Brandon

This may sound odd, but I just encountered fun. I know, weird, right? As it turns out, Aspen, home of the rich and (in)famous, home of the latest in corporate-home-furnishings-come-developer-property acquisition, home of level red restrictions, is also fun at heart. All you have to do is go outside, and it’s literally everywhere.

You may not believe me, but fun in 2021 is something you’re simply going to have to schedule. I like fun. Hell, I’m pretty funny too, but when life’s got you down, it’s really, really hard to get out of the doldrums. I can attest. I miss fun on a regular basis. We all do. One of the things I miss most about life before the pandemic was coming across free fun, and all because we live in a rad, little ski town. Free concert? Yes, please! Doggie Fashion Show? Why not?

Yes, the obvious gut punch is that we don’t have those kinds of fun this year. We do have the outdoors, however. Whenever I think about living anywhere else during this pandemic I am reminded of how incredibly grateful I am to have the great outdoors in my backyard. In fact, not having an actual backyard is a fine trade-off to be able to leave my place via foot or bike and experience wilderness in a short amount of time.

Weekends of late have been a retreat into my home or out skiing. And skiing, while lovely and soul-feeding in its own right, always has the element of being a bit more “people-y” than I want. This past weekend we made a plan to head up the pass, and I have to say it was the highlight of my week.

Last spring, I sold my car and got a fat bike. The intention was to have a pedal-driven commuter, no matter the weather. My cold-weather habits still tend toward walking, especially on frigid days, but the fat bike has been a delight. I haven’t taken it on many adventures yet though, and Monday’s sunny skies lent the perfect conditions to journey toward Weller Lake.

We grabbed dogs, trail snacks and lots of layers then headed to the closure gate on Independence Pass. I was delighted to know that riding a bike on the snow in January still feels like riding a bike! I wasn’t racing, just cruising up the road on the flattest patch of snow out there. What, did you think I was going to plow through powder? The sun was shining and the forecast had only scattered people throughout the afternoon.

That’s the hardest part of the pandemic, no random run-ins with your favorite townsfolk. Stores do not a town make (I’m looking at you Restoration Hardware, aka RH). People make the town. And Aspen’s townsfolk are holed up, working, wishing they had work, or donning a mask and getting from point A to point B — quickly.

The vast majority of the people we townsfolk run into on a daily basis are not townsfolk. They’re tourists.

Tourists walk about, they take it all in, because that’s what they came here to do. They paid for at least that much. No, it’s not always fun to deal with people who don’t know where they’re going next, or if they do, it matters not how fast or slow, just that it looks and feels good since they’re on vacation — cue middle of the street selfie!

Since most of us living and working here have cut our traveling in half, twice, and aren’t getting out much these days, we’re a smidge edgy. Somehow the pandemic has taken our run of the mill tourists and turned them into masked characters who make us feel even more uneasy. Our guard is up, and we’re all wearing masks. What could go wrong?

Such is life at the moment.

Which is precisely why the call of the wild should be answered. GTFO of the core, friends! I rode my bike at a medium pace in the blazing sunshine up a closed mountain road. Does anything sound better? Other than maybe a beach?

We rode to Weller Lake and prepared for part two of the journey: a short hike in the dark pines to a very snowy lake. Ah, fun! Actually, it felt more relieving than fun at times. It’s hard to feel fun if you’re stuck inside yourself, or your house. That energy simply has to go somewhere. Fun is a lot easier to come by when it isn’t stuck under multiple layers of depression, and it’s hard to make the first step if you’ve felt stuck in a web of negativity. Just try. Put on some boots, snowshoes, cross-country boots and go get lost. No, not actually lost. Be smart. You might just feel more sane upon return.

Or you might feel better with small, recurring flashes of the negative too, which is totally fine. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Blissful happiness may be hard to achieve in pandemic times.

My ride down the pass was a blast. I can still see all that sunshine and blue sky in my mind’s eye, and for a couple hours it didn’t feel like life was as screwed up as it is at the moment.

I think the latest restrictions hit the restaurant industry hard. I think it’s impossible to not feel that hurt, even if I don’t work in a restaurant. I think if we all shut down for a couple weeks, maybe had the grocery store open on Mondays and Wednesdays, then other essential stores open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we might feel like we’re all in this together again and be kinder to one another in the process. Or, not. A gal can still hope, right?

Beth implores you to go have fun as if your life depends on it. She can be reached at ­bethabrandon@hotmail.com