Aspen Untucked: Surviving the Grand Avenue bridge closure | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Untucked: Surviving the Grand Avenue bridge closure

Barbara Platts

An upset driver gets out of his car near Eighth Street and Cooper Avenue during the early evening rush hour last Friday evening.

Last week, we, presumably, hit the halfway point on the Grand Avenue Bridge construction project, which has created big delays since all cars leaving or entering the valley must take a detour. The work started Aug. 14 and is slated to finish in 95 days, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

This construction endeavor is said to be one of the biggest on the Western Slope in the past 25 years. If you live in the valley, you know all about this work and the headaches it's caused for just about everyone involved. And we still have approximately 37 days to go until it's over.

Whether you cross the detour in a personal vehicle or on public transportation (note: I'm pretty sure the latter gives you a free pass to heaven and the former lands you in the fiery pits of hell), there are ways to make your time in line positive and possibly even educational. So, next time you find yourself stuck in traffic, with little to do except pick your nails or twirl your hair, consider indulging in one of these endeavors.

Become community-oriented

We have two public radio stations in this valley that are always streaming something. To listen, all you have to do is turn on the radio. Aspen Public Radio — or KAJX — and KDNK provide a great deal of local, regional and national coverage. Yes, I may be biased on this since I actually work for KAJX, but I think public media in general plays a hugely important role in our communities. There's a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips and we shouldn't take it for granted. Whether you like classical music, scientific discoveries, music, cars, cooking or news, there's certainly a show that will tickle your fancy.

Learn another language

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Becoming bilingual is now easier than ever before with language learning apps. I've started using Duolingo to work on my Spanish. The app is organized in short lessons, which take five to 10 minutes each, making it easy to learn in bite-sized chunks. There's a lot of typing and listening involved. And sometimes it makes you speak to it, which may be awkward for your neighbors on the bus, but could also be a good conversation starter. Duolingo can teach an English speaker 23 languages, including High Valyrian for those Game of Thrones fans out there. The fact that they have yet to offer Dothraki seems a bit racist, but that's a rant for another column. Another language learning app is Babbel. I haven't used it yet, but it seems effective, especially in all of those commercials where people happily yammer on in 14 different languages, including Turkish, Portuguese and Dutch. Either option is sure to have you feeling confident in your second, third or fourth language in no time. Whether that confidence is well founded is still up for debate.

Get political

Perhaps you're not one to prompt a political discussion at a dinner party. Maybe you prefer consuming Russian vodka instead of consuming information about the Russian probe. But, with this divisive political year, you may be thinking it's time to jump in the legislative arena. Luckily, there's a podcast for that. In fact, there are several. A more liberal-leaning option is "Pod Save America," which is created by Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor — four former aides to President Barack Obama. The hosts are very funny in their own right, and they consistently bring on high-profile guests to chat with. A slightly more balanced approach comes from The New York Times' podcast "The New Washington." This one relies heavily on the insight of staff reporters and editors at the newspaper, who bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. Or, if you were a fan of the "Diane Rehm Show," you can listen to her new podcast "On My Mind," where she talks with experts about what's going on in Washington. These, plus hundreds of others, are available for your listening pleasure through the iTunes or Google Play store.

We have a good amount of time left until the Grand Avenue Bridge project is complete, which means several more hours in the car or bus. Find a way to make the most of that time by informing yourself or learning something new. Or you can keep twirling that hair and picking those nails. The choice is all yours.

Barbara Platts plans to learn High Valyrian once she masters Spanish. She's sure it will be very useful at some point in the future. Reach her at bplatts.000@gmail.com or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.

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