Friday, October 26, 2012

Aspen Trip Recap

A friend and I recently were talking about our shared love of blogging/blogs and I lamented the somewhat sad state of affairs over here at Chez GFG.  Recipes are great and all but personally, my favorite blogs are the ones that weave delicious recipes (with equally delicious photos) into a larger, more complex quilt of genres- travel, fashion, mommy-wisdom, fitness, nutrition, holistic living, etc.  I am going to try to move in that direction.  I say try because honestly, some days it's all I can do slap up a recipe in 2 minutes before I forget it.  I'm sure you can all relate.  I feel idiotic for even complaining, since there are so many women/moms out there with far more on their plates than I and still manage to turn out informative, beautiful, entertaining, enlightening, and FUN pieces.  Stacy at Paleo Parents is a great example.  How the heck does she/they do it?

Part of this starts with more transparency.  I started this blog with the intention of sharing grain free, sugar free, low carb, no starch (etc etc) recipes because I had SO much trouble finding anything online that suited my needs.  If I am having trouble, there have got to be a few other people out there facing the same dilemma.  I think I have pretty well accomplished that goal, mostly anyways, and I am happy to say I feel pretty good about this blog being a decent repository of recipes for those of us needing or wanting to eliminate grains, sugar, processed junk, and live more healthfully.  But posting recipe after recipe is boring, and can feel like a chore.  And if it feels like a chore to me, I can imagine it must be a chore to my readers.  So I am resolving to become more transparent.  With so much going on my life, I sometimes feel like I am hiding, lying, or at the very least, omitting more than I ought to.  So in future posts, you'll see more truthiness, haha.  I hope this is helpful to you, or enjoyable, or something like that.

I wholeheartedly believe that food is probably the single most important aspect of living a healthy, whole life.  Besides sleep, I believe that food takes precedence over every other thing you can do in your life.  What you eat does truly define you, and while I'm sure many will disagree, that is my belief system.  Should you spend all your time cooking, recipe testing, ingredient sourcing, researching, etc?  No, of course not.  But food is love, food is medicine, food is life.  Embrace it and enjoy it!

But as large a role as food plays in one's life, it is not everything.  And someone who makes it their everything probably does not lead a very interesting life.  We want to be well-rounded after all, don't we?  So, that's where I'm at.  This blog is about me living my grain free life.  And my life is more than just recipes and ugly food photos!!

OK- Now that that's all over with- time for a recap of my Columbus Day weekend trip to Aspen.  OMG folks- that was the first time MKG and I had been to Aspen and it did not disappoint.  We live in Kansas City and decided we were going to drive.  Have you ever driven across Kansas?  Uggggg.  There are rungs of hell that are probably more hospitable than western Kansas.  My apologies to anyone that I am offending.  But holy crap!  Horrific.  But everything after that was crazy awesome.  Starting with:

Boulder, CO
We arrived in Boulder at 6pm ish on Thursday evening.  We drove around town a bit and wondered aloud about what it would be like if S went to school there someday- how neat it would be to visit all the time.  Boulder is hella cool.  And also, I think, probably the Gluten Free capitol of America.  I had soooo much fun researching places to have dinner prior to our trip.  Ultimately we ended up eating at The Kitchen- Upstairs.  Located in the trendy pedestrian mall on Pearl Street, we enjoyed perambulating down the street with cute shops, coffee shops, restaurants, and requisite college kids/hippie folk/townies.  Everything was closed, which was probably for the best, and it was also like, 1 degree out, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.  Our meal was spectacular.  Probably our best meal of the trip actually.  The ambience was soooo warm and inviting, but still chic and sophisticated.  We were seated directly next to a blazing fireplace, which only intensified that warm and rustic feel.  We got a couple items to share, awesome lamb meatballs, fresh mussels, roasted veggies, fresh greens, and the portions were just right.  I highly recommend it.

The next morning we got up early to make the drive to Aspen, taking I70 to Vail and then taking the Independence Pass the rest of the way, as we had been assured that was the most scenic way to go.  Scenic does not begin to describe it folks.  Here are some images from the Independence Pass route.

 The drive took about 4 and a half hours, and we stopped to take TONS of pics.  But nothing prepared me for just how gorgeous, quaint, cute, and charming Aspen was.  Granted we were there probably the slowest weekend of the entire year, but that ended up working to our advantage (except for it being frickin' cold!) as it wasn't overrun with tourists, or douchey billionaire wannabes, etc.  Here are some ridonc Aspen pics.

Our first afternoon in Aspen we took an easy hike to get acclimated, and enjoyed a casual dinner at Ajax Tavern, which I am not going to bother linking to because it was pretty meh.  But since this wasn't really a foodie trip, we didn't care much.  In fact, this was like, the budget trip to end all budget trips.  Don't even get me started on the ramshackle lodgings we endured at Mountain House Lodge.  YIKES is all I have to say.  But for $89/night (in ASPEN PEOPLE) I can't complain.  Here are some images from our easy little hike- on one of the many clearly marked trails in Aspen.  

The next day we set our sights on Ajax/Aspen Mountain.  As in, climbing the damn thing.  Everyone I talked to said it was was very very difficult, but could be done in 2.5 hours ish.  I was terrified.  Not of heights necessarily, but you know, extended bouts of strenuous physical activity is not really my thing.  I am a pussy, basically, and exertion is just not my fave.  But goddamnit I was determined to do it.

Holy shit.  It was harder than I could have imagined.  The first third of the way is pretty much STRAIGHT UP, on switchbacks.  You are on the edge of a cliff most of the way.  And because it's switchbacks, you have no idea where you are in relation to your destination.  You are just hiking up this goddamned mountain totally blind and ignorant.  Horrible.  Yes, it was pretty, I guess, I don't know I don't remember!  It was just sheer torture for me!  I could lie to you and say how magnificent it was and bullshit you, but I won't.  I was scared to death, thought I might die from exhaustion and/or falling off the mountain, and was scared I wouldn't make it.  Thankfully, after the first third of the way, the path straightened out, so at least we weren't teetering on the edge of a cliff anymore.  The kicker in all this is that I routinely was passed by small dogs, teenagers, large groups, etc, just to make me feel like more of a loser.  Eventually even MKG left me behind as my snails pace was just too much to handle.  The final two-thirds was just as hard physically, though much easier mentally.  And at long last, or, 2.5 hours later, we reached the top!

The view from the top is sick.  If you aren't the hiking type, take the gondola up to the top and enjoy the glorious view.  There is an awesome restaurant at the top and you can hang out, eat, and stare out the vast windows for hours.  We took the gondola back down, and spent the rest of the afternoon on a scenic car ride.  Dinner that night was at a newish place Justice Snow's, where I had a fucking amazing salad with kale, beets, trout, and hazelnuts.  It was crazy good.

The following day was the highlight of the trip.  Maroon Bells.  Oft sited as the most photographed destination in Colorado.  Words really do not it justice.  It was incredible, gorgeous, breathtaking even, and it was probably the most not-pretty time of year to visit!  I can't imagine what it must be like when the leaves are changing, or in summer with meadows of blooming wildflowers and lush green leaves as far as the eye can see.  I absolutely, 100% cannot wait to get back to Maroon Bells.  I could go a million times and not get sick of it.  We chose a fairly easy 3 mile hike along the ridge, and then had a fun picnic at the end.  I could post probably a hundred pictures just of the bells.  After that, I did a little (too much) shopping and then we had a casual dinner in a stupid dumpy place, Little Annies or something.  Blah.  I got a salad.  Boring.  Like I said, not a foodie trip.  This was a save our pennies and have one meal out a day trip.  We went to bed early as we were getting up at 4:30am to drive home, so the evening was pretty uneventful.

Our trip was so much fun.  We were fortunate we had the time to make the drive, and we were lucky to find such an affordable trip, and thank goodness my MIL was happy to watch S for the weekend.  The stars really aligned for us on this trip and I am so grateful.  But gosh darn it of course something had to go wrong right?  I got a motherf*ing ticket in stupid Aurora, CO on the way back.  OMG for real people?  With your speed trap?  Awful.

I can't recommend this trip enough.  Get yoself to Aspen pronto!  I'll leave you with my favorite picture of the trip- of the Bells of course.

I am already planning another trip to CO- this time to Estes Park.  Can't wait!

No comments:

Post a Comment