Don’t let the Downersons ruin paradise
This year was my third time in Aspen. Like so many of the people who visit Colorado I was bewitched on my first visit to this corner of Colorado by the stunning beauty of the mountains and the colors of the different types of soil and rocks. Even after this third trip I am convinced that those jagged walls of red rock, to the left as you drive from Basalt to Aspen, are the remains of huge fortifications built by a long extinct civilization.
This year’s vacation started normally, the long drive from Denver punctuated by sleep inducing swirling snow, conquered only by regular injections of coffee.
Arrival at our friends log cabin immediately set the pace for my city dwelling family. The door was unlocked, a note pinned to the handle read, “Gone to bed, you know where everything is, first person up makes the coffee!”
Inside, a crackling fire cast shadows across soft sofas and low tables. With sighs of contentment we fell into our deep beds. The next morning we awoke to the sight of a wonderland where everything was freshly dusted with snow. Blue skies, bright sunshine and clean fresh air tinted with wood smoke.
In a burst of efficiency I had organized ski passes and equipment hire through the Internet – a great service to be recommended to all. Our skis collected – even shorter than last year, just how short can they get! – we set off for Buttermilk mountain. The ski school on Buttermilk has to be the best in the world, laid back but enthusiastic, tolerant to distraction, our child blissfully enrolled we set off up the mountain.
Having found our ski legs, it’s like riding a bicycle really isn’t it, we stopped for lunch. I joined the short line for food, just in front of a couple with grating voices, who at first seemed partially deaf or at least determined that everyone should hear their conversation.
Shortly I felt my coat being pulled by the female of the couple, a tall woman with a strangely taut face with little expression, no doubt the result of a face lift and too much botox, “The line starts here!”
I mumbled an apology and took my place behind her husband. Minutes later I was being served by a smiling youth with numerous metal protrusions emerging from his face – God I’m getting old – when the husband of the line police woman demanded “Where’s the butter at?”
I smiled in empathy with the harassed waiter and admired his tolerance when he calmly informed his ill-mannered customer where to find it. A gruff grunt was his only thanks. I admit to a voice inside my head whispering my response which involved a suggestion to place the substance in a suitable orifice.
Attempting to join my wife at the end of a long table, we were informed by four people seated at the far end that the table was taken. Later from our second choice of table we saw that no one had joined them, as they pushed their trays to the centre of the table and headed for the door.
My love affair with Aspen was however soon restored as we headed down immaculate slopes fringed by trees and exhilarated headed for home.
That evening, we were taken by our friends to a local diner. In antithesis of our lunchtime experience we were called over from the bar with an offer to join a large table of people already eating, instead of waiting for a table. We happily accepted and found ourselves with a group of people who all lived in the area.
Their backgrounds were varied but all had a common love of nature and in particular Colorado. They were all courteous to the waitress who was cheerful and efficient.
So now, back in my city dwelling I still dream of my next trip to Aspen but wonder how you the Aspen resident put up with that section of visitors to your wonderland, whose ability to earn a few dollars gives them the misconception that they own the place and can treat all around them with disdain.
Thank you for your tolerance to us tourists!
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With COVID-19 health and safety practices in place, who is up for a road trip to see the Denver Art Museum’s hotly anticipated exhibition on Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera?