups.

“I think it’s a good ‘team builder’ for the community,” Worline said. “They look forward to it and take pride in it.”


Fewer property sales in Snowmass, but prices climb

The number of single-family home sales in Snowmass Village was down 33% for the first four months of 2019 compared with the same period last year, but sales prices have increased, according to the most recent statistics available from the Aspen Board of Realtors.

Fifteen homes sold in Snowmass from January through April of last year, compared with 10 for the same period this year.

The median sales price for the first one-third of this year, however, was $4.46million — more than double the $2.21 million in 2018. The average sales price for the first four months of 2019 was $4.48 million — 63.8% higher than the $2.74 million last year, according to the Aspen Board of Realtors.

Total townhouse and condo sales in Snowmass, meanwhile, amounted to 34 in the first four months of the year, in contrast to 48 during the same period last year. Similar to the market for single-family homes, the townhouse and condo sales prices increased significantly — the median sales prices was $678,150, up 47.4% over $460,000 from January through April of 2018; the average price jumped 111.8% from $514,910 last year to $1.09 million this year, statistics show.

Sellers also stayed mostly true to their listing prices during from January through April. In the Village’s single-family market, homes sold for 94.3% of their asking price; that figure was 97% on the townhouse-condo segment, according to the report.

Take for instance the new Lumin building next to the Limelight Hotel in the expanded Base Village, which debuted in December. The four Lumin luxury condos have sold out.

The husband-and-wife Benvenuto Team of Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty noted one of their clients made an offer of $4.8 million for a $6 million Lumin condo simply to test the waters. The seller didn’t budge on the price, they said.

“There was a little bit of nervousness if the Snowmass real estate market would take a hit,” said James Benvenuto, who works with his wife, Jennifer, on the Benvenuto Team. He noted that national and global economic uncertainty fueled that concern. “That was extremely short lived, with the stock market and the economy producing jobs.”

Sellers aren’t in a rush to sale, they said.

“I think people are really enjoying their assets,” Benvenuto said. “There’s always some overpriced listings in the market, and what you’ll see when the seller gets serious, then you’ll see price reductions.”

Supply has tightened. Snowmass had 21 new single-family home listings for the first four months of the year, down 22.2% from the same period last year. Likewise, townhouse listings are down 34.3%, with 69 on the market from January through April of this year, compared with 105 last year, according to the Board of Realtors.

Real estate sales account for roughly 25% of the Pitkin County market, data show.

Aspen carries the bulk of that, and broker Andrew Ernemann of Sotheby’s noted that a wide disparity still exists between prices in Aspen and Snowmass.

Even so, in his April 11 newsletter, Ernemann said the gap between Snowmass and Aspen property prices has narrowed this year.

Ernemann reported that Aspen home prices per square foot were 68% higher than those in Snowmass through March. That represents a significant drop from being 110% higher in all of 2018 and 113% in 2017. From 2005 through 2010 — some of those years were during the height of the Great Recession — Aspen prices per square foot hovered from 22% to 39% higher than in Snowmass.

“The last two years Aspen was more than double the Snowmass prices … and is typically about 30 to 35% higher,” Ernemann said. “With the recent Base Village sales the premium has dropped down into the 80% range, and over time I would expect it to normalize somewhere closer to 40 to 50% higher, but it is still a significant gap right now. Snowmass prices have some catching up to do.”


Town cleanup day approaching

The 39th annual Town Cleanup Day is May 17 followed by a community lunch.

The cleanup starts at 9 a.m. at the Daly Lane Depot on the Snowmass Mall. There will be shuttles for those who need a ride back to the mall afterward.

Wear clothes that can get dirty, and be prepared for weather change.

Lunch, which will be served by Snowmass Rotary, will be at noon at the Town Park.

For more information, visit tosv.com.

Snowmass Recreation Center closed for two weeks

The Snowmass Village Recreation Center closed Monday, May 6, for two weeks for its annual cleaning.

In addition to the regular maintenance and cleaning, there is a major project to upgrade the heating and cooling system.

Those with memberships will get one-week credits or extensions to their accounts.

The rec center is scheduled to reopen May 20.

Council raises tobacco, e-cigarette purchasing age to 21 in Snowmass

Snowmass Town Council approved by a unanimous vote to raise the age to 21 to buy and possess cigarettes and electronic smoking devices.

On second reading, the council thanked Police Chief Brian Olson for his work with the ordinance, which will go into effect later this month.

Those younger than 21 who try to buy or possess tobacco and e-cig products will face fines of $50 for the first offense, $150 for the second offense and $300 for the third time. Business caught selling to those younger than 21 face fines from $1,000 to $2,650.

Mayor Markey Butler said she would next like to look at adding a tobacco tax, which would have to go to a general vote, as well as limiting the flavored products. Aspen voters said “yes” in 2017 to a $3 per pack tax and the council currently is considering banning flavored products.

“I’m interested in what is happening over there,” Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk said of Aspen’s proposed ban.

Snowmass History: Kearns family roots run deep

Thomas J. Kearns moved to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1888 with his wife, Margaret, and seven children (two sons: Owen and Leo, and five daughters: Margaret, Mary, Elizabeth, Sadie and Emma) homesteading on Brush Creek in 1889 near the Faraway Ranch area. He applied for his land patent through the Homestead Act in 1926 and lived on the property until 1937, raising his children and later his sons raised their children on the same property. Thomas died in 1938 shortly after moving to a residence in Aspen. His death was considered a “distinct loss to all who knew and admired him throughout the passing years,” according to his obituary in the Aspen Daily Times, 1938. The ranch was sold to the Galluns, who also purchased the Aspen Drug corner store in 1954.

Roger Marolt: The General meant no offense

There is a regular dog in our neighborhood. I don’t mean the kind of “regular” you can tell by comparing one dog to another. I mean “regular” by its morning routine, which occurred without fail at the time the newspaper delivery guy ought to have set his alarm clock to. I know this because the little guy left his calling card on my front porch each morning before I went out to get the paper this winter.

In the meaning of the word by which you would describe someone as, “a regular, average guy,” this dog is not that. He’s the size of a toy Tonka truck and about as tough as one, too. He is unaware of his diminutive stature and struts as if he is a mature lion. My medium-sized dog likes him and tries to get him to play, but is also scared of him. When the little dog snorts, my dog shuffles backward and bows in deference. I will call this little dog “The General” to protect the innocent, who might otherwise underestimate him and pay the price.

I admit, I was irritated at first that The General was pooping on my doorstep. The first few times it happened I practically stepped in it, unawares. Maybe I even did a few times without knowing it, the saving grace being temperatures below freezing that quickly solidify pre-owned Purina and render it basically harmless until after sunrise.

As silly and as normal as it sounds, I agonized over how to handle this situation. Each day as I scooped it up, I wavered between brining the situation up over a friendly cup of coffee with The General’s owners or saving a winter’s worth of the FODS (Frozen Old Dog S—) in a 50-gallon trash bag and dropping it off surreptitiously in the middle of some warm May night on their doorstep.

But, as I delayed action for lack of the right words for a conversation of this magnitude of importance and/or trying to figure out a place to store a 50-gallon trash bag of poop all winter, I realized that picking up the dog doo in front of my stoop before I trudged to the backyard to clean up my own dog’s contributions was not a big deal and, in fact, cleaning up the small frozen turds out front was way easier than getting the big ones in back that were guarded by knee-deep powder.

I even got over the insane belief that somehow my pet’s larger piles were not nearly as disgusting as The General’s since it was my beloved dog that made them. I saw this kind of principled thinking was completely lacking in factually based experience. I also stopped believing that my neighbors could read my mind and were ignoring my angst because they are passive aggressive people secretly delighting in getting under my skin. And, I found, I really love The General and I don’t want him to stop coming around. I chalked it up to something that happens during a big winter. Where else was the poor little guy to go?

I know this sounds kind of yoga and zen, but it is not that. It is me being lazy and taking the path of least resistance after discovering it winds through the dark forest of pride. What I mean is that cleaning up tiny dog turds every day when I’m cleaning up my own dog’s anyway is a lot easier than waging a silent war of resentment with people I like, or even having an awkward conversation that, in the grand scheme of things, would not make my life any better, even with the desired outcome, but would probably make it worse, if only for the few minutes of awkward conversation.

I would not even call this a strategy to deal with neighborly issues, either. I’m not writing a self-help book here. All I’m saying is it worked in this instance. If my neighbor had a buffalo and it was crapping on my doorstep, yes, having a conversation with them could actually make my life significantly better. I will keep that option open.

The risk you always run in confronting anyone is that they don’t end up seeing the problem the same way you do. The result could be they now view you as a nitpicker and you think they are inconsiderate jerks. It is a common neighborly stand-off that rarely self-corrects. I figured it could be a tough way to live for the next 20 years.

Roger Marolt is happy to take orders from The General. Email at roger@maroltllp.com

Snowmass Base Village’s summer debut rolls out with ‘something for everyone’

Base Village in Snowmass is coming into its own now that it has one ski season under its belt and is about to launch summer programming for the first time in its brief history.

With stops and starts and multiple ownership changes, the development known as Base Village at the bottom of Snowmass Ski Area is nearly complete. And it’s turning out to be a game-changer for the resort, which is what developers and elected officials had hoped for.

“We wanted to create a place where people want to hang out, where things are happening,” said John Calhoun, director of sales and marketing for East West Partners. “Snowmass deserves that energy because it was quiet for so long.”

The Limelight’s climbing wall, lounge and game area accentuate the array of activities being offered to guests and locals in Base Village this summer.

“We want to continue to ride the wave of that success we had in the winter,” said Sara Halferty, who works for developers East West Partners and is in charge of programming at Base Village. “We are trying to be approachable and be the place to hang out.”

With that in mind, Halferty and her team are bringing something for everyone to the base this summer.

The ice rink will be transformed into a events salon of sorts and dubbed “Summer at the Rink” where events will be held every weekend.

Building off of the programming of The Collective, which was home to a winter market featuring local artists, Summer at the Rink will host an “Après Artisan Market” from 4 to 8 p.m. each Friday.

Saturday night will be “Movies under the Stars” when Base Village partners with Aspen Film Festival to bring a family film series that kicks off June 29. People are invited to picnic on the lawn before the film and enjoy free popcorn.

Halferty said the series will end in August with an adventure mountain biking film series and then a screening presented by Telluride Mountainfilm Festival.

During the week, the rink will be transformed into an activities lawn with family fun games, pop-up kids’ fountains and shaved ice.

“We really want people to see Snowmass as a place to do something different every day that’s affordable and family friendly,” Halferty said.

Rotating lawn games will be available seven days a week with slip-and-slide human bowling, corn hole, giant Jenga, Connect Four, hula hoops, pogo sticks, sack racing and more.

Summer at the Rink kicks off the last week in June with the opening of the Elk Camp Gondola and The Lost Forest.

A lineup of family-friendly activities and events also is taking shape for the summer.

On Monday afternoons a slack-line clinic and demonstrations will be held.

On Thursday afternoon, join the Fanny Hill concert pre-party on the rink, including family games, drink specials and more.

In the midst of all of that, expect pop-up festivals, dining, art and music events.

Halferty said Mawa McQueen, proprietor of the Crepe Shack at Base Village, is planning a crawfish boil and a harvest dinner sometime this summer.

Also in the works is a pop-up festival, Taste of Snowmass, where restaurants from all over the state will come to Base Village to serve up their specialties.

“Our vision for this one is the first ever ‘Taste of Colorado’ in Snowmass,” Halferty said.

Halferty was in charge of programming for The Collective community building during its debut this past winter. Local artists, speakers, a winter market with locally made crafts and musicians occupied the building.

It’s closed for the summer so construction can get done on a new restaurant and bar, which is planned to be open for the winter.

Operated by local veteran restaurateur Martin Oswald, the new restaurant, mix6, and the bar, Moxi, will feature an expansive outdoor patio with seating and warming fire pits, offering a spot to apres in the sun and enjoy the views of the rink, the Base Village scene and the mountain.

mix6 gets its name from the food concept envisioned by Oswald. The restaurant will let diners be their own chefs by selecting up to six ingredients, including vegetables, proteins and homemade sauces that have been specially curated and prepared in small batches. The ingredients will be ever changing for what is available in season.

mix6 will be an integral part of The Collective when this building fully opens. The restaurant will be designed to support The Collective’s mixed use of events and activities, including live music, film, art and educational speakers.

“We looked at everything from fine dining to more casual concepts and interviewed restaurateurs as far away as New York City,” said Andy Gunion, managing partner for East West Partners. “Ultimately, it was chef Oswald who presented an innovative concept that we felt was the most natural fit with this venue’s vibe and purpose as a community hub.”

The basement of The Collective is being designed as a game lounge with ping-pong and pool tables, as well as a community hangout area.

Calhoun, the director of sales and marketing for East West, said Base Village’s newfound vitality and mojo is enticing people to buy the condominiums and penthouses that rise up from the plaza, offering breathtaking and expansive views of the mountain.

One Snowmass West, which will be completed in September, has 11 homes, five of which were under contract almost immediately after they went on the market this past ski season.

The three condos in the Lumin building have been bought, and construction on Snowmass One East will begin later this year.

Calhoun said buyers range from first-time visitors to current homeowners who own elsewhere in the village. He added that the feedback he’s been getting from people about the base area is that they “are stunned.”

“It’s such a departure” from what they are used to or what they expected, he said.

Bill Boineau, former mayor of Snowmass Village who has been part of the community vision and approval process for the base for over two decades, said its success is a double-edged sword for him.

“I’m not jumping up and down for joy,” he said of the growth. “There needs to be a resort and community balance, but there’s a reason to come here now.”