Dealing with the RE-sort life
Is it September yet?I know having like six million tourists running rampant in our city streets is great for the local economy and all that yadda-yadda. I know that when I first moved here I swore I’d never turn into one of those bitter locals who acts like this town is a private club that stopped offering new memberships right after they arrived. I know this is the first summer I’ve lived outside the pearly gates of downtown and no longer have the luxury of being able to skip out my front door at happy hour and not stumble home until last call. I know it’ll all be over soon, and within a matter of weeks, we’ll have our quiet little mountain town back.But still. All these people are driving me nuts.I’m starting to lose it a little and am afraid I’m going to turn into one of those bitter, demented, recluse people with mismatched clothes and scraggly hair who wears socks with flip-flops and only leaves the house to buy more cat food. Soon I’ll start riding an old mountain bike around town with my 80-pound dog strapped to my back like a parachute.Driving, of course, is out of the question.For all this time I’ve been giving my friends a hard time about not wanting to come visit me in the ABC. “It’s only three miles away,” I’d tell them. “You don’t need a passport to get over the Maroon Creek bridge.” Or “I can jog to town and back in less than an hour. Certainly you can drive here.” And so on and so forth.These days, I can hardly manage the trip myself, lest I need a Valium drip to calm my nerves when I hit dead-stop traffic at Buttermilk and then proceed at 5 mph only to risk life and limb trying to make it through the roundabout. It’s like a video game, trying to merge with every jackass from Iowa (“Idiots Out Wandering Around”), California, and Texas in their oversized SUVs with like six bikes teetering on the back. Talk about an accident waiting to happen. It’s enough to make me appreciate the value of a red light.When the whole S-curves vs. straight shot hoopla was going on, I was psyched to be part of a town that’s so protective of its character that any kind of change – even one that’s probably necessary – would cause such heated debate. After living in So Cal, you see what can happen when no one cares.There’s no outsmarting the whole traffic dilemma, no back roads or alternative routes or ways around things. Worse, there’s no “rush hour” or way to predict what time the backup should begin or end. The traffic thing seems to be totally arbitrary during these dog days of summer, an endless ebb and flow of Range Rovers going in, Range Rovers coming out (I am sort of obsessed with those cars after looking them up on the Internet, just out of curiosity, to see how much they cost. Eighty grand. Can you imagine? At that price, I guess that’s all I can do).After the 30-minute trek into town (jogging is definitely faster), the fun really begins around Monarch and Main, where everyone starts looking for a place to park and stops paying attention to what’s happening on the road. Then you play the game of trying not to ram into the guy in front of you when he slams on his brakes because he doesn’t know about the whole pedestrians-have-the-right-of-way thing in Aspen that the rest of the world has chosen to ignore.I know I shouldn’t complain. I know the tourists are a lot worse in other places. Like when I was working in Summit County one summer more than 10 years ago, a Chevy Suburban full of Texans pulled up to where I was weeding a flower bed at Keystone and said, “Young lady, can you please tell me how to get to the RE-sort?””This is it,” I told them, wiping the sweat from my forehead with the back of my muddy glove. “You’re here.””No, we need to know how to get to Kaye-stone RE-sort.””Yep, this is it. This is Keystone Resort,” I replied, wondering what on God’s green earth they expected. Fireworks? A roller coaster? I was at a total loss for other ways to explain it to them, so I went back to pulling weeds. They sped off, annoyed.Then there was the guy who came up to me at the rental shop that winter and said, “Ecks-cuse-MAY. Is this the top of the mountain?””No, that would be up there,” I said, pointing up in the general direction that the gondola was moving.I know we have it pretty good here in Aspen and I get it that I’ve chosen to live in a RE-sort (granted one that does not include amusement park rides). I understand that part of that is dealing with the influx of people who crowd the space I’m used to having to myself when they’re not here.But a part of me feels cheated, like I ordered the wrong thing at my favorite restaurant (hate that) or just told my deepest, darkest secret to the biggest blabbermouth in school. Like, here I am, thinking I have it all figured out, that I’d made this big “lifestyle choice” and escaped the grind of the city to live in a peaceful, remote mountain town.But lately, I can’t help but feel like I’ve escaped the rat race only to end up in a mouse, er, I mean, tourist trap.The Princess has PMS and is usually not this bitter. Send your upbeat e-mails to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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