Closing the Ski Season in Aspen

Relaaax...It's Aspen

Relaaax…It’s Aspen

Smooth, silky, soothing, sultry, relaxing—that’s Aspen. And that’s how my ski season ended this year, and it was lovely. Just what I needed, too.

All kinds of celebrating from pond skimming in bikinis to dancing in ski boots typically take place on closing day at most ski resorts. Skiers and boarders in fun and crazy outfits cut loose as a way of toasting the end of a long ski season marked by few or many turns and often lots of hard work (in the case of those that work in ski towns). I celebrated Telluride’s closing day a month ago and enjoyed closing week festivities on the Front Range mid-April, so I had my share of end-of-the-season partying.

With the closing of its four mountains (Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk, Highlands and Snowmass), Aspen has certainly seen a lot of colorful merrymaking these past weeks. So it wasn’t surprising that this bonus weekend of skiing on Ajax was marked by a bunch of folks—mostly locals—primarily interested in cruising the slopes of their beloved mountain for the last time. Sure there was a smattering of tutus, tiger costumes and wacky wigs along with a vibrant assortment of flowered shirts and shorts, yet the scene was pretty tame. The emphasis was on the skiing; in this case beneath azure blue skies on what were surely the warmest days of the year thus far. (It hit 70 degrees in the town of Aspen on Sunday.) more »

Skiing with Rock Stars: Schussing with Telluride’s Synchronized Ski Teams

Southern Synchro Skiers Practicing in Telluride, Colorado

Southern Synchro Skiers Practicing in Telluride, Colorado

My View of the Ghostriders Last Run Just as the Sun Was Peaking Over the Mountain

My View of the Ghostriders’s Last Run Just as the Sun Was Peeking Over the Mountain

OK, well I wasn’t exactly skiing with these elite snowsports professionals. I was actually tagging along to watch them perform. I’ve been telling many of my fellow Telluride Ski and Snowboard School friends these past couple of months that I’d come out and watch them do their stuff. But I admit that the idea of getting on the slopes before the sun rises over the mountain hasn’t thrilled me, especially since I’ve been working as a ski instructor myself almost nonstop since mid-February. But I set my alarm earlier yesterday and greeted members from theses two teams—Telluride Ghostriders and Southern Synchro Skiers—in the locker room and at the top of the gondola before I had time to have my second cup of coffee. A few  warm exchanges were shared but from the get-go, I could tell they were all business. The task at hand was to charge down the mountain three times, accomplishing a total of six expertly coordinated formations, within a half hour before Telluride Ski Resort officially opened for the day and before they had to go to work as ski instructors potentially teaching every level of student from first-time beginners to level eight all-mountain skiers. Wow, what a way to kickstart your morning.

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Fall in Colorado: A Beautiful Time for Sightseeing and Winter Travel Planning

Fall in Telluride

Fall in Telluride

Fall in Aspen

Fall in Aspen

As you can see from the photos featured in this post, we are in full fall splendor here in Colorado. The foliage is peaking now, yet there’s still a lot of green on the trees. So it should remain beautiful in the mountains for another few weeks. Now we’ve entered the autumnal phase of white beginning to replace the gold, russet, burnt umber and bronze that currently punctuate our alpine panoramas. Yes, as the snow fills in, this harvest of fall colors fades into the landscape and we’re left increasingly hopeful about the opening of our ski resorts and the promise of the winter season in the Rockies.

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Bike Race Spectating, Colorado Touring, Book Promoting, Travel Adventures Galore Oh My

Taking a Break from Book Promoting Along the Barriers at the Vail Time Trial of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge

Taking a Break from Book Promoting Along the Barriers at the Vail Time Trial of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge

“Have you decided what you’d like to order?” the server of Spencer’s, the signature restaurant of Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge, asked me.

“I’ll have the snake,” I said.

When he looked at me in a bewildered manner, I realized my words weren’t matching my thoughts and then I corrected my order. “Oh, I meant to say steak.  Yes, steak. I’m sorry, I’m just so weary.”

“No problem,” he replied and seemingly just minutes later I was served one of the most succulent steaks ever. I gobbled it down along with a heap of Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, fresh green beans and a big gulp of red wine. I felt exhausted and much in need of sustenance and this unassuming restaurant delivered.

My Travel Memoir/Love Story that Features France and Highlights Colorado

My Travel Memoir/Love Story that Features France and Highlights Colorado

I had been on the road a few days by the time I reached Breckenridge and realized that following a major sporting event, especially one that changes locales daily required a lot of hustling about, but then adding a book promo tour to it was like doubling town. I had been busy much of the summer promoting my new book, A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France, although I saved the biggest push for the end when I’d scheduled a number of events and publicity opportunities in conjunction with the USA Pro Challenge, a major bike race which was marking its third year in Colorado. It seemed like a good fit, so why not give it a go? My core audience seems to be made up of outdoor enthusiasts and discriminating travelers, just the kind of people you find showing up for this big cycling event, especially in Aspen, Beaver Creek and Vail.

I set out in Misty, my old 1993 Subaru with over 250,000 miles to her credit, late Sunday, August 18, for Redstone, Colorado, a delightful little mountain town just under an hour from Aspen. From Telluride, the drive ranks as one of the finest in Colorado, punctuated by bucolic farmland scenery in and around Paonia and dramatic mountain vistas up and over McClure Pass. I arrived at the warm and cozy Redstone Inn to find its bar and restaurant bustling with Sunday evening diners.

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15 Aug 2013, 12:29pm
Aspen Colorado Cycling France French Life Telluride The Rockies Writing & Books:
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Tellurider Matt Beaudin Talks about Cycling, VeloNews and France

Matt Beaudin

Matt Beaudin

I’ve been living in Telluride just over ten years now. And I’m still continually amazed by the number of multi-talented people living within our towns (Telluride and Mountain Village) of a combined population of about 3,200 year-round residents. Artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, you name it—T-ride boasts the crème de la crème of doers, adventurers and creative types from many areas. And Matt Beaudin definitely fits that profile.

I’ve always enjoyed the quality of writing in our local newspapers and came to know Matt through his stories when he was editor of the Telluride Daily Planet. After a nice stint at our local rag, Matt moved on—but not out of Telluride—to become a writer for VeloNews, one of the country’s top publications on cycling. Now after a year and a half at this post, I thought it was time to sit down and chat with Matt on Travel Fun, my talk show on KOTO. He’s passionate about cycling, has been to France a couple of times and covered the Tour de France twice, so I was sure we’d have a good exchange. I enjoyed what Matt had to say about the French, following the Tour and riding a mountain stage, recounting another impressive ride—Eider Creek—in Telluride and sharing his thoughts on the upcoming USA Pro Cycling Challenge that begins Monday, August 19 in Aspen, Colorado.

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24 Jul 2013, 5:09pm
Aspen Colorado Hotels & Lodging Restaurants:
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Great Dining Experiences in Aspen and Snowmass

Corn Soup at Element 47

Corn Soup at Element 47

On a recent visit to Aspen, Colorado I had the pleasure of discovering two of its newest restaurants:  Element 47 at The Little Nell and Snowmass Kitchen at The Westin Snowmass Resort. I also carved out the time to revisit Venga Venga Cantina & Tequila Bar, another one of my Snowmass favorites. What a gastronomic trip this turned out to be! All three of these establishments rank tops on my list for ambiance and for providing exceptional culinary moments in a variety of forms.

Aspen, indisputably the swankiest of all our Colorado mountain towns, now offers one of the most sophisticated dining experiences in the Rockies with Element 47 at The Little Nell. I must admit, I felt trepidacious about this renowned hotel’s new signature restaurant. Being the Francophile that I am, I of course loved the classic and oh-so French dining experience offered at La Montagne, The Little Nell’s original restaurant and a landmark of sorts to people from all over the world—just like the hotel’s sunken lounge. Fortunately the lounge was remodeled enough so that it looks fresh and in step with the times, yet not so much that you wouldn’t recognize this “old friend,” a familiar meeting place for the tony crowd of Aspen. The look, however, of Element 47, was changed up completely and the end result is one of sleek, timeless elegance.

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Mountain Travel News and Spring Blizzards

Aspen/Snowmass Spring Blizzard: The Pow Just Keeps on Coming

How do you book travel? Do you go directly to websites such as Expedia.com to check out any alluring offers they’re showcasing? Or perhaps you’re more destination or theme oriented and and you sift through info. at sites such as Ski.com and On the Snow.com? Do you troll the Internet for stories from travel publications and blogs to read about places from a firsthand perspective? Or maybe you flash on video and photo postings your friends have put up on Facebook?

All the above are valid ways to research and book travel and it should come as no surprise that people are turning even more to the Internet and social media for all, including travel planning. This is some of what I gleaned last week from the Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS) I attended in Snowmass, Colorado. The largest gathering of mountain travel professionals in North America, MTS also marks the beginning of the sales cycle for the next ski season. Attendees come from around the world to conduct business and to learn about what’s new and happening in the snowsports industry. This year’s 38th annual MTS brought together leaders and innovators from the ski and travel tech industries to provoke conversation and solution-seeking ideas for the1,200 professionals gathered at this dynamic event.

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29 Mar 2013, 9:40am
Aspen Beaver Creek Colorado Restaurants Shopping Telluride The Rockies Vail:
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Favorite Restaurant Picks for Frisco, Vail, Beaver Creek and Telluride

Bountiful Bagalis

Ski season might be winding down, although there’s little letting up on the wining and dining scene in Colorado’s top mountain destinations. To the contrary—with the window of prime skiing narrowed down during most spring days—it seems like visitors and locals alike allot even more time for socializing off the slopes during this fair weather season.

Housebaked Bread at Bagalis

If you’re anywhere near Summit County, be sure to put Bagalis in Frisco at the top of your list. I love the warm, inviting decor of this chef-owned and operated restaurant. Chef Michal Ulehala and his wife, Joyce, opened this fine Italian restaurant two years ago and the accolades have been growing ever since. Copper-topped tables, subdued lighting, wood beams and lots of style-y touches such as rectangular white plates come together to create a look that feels like old mining town meets Euro lounge. A large communal table serves as center stage for diners looking to mix and mingle, however, you might want to tuck yourself into one of the more quiet corners of this handsome restaurant. Plan to while away a good amount of time here over beautifully prepared antipasti such as an olive and meat plate comprised of the finest products sourced with care. Indeed, Chef Michal and his team are proponents of the Slow Food Movement and here everything they serve—from shrimp polenta to artisan pizzas to housemade desserts—is made from the finest ingredients, many of which come from local purveyors. Expect an excellent price/quality relationship on all, including their wines by the glass and the bottle—all of which have been selected with great expertise. Bagalis also opens for lunch, offering the perfect time to enjoy their outdoor patio beneath sunny Colorado skies.

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