Friday, April 15

How's Your Aspen?

[Ed. Note: This item should have been posted the week of March 28th, but alas I was just too busy back then. Now, on the eve of my next travel adventure (stay tuned for that post), I am finally getting around to finishing it.]

Yes, even the premiere jet-set ski resort in North America has t-shirt stores, as Jamie and I discovered over CUA's Easter break. The Spring skiing was spectacular, with gorgeous sunny skies and warmish temps punctuated by snow showers providing daily doses of fresh powder. We were graciously hosted by my old college mate Rob and his husband Patrick, who put us up at their deluxe accommodations (complementary WiFi!), tracked the trails with us, and showed us the fine dining and nightlife of Aspen, CO. (Thanks again for everything!) Here now is a run-down of our Rocky Mountain adventures:

On Thursday, Rob played Super Shuttle driver by picking us up at DIA and driving the three hours or so to ski country, stopping by Dillon for some great pizza and local brews. We eventually made it to the resort and settled in for a some needed rest at the Bentcondo, conventiently located near the rows and rows of private jets at the Aspen/Pitkin County airport (ASE).

The next day, and for the two that followed, we skied. First up was Snowmass, a monster 3,100-acre mountain with all the terrain -- of every level -- you can possibly handle. (We managed to see quite a lot of it for a one-day visit.) Friday evening we hit the town for the first time, checking out the ski-hipster scene at the J Bar in the lobby of Hotel Jerome before dining on first-rate chef's choice sushi at Kenichi. Saturday's menu started off with Buttermilk, an uncrowded resort with fun runs (home of the Winter X Games!) that sent Rob and me exploring the tree skiing. We ate dinner at a hidden local's dive called Woody Creek Tavern which sits next to a trailer park (Aspen has those too!) The spot's main claim to fame is that Hunter S. Thompson used to hang out there. Sunday, our last ski day, the four of us tackled Ajax, which towers ominously directly above Aspen and whose Silver Queen gondola has been the stage for some interesting independent film making. The mountain kicked our asses, and after seeing some of the sights, we retreated to the village for shopping and lunch. The next day, our Super Shuttle driver got us back to DIA for the flight home.

Speaking of local homo folklore, Ben, I found it interesting that for all the hoopla of Ski Week, Aspen the town seems to have little nightlife specifically dedicated to our demographic. Sure there's a vibe, and when you go out for dinner to a place like Jimmy's (as we did Sunday night) you're bound to bump into a gaggle. But the scene almost feels hidden, just below the surface. (From my limited observation, it also tends to be a bit throw-back-ish, populated by a largely older community of gays, a few of whom adopt a style reminiscent of the late 70s, early 80s.)

But Jamie and I weren't in it for the bars or socializing -- this was our first real vacation in 12 months and between the mountains, the relaxation and the awesome hospitality, Aspen couldn't have delivered more, thanks to our great hosts.