Sean Beckwith: I got rhymes like Black Friday lines
Wheels down, sun shining and the smell of stale cigarettes before a shuttle bus filled with eager vacationers, watching palm trees go by, ignores heavy traffic in anticipation of holiday festivities. Packed into a rental car six people deep, following navigation on multiple phones while keeping an eye on the street. Hellos and how are you’s from aunts, uncles, cousins and more arrive as soon as we step in the door.
Blue skies have yet to give way to clouds though there’s snow in the forecast this weekend at Snowmass. Confirmation of expanded terrain makes the rounds while my snow-focused brain keeps tabs in the background. The thought of smiles on the faces of friends miles away can’t make me forget opening day.
Waking up to stories of half-forgotten, fully eaten In-N-Out burgers in drunken glory. Running errands from the grocery store to uncle Jim’s and back to Hacienda Heights then off to the Mexican eatery for a bite to tide me over because turkey’s my plight.
Opening day with my social feed as the main connection to the turns I so desperately need. Photos of skiers are sprinkled in with a mix of families gathering while grubbing Thanksgiving dinner. Still knowing the first soft day of the season has yet to arrive; hopeful for snow but not afraid of a no show.
Bloody Mary bar with garnishes of shrimp, candied bacon, peppers and celery. The Husker game the centerpiece of family aplenty, hoping for a win as much as an Aspenite’s wish for the lifts to spin. Pizza party with hardly a perfectly made pie as toppings pile up too high because cousins — and uncles — insist on making the chef work with each step.
Not a flake in sight as spirits cloud the night. Maybe it won’t happen because I’m not there, anxiously waiting signs of powder in front of the parking lot light. No cozy couch, no frantically checking the weather for a powder day to make opening week all the better.
Another morning, another car ride. We arrive at Santa Monica pier after an hour-plus drive. No, random vendors, I’m not like the masses. I don’t want spicy mangoes, demo CDs or knockoff sunglasses. More food, more family, soaking up the rays with iced-down oyster trays. Asada, chicken and el pastor tacos galore but rice, beans, veggies and fish give dinner a vegetarian twist.
Counting the days I’ve missed while reciting the ones I’ve made, it’s possible Aspen may just have a weekend of shade. Then the social storm of snowy pictures and wind-blown snow banks makes its way to my mobile phone, enough to curse everyone back home. F— Ben, f— Al, Dan and Drew, the only thing y’all deserve is a light morning dew.
Sunday comes with more beaches and little kid screeches. The substance at my feet is not cold or fluffy. The sight of surfers cutting up waves is more than enough to make me wish I had a couple more days.
Friends on an early-season powder day is something to behold as tourists have yet to breech Aspen’s stronghold. The snaps of fresh tracks fire every snowboard-related synapse.
A stream of my own to make a friend groan features quail, foie gras, pork rillette and enough ceviche to make a grown man sweat. The sake is good and the Dom P crisp, if only I had a way to make the weekend I missed. While away on vacation I skipped four days of fun but that’s fine because the season’s not nearly done.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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“How Green Was My Valley” is a beautiful and tragic novel that stands as a poignant metaphor for the way fossil fuels have defined the human relationship with energy.