Summer is here and the living is easy. We’ve assembled a list of 10 magnificent Aspen swimming pool scenes where one can unwind, revitalize, and refresh in heavenly waters.
Kicking back poolside and taking a plunge into the deep end is a touchstone of many summer vacations. Yet Aspen’s high alpine pool scene doesn’t quite capture the traveling public’s imagination like the glitzy, anything-goes sizzle of Las Vegas casino pool parties, the rooftop pools of Rio de Janerio, or the seductive palm-fringed hideaways in Southern California and Miami. Perhaps it is because Aspen is mythologized exclusively as a cold weather ski destination rather than a place to sport swimwear, drape a beach towel, and spend an afternoon floating in the water.
While the pool scene in Vegas and Miami is hardly under-the-radar, Aspen’s pool scene is one of its best-kept summer secrets.
Best selling author of A Long Way Gone and international humanitarian advocate Ishmael Beah discusses his next book, reciting Shakespeare, adjusting to the quiet life in Aspen, and how he almost ended up an accountant.
It’s not the type of thing you expect to hear from an accomplished author. On the second day of the Aspen Summer Words Literary Festival, Ishmael Beah, the one-time child solider in the Sierra Leone civil war and author of A Long Way Gone, glanced around the room after being asked about his forthcoming novel. His eyes landed on his co-presenter, Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and admitted, “I feel it is unhealthy for me to write another memoir.”
What makes dining in Aspen so special? According to chef Mario Batali, it’s because of a “kind of hippy, laid back approach to local and serious food.” Known for colorful television appearances, best-selling books, signature Orange Crocs, and a sophisticated coterie of Italian eateries in New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, I caught up with Batali via e-mail before touching down in Aspen to attend the 27th Annual Food & Wine Classic.
Whether conquering the coals of a casual backyard barbeque or relaxing over a romantic four-course treat, one of life’s simple summer pleasantries is dining outdoors. Feasting on a delightful meal while lounging on a patio or deck in the warm sunshine and fresh air is nothing short of an obligatory pastime. Time seems to whisk away with sweet nonchalance into dreamy oblivion when dining outside with good-humored company. Here in Aspen, the epicurean nirvana is heightened when enjoying a tableau vivant of regional specialties like blue agave margaritas, a warm brie paired with the perfect merlot, a main entrée of fresh Colorado lamb, or a palate cleansing antipasto before dessert.
Using a little imagination, dining al fresco in Aspen’s thin Rocky Mountain air is like dining in sylvan realm of Fairyland, the fictitious setting of Shakespeare's classic romantic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream . Many bistros and cafes in this charming Victorian ski town pride themselves on well-appointed porches, patios, and decks in woodsy settings with postcard-perfect mountain panoramas and menus of artisan haute cuisine.
Despite a fairytale image, Aspen has not been impervious to the tsunami of distressing economic news. In a certain sign of the times, headlines in the Aspen Daily News or the Aspen Times hint at gloomy economic conditions: the turtle-like crawl of vacation real estate sales, raising unemployment rates, and lower-than-average hotel occupancy are common themes littering the local headlines. Even in fantasyland woebegone national news of corporate bankruptcies, gloomy markets, bailout quagmires, foreclosures, and bank buyouts contribute to a crestfallen public consciousness.
As off-season transitions into summer high season, there are signs of a silver lining to the doom and gloom. Warm weather means Jimmy Buffett melodies, backyard grilling, rafting trips, shorts and flip-flops, and the opening of the narrow, 12,000 foot switchback over Independence Pass, making Aspen immediately accessible to historic Leadville. Although everything isn’t peaches and blue bonnets in this alpine resort town, a gang of intrepid Aspen-based entrepreneurs, business-owners, and organizations are still swinging for the fences by opening up shop or preparing for a superlative line-up of festivals and events occurring over the summer. Here’s a list of new and noteworthy shops, restaurants, and events debuting with giggly excitement for the summer 2009 season, economic torpedoes be damned.
Shelly, Byron, Whitman and the Wax Poetic Chime of Maroon Bells
In summer of 1816, famed Romantic poet Percy Shelly penned the words “The secret Strength of things / Which governs thought, and to the infinite dome / Of Heaven is as a law, inhabits thee!” about the sublime grandeur of France’s 15,400-foot Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe. As a symbol of nature’s majesty, mystery, and awesome power, Mont Blanc became somewhat of a meat-cleaver for the Romantic literary movement. Other acclaimed writers of the time such as Samuel Taylor Coolridge, Mary Shelly, and Lord Byron followed lead by scribbling rhapsodies about the mighty mountain. Lord Byron even declared Mont Blanc as “The monarch of mountains.”