High Points: Truck-driving VIPs | AspenTimes.com

High Points: Truck-driving VIPs

Paul E. Anna
High Points
A snowplow clears the way for motorists using Interstate 70.
Hugh Carey/Summit Daily

We live in a town that is filled with VIPs. Just ask ‘em. From the mansions on Red Mountain to the music fans in the bench seats at Belly Up, we are filthy with Very Important Persons.

But, for my money, the most important people in this town, and up and down the valley in general, are those who drive by night. Let’s hear it for the folks who drive the snowplows, who ride the snowcats up and down the slopes, who operate the towing services, who deliver the products to our stores, who drive the busses, and, yes, who drive the taxis and limos. And, let’s not forget those who deliver the newspapers.

If it were not for them, this town would cease to function, and the ersatz VIPs — those who think they run things when they are here — would have to go back to where they came from.

As one who uses Sardy Field like a bus stop, I think about this often in the heart of winter, as I live on a dirt road up a mountainside in Old Snowmass. When we get into a snow cycle like the one we are in this week, I would be grounded if it was not for my plow guy, Junior. Every time I think, “This is it, I’m not going anywhere for a while,” there he is in his massive black GMC pickup truck, riding the road as his plow makes me a magic carpet to get out before the break of dawn.

As I travel frequently, I have figured out that, in any given snowstorm, I am dependent on at least five truck drivers to get me to where I need to be.

The first and foremost is Junior, who, if there are 4-plus fresh inches on the ground, makes a beeline for my rustic road and my steeper-than-the-county-allows driveway.

Next up is someone from Pitkin County whose name I may never know but whose efforts I will forever appreciate. His predawn job is to clear Snowmass Creek Road, and the icy hill that is Watson Divide. Without that step, I would never have a shot of making it to the airport.

Once on Highway 82, the task is in the hands of the big guns. The mighty plow trucks travel in pairs as they scrape the snow and ice off the asphalt. It is a formidable task as they drop their blades to street level and cruise at the speed of traffic, with the worker bees from downvalley dutifully trailing behind them. If they don’t get their jobs done, then you don’t get your pre-ski croissant and coffee.

If steps one through three go well, they still need to get a plane on the tarmac before they (and I) can get out on said plane and get out of here. We bitch and moan a lot about our airport here in Aspen, but you’ll never hear any complaints from moi about the folks who clear the runways.

On a powder morning, you can stand atop Aspen Mountain, and everything below will be snowy white except the perfectly manicured strip of asphalt at Sardy Field that has been bikini-waxed by the plow boys, allowing the planes to land.

Finally, there are folks at the field who fill ’er up and de-ice the planes, so that we can get airborne and on with the things we consider to be important.

Five steps to fly and countless VIPs in charge of the process. And, you thought your work was important.

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