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A Critics Review of Aspen

…just kidding.  But this past weekend marked my first time skiing in Colorado, first time at Aspen, and first time flying with skis, I’ll let you know what I thought.

Skiing in Colorado:  So this is definitely a biased review as I know that our skiing this weekend was anything but normal Colorado skiing.  It was 100% spring skiing with slushy, heavy snow, super sunny skies, no lines whatsoever, and empty vacation destinations.  But it was still great.  I love spring skiing, I love not being cold, I love sweating underneath my gear, I love having to take my gloves off on the lifts, I love getting a nice little awkward face tan around my goggles, and I love Vitamin D.  We definitely got all of that.  Though I do want to experience the Colorado powder.  The snow would warm up so much that by 1pm it was like pushing mashed potatoes around and was such a leg workout that the whole afternoon I would be sweating so much and thighs would be burning.

Getting ready for the first day.
Getting ready for the first day.
Second day on the lifts.
Second day on the lifts.

Aspen, CO:  Aspen is not cheap, the real estate is not cheap, lift tickets are not cheap, food is not cheap, residents and tourists are not cheap…but it makes for very nice facilities.  Our hotel was within walking distance of the gondola at Aspen, was small but comfortable with free continental breakfast and hot tub, that’s all I need.  The town itself is high-end; you have Prada, Louis Vouitton, Coach, Gucci, Chanel, Kate Spade, the list goes on.  It’s kind of odd having all of those stores in a skiing “village”.  Pretty much all of the restaurants were closed on Saturday night which was weird but we also learned that the entire town pretty much shuts down between seasons.  The views are breathtaking though, you can see for miles, and Colorado is so beautiful.  I was also very impressed with the Aspen mountains.  I didn’t know going in, but Aspen is actually consisted of four different mountains:  Aspen, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk, and each has their own characteristics.  Aspen is an intermediate resort and the one located in the city so it probably gets the most skiers.  Snowmass, we skied on Sunday, and I actually liked better.  Snowmass is the largest but it is also quite a bit flatter.  The runs are long but gentle, there is a lot of terrain, a lot of well-spaced trees to ski, and a pretty good terrain park.  The Highlands were closed but they are supposed to be the best for intermediate/advanced skiers.  By far the steepest, with some world-renowned runs.  And Buttermilk was also closed already and mostly known for its terrain park, it is where the X Games are held.

The lodges, lifts, and gondolas at Aspen are all top-notch.  The gondolas allow you to play your own music from your phone/Ipod, they never once broke down or stopped, most seat at least four and are pretty fast-moving, the lodge (although super pricey) had some great food like the made to order stirfry bowl I got and also had ping-pong tables and fire pits, and each morning you would find booths at the top of the mountains offering up free hot apple cider (like you needed it) and mini Clif bars.

Cute downtown Aspen.
Cute downtown Aspen.
Great ski lifts, and amazing views.
Great ski lifts, and amazing views.

Flying with Skis:  This was actually super easy.  We would have had no issues whatsoever if they hadn’t delayed our bags on the way to Denver.  Although, a little worrisome, they did get them to Denver that night and delivered them to us in the middle of the night.  For checking them it was really no different from checking a suitcase and carrying them with my bag was super easy.  We landed in Seattle at 11:20 pm and we got our bags instantly, got our shuttle to the park n’ ride instantly, and were home right at midnight…that is amazing!!  I would recommend anyone flying with skis though to fly Southwest, they offer two free checked bags whereas flying with other airlines would have cost us nearly $100 more for each of us roundtrip.

Sunny skies in Aspen.
Sunny skies in Aspen.
Amazing terrain.
Amazing terrain.

I really had a great time in Colorado.  We started the trip off right with a grilled chicken taco night with friends Kellie and Charlie and Mark and Kim, followed by board games and homemade banana cream pie.  We slept well at Mark and Kim’s and Kim made us a great pre-drive breakfast of eggs, fruit salad, and bacon.  We had an easy 4 hour drive up to Aspen, stopping to take in the sights in the Glenwood Canyon and getting lunch on the rooftop of the Juicy Lucy restaurant in Glenwood Springs right on the river.  I had a great elk burger, the first of the trip, and it was sunny and around 70.  We had a lot of fun with Mark and Kim the whole time, hot tubbing, watching Dumb and Dumber, exploring the town.  Friday night we got a fantastic but expensive Latin dinner at Zocalito in Aspen, located in an alley and in the basement.  I had the best bowl of pozole in my life and the others all marveled at their chile rellenos and black cod.  Saturday night we walked to the Hickory House Barbecue restaurant that offered us “The Beast” for less than $60.  We had the largest platter to share of their famous ribs (these were really great), pulled pork, BBQ chicken, brisket, coleslaw, au gratin potatoes, french fries, baked beans, corn on the cob, and garlic toast.  It was so much food but after a long day skiing we managed to pretty much demolish it.  And apres-skiing on Easter Sunday we settled into the Red Rock Diner about 40 minutes outside of Aspen on our ride home for everyone to get sandwiches, sweet potato fries, and milkshakes.  Bryan and I shared the bacon buffalo burger and the santa fe chicken sandwich as well as an excellent chocolate milk shake.  I was full and happy for the ride back to Denver which was a breeze in the sun and empty roads.

What a great trip it turned out to be….and I skied my first double black diamond at Snowmass called the Cirque Headwall.

Chelsea

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