Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Back from Aspen

Yesterday, Leni and I returned from a week in Aspen with great friends that we knew from our Texas days when he was still in school.  We'd been looking forward to this trip since it's planning stages in the Fall and it was well worth the wait!

One house.  Six rooms.  Four bathrooms.  Thirteen people.

Leni and I, having the shortest distance to travel (7 hour drive), were the first to arrive and, after opening up the house that we had rented and greeting the second arriving couple, the next order of business was to zip down to the Aspen airport and pick up our good friends, Josh and Kalyn.  Next, was a trip to the grocery store to tackle a serious list of food to buy.  It took 6 of us a little over an hour to accomplish this.  Almost $450 later, we walked out with (almost) all the ingredients we used to feed that many people for the week.  The price sounds like a lot but when you divide it out on a per person-per day basis, it's incredibly darn reasonable!

Check out took so long!
After the return from the grocery store, more people started arriving and the excitement started mounting as people talked about looking forward to getting on the slopes the next day.  

I should probably mention that this was the 4th of several ski trips for which this group has gathered since 2008.  Not being able to ski these days, it was more of a chance to see good friends and hang out for me.  I spent a lot less time by myself than I had prepared for, which was a welcome change to my expectations.  One recent addition to the group (just married in this past Fall) only skied for a day and a half due to a pre-existing knee I got spend some time getting to know her.  Another guy had an unfortunate fall on his 3rd day and ended up with a messed up shoulder and not being able to go back out.  There was a day in the middle of the trip where several people, including Leni, took a rest day as well.  

During the days, I often drive to the ski resort to meet the gang for lunch.  During the first day that I was checking out the ski hill where the group spent most of their time (Snowmass), I found this funny sign outside a restaurant in the village:

Did you spot the grammatical error?

On two days, we drove into the city of Aspen to wander around the ritzy but beautiful downtown area.  As far as skiing goes, the Aspen area is actually comprised of 4 separate mountains and one of them had runs and lifts that came right into the downtown area:

Aspen Mountain as seen from downtown
During the week we were in Aspen, another of those 4 mountains, Buttermilk, was host to the 2012 Winter X Games.  

Saw some sweet runs through this half pipe super pipe
Of course, the finals of the best events were in the evenings of the last two nights but what we found was that parking was far too much of a hassle (lots were filling up in the early to mid afternoon!) to try to attend in person.  It was such a relief when the decision was made to just stay in our warm house and watch it on TV - no doubt providing better views and replays anyway than had we been standing there with a 1000 other people.  Because the dirty little secret about the X Games is that, for most of the events, unless you have a VIP pass, you end up watching it on an on-site big screen anyway because so much of the competition course is not visible from the bottom of the runs where the crowds are gathered or there are too many people blocking your view.

One set of events that I ended up enjoying that I didn't think I would was the snowmobile stuff.  I often think of snowmobilers as being reckless, loud and inconsiderate jerks - and that may still be the case!  But seeing them whip up in the air and move those heavy machines with their bodies was pretty darn incredible.  We got to see the first ever attempt at a double back flip in competition (unfortunately, he failed...broken arm...ouch!) followed by the first ever successful competition completion of a FRONT flip.  Think about it for a second.  A back flip is totally intuitive considering how the vehicle leaves the jump but a front flip is a completely different story.  Watch the video of it:

Absolutely insane.  Amazing moment for the rider as well as the sport in general.  Another record made on that same night was Shaun White's snowboard performance in the super pipe.  Athletes get 3 attempts in achieving the highest score and, like in the 2010 Olympics, he had secured a first place win after only the second round.  For his final run, he nailed all his tricks and received a first-time-ever-in-the-x-games perfect score of 100 from the judges.

The excitement for these records and events was palpable around both the local area as well as our house with our friends and I'm so pleased that we got to experience Aspen during this special event.

So we're back.  Tired, but pleased to have spent quality time with people we don't often see.  I'll admit that the 7 hour drive each way was uncomfortable at times for my back and it was a blessing to have Leni doing all the driving.

I can't wait to be able to ski again next year.

Keep It Real!


  1. I know you didn't get to see it, but the 12" of fresh powder on Friday made for great skiing. Especially making first tracks down a 3.5 mile long run that required hiking too.

  2. So glad you had such a nice break before the little guy comes! Sounds like a fabulous trip...