GJ: A perfect place to park your plane, and more | AspenTimes.com
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GJ: A perfect place to park your plane, and more

Michael Cleverly

It has come to my attention that there’s a problem at the airport. Apparently there isn’t enough parking. No, there seems to be plenty of parking for people’s cars. There just isn’t enough for the private jets. As if we didn’t have enough to worry about. What the hell are we going to do? I know that if I had an extra private jet parking space, I’d donate it to the cause. But I can’t; I need all of mine. It’s a pity that these poor devils don’t use the same mode of transportation as the Wicked Witch of the West; they should, and those brooms don’t take up much space at all.So some of our holiday visitors end up being inconvenienced. This inconvenience has engendered awkward chairlift conversations between annoyed private jet owners and insensitive locals, and even a letter to the editor from the pilot of one of these planes. I wonder whose idea that was? Would it be possible to park these things on the S-curves and kill two birds with one stone? Probably not.What they end up having to do is fly into Rifle or Grand Junction and take ground (that’s how we get around) transportation to Aspen. Now ground transportation can be inconvenient, time-consuming and risky. We know this because we have to deal with it every day of our lives. Unfortunately, these jet people don’t have much experience in this area and find it a little irritating. I’m feeling pretty bad about this so I’m trying to come up with some kind of solution. I’m thinking, that since they have to fly into Junction to park their planes there, why not just stay there? I’ve done some research, GJ’s a nice place.They seem to need to fly their jets into Aspen so they can ski. Grand Junction has skiing – Powderhorn, a swell area. Located on the edge of the beautiful Grand Mesa, it’s just 35 minutes from town. Anyone can handle 35 minutes in ground transportation. Hell, it takes longer than that to get from the airport to Buttermilk during Christmas week. Plus, Powderhorn gets 250 inches of snow a year. That’s 20 freaking feet! It’s not like these people actually know how to ski powder anyway. Then there’s the Inn at Wildwood, right by the mountain. It advertises that “All rooms are suites.” How can you lose? Those guys love suites. The mountain is 1,650 vertical feet with 600 acres of skiable terrain, it has two double chairlifts and one quad. What can I say? It’s more than they deserve. Bargains? What about the bargains? Listen, I can tell you, after 30-odd years in this valley, that the rich are more enthusiastic and adept freeloaders than any street person on the planet. A good deal is a big deal. Get this: A lift ticket will run you $48 and a basic rental package is $17. A group lesson is anywhere from $45 to $70 and a private is $70 per hour. Now pay close attention. The restaurant at the mountain has a happy hour with $1 drafts and 25 cent wings. When this gets out to the right people, we may never see another private jet in our valley again.Shocking as it is, though, some of these people don’t ski. So it’s important to have other amenities. There’s the Colorado National Monument, 23,000 acres to get lost in. (We can hope.) The Grand Mesa National Forest, at an altitude of 10,000 feet, is referred to as an island in the sky. Unfortunately, it sounds like there’s plenty of material with which to a build a raft. There are no less than five golf courses in the neighborhood and two bowling alleys. In Aspen, you have to drive all the way to El Jebel to go bowling, and that’s quite a bit of ground transportation time. There are four go-cart tracks.Grand Junction is also a cultural Mecca. The Aspen Art Museum is OK, but Junction has The Dinosaur Journey Museum of Western Colorado. The Wheeler is kind of nice, but you’ll find The Empire Theater, the Cabaret Dinner Theater, The Greenshoe Theater Co. and The Metro Players in Grand Junction. The 184 restaurants in GJ boasts one sushi bar, one crab shack, two offering French cuisine and 25 pizza parlors. G.J. also has three movie houses with a total of 13 screens. We have two theaters and a total of eight screens. (Unless you’ve gone bowling in El Jebel, you can count Movieland.)And if these jet types get lonely – if they can afford an airplane, but can’t get a date in other words – Grand Junction has 61 massage parlors, three adult bookstores and one strip joint. The yellow pages list 65 hotels, 28 motels and 67 businesses described as accommodations. I think I’d go for the accommodations just to find out what the difference is. If need should arise, Junction is home to 399 doctors and 257 lawyers. God forbid. So there you have it. If you have to park your private jet in Junction anyway (Walker Field 970-244-9100) why would you ever leave? Get to know beautiful Grand Junction, Colo. Please.


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