Behind the Wheel: Over the hill
June 25, 2005
It’s not a stretch to say Twin Lakes isn’t somewhere many people spend significant time.Typically, a stop in the tiny town just over Independence Pass happens because of an extra large mug of coffee while leaving Aspen for points south. Those bladder-busting sharp curves just before the town limits always leave me scrambling for the town’s only public pit toilet.So while Twin Lakes has always been a pit stop (literally) on a quest for the perfect road trip, my husband and I found ourselves driving to this town – year-round population: 26 – just to be there last weekend. Strange, I know.We meandered up Independence Pass on Sunday afternoon, forgetting the CD collection and listening to country crooners sing about “goin’ through the big D, and I don’t mean Dallas,” and other quirky tales of heartache.Abandoned log cabins from the mining boom of the 1800s still sit in a field to the right, but the rest of the town is on the left. There’s not much more than a few bed and breakfasts, a cafe that serves breakfast and lunch, three artsy shops and a general store that sells ice cream bars, fishing tackle and gasoline. We found dinner in Granite and tried the braised yak. It tasted like steak.The locals asked us about life on the other side of the hill and lamented the loss of the local ambulance, which Lake County just moved to Leadville. A shop owner on the volunteer fire department described gnarly accidents she’s seen, and she said they used to have T-shirts reading, “Go fast around Parry Peak Curve, and we’ll see you soon.”At the 100-plus-year-old Twin Lakes Nordic Inn, every board in the floor creaked, and some of the rooms are named after the ladies of ill repute who used to work there. We watched people cast lines into the lakes and stared across at the abandoned Interlaken resort, a sign of more prosperous times.Aspen is in full postcard-perfect swing right now, and you wouldn’t want to miss the reason many of us still live here (as opposed to the wintry reason for which we came in the first place), but you might consider a quick trip over the hill sometime. I promise it’ll be less crowded.