Roger Marolt: Roger This
August 29, 2008
Realtors who talk about rare opportunities and then describe homes with things like 20-seat theaters with bar and concession areas, home conference centers, or outdoor gazebos with brick pizza ovens don’t have children. These amenities are in plentiful supply, at least in Aspen, compared to weekends off for working parents.
Imagine, then, the delightful dilemma my wife and I found ourselves in last Friday when my mother told us she’d love to have the kids over Saturday night. The possibilities were endless, at least until we started hashing them out.
We started small. A movie sounded fun. But, I’d read that the latest Batman film was dark, in the artistic sense, and I confirmed with my wife that this meant it might be difficult for me to tell the good guys from the bad. Creative prerogative with comic-book heroes makes me feel stupid. I also knew that the actor who played a villain was dead in real life which would make it difficult to hate him in the movie, no matter what I thought of him when he was alive, which probably wasn’t much, so I nixed that idea and said that we should wait until the next Pixar picture came out.
We thought about riding our bicycles the 40 or so miles from Aspen to Glenwood along the new Rio Grande Trail. I envisioned a nice bottle of wine at Juicy Lucy’s on the banks of the Colorado River to finish it off. Thus numbed, throwing our bikes on the rack and riding the local bus home seemed like a relaxing way to spend an evening, and provoked insight as to how at least few regular mass transit commuters might endure the daily tour of stops up and down the valley to arrive at work with the veneer of a decent attitude. But, we’d been as far as Carbondale on the trail before and figured it probably doesn’t get any better than that.
We tossed around the idea of spending the weekend in Paonia. Now, I know that some younger people are giggling embarrassedly picturing this, but I want to assure them that this type of thing is perfectly natural for adults in long-term committed and loving relationships to do. There is nothing to be embarrassed about if you happen to walk in on, say, your parents as they excitedly talk about taking a trip into the country to stay at a bed and breakfast and observe the harvest of corn and peaches so that they can later discuss it over a dinner of chicken-fried steak and Jell-O salad in a roadside supper club surrounded by pickup trucks with gun racks. When you live in such an obviously carefree environment as Aspen, you need to get away once in a while in order to relieve the stress that comes with constantly denying reality. But, we already had checked ours in Salida a few weeks earlier, so that was out.
We decided that it’s still too early to be cool in Moab, our path to Denver is worn out this summer, and we’ve spent more nights in a log cabin than a quart of maple syrup. We were paralyzed with fear of doing something we’d already done! Then, my wife came through with an idea. She suggested that we walk to Crested Butte, and back! I might have stuttered before responding.
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“Isn’t that what groups of women do together?” I asked. “Like watching ‘Pretty in Pink’ or shopping for napkin rings at Amen Wardy’s?”
She assured me that plenty of men do it, too, and that, in fact, it is quite physically challenging. Now, I’ve ridden my mountain bike from here to there a few times and, accordingly, have never noticed the scenery. I got to thinking that it might be nice to amble on over to see what the heck it looks like.
Plus, I saw a second advantage. When you get an opportunity like this, in maintaining consistency in pandering to your kids, it is critically important for their self-esteem not to make them feel that you would rather be alone on your second honeymoon. It is much healthier to trick them by choosing to do something that you know they dislike as much as being pressured into running for student senate so that they beg you to leave them behind. This narrowed our choices to going out for sushi or taking a long hike in the mountains, and I knew they had raw fish in Crested Butte.
To make things a little more exciting and to make sure I had nothing to be embarrassed about, I decided to call it trekking instead of hiking. Whereas “hiking” connotes a leisurely stroll that anyone can do, “trekking” implies an outing worthy of special recognition filled with sweat, pain, and potential life-threatening dangers that anyone can do, but you’re able to build it up a little more so that no one realizes that.
Eventually, tread hit the trail. Let me tell you, it’s a lot farther to Crested Butte and back by foot then it is by ball-point pen across a topographic map. Lately, I have become conditioned to think of 30 miles as two gallons of gas or about 10 bucks.
Perspective is translating energy usage into muscle aches, joint inflammation and blisters gained in crawling over mountain passes, jumping streams and swatting horse flies.
We spent oodles of time discussing the majestic peaks above us and the abundance of waist-deep wild flowers around us. We talked about the kids. We talked about our work. We talked about friends. We talked about each other, to each other! By the time we got home it felt like we’d been gone a month. It wasn’t that time dragged; it was that we covered so much ground! It’s remarkable how close you feel to someone when you realize together how big this world is, literally and in the depths of our thoughts when we let them wander with us.
Ha! What do you know? It really is about the journey.