I can't recall ever watching the Sun rise in Snowmass. For the first time in about 10 years I had to set an alarm clock, Why?. Up and at 'em at 6 a.m. Why? Walking the dog, in the dark , on frosty grass at 34 almost freezing degrees...why, you ask? The 37th Snowmass Balloon Festival, that's why. Thanks to Snowmass Village P.R. for hooking me up with a ride on TETRAH, a tetrahedron shaped balloon, the largest and most unique rig in the festival. Pilot /owner Steve Hunter and his chase crew gave me a quick course in ballooning. Hunter built the Tetrah in his garage and it's one of the only home-built balloon set-ups at the fest. With about 100,000 cubic feet of hot air, Tetrah has superior lifting power.
Captain Hunter, a veteran of 25 straight Snowmass Balloon Festivals assured me "today is a perfect 10 for flying". He would know, he flies between 30 and 50 times a year, depending on his wife's wishes. "After 25 years..my wife finally said "it's your passion, not mine" so we don't travel as much as we used to" laughed Hunter. The very chilly morning exploded into one of those beautiful Colorado blue-bird days that defies description. As we rose above the balloon launch field the entire Snowmass Valley opened up and we were greeted with spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains and the environs. It was a fantastic flight, an uneventful landing and AspenSpin got a brand new perspective.
After the flight, I ripped a quick mile at the Snowmass Rec Center pool which boasts a beautiful outdoor setting. I followed that up by taking a quick power-snooze at a handy hammock in Snowmass and then hit the village for the Snowmass Wine Festival hosted by Snowmass Rotary. The Snowmass Mall was lined with food and wine vendors and packed with happy people. Eating and drinking plays right into AspenSpin's core competency, so I tried a few wines and bulked up on fine foods. It was a great day in Snowmass. A mini-vacation, just 9 miles from my door.
A full day at Snowmass brought back some nostalgic memories for me. AspenSpin donesn't get to Snowmass very often and I truly forgot how nice and beautiful it is over there. The Snowmass Mall still maintains a quaint character that seems to be missing in some of the new developments in Aspen and throughout the Valley. The open space and family atmosphere reminded me of AWESOME ski trips I took in the 70's & 80's driving out from Michigan. I barely noticed the 1/2 completed Base Village and I'm hopeful that Related Companies can finish what they started with a "right-sized" version.
Come to think of it...I have discovered a few secret POW stashes over in Snowmass. If you know where to look, one can usually find some un-tracked lines in the trees 2 or 3 days after a storm. Hmmmm, and they do have over 3,000 acres of pretty sweet terrain. I'll see you this Winter, Snowmass. To quote Arnie..." I'll be baaaack".
Also this past weekend, Aspen hosted the 45th Annual Ruggerfest. The town was chock full of BIG burley guys with lots of scars. Aspen Ruggerfest brings teams to ZG from all over the country. Florida, Virginia, Utah and even the U.K. The tournament boasts a very high level of play. For the 3rd straight year The Denver Barbarians came out as open division champs. The Barbos dominated their cross-town rivals, the Glendale Raptors in the final match, outscoring them 70-21.
Click 4 Pix: RUGGERFEST 45.