Writing Switch: From the screen to the scream

Benjamin Welch and Sean Beckwith
A bear is riding on a sight seeing chairlift at a ski area with snowy mountains peaks in the background. A composite image that created a funny wishful thinking scene of what it might look like if a bear was actually riding a lift.
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

Coronavirus? More like NOronavirus. Canceled festivals and events haven’t completely put a damper on the summer season, and while hotels may not be at full capacity, if you peek through the windows of somebody’s swanky second home you might actually see a face staring back at you. Aspenites did a good job of doing our part and staying inside for two months, and now we have to pray it wasn’t all for nothing as the huddled masses descend upon our hamlet once again. This week, we celebrate the antics of our guests through two formats: a public access nature show and an online review.


SB: Here we have the confounding touristas oblivias prowling the pedestrian malls of Aspen in search of social sustenance, with her screen-dependant, disorderly obliviettes in tow. Having distracted her offspring temporarily with a frozen treat, mom now has her eyes — and camera lens — open for something that will elicit adoration and envy within her pack.

Brushing by flowing fountains and perfectly pruned fauna with not as much as a selfie, the hungry mother has only one goal in mind: Ursus americanus. Also known as the American bear or black bear, the unofficial mascot of Aspen has become the desire of cameras everywhere.

The mother knows rival touristas will be quick to dismiss wildlife encounters not captured and mock her with texts of “Pic or didn’t happen.” This time, though, she is determined in her quest to capture the elusive Instagramus superiorous.

Then she spots it. A herd of fellow touristas gathering around a tree, phones aimed skyward. She squeezes through the sweat-soaked bodies, obliviettes at her heels, in search of her prey.

As the mother approaches the tree the bruin has chosen for sanctuary, she spies two other limbs, slightly sagging. Could it be? Yes, through a bit of luck there are two ursus americanas cubs nestled in the branches.

The hard half day’s work is almost within the frame when suddenly the bear becomes spooked, shimmies down pine with her cubs and runs off. Undeterred, the touristas pursues her catch and snaps profusely, refusing to let Katie Anne and Mary Sue win again.

Unaware that bears are very protective of their cubs and could literally kill her and her entire family, the chase continues until the bear and her cubs enter brush too thick for the touristas’ Prada boots.

Thankfully for that third lens on the iPhone 11, the hunt was a success and her Instagramus was really superiorous. As for the bear and her cubs, they were later relocated and eventually euthanized.

Mother nature strikes back

BW: MOO! (I’m not really sure what noise a moose makes but I think it’s like this. Basically the human equivalent of yeehaw!) It’s birthin’ season up here in the typically tranquil North Star Nature Preserve, and I got me a litter of eight calves and their mamas to feed. Luckily, tourist migration is in full giddyup down by the river, so let’s see if we can get these hungry herbivores some much needed meat. I’m your horny host, Rack “That’s Not What Freudian Means” Hardprong, and welcome to another episode of “Deer/Hunter”!

We moose always got along with the rangers of the preserve, under the agreement we would only eat the tourists who went past Takeout Bridge. For years we coexisted, until the No Fun Allowed (NFA) goon squad intervened. First, they discouraged floaters on the Roaring Fork River by removin’ parking access and issuin’ tickets. They posted signs along the shore every hundred yards remindin’ “No fun allowed.” The last straw was when they cast a giant net at the pull out, and then took people’s temperatures to ensure they weren’t sufferin’ from any fun-havin’.

So now this summer we are forced to lie in wait until a tourist loses his or her watercraft. The winter snowmelt wasn’t as robust as last year’s, so fewer people are getting caught in that one rapid, or beaching on a bridge column and falling overboard. We are getting hungry, and since we moose consume 70 pounds of sustenance per day, we need a whole group of doughy flatlanders just to sustain us awhile.

Hey, look at that! I see a pair o’ sunglasses drifting through the water, then a bandana followed by a Truly can. A flip flop. Life jacket. Vape pen. All sure-as-sunset evidence of a full ducky capsizin’!

In this next scene as you watch me charge into the water and ravage these bodies limb from limb in order to provide for my brood, please keep in mind we kill only for food and never for sport, in accordance with NFA restrictions.

We moose often are misunderstood as a territorial, dangerous and suspicious breed. Naw, we just want to graze and mate and listen to the jam band playin’ on river runners’ speakers — not so different from humans. We’re so polite, we put the “ma’am” in “mammal,” and we appreciate nothing more than having a family dinner, preferably from Oklahoma or Texas.


SB: If anyone is looking to try an e-bike, don’t come here. … The service was awful. We arrived with like 10 people and the store made us wait behind a bunch of smaller groups just because they were there 1st even though we clearly were trying to spend more $.

And IDK what the issue was but the selection was HORRIBLE! The guy kept saying something about this isn’t an ebike rental shop but, hello, I just saw people riding those fat tire bikes out of your store.

We all had to get different colors and sizes … My bike was sooo slow. It was like when you go horseback riding and someone gets the donkey. I kept having to peddle. … I felt like a homeless person.

Also what is up with the people on these trails?!?!? When we finally made it to the top of the mountain and could go fast downhill, no one would get over even though they could clearly see us coming. I mean we were riding 5 wide, how can you not see us?

Gary’s Fat Bikes get a half a star only because my bike looked super cute in the pics we got at the top of the mountain. They wouldn’t even come pick the bikes up at our hotel. We had to tip the front desk to do it.

Also e-bikes SUCK! You should just rent those little scooters that everyone has.




BW: My wife and I drove our fifth-wheel up to Aspen to escape the outbreak in our city. We thought we could stay at the Brush Creek Park and Ride but it quickly became apparent the permanent residents of the lot were having too much fun, so we left. We found a shady two-hour spot on a corner in the east end to set up at for a few weeks. Best part is that it’s right in front of a fire hydrant, so we can attach that to our RV and have running water.

I soon found out that apparently wearing a mask was “mandatory” in the grocery store and I got yelled at and embarassed. But out here in Iowa we have a little thing called rights. Hell, we don’t even need seatbelt laws, and everyone knows your passenger can drink a beer in the car as long as they remain under .08 and you only have two children or less in the back seat. Requiring me to wear a mask is dehumanizing. I want everyone to see my SMILE! The best way to show my protest was to dangle my mask around my chin, so that you can’t lecture me because it’s obvious I know better by virtue of possessing one, but not wanting to be seen as a coward by applying it.

We had dinner on a downtown patio and some guy with jinglebell shoes and an NFA patch was counting the patrons and asking them to list any coronavirus symptoms into an app. I told him the concept was ridiculous, and the only things I record into my smartwatch are my calorie intake and these revenge reviews on any situation that mildly displeases me.

The next morning we wanted to go hiking, but many of the local trails were closed because of an aggressive moose. They’re more scared of us than we are of them, and I should be able to use any public land however I want. My tax dollars bought those lands!

It’s ironic because even though everyone was wearing a mask, my wife and I still tested positive when we got home! That proves viruses can still escape through fiber, and that COVID-19 is a hoax!

Aspen Times Weekly

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