Sunday, April 11, 2010

Aspen, April 2010, Day 1

How crazy is this? After the New York trip, we were all but certain that we would be home for a long while. Sure, we have two out of town weddings coming up, but as far as "real" travel we were not going to go anywhere until July, when it is off to Europe again.


Not long ago a friend called Barbie to tell her that he had a week at the St. Regis Resort in Aspen that he could not use. A two bedroom condo in the residence wing of Aspen's swankiest hotel was ours if we wanted it. I know it is shocking, but she booked the flight before taking another breath.

The week in Aspen is certain to be relaxed. The slopes are closed, which means that Barbie cannot even ditch me for a day of skiing. I wondered whether or not I should bother adding this trip to the Waste. After all, we are really not going to do much besides eat, go to the pool, eat, go to the gym, and eat. Then again, people seem to love the food pics and, if things slip over to the dull side of the bell curve, I can just keep it very short. Very, very short.

Without further preamble... here comes Aspen, playground for millionaires.

We had one of those great taxi rides to the airport. Our driver was from Iran; he left there two years after the Shah fell. He had stayed because, as a Muslim, he thought things might be all right under the mullahs. During the Shah's time, he had been a successful businessman who had traveled to the USA for business. This made the new government suspect him, and soon enough they took away everything he owned and he escaped with his family to Los Angeles.

We had a fascinating discussion about Iran, as he continues to visit every few years. (He had looked into getting back his home, to0 no avail.) He told us how the Iranian people are in touch with the outside world because satellite TV systems are wildly inexpensive. When the police hit a neighborhood and confiscate the satellite dishes and boxes, new equipment is up and running the next day. It was a hopeful conversation, because we talked about Iran being such a young country demographically, and that the youth of the country want to change it to be more like the world they see on TV. In other words, the demonstrations we saw last year were just the beginning.

As far pics from a moving cab go, this one is pretty dang good.

Barbie exiting the Prius cab. I made sure to get this one, because I thought the fact that our Los Angeles cab was a Prius would either inspire or entertain, depending upon your point of view.

Los Angeles International Airport.

Fine cuisine at LAX.

There is no denying it. Planes are cool.

Denver International Airport.

It was time to hop onto an itty bitty plane. I did not get a picture of one from the outside.

Here's the itty bitty plane from the inside. Our 777 from LAX to DIA had 9 seats across. This little fella has four, and these are small seats.

Denver International from the air.

We got picked up, a little late, by the ski bum the hotel has hired as their driver and whisked to the hotel. Along the way we had an amusing conversation. Barbie asked him where to go at night, and he told us about a place that has free drinks for ladies one night and all-you-can-drink for $25 on another night... and then we told him that we do not drink very much, if at all. Then he told us about another cool place with a bar and pool tables and a smoking lounge where you can really enjoy a cigar at the end of the day... and then we told him that we do not smoke, at all.

There is nothing wrong with the fact that the ski bum who just got out of college and the middle-aged (yeah, I said it) married couple have little in common.

We arrived at the St. Regis and zipped up to the room. We literally zipped. The lobby was empty and the person at the front desk knew who we were before we walked in. I barely had a chance to take a pic of the lobby. (Said pic did not make the cut.)

Bienvenido a la Casa de Howard en Aspen.

Bad lighting for photography, but this is a fantastic condo.

Some of the living room and dining room.

Dining room and kitchen.

Everyone knows it. The most important room in a home is the kitchen.

One bedroom. (The other looks the same, so no pic of that.)

This is me, standing in the shower, taking a picture of the tub that opens onto the bedroom. Because, really, if you do not have shutters next to the jacuzzi tub that open onto the bedroom so that you can see the bedroom television, has your life not taken a horrible turn for the worse?

A view of the pool from our bedroom. It is heated and open 24 hours. We almost went down tonight... but room service was more appealing.

We shared the Butternut Squash Bisque with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Then we shared the Braised Meyer Ranch Short Rib with parmesan infused white polenta, heirloom tomato jam, and 1554 beer glaze.

Such a lovely presentation we did for ourselves, no? I know we are going to leave this condo, but it is nice to know that we do not have to.

After dinner, in front of the fire. (Okay, okay. Gas fires that turn on with a switch lack the log cabin vibe one wants in an Aspen fireplace.)

Soon enough we will know what this trip is about.

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