I'm talking about a little place called Aspen.

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June 4th 2011
Published: June 26th 2017
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Geo: 39.19, -106.818

Yesterday was quite the full day (I know, I know - I said this wasn't going to be a dear diary blog, but I just want to be able to get some of these memories down while they're still fresh).

Had spent the night before in Avon - my last night there. A few microbrews at the Gore Range Brewery, a welcome shot of 151 when I showed up at my friend's house, a couple rounds of pong and some whiskey sampling may have had something to do with my condition upon waking in the morning: doubled up head-to-toe on a couch hardly big enough for one (waking up to random feet just inches from your face is mildly alerting, although humorous), and my neck forming a right angle where my head was rammed up against the arm of the couch.

After regaining my bearings, I slithered off of the couch, said a couple farewells, made a final latte run at Loaded Joe's, and worked my way to Leadville, where I enjoyed an early lunch with a friend and was treated to a brief tour of the town and some surrounding historic mines.

I then headed west on highway over Independence (or Indy) Pass. The pass had only opened a week earlier, so there were a few times on the drive where the walls of snow piled up on the side of the road towered easily 12 or 15 feet high! Upon reaching the summit, I figured I might as well take the short walk out to the overlook, postholing in my cowboy boots about every other step. The pass and the drive are beautiful! A narrow two-lane road etched into the side of a cliff, with no shoulder, no siderails. Just straight. Down. Numerous happy waterfalls from the fresh spring snowmelt adorned the drive, including one that I treated myself to a quick bathe under.

I hurried down the pass in anticipation for my next destination. A place where the beer flows like wine. Where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I'm talking about a little place called Aspen.

I was told a few days earlier about the Snowmass Chili Pepper & Brew Festival from a Beaver Creek coworker who was going there with another friend. Two hours of chili tastings, as well as bottomless homebrews and microbrews (or at least as long as they lasted)! Followed by live music performed from a giant stage set up right on the ski run. And all of this was encompassed by impeccable, sunny weather.

Post concert, we rode the free shuttle back to Hotel Durant (the thought of three guys sharing a room after attending a chili cookoff was frightening). And what could make a night better than three guys in a hot tub? Three guys in a hot tub joined by their good friend Jack! Although not making it out of the warm tub (it was only at 95 degrees) until nearly midnight, all exhausted, we still decided to check out a few local haunts in Aspen. $3 wells and a man twice my size hitting on me, followed by $8 wells at a cigar lounge, followed by joining a bachelorette party on the dance floor (picture black and white feather boas and the occasional lei flying in every direction), followed by cigarettes and a short (but likely crooked) walk home. Slept like a rock.

I had only planned on staying a single night here, but the area is so beautiful and there is so much to explore I couldn't deny myself another night. As summer is finally setting in up here in the mountains, the people are out, people are active, people are happy, the trees are in full bloom, every step greets you with scents of flowers and blossoms and wealthy womens' perfume, the river is raging, the sun is blaring, and yet the mountain was still open for skiing today! A half hour walk in the Hunter Creek area turned into a 2.5 hours, 6-mile hike, including a quick break at a picnic area with scattered peace flags nearly sun-bleached white, and a small shrine with some miniature Buddha figurines and some heart-shaped rocks. I always wonder who makes such things, who visits, and what kind of energy and intentions inspired such a thing.

This place has captured something in me, or at least fascinated me in some way. Whether a visitor or a resident, I know not, but I will definitely be returning!

For now, the sun is setting, and I should probably go find somewhere to set up camp for the night!

<10 minutes later>. Crap. Just realized I left my tents in Avon. Smart, Brett. Smart. 😊

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