Vernon Volumes text

Vernon Volumes text

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Aspen and Snowmass Colorado - Shawn and Andrea's Summer Visit - 20th Wedding Anniversary

It's hot in Florida, and Andrea and I planned a short trip to the Aspen area in Colorado to enjoy the cooler weather, and to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. Paige was at Camp Pinnacle, and Connor was spending his days working at the tennis club or at his internship, so it was a perfect time to get away. It was also a big test for Connor, since it was the first time we left him home alone for an extended period. I had some new super loud smoke alarms put in (with strobe lights), to hopefully wake him up if there was a fire, and I also asked Grandpa and Grandma to be sure they were available in case of an emergency. We were a little nervous about it, but Connor's a responsible guy, and we trust him.

Andrea booked us a nice room at the Limelight hotel in the Snowmass area, which is a few miles down to road from downtown Aspen. It was a perfect setup for us, where I could set up my laptop to do work on the weekdays, and we also had a nice view of the Snowmass village area. On our first day in Colorado, we explored the Snowmass village, rode the lift up the mountain to some of the other shops and restaurants.

Sunday, we rented E-Bikes from Silver City Bikes, and they met us near our hotel with our bikes. After a brief overview on how the bikes worked, we set out on our adventure. Our big goal for the day was to see the Maroon Bells and downtown Aspen. We took the Owl Creek road and trail towards Maroon Bells, and it was easy peasey on the E-Bikes. We were set up with Aventon bikes for the day, and they had nice powerful engines, but I found them to be a little inconsistent with the energy output. Sometimes I felt like I was working hard and the bike wasn't doing much. Other times I'd lightly push on the pedal and the bike would jolt under me and zoom off. Andrea's bike worked fine, except the brakes were squealing incredibly loudly whenever she used them. We contact the bike company and they met us near the airport to swap out Andrea's bike. Her new one was much better.

The road out to Maroon Bells was steep and I honestly can't imagine choosing to make the journey on a regular bike. Even on an E-Bike it took a long time, and the people we passed on their regular bikes looked like they were working hard. The trail there was not as clearly marked as we would have liked, and there were many times we had to stop and look at Google Maps to confirm we were going the right way. The last stretch was on the road, and while there weren't a lot of cars allowed up to the scenic area, it was a little scary getting passed when we did.

The view was beautiful, and we relaxed for a little while when we got there, before turning around and starting our descent to Aspen.

Downtown Aspen was bougie and clean, although we didn't think it was quite as cute or cozy as Vail. Vail's main area was not open to cars, which makes a huge difference. There were a few pedestrian only areas in downtown Aspen, but there was a lot of traffic and crosswalks involved. We got some nachos at a little bar for lunch, and then did some shopping. Paige had been excited to tell us that there's an Aviator Nation store in Aspen, so we stopped in to pick up a shirt for me, a jacket and shirt for Andrea, and a shirt for Paige. 

After our shopping was complete, we started back to Snowmass, and I was trying to be sparing with my battery since it was running a little low. A few miles before we got back, my bike finally died. I thought I could maybe muscle it back, but those bikes were extremely heavy and it was very difficult to even keep it going on flat ground much less a hill. I told Andrea I would walk back, and we texted the location of the dead bike to the company. Thankfully the company was eager to help, and before I'd gone too far on foot, he came by to give me a fresh bike with a new battery. 

Our butts were sore after our long day on the bikes, and Andrea's watch showed that we'd gone over 39 miles on the bikes by the time we finished. It was certainly not a fraction of the effort for a regular bike, but after 3.5 hours and 39 miles, it was still a workout and we were pretty tired.

During the week, I worked in the room during the day and Andrea did some shopping and hiking with an environmental organization ACES. She'd wanted to do more hiking, but we felt like it was a good idea that she didn't go alone since we didn't want her to end up as bear food. I hiked with her and a bit on my own in the afternoons and evenings.

Tuesday, we decided to rent E-Bikes after I finished with work. Most places wanted us to return them by 5pm, but we found one place that would allow us to drop the bikes off in the evening. This time around we got Specialized bikes and I found them to be a little nicer than the Aventons. We rode the bus to Aspen, and after we picked up the bikes we went to the Rio Grande trailhead. The Rio Grande trail was built along an old railroad track, so it was quite a bit flatter than our previous ride. We went through some beautiful valleys and along a river, which was much more scenic and relaxing than our previous ride.

We rode out to the Woody Creek Tavern as our stopping point and we had some nachos and did a little shopping before we headed back.


In the evening on Tuesday we went out to the ACES HQ to do a sunset beaver walk. We started off our evening with a presentation to learn some beaver facts, and then we were all given binoculars and we hiked out a short way to a small lake area. Across the water we could see a beaver lodge made out of stacked branches. We stood around quietly for about twenty minutes, observing some birds, a deer, turtles, and fish. I thought it was going to be a bust, but suddenly we spotted the beaver's head as it swam across the lake. 

Wednesday was our last day in Colorado, and after I finished up with work we went to the rodeo. It was the first night they had the rodeo this season, and there were quite a few people in attendance. We got there fairly early and watched the cowboys and cowgirls do a cow roping competition. The rodeo started eventually and we watched some "Mutton Bustin" where kids tried to ride sheep, a couple guys riding bucking broncos, and even more cow roping. 

About an hour in to the rodeo, it started pouring on us. Thankfully Andrea had the foresight to ask the hotel if we could borrow some umbrellas, so we huddled under our umbrellas in our seats and stayed mostly dry. The rodeo went on through the rain, and as it passed us, we were treated to the brightest double rainbow I've ever seen. The rainbow alone was worth the price of admission.

When we got back to our hotel, we put on our comfy clothes and then went to the ice cream shop for our last dessert of the trip.

Overall, it was a wonderful Colorado visit. We enjoyed the change of atmosphere, especially the cool and dry weather. It was actually a little too dry and Andrea and I both had a bit of irritation in our sinuses from it. I guess we're pretty acclimatized to Florida air now. 

The flights home were the worst part of the trip. We had a nice early flight out of the Aspen airport on Delta, but our flight was delayed multiple times. Eventually the staff made an announcement that our flight wasn't canceled exactly, but they had no idea if or when it would take off. It was a confusing announcement, and after waiting in line and getting clarification, we learned that the pilot was unwilling to take off at our estimated weight because of the windy conditions. The wind didn't seem that bad to us non-pilot people, and it was a beautiful clear day with winds around 10-11 mph. The pilot insisted that we had to lose about half our passengers and the winds needed to be around 8 mph before we could leave. Andrea and I talked to United and American Airlines, and we almost had them switch us to a flight that went through Denver, but we eventually decided to wait it out. After many hours of waiting, we were finally informed that we were going to give it a try and the remaining passengers boarded the flight. 

It took a while, but eventually the conditions were apparently acceptable, and we took off. We were not super scared, but we were certainly more apprehensive than normal, as the flight went airborne and we started climbing out of the valley. We hit some crosswinds and turbulence as we made our ascent, and it was one of the more bumpy flights either of us have been on, but it wasn't terrible. That said, we don't ever plan on flying in or out of Aspen again.

When we landed in Atlanta, we checked the Delta app and it showed that our next flight wasn't scheduled to go out for about 4 or 5 hours. We knew there was another flight leaving shortly, so we sprinted through the airport to the gate and got there just before the standby passengers were being cleared to board. Our boarding passes worked, and we were relieved to get seats on the flight. It was not the original flight that we were supposed to connect with, but it was much more convenient than the late night flight that went out next.

We were thankful to make it home, and we were thrilled that Millie Mae was dropped off by Ms Deb shortly before we arrived. Connor survived his time home alone, and the house was still standing. It was good to be home.

No comments: