Thursday April 17, 2003.
Under an overcast sky I drove back down highway 133 but then veered off onto
highway 82 to Aspen and Snowmass, reputedly the alpine playground and hide-away for billionaires and celebrities.
Aspen shopping centre offers every expensive brand name and designer
label shop you can imagine. It's the first town in over 2,000 miles of driving where I had to pay for parking in the
street. And it's the first place I ever parked where I could pay the parking meter with a credit card.
I stayed for lunch in Aspen and enjoyed some window shopping, occasionally
walking past a trendy cafe with outdoor seating where rich-looking men in designer casual clothes spoke conspicuously
loudly about what sounded like big business.
The ski slopes and ski lift are still active in Aspen, unlike Telluride
where the ski season finished two weeks ago.
I drove up to Snowmass Village, but found almost nothing there but
a few shops and a lot of expensive houses so I decided to move on towards Denver, and according to my map I could continue
east along highway 82 and enjoy some more back roads before rejoining the main interstate highway 70.
East of Aspen on highway 82 was certainly lovely scenery, with no
traffic. I enjoyed having the road to myself for a few miles until I realised why there was no traffic -- the road was
closed. I didn't see any sign about it - I must have missed it. I had no choice but to retrace my
route all the way back to Glenwood Springs and then turn east again towards Denver on the main highway 70.
By the time I got back to Glenwood Springs it was 4:00pm and 150
miles to Denver, so I decided to just stay on the main interstate highway 70 and get as far as I could towards Denver before
it got dark. I swooshed past the Vail ski resort, which looked quite nice from the highway and then crested the Vail
Pass at 10,600 feet above sea level. It was after 7:00pm and getting dark when I saw the exit for Idaho Springs.
So here I am for the night, in the mining town where Colorado's first gold strike was made. It'll be an easy run down
to Denver in the morning. I feel good to have left the ski resorts behind me before the Easter long weekend crowds squeezed