On the page: Bells toll for writer | AspenTimes.com

On the page: Bells toll for writer

Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – Patricia Schultz became an icon in the travel industry with her 2003 book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die,” which was translated into 25 languages and has more than 3 million copies in print. But one has to wonder just how many of these places Schultz has actually visited and how much of her research was done by phone or by scanning leisure magazines.

The new, second edition of “1,000 Places” highlights Aspen. But the page-long profile fails to mention the one spot that certainly tops the list of places an Aspenite would tell a first-time visitor he needs to see. It’s not Highland Bowl, not the affordable housing listed for $1.3 million and not even the Hickory House. Hint: It’s often said to be the most photographed spot on Earth (though I’ve always found that claim dubious and been even more puzzled about how such a claim might be verified).

Ms. Schultz: Have you not seen, or at least heard of, the Maroon Bells? You mention the J-Bar, the Silver Queen gondola and The Little Nell (which you refer to as a “lodge,” reinforcing my suspicions about your research process). You even include among the cultural events the Aspen Dance Festival, which doesn’t exist. Yet not a word about the Maroon Bells. Sorry – “peerless views of the Rockies” doesn’t cut it. That would be like telling readers they must visit the great architecture of Agra, India, but failing to specify that, while there, they should probably take in the Taj Mahal.

Years ago, when I told my Aunt Barbara that I was moving to Aspen, I remember her exact words: “The Bells, ohmigod, the Bells!” she exclaimed. I had no idea what she was talking about, but from her tone I figured it was something worth looking into. It was.

I admit, after jumping to the Aspen section, I pretty much stopped reading “1,000 Places.” Sure you can expect a writer to make a mistake. But some oversights tend to set off alarms. “1,000 Places” opens with an Asian proverb: “Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.” Seems like Schultz hasn’t even heard about the Maroon Bells.

Perhaps she should read my incredibly succinct, not-yet-published guide: “One Place to See in Aspen Before You Die.”