Jazz Aspen Snowmass

We ended our weekend on a high note with good music, great friends and amazing memories.

Jazz Aspen Snowmass was absolutely incredible. Although I don’t have a ton of concert experience to compare this to, I am pretty confident that this festival was up there. Being outdoors, surrounded by the mountains, listening to great music – not much beats that in my book.

Friday night we saw Steve Miller Band and Sugarland and the second night was Trombone Shorty and Mumford and Sons.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Ryan. I can’t wait to celebrate 31!

 

 

Downhill

Yes – I’m still recapping our trip to Colorado. Seriously, it feels like we were there for a year with everything we did!

Our friends were arriving in Denver on Friday and meeting us in Snowmass that afternoon. So that gave Matt and I the morning to pack up, check in to our new condo, do some laundry and hit up the grocery store. Plenty of time to find in one more activity, right?

Since we had such much fun mountain biking the first time, we decided to do that again. Plus we’d heard that Snowmass had just opened some awesome trails so it seemed like a perfect idea.

At the rental shop, Matt and I were surprised to see so many people renting shin guards, wrist guards, padded shirts and helmets with face masks. In Telluride, we just rented bikes and helmets and were fine. Yes – I did fall a couple of times but I am not sure a face mask was necessary, I never went more than 5 mph! So when they asked us if we wanted the “safety package” we laughed and opted out.

When Matt and I took the bikes for a quick test spin around the sidewalk, we both immediately asked for our bike seats to be raised. The guys who worked at the rental store told us that they were actually at the right height, “since you aren’t sitting when you are riding, it doesn’t matter that much.”

Umm, what? No sitting? What are you talking about.

We took their word for it and headed to the gondola. As we rode up the mountain, I started to realize that Matt and I were the only people who didn’t have safety gear on. Everyone else was decked out in hardcore gear, while I was wearing spandex bike shorts and a lululemon bike shirt. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Was this just the different between Telluride and Aspen?

I decided to google “different types of mountain biking.” The results showed me that there are multiple types of mountain biking:  cross country (XC), trail riding, all mountain, downhill, freeride, slopestyle, dirt jumping and trials. What we had done in Telluride was cross country. Commonly defined by the terrain on which it is performed, XC courses and trails consist of a mix of rough forest paths and singletrack, smooth fireroads, and even paved paths connecting other trails. Cross-country bicycles are some of the lightest mountain bikes, typically between 15 and 35 lb. They usually feature suspension forks in front and sometimes have suspension in the rear.

What we were about to was downhill. Downhill biking is a time trial mountain biking event held on a course with a net decrease in elevation. As the name of this discipline implies, downhill races are held on steep, downhill terrain, resulting in high speed descents and, most commonly, with extended air time off jumps and other obstacles. Modern downhill bikes weigh between 30 and 42 pounds, and usually feature full-suspension and frame geometries that lean back farther  than other mountain bikes.

Suddenly, I was in a whole new world.

We began to make our way down “Easy Rider” a begin track. It took me a little to get used to the bike and after about 2 minutes of squatting over my bike (remember – you are really supposed to sit down) my thighs were burning. But even though it was physically challenging, and I was going ridiculously slow, I liked it. This was definitely something I could get into. and let’s face it, that face mask helmet makes me look bad ass.

 

After a few runs I was feeling pretty good about myself. So at the end of the day, we decided to take on an expert level course, Valhalla, the newest and Snowmass’ signature downhill trail.

And yes, you better believe it that Matt and I looked this intense going down it!

 

So look out, I’m planning to make my downhill debut at the X Games! Let’s just hope the sport is ready for me.

Maroon Bells

On our second day in Telluride, we decided to visit Maroon Lake, to take in the sights of Maroon Bells, two peaks in the Elk Mountains about 12 miles from Aspen. The view of the Maroon Bells to the southwest from the Maroon Creek valley is one of the most famous scenes in Colorado, and is reputed to be the “most-photographed spot in Colorado” and one of Colorado’s premier scenic overlooks. Naturally, we needed to go and see this view for ourselves.

We rented bikes and took a bus to the lake. During the ride up, we passed multiple bikers who were making the 8 mile climb to the lake. Suddenly we felt pretty pathetic riding up in the bus. To be honest, I blame the guy at the bike shop. Clearly he should have looked at us, realized that Matt was an Ironman, and suggest that we ride up. Unfortunately, he looked at us, thought “tourists” and gave us a pair of hybrid bikes and told us to ride the 8 miles downhill. Honestly – there’s nothing worse than being pegged as a tourist. You miss out on all of the “insider-fun.”

Once we arrived, we piled out of the bus (feeling very touristy) and headed over to the lake to snap a few pictures (again, feeling touristy).

Next we ventured down the crater lake trail, a 1.8 mile trail that brings you to another small lake/pond. More incredible sights means more incredible pictures.

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One of my favorite things in Colorado was all of the aspen trees. At first I thought they were birch trees (the state tree of New Hampshire!) but then I quickly realized that these trees were different.

The ride down the mountain was fun – we pretty much went the entire 8 miles without pedaling once. Weeeeeee!

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The Meatball Shack

For the second half of our trip, Matt and I ventured over to Aspen. The drive over was beautiful and Matt booked us in an awesome hotel, The Limelight. After checking in and showering off our failure from the 14er, we took to the town.

Aspen has a very different feel than Telluride. Gone were the small coffee shops and in were the high-end designer stores and trendy restaurants. While in Telluride, we fit in with our jeans and fleeces, in Aspen, we stood out. And not for the right reason.

After a quick drink at Jimmy’s (I highly recommend the margarita), we settled on The Meatball Shack for dinner.

 

This relatively new restaurants combines different meats and sauces into unique and delicious meatballs. We went with the classic beef with marinara sauce and the chicken with buffalo sauce. While both were delicious, I have a special place in my tummy for buffalo.

I wasn’t planning on ordering desert until I saw the menu.

Design your own cookie? Yes, please! Matt and I went with the original cookie dough with health bar  and salted caramel topping.

Oh yeah, and with a scoop of homemade ice cream on top. It was heavenly. And gone in about 2 seconds.

How didn’t I think of this idea? Maybe I can create the NYC version.

A Quick Stop in Denver

So even though Colorado is awesome, some people might be wondering why we decided to take our trip there. A simple answer: Mumford and Sons. Oh yeah, and our friend Ryan.

Let me explain.

Back in July we got an email from one of our friends. Here is what it said:

Dear Friends, 

Do you have plans for Labor Day Weekend?  If not, please consider this – and email me if you are interested (or not):

What:  Trip to Aspen, CO – Concerts

  • Sugarland (Friday)
  • Steve Miller Band (Friday)
  • Mumford & Sons (Saturday)

Jazz Aspen Snowmass

When: Friday, August 31st – Sunday, September 2nd.

Why? Well, it would be a lot of fun.  It would also be a great time to celebrate Ryan’s 30th birthday (a month late…we just didn’t have any free summer weekends til this one!)

Love,
Lauren

Here’s my response, sent about two minutes after receiving this email:

Lauren,

This looks ridiculously awesome. Matt and I are totally in (I say this without having talked to him but I know he feels the same way). You win wife of the year for putting this together!!!!

Molly

Then three minutes later, Matt sent this:

Hahaha, like Molls said, we are definitely in if it happens. Let us know if you need help with anything.

While we definitely wanted to be there to celebrate Ryan’s Birthday, I have to be honest, when I read Mumford and Sons, I was sold. Anyway, Matt and I decided to make a bigger trip out of it and go out a week early for some outdoors fun. Matt, who always takes on the role of travel agent for our vacations (and I must say, does an AMAZING job) again, took the lead on this one. After a lot of research and a few consultations with our friends he came up with a killer itinerary:

Friday: Fly into Denver

Saturday morning: Drive the 6 hours to Telluride

Stay in Telluride Saturday – Wednesday

Wednesday: Drive to Aspen

Wednesday & Thursday: Stay in downtownAspen

Friday: Meet up with our friends in Snowmass

Monday:  Fly home

Since we were getting in on the later side to Denver on Friday, Matt asked me if I minded just staying near the airport. It would save us time and money and since we were there for less than 12 hours, he figured it didn’t matter.Well, unfortunately, I had other thoughts. I had never been to Denver so I thought it might be nice to stay in the city, at least so I could see it. So like the good husband that he is, Matt booked us a hotel in the city.

Well, let me just say, it is a good thing that he did. On the drive from the airport to the city, Matt and I almost died. No, not from a car accident… from the terrible smell that blankets the entire 5 mile radius around the airport.Nope, not jet fuel or something from the airport. The whole area smells like shit – literally. And no, I am not making this up.

There is even a term in urban dictionary about it: Smells like greeley.

We stayed in the Warick Hotel, which would be a great place for anyone to stay if they are looking to do a longer trip in Denver. It had a historic feel to it but had undergone some really nice renovations. there is even a roof top pool that overlooks the city. Unfortunately by the time we checked in it was closed and we left the hotel a little early so we didn’t have a chance to get up there.

I’m happy I had a chance to see Denver. Honestly, just from a quick drive through the city, I wasn’t able to see what all the hype is about. Especially when both of the breakfast places that were recommended to use had ridiculously long lines at 9am! I mean, in NYC, restaurants aren’t even open yet at that time, let alone have a long line! However, once we started driving outside of the city, it was easy to see why people find it such a great place to live.

Up next – Telluride!

I Think My Husband Is Trying to Kill Me

I used to trust my husband. But now, I am not so sure.

We are going on vacation next week to Colorado where we hope to do some mountain biking and hiking. Matt has done the majority of the planning for this trip (like most of our vacations) so I am not sure what to expect. Then today he sent me this video of a hike he wants to do.

As far as I know, Matt hasn’t taken out a life insurance policy for me but maybe I should look into that…