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A Mighty Tailwind

Paul E. Anna

It’s been a trying week at Sardy Field. Tourists in a hurry, shaky visibility and Dash-8s that cancel at the drop of hat, or the hint of a snowflake, have made the Pitkin County Airport the place to avoid in Pitkin County these past few days. And it is unlikely that things will get much better in the near term.But as this column is all about the bright side, a search for same was undertaken during an extended flight delay this past Wednesday. Lo and behold, a bright beacon was found. A port in the storm, if you will, and yes, since you asked, it does come with a fully stocked bar.The oasis is the Tailwind Bar and Café located in the heart of the terminal between check-in and check-out. Doug Clayton and his cronies may not have put the romance back into flying, but they have built and stocked a place that provides travelers with the essentials: food, drink and television. Not only that, they have done a good job in each category.Start with the food. As any experienced Aspen-based traveler can tell you, Denver International is a wasteland when it comes to quality grub. Fortunately, if you plan right, you can still get a quality meal on flight day by stopping at the Tailwind. Everything from the cookies to the grilled turkey Rueben sandwich to the justifiably famed Chinese chicken salad is freshly made at the deli. You can find a great Cobb Salad, an avocado wrap, or a perfect little container of mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes marinating in olive oil. If you have an early flight, try breakfast. There is a special every day, and the skillet breakfast of eggs, bacon, potatoes and toast will give you all the sustenance you need to do battle with the TSA. If you want something a little lighter, the Tailwind has granola to go and makes some terrific fruit smoothies for those who prefer to sip breakfast through a straw.Drinks run the gamut from house-made espressos and Chais to, as previously noted, a well-stocked bar that includes a broad list of microbrews.And finally, perhaps most important to the “we’ll let you know in a couple of hours if your flight will be leaving” set are a pair of cable-infused television sets. The Weather Channel and stock reports are a daily favorite, but if it’s a football Saturday or Sunday, you will see it live at the Tailwind.So if you have to travel this weekend, condolences. But be sure to make your ride in the sky a bit more friendly by starting with a stop in the Tailwinds.