Roger Marolt: Roger This |

Roger Marolt: Roger This

Roger Marolt
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

We had a little extra time for spring break this year, so we decided to fly instead of drive.

One of the best vacation reads right now has to be Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. So why do I admire and respect a guy who was cruelly harsh, volatile and delusional, a lying, back-stabbing, impossible person to work with who often took credit for his colleagues’ ideas and who unfairly blamed others for mistakes? Maybe it was due to the charms of his youth, in which he was an indulged, acid-dropping, barefooted, stinky fruitarian member of a commune. Or perhaps it was just because he was a complete jerk to his family and friends. I tried to find answers by Googling from my iPhone at the beach but came up empty. At any rate, the book is one helluva read and I am fascinated with Jobs.

There are two worthwhile things to do when you land in L.A. on a rainy afternoon that you would never do if you planned things out ahead of time. The first is to visit the docks at Long Beach. Don’t take a tour, if they even have one. Just drive around and observe. There are dozens of ships and hundreds of cranes unloading them. Huge containers of goods are stacked like Legos at the MIT day care facility. It is here you begin to understand how many people there are in this country, how much we consume and how we have basically converted our homes into storage units to keep it all in.

The other thing to do is cross the hills from the shore and end up at the biggest shopping mall you can imagine. If U.S. consumers aren’t spending money these days, it’s not because they aren’t tempting themselves. I couldn’t believe the number of people wandering the pods of the South Coast Plaza mall in Costa Mesa. The place is like the Louvre of crap for consumption. It would take weeks to visit all the shops there. The most remarkable creation I saw was a pair of rubber Gucci flip-flops. No kidding – they were $475. I seriously doubt that a whole minute passes before another sucker comes into this world.

Laguna Beach can’t possibly be considered part of L.A. It’s gorgeous. Just when I begin to believe that Aspen is the end-all of places, I get sucker-punched. If I could work and live in Laguna Beach, I could happily move there and do the latter and give up the former as soon as I could arrange it.

Instructors, skiing and surfing, serve a shorter-lived purpose than most people new to the respective activities are brave enough to realize. We’ve always had an instructor with us when we surfed. Not this time. Against the unsubstantiated concern of the proprietor/instructor of the local surf shop, we rented boards and wetsuits and nothing living and spent a day at the beach practicing things we already didn’t know how to do. After about five hours of getting battered and bruised, with our sinus cavities overflowing with seawater, we collapsed on the beach under the setting sun, completely satisfied. We became marginally better surfers but infinitely more comfortable in the waves. It was a huge family triumph!

I’m still impressed with Sea World. After tragedy a couple of years ago, it reinvented itself and came back better than ever. There is no longer swimming with the killer whales, but the dolphin show is full of incredibly talented people interacting with incredibly smart animals at a whole new level. If you are not impressed, you are too engrossed in the snacks.

We set a personal family best at Disneyland this year – 14 1/2 hours! The older the kids get, the better that place is. I think the biggest mistake people make there is taking the kids when they are too young. If you haven’t been there since nap times were part of the schedule, you need to go back.

Last, it’s true that nobody walks in L.A. or does much of any other physical activity, apparently. Being around so many people for a few days, it is shocking how many in this country are overweight. I’m not saying we are better people in Aspen because we eat less and exercise more. We’re lucky to have the opportunities to do active things with our free time that others simply don’t. If you think about it, maybe we’re the lazy ones. We don’t have to work very hard to get in a hard workout.

Roger Marolt believes there should be a spring break in the fall, too. Contact him at

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