On the Trail: Under pressure | AspenTimes.com

On the Trail: Under pressure

Jon Maletz

The lady friend is in town for the next month. And while it’s nice to see her glowing face every day, it’s also a burden.Playing host is something I do begrudgingly. I’m far from decisive (it took me a half hour to decide what to make for dinner), I’ve never been good at planning ahead and I’ve been told my idea of a good time strays from the normal definition. (Apparently playing Nintendo doesn’t qualify as a desirable Saturday night activity.) Since Laura left a summer near the beach, her friends and family to be with me, I am faced with the daunting task of showing her a good time. This is a huge responsibility. I picked her up from DIA less than two days ago, and I’m already feeling the pressure.I promised her sunshine; it’s been raining since she stepped off the plane, and the forecast doesn’t look promising. I hyped my favorite take-out place; I brought the order home only to discover her order wasn’t in the bag. It hasn’t taken long for me to lower her expectations.My biggest dilemma isn’t the weather, it’s funding. I’m on the lookout for fun summer activities, preferably free ones. That rules out rafting and kayaking. It rules out hot air ballooning, paragliding and any other type of gliding. A gondola ride to the top of Ajax could prove expensive – I’m thinking I could get away with a drive up Independence Pass instead. I might be cheap, but I’m trying to save for retirement.The bulk of my money these next few weeks will go towards food, tickets to some much-anticipated summer movies, and a few rounds of beer at Little Annie’s during Red Sox games. There are, however, a few free activities out there.There’s league softball on Monday nights, and outdoor movies at Highlands on Tuesdays and Snowmass on Fridays. Snowmass’ Summer of Free Music Series takes place every Thursdays through August. And there’s hiking. We tackled the Crater Lake trail and the area near the Weller campground last time Laura was out, and I’m sure we’ll make a return trip (we’ll head out before 7 a.m. to avoid the $10 park fee at the Bells). And I hear Hell – the Hell Roaring Trail outside Carbondale – is free, and the views are spectacular. I promised Laura a trip to the Grottos Trail up Independence, where there’s supposedly a waterfall and an ice cave. Judging by my luck, the ice will be melted. There’s always Super Mario Brothers.

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