ASPEN: The Prettiest Place Your Heart Loves

Following our short and fun stay in Denver, on Friday, we were off for Aspen. We were going to stay with some dear friends of mine who have been going to Aspen for over 30 years.

I've been to Aspen before, and have very fond memories of the town, so was beside myself with excitement to go back and to show off this little town to Owen, hoping he'd come to love it as much as I did.

On your very first visit to Aspen, the only way to arrive is via the scenic and sometimes death-defying Independence Pass. [If you want to know what it's like to drive in France's Luberon, look no further than certain stretches of CO-82.]

From Denver, just take I-70 west and at about the mid-way point to Glenwood Springs, you swing south and head for the Pass.

Naturally, you must make a stop at Silverthorne--outlet store heaven. These stores boast a great number of outdoorwear shops.

I dropped a nice chunk of money on cycling shorts. There is something quite wrong with spending a lot of money on an article of clothing that will make you much less attractive when you wear it. Yet, you plan on wearing it in order to become more attractive-looking in the long run. Ah, the ironies of life!
St. Mary Catholic Church on Main Street (left)

So, as you ponder the complicated nature of workout paraphernalia, you'll turn south on CO-82 and begin the trek over Independence Pass and on to Aspen. This is the point at which you'll realize you've never seen a sky so blue.

We arrived to Aspen in the early evening, parked the car (cuz you do not need a car in this town!) and wandered around just as the sun was setting. Everything was quiet and peaceful, with lilacs in bloom everywhere.

Aspen is a town you can walk from end to end on foot, with little paved footpaths around every corner. The Roaring Fork River runs through town, giving you ample opportunity to feel very zen in it's river roar! :)

Aspen was originally called Ute City and was a happen' silver mining spot in the 1800s. Several buildings, including the Wheeler Opera House, still remain from this time period. By the way, you can see shows and movies in the beautifully restored Opera House. [We saw 'Hot Fuzz' on Saturday night.]

This town offers everything -- laid back days walking local trails, hiking and biking the mountains, indulging in amazing arts and lecture programs such as those offered at the Aspen Institute and Aspen Music Festival, and of course ... skiing!

We spent a great evening catching up with my friends, having a late dinner, drinking wine, and chatting about all manner of things. We went to bed sleepy and happy with the sound of the river to lull us to sleep.

On Saturday morning, Owen and I headed off for a hiking adventure to Maroon Bells. I'd been telling him about Maroon Bells and was excited for him to see one of the most photographed spots in Colorado!

Snow-capped peaks sit high above Maroon Lake which was created by glaciers long ago. It's an amazing alpine spot, with a variety of aspens, evergreens, and wildflowers.

I mentioned how you can ride the local bus up to Maroon Lake. You put your bike on the front of the bus and then ride you bike back down to town. Owen found that concept entirely appalling, as he is an avid cyclist, and, um, likes to exercise. Me, the avid couch potato, found it entirely brilliant.

As it is still the early season, however, there are no buses and you can just drive your car to Maroon Bells. I thought I had gotten off the hook until Owen spotted a trail that disappeared up into the aspens.

So, that's how I ended taking a hike, through some snow, no less, to Crater Lake, which sits a few miles above Maroon Lake. [I was rather smitten with myself until a family with two hiking toddlers showed up.]

I'll admit, it was well worth the extra bit of sweat to reach Crater Lake. You're that much closer to the Peaks which are beautiful, dangerous, and awe-inspiring. And, come on, how many alpine lakes do you get to see? Not to mention being a great photo op ... see the slideshow!

We headed back to Aspen for lunch and a "training session" on a tandem mountain bike. We survived and no one fell. My friends, James and Betteanne, with whom we stayed, have been tandem cycling for over 15 years. It's actually beautiful to see them ride together. They're at such ease, holding a steady pace through all kinds of terrain. As a couple, it would be a wonderful passion to share.

With the weather being perfect, we dined outdoors at Mezzaluna Aspen, which offers up Italian dishes and a nice selection of wines in a warm and unpretentious atmosphere.

Sunday was another perfect-weather day. Owen went off on a mountain biking trek up Smuggler Mountain. It's a long tale, but involves something about getting lost, meeting a German, dragging his bike through some snow, and now having a good story tell. What more could a guy want?

My day involved a nap and a beautiful leisurely walk with Betteanne. It was a great opportunity for Betteanne and I to catch up and talk about life, relationships, and just anything else that came to mind.

Aren't these the conversations that connect us to one another? And, it's always interesting and comforting when you know that even if there are friends you don't talk to every day, you know you can pick up right where you left off.

You know they are there for you, and proud of what you are making of your life. And you ... you're so happy to have them as a part of your life.

Thank you, Betteanne & James, for spending your holiday weekend with us in my very favorite little town ... a place you introduced me to so long ago.

View of Aspen Mountain (left); Crater Lake (above)


Lirun said...

must admit im a huge fan of aspen as well.. some very fond memories..

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful post even with birches ( everywhere here ! ).
Landscapes must be huge, I did get to see your slideshow !
Thank you for dropping by !
Good weekend to you!