Monday, April 6, 2009

End of a Great Ski Season - Skiing in Aspen

Well, I thought winter might be over, but it fooled me. Again we got snow, six to eight inches, on April sixth, a week before Easter. I suppose I could go cross country skiing today, though the snow wouldn't be too great, even in the woods, as there isn't any base. I would bet skiers will be out at the parks though, a few last diehards willing to scar the base of their skis.

I have to say it was a great ski season for me. My new race skis helped me collect two second place trophies in my class, a more difficult class than last year. I placed myself in A Women, instead of my usual Vet A Women, for reasons I won't go into now, but it promised a better slope to race on and more competition. Next year the problems should be resolved and I will be back to my old class with all of my buddies. Actually most of them changed also, for the same reasons I did, but a few were forced to stay on.

I just got back from Aspen, Colorado last Saturday. I was hoping for sun and warm conditions all week, but the powder seems to be following me around lately. And that was fine. The locals were jubilant, having not seen any new snow for many weeks. Snow starting falling on Sunday night (we arrived Saturday) and just kept falling. So much snow fell in the mountains and in the city of Denver that the airport closed on Thursday. Fortunately, by the time we needed to fly out, it reopened. I enjoyed the first day immensely, a forty degree day with hard pack conditions and full sun. We skied that first day at Snowmass, one of my all time favorite areas. My husband, daughter, son-in-law, and the group we flew out with all skied together for the most part. We started the day on The Big Burn, but it was not good at all, very icy, something you rarely see out west, a result of late day thawing and then morning refreezing. We left The Burn and headed to better conditions on the other side. I knew snow was predicted the next day, so soaked up as much sun as possible and skied as late as my legs would let me. We hardly stopped all day, except for a quick lunch on the mountain. I bought a banana and drank a cup of free water. (I think soup was at least ten dollars, and I wasn't hungry enough to justify the cost.) I did buy a great Caesar salad at the end of the day (again at least ten dollars) but by then I was famished. Eighteen dollar pitchers of beer (do you believe that?) were a hot item at our outdoor table at the base of Snowmass, but I stayed away from the alcohol and had a Coke instead.

We skied Ajax (Aspen Mountain) the next day, and it snowed like crazy. The day was continuously gray, but not too cold, and felt a lot like Boyne, except no one would ever confuse Ajax with Boyne Mountain. I loved skiing in the powder, and the steepness of the runs we skied. We stayed away from double black diamond runs, as most had long standing icy moguls covered by fresh snow. It's one thing to ski moguls when you can see them (and I prefer snowy moguls, not icy ones anyway) but another to ski them when they are hidden. One of the guys in our group started out too fast and took a hard fall because he couldn't see, landing on his head and shoulder. He was dazed, but recovered and continued on. Fortunately, he was wearing his helmet. I enjoyed this day as much as the day before, because of all the fresh snow. The only way it could have been better would have been if the sun were out. But oh well...

We had some great dinners in Aspen. Great restaurants are plentiful. We took one day off, and Angie and I used the Aspen Spa, a fun relaxing day, then met the guys and had lunch at La Cantina, a popular Mexican restaurant. This restaurant has been around for a long time. It has reasonable prices and offers delicious food in large quantities, with excellent service. Great food is common in Aspen, reasonable prices are not. The wonderful thing about Aspen is you can find both if you are interested in looking. I love the town of Aspen, and it was as lovely as ever. We stayed in a two bedroom condo at The Gant, a block from town, which boasts one of the best shuttle services around. You can call them, and in a minute or two or less, they are there to take you anywhere you want in town, and then home. I was impressed. Our condo was really lovely too, with high ceilings in the living and kitchen area, but not extremely large, but was selling for one point eight million dollars. Location, location, location... Our balcony overlooked one of the pool and hot tub areas, which included an outdoor fireplace, sauna and exercise room, plus a convenient cabinet filled with hot towels to use once you finished swimming or hot tubbing. Ahhhhhh...

We also skied Aspen Highlands our fourth day in, and that day was the hardest for me. My legs were crying out to me by then. It also is one of my favorite ski areas, more private and less crowded. I actually skied by Melanie Griffith and her husband Antonio Banderas the last time I skied there, maybe six or seven years ago. Melanie looked even better in person (one of my favorite actresses, I've watched Working Girl at least thirty times) and Antonio looked great also. They seemed to be having a lot of fun.

Anyway, I loved my vacation, but was so tired from skiing that by the end of the week I was happy to head home. I hope it won't be the last time I get a chance to visit Aspen. If so, maybe next time I'll get my wish and enjoy seven days of sun...

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