My favorite memory of off-season in Aspen was riding my BMX bike right down the middle of Main Street from the Hickory House to the Hotel Jerome. There wasn’t a single car in sight the entire time. But things are way different now. That ship has sailed. Not only has that ship sailed; it hit a reef and was torn to shreds, spilling all of its cargo and killing everyone aboard.
Off-season for me lasted all of four hours. The day after Highlands closed, I mostly farted around the house, nervously chugging coffee and checking my email every 30 seconds. Sadly, by noon I was staring down the handle of a broom in a hopelessly gravel-covered driveway.
I went to Moab for the weekend for a quick relaxing getaway. Hardly! It reminded me of Aspen on Christmas week. I felt sorry for the locals. It looks like that town is facing a lot of the same growing pains we are.
I can complain all I want about what used to be a relaxing off-season experience being now nearly impossible for me to find, but the fact is I’m part of the problem.
Off-seasons are some of my busiest times business-wise. That’s probably why I find people who continue to complain about the economy, work and money incessantly boring. Who told you to jump into the deep end of the pool holding a set of barbells? There is so much work here it’s a joke. The twisted punch line is that it’s beneath a lot of people to do it.
That’s why during off-season this year, there’s still a lineup of cars coming into town. I actually had to circle the block twice to find a space to park the other day. And have you been up to the landfill lately? The amount of yard waste and debris up there is proof of what a pig-hole this town actually is. There’s enough of it to cover an entire football field 12 feet deep. That’s a lot of spring cleanup.
The upside to this non-off-season has definitely been the weather. It seems as if we’ve been in a bit of a monsoonal spring flow, with sunny mornings and showers in the evenings. The valley looks a lush emerald green, and the river is just now starting to get murky. Before you know it, people will be complaining how hot it is.
The other day I decided to clean all of the crap and skeletons out of my shed. After almost being knocked cold by a falling chainsaw, it occurred to me that I’m starting to show disturbing signs of being a hoarder. It’s high time to nip that in the bud before it gets out of control. I don’t think it’s genetic or anything, but it’s sobering to see the telltale signs that you’re losing your marbles. There’s a rule of thumb that if you haven’t used something in a year, get rid of it. Two words: Thrift shop.
What’s more dangerous during off-season — backcountry skiing, or going to a restaurant and ordering mussels and seafood for dinner? It’s a toss up, but I tend to lean toward the low-angle backcountry skiing option. Either way, you could die or get seriously sick.
The funny thing is that the best skiing right now is at the bottom of Buttermilk. The snow is 10 feet deep in a lot of places. It’s all the leftover from the X Games. The SkiCo smeared all of the jumps from the slopestyle course into a perfectly groomed run. It’s machine-made snow, so it’s not plagued by the usual mixed bag of backcountry conditions. And the best part is the approach — it couldn’t be easier and you don’t have to wake up at 4 a.m. to get started. All you need to do is shoulder your skis and walk up. Sorry, no snow-cat today.
While the town might not be filled with tourists looking up at the mountain with their mouths open, it hardly feels like off-season to me. Personally, I like the off-seasons. You really get a chance to walk through downtown slowly and have a good look around. I feel like I get to know the town a little better during off-season — like my favorite phase of the redevelopment process, when there’s a vacant lot downtown. Is there any chance of replacing that hole with a swimming pool, or a park? I didn’t think so.
After a few mountain bike rides, I’m already wanting to ski again. Here’s to high hopes that Aspen Mountain opens for skiing on Memorial Day weekend. Keep your fingers crossed, skiers. Maybe in the fall we can get this off-season thing back on track again.
To reach Lorenzo, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.