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Posts Tagged ‘resort’

Monday in off season, Aspen is surreal. Clouds threaten rain or snow but for the moment the day is warm. i take the bus in and walk around. a cute but empty downtown, a walking zone, trees on streets, high-end shops – many closed as with places to eat. it is empty – the ski season ended and summer season yet to begin. At the moment much is shut and under spring construction. The town has the empty feel with few people around – not deadened like places that have passed their prime, but empty and somewhat surreal.

The feeling is just as unreal and in many ways this is what it is – an unreal zone. On paper, or the intellectual level, it represents an ideal community – a pedestrian zone with benches and trees, walking paths connecting the outlying areas and passing through town, many with lights, a community bus, a wonderful library, parks and art, sidewalks with trees, a transit center, the apsen institute with enlightened programming, an art gallery and more.

I spent little time there on my first visit a week ago, for i felt the effects of the altitude; it sits at almost 8000 ft, and i am sensitive to the heights. And like its location it lofts above, a place for those who have reached the heights of income and status.

I take the bus 40 miles upvalley from Glenwood Springs where i stay – i make the 1.5 hour journey uphill – as many do each day – those who work in the town commute and do not live there, cannot afford to. From Glenwood, and the other towns on the way up Carbondale, El Jebel, Basalt – and also from beyond – from Rifle and other towns that sit more distantly. The communities of those who serve and build. The bus runs frequently – every 30 minutes during the day, and every hour at night until midnight or so. Many of the workers are mexican. On the climb i pass gated communities, large homes, new townhouses and some smaller middle class homes, and the trailer parks where many live – some newer and others jam packed with dirt yards and patched roofs. The divide is great. And i know i do not belong. And to be honest i do not want to.

But the ‘paper’ town and its allure call me back – give it another chance i say. I return, the day is the same, and my impressions become firmer. I have been at 5900 feet for a week so the physical altitude effects me no more. But the attitude, that comes with the altitude of some, does – i feel vibed out in this playground for the rich – as empty as it is today. The energy is prickly and too many faces seem frozen – not just a result of too much botox, but of practicing the look. Hair does not move in the wind. A few tourists, as ‘lost’ as myself wander around, maps in hand, and of course the workers who come in. But i do not want to be here, although it has so many of the elements i feel i want. And i too become more prickly myself, but then i let it go – no longer feeling shut out, wanting in. No longer caring, for it is the vibe, the energy of a place that is important, not the ‘things’ that abound.

The things can reflect an energy, or help to grow or transform one – a path and benches along a river – or they can be merely like expensive clothing – that covers but does not transform what lay beneath. It looks good, but is only on the surface – superficial. And this is a ski town, a resort town, and in these places the surface is key. The powder has mainly melted, the spring growth has just begun, and for the moment the place sits naked, waiting for the next show. The next show, drawing in the well-heeled, who will come to play and spend, who will stay in one of the many resorts, boutique hotels, or condos, who will dine and shop in overpriced restos, who will raft, hike or golf in summer, and of course ski in the winter – appreciating the surface, not wanting to see beneath. Not wanting to see those who make it happen on a daily level, who serve and do, the invisible ones who disappear at night. With the altitude comes attitude. And i know that i too have only scraped the surface, and that is all i will probably do.

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