The mountain community of Aspen, is known for its white powdery slopes during the winter months, and one of the most popular recreational and ski destinations in America. Aspen summer months are booming with outdoor activities, arts and culture which include a flood of fun and free activities to enjoy, as well.
Often considered as the playground for the rich and famous, by no means do we fall in that category. However, Aspen has always been on our list of destinations to visit this year and this seemed an appropriate time to take this trip.
“Let’s go to Aspen,” Gary said, during one of our mini-vac planning sessions. “Sure,” I replied. I have never been to Aspen, so of course I automatically gave my confirmation for this trip. He on the other hand has visited several times on skiing trips but never in the summer and thought it a great opportunity to explore and enjoy the outdoors and mountainous regions of Aspen.
On my flight in I sat next to 2 little girls, ages 8 to 10 whose parents were seated in first class. “We are going to Aspen on vacation,” they shared. I thought how fortunate–I was headed to the same place, so I must feel fortunate as well. A mini vacation is one of the luxuries of being a flight attendant.
Due to the overwhelming amount of activities during our stay, most of the hotels we contacted, including the The Little Nell were booked, so we opted for more moderate accommodations at the Molly Gibson Lodge.
A vacation that was intended to be another high energy fun filled one was dampened by elevation sickness-high altitude sickness. Unfortunately my partner Gary became ill as a result of our location which was 6,000 ft above sea level. S0, hang gliding, hot air balloon ride, white water rafting and loads of other fun loving activities remained on our aspen play list and were never attempted.
How could we visit Aspen and not enjoy ourselves or participate in a single activity? That would have been very depressing. So Gary and I mustered up some energy to find something that would breathe life into us and get a breath of fresh Aspen air.
For two days this allowed us to slow down, get our nature fix and enjoy aspens natural beauty. First we enjoyed a gondola ride on board the Silver Queen Gondola to the top of Aspen Mountain over groves of aspen and pine trees. Once at the summit, we ventured out on a 1 mile trail in temperatures a little above 70 degrees.
Inspired by their outdoor adventures, and The Obama’s Martha’s Vineyard bike tour, on day two we checked into a local bike shop, Four Mountain Sports where we picked up our first set of wheels. We were given a detailed map of trails and terrain that were suitable for our two wheeled adventures. The Rio Grande trail, a 44 mile of scenic route was our favorite trail allowing us to freely roam and enjoy the ride along the banks of the creek. Aspen is a bike friendly city so we felt free through the streets while enjoying the local scenery. In Aspen you don’t need a car to get around, and these bikes became our primary mode of transportation through the city.
I have always enjoyed cycling as a child–I have bruises to remind me. Since I became an adult, the joy of cycling has escaped me. As I mounted my bike I felt a sense of liberation and release. I pedaled through the streets among the trees and creeks, I felt a sense of renewed self-losing my inhibitions-not worrying about the outside world but just letting go and ride. And it felt great.
After experiencing aspen on our bikes I decided when I returned home to Miami I will return to my passion for biking, not only for pleasure but to improve my physical well being.
While our days were spent enjoying nature, our nights were passionate and relaxing under the Aspen sky where conversations flowed freely and our social hours were spiked with Russian Mule, Takkini cocktails, and Blonde beer from Aspen Brewery Company, our devoted companions. Evenings were spent experiencing Aspen’s epicurean delights at The Wild Fig, Casa Tua, and Elevation while listening to the beautiful sounds of street music.
Music filled the air. These were some of the subtle surprises that made our trip pleasant. Throughout the city, at various intervals we found small ensembles of students from the Aspen Music Festival and School serenading restaurant diners and passersby. Aspen city of symphony.
Orchestras over the years have moved to the outdoors and in public gatherings to expand their following and to engage the younger generation. At these orchestral gatherings, the classical audience included locals, tourists, the young, the old and pets. All were enthralled by the sound of music. In this dreamlike atmosphere, fast tempos and crisp beats were heard amongst laughter, and chatters throughout the Square. It felt like a live musical cinema conjured up in the streets of Aspen.
Parts of our evenings were spent lackadaisically lounging around the Hyman Avenue fountain watching adults; children and pets frolic in the dancing waters.
Early morning libations were thoroughly enjoyed at the areas most popular breakfast house, Main Street Bakery and Café with a hometown hospitality for visitors.
All summer long there will be a whirl of activities in the area, and before departing we had an opportunity to stroll through a few events at the Aspen Ideas Festival. This was a gathering of some of the most interesting thinkers and leaders from around the US and the world discussing their work and issues that inspire them. The festival is presented by the Aspen Institute.
No up and down the creek expeditions, no adrenaline rush activities, just a simple bike tour that offered the best way to experience Aspen and to get a little workout along the way.