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Paul Conrad/Aspen Times Weekly

We ask this question every year, and as far as we can recall the answer has always been the same: Moab. And who can argue with the pleasures of red rock, all-day mountain bike adventures, Arches, Canyonlands and all the rest? Still, we can’t resist asking about weekend escapes, because Aspenites love getting out of town almost as much as they love living here.Here are a few of the runners-up, because they’re common to all of us: Crested Butte, Redstone, Las Vegas, Telluride, Steamboat Springs, Independence Pass and the 10th Mountain huts.A few jet-setters cast votes for Los Angeles, New York City and Hawaii as well. And one poor fella said Wal-Mart in Glenwood Springs … we can only hope that’s a joke.

We should have known when we hatched this question that the answers would come out a million different ways. How do you differentiate between “Downtown,” “Hyman Mall,” “At the fountain,” “Galena and Cooper” and “Paradise corner”?It doesn’t matter. Aspenites agree that the place to watch other folks is anywhere from the Paradise Bakery to Wagner Park to the Mill Street fountain. And the people-watching was especially good this summer, now that the city of Aspen allows dining tables on the malls.Other choices included Zélé, the gondola, the Sundeck, the Caribou Club, Cooper St. Pier and the Red Onion patio.

When you’re surrounded by mountains and woods laced with trails, there are obviously hundreds of good places to walk a dog, so what this one really came down to was convenience and dog-friendliness. The Rio Grande Trail and Smuggler were far ahead of the pack in this category, with 24 and 19 votes respectively, and given their central locations it’s easy to understand why.Hunter Creek, Lost Man and other local favorites got a few votes, too, but they just weren’t in the same league with the dynamic duo.A few other choices raised some eyebrows at the Times: “Neighbor’s lawn,” “Anywhere the whiners aren’t” and “on a leash.”

Apparently just about anywhere. With more than 50 different ideas pitched by our readers, it seems you can go looking for love in all sorts of places. But the winner, edging out last year’s winner – the chairlift – by three votes and our favorite – “not here!” – by just one vote is … your church. Yes, single people, it might be time to change your evil ways and get right with God.

It must be the couches. Or maybe the dark, smoky corners of the Cigar Bar. But Eric’s was the hands-down winner in this category with 27 votes. The Lava Lounge turned in a respectable showing with 11, but everyone else was even farther behind. Club Chelsea had six votes, and there were five each for the Belly Up and the Caribou Club.One sad sack commented “nowhere,” another old fogy said “too old to know” and a self-proclaimed Romeo wrote “anywhere.”

For the two people who asked “shag?” it means, well, to make love, do the nasty. We figured we’d get some amusing responses, and Aspenites did not disappoint.If these responses are to be believed, Aspenites are an amorous lot – they’re doing it in alleyways and public parks, in bathrooms at bars and in art gallery doorways. We thought “the gazebo in Paepcke Park” had sort of a romantic flair, and “a blanket by the river” had back-to-nature appeal.But the winner – at least Aspenites are honest – was “home,” with 16 votes. That was followed closely, however, by the 14-minute favorite, “the gondola.”Originality points go to “anywhere she lets me.” And 10 respondents said “Yuri’s house.” Hope Yuri’s practicing safe sex.

In a recent Aspen Times Weekly, we asked, “What were they thinking?” and let our staffers prattle on about Aspen’s worst ideas. The playground at Wagner Park, often called “the tooth park,” was at the top of our list. Not so, according to our readers. It tied with last year’s winner, the Yellow Brick Park, for best children’s playground. It seems little ones, or at least their voting parents, are just as happy with the molarlike climbing rock at Wagner as they are with the sprawling grass and state-of-the-art jungle gym found at the Yellow Brick. We stand corrected.And for children ages 21 and over, one reader declared the Red Onion as Aspen’s best playground.

For a place that isn’t known for big bodies of water, Aspen sure has a lot of places to take it off and dive in. Twenty-three locations, both natural and man-made, received votes, which tells us that Aspenites like to swim naked.Anyway, the clear winner was the Grottos/Punch Bowl, despite the cool temperatures in the Roaring Fork River up there. Conundrum Hot Springs was a distant second with nine votes (must be the long hike), and a host of other places garnered a few votes each: North Star, Sky Hotel pool, Penny Hot Springs and the perennial “any hot tub.”

Location. Location. Location. That seems to be the key for après ski, with the bars surrounding the base of Aspen Mountain – 39 Degrees at the Sky Hotel, The Little Nell and Ajax Tavern – taking first through third places, in that order. Of course not all après bars are created equal, and 39 Degrees proves the point by pulling in more than double the votes than the upscale Nell and more than three times that of the slopeside Ajax Tavern. With a sun-drenched deck replete with cool couches and firepits, as well as an ultra-hip inside bar (see Best Bar if you need to know more), it’s hard to argue that this is the place to see and be seen – with or without ski boots.

What better place to read a book than in a bookstore, especially if that bookstore happens to be housed in a charming Victorian with a cozy bistro upstairs? None, according to our readers, who dubbed Explore Booksellers the best place to read a book. In bed and at the library were close runners-up. But really, is there a bad place to read a book?

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