Paul E. Anna: High Points
June 16, 2011
You can feel it in the streets, on the trails and down by the river. Aspen has exploded in the past few days like it’s 2007. This weekend kicks off a summer that feels like it will be big, busy and, hopefully for the restaurants and retailers in town, very profitable.My take is the world went crazy in 2008 and everybody stopped spending, from the mega- to the mini-rich. In 2009 summer was really slow and, though it picked up a little steam last year, things still seemed pretty muted.How Aspen goes is certainly not an economic barometer for the rest of the country, but it looks like this town is starting to get its mojo back a bit. The Food & Wine Classic sold out earlier, there are people sitting on the patios of the restaurants and, of course, there is traffic nearly all day through the S-curves. This may not be a harbinger of golden days to come, but summer ’11 would appear to be headed in the right direction.And after a spring that never sprung, it feels good to get some sunshine again as well. The solstice kicks in at 11:16 a.m. on Tuesday, June 21 and, just like that it will officially be summer. Longtime locals cannot remember a spring that was as dreary and dismal as this. More snow on Aspen Mountain on Memorial Day than on New Year’s Day may not be an unprecedented event, but it doesn’t happen often. Then, just when we thought we would be in for a cold and wet summer, the winds changed and brought sunny skies to the Roaring Fork Valley. I don’t think we had any measurable rain for the first 15 days of June, which is something else for longtime weather watchers to ponder and dissect. So, for now, locals and visitors alike can bask in the beauty and the potential prosperity that marks an Aspen summer. The Food & Wine Classic brings thousands to town. Next week it is Aspen Summer Words, and on the weekend Jazz Aspen Snowmass takes the stage. Then the Music Festival moves into the Benedict Tent and the Aspen Ideas Festival kicks off. For the rest of the summer there are festivals, seminars, symposiums, music and gatherings of all shapes and kinds up and down the Roaring Fork Valley. If you like to collect badges, ticket stubs, and credentials, then you’re in the right place at the right time.If, however, you’re not that kind of person, then the alternative is to simply get out of town. Turn left or turn right on just about any street and, if you go far enough, there will be a trail or a stream that can be your free ticket to the wilderness. While all of the events are nice, the real beauty of this place is the opportunity to escape. What ever your plans, get out into it. Summer is here.