Last week, we ventured out of the Boulder bubble to the more exclusive bubble of Aspen, on Colorado’s Western Slope. We wandered, gawped at the habitat of the rich and famous and enjoyed six splendid days of crisp air and golden foliage – September at its finest.
We stayed in a comfortable bungalow little changed from the mid-1950s, when Walter Paepcke bought up much of the town. It was a curious setup. Our place was 2 rooms+ bath on the top level, with kitchen and living room on the right side lower level.
The left side ground floor space looked like a tiny, two room flat. It was occupied by a couple who had added this re-purposed restaurant outdoor dining enclosure (equipped with TV, couches and a heater) to the back yard as their living room. Very clever!
The neighboring houses were much grander, more in keeping with Aspen has become.
Our location was ideal, just five minutes walk to the Rio Grande trail, which runs along the Roaring Fork River through Aspen then on to Basalt and Glenwood Springs.
When visiting Aspen as a day trip, we usually park near city hall and join the trail near Rio Grande park, then walk northwest to loop back through the Aspen Institute and the downtown mall.
Downtown Aspen mall, haunt of the rich and the eccentric.
The pups and I did morning walks on the east end of the trail, wandering through the tranquil John Denver Sanctuary and releasing pent-up energy chasing balls – and each other – in Rio Grande Park.
On Tuesday, Matt got up early and took the pups for a long hike up Buckskin Pass in the Maroon Bells Wilderness. (Like almost everywhere in Colorado these days, access to the Wilderness Area is restricted and must be reserved in advance. Parking at the Maroon Bells lot requires advance reservations and arrival before 8am. The alternative is shuttle buses, which run every 15 minutes from 8am to 5pm.)
I spent the morning studying Italian (my current “keep-my-senior-brain-nimble” strategy), then wandered about Aspen “da solo.” Along the way, I found some art to which I could actually relate.
And (of course) I dropped in to view the Pitkin County Library.
On Wednesday, we enjoyed a scrumptious brunch at Jour de Fete, a French bakery near City Market (and our squat).
On Thursday afternoon, we collected a picnic from The Butcher’s Block, drove to Aspen Highlands Ski Resort to park the car, then took the shuttle bus into the Maroon Bells base area. Dogs are allowed on the shuttle, and the pups did great (although delighted at the accommodations). I was glad that we’d done practice bus rides last summer on the Boulder Park-to-Park shuttle.
We drove back over Independence Pass, stopping briefly at the top for a walk in the tundra.