As far as ski towns go, Aspen is quite conducive to coupling up. A beautiful scenic backdrop, a litany of intimate boutique lodging options, plenty of places to canoodle by a blazing fire or in a hot tub, and some profound options when it comes to wining and dining by candle light can set the mood for puppy love in the Rockies.
Morning people run the world. It’s true. The opening bell determines when things start, in any time zone; if you sleep in past nine, you miss the free continental breakfast; races start at the crack of dawn (unless you’re in the casual group, which might start at 8); even McDonald’s cuts you off from EggMcMuffins around 10:30AM.
Bluegrass at Base Village: Sam Bush discusses Aspen, Bluegrass, The Summer of Love, and being a Kentucky Colonel.
Bill Monroe, the late mandolin-pickin’ granddaddy of modern bluegrass, once described his beloved genre as “Scotch bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin'. It's Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It's blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome sound. It's plain music that tells a good story. It's played from my heart to your heart, and it will touch you. Bluegrass is music that matters."
Bluegrass matters because – much like jazz – it is deeply rooted in the nitty-gritty of the American experience. It’s a genre of colloquial homespun lyrics, plucky melodies, and tight, breakneck acoustic riff. Bluegrass has a certain rustic nostalgia and rural romanticism, serving as an apropos soundtrack for a sequestered high alpine town like Aspen. Dust back the pages of Aspen’s history a century or so and it is easy to envision the scene: motley and haggard silver miners sitting around a fire, drinking whiskey, and strumming at a weathered banjo while crooning a Stephan Foster song after a long day in the craggy underbelly of Smuggler Mountain.
With a mere 673 skiable acres, Aspen Mountain (or Ajax, as the locals call it) seems like it should be a small mountain, but don’t let that number fool you. Ajax is one of the biggest little ski areas in the world, and if you’re a good skier, it offers all the challenge and varied terrain you could want, provided you know where you want to go and how to get there.
The first time I accidentally stumbled upon the Jerry Garcia shrine on Aspen Mountain, I felt as if I discovered a secret garden of pop culture iconography while skiing through a snowy and psychedelic Xanadu. While gliding in solitude through the peaceful tranquility of a forested ridge, I was not expecting to suddenly discover a grove of trees dangling with pictures, dried roses, memorabilia, and assorted miscellany of the legendary Grateful Dead front man. Thankfully, no one was within earshot because the odd discovery inspired a quiet Garcia refrain: “Going where the wind don’t blow so strange/Maybe up on some high cold mountain range.”
Can't afford a gym membership, eh?
The snow and ice force one inside, you say?
Is it really a lack of equipment keeping that effort at bay?
Drop your problems. Prepare to learn. It's time to seize the day!
WARNING: If you wish to remain in a state of [bloated] ignorant bliss, read no further, for this is the place where excuses go to die.
So far, this series has focused on facilitating fitness as such, and has deliberately strayed from getting into specifics. The means (use of tunnels, proper warm up, etc) have been kept broad enough to apply to the desired ends (lose weight, increase endurance, etc) of individual readers, which vary too widely to be practically addressed. While this generalized advice is great in that it can be used by anybody for almost any goals, it still requires a personalized plan to be applied to. This edition will give resources for differing goals, so you'll know what to use tunnels and warm up for. We'll begin this conclusion to the Slaughtering Excuses series with the following video, which is an example of combining personal goals with the advice from parts I, II, and III:
Fancy equipment? For what? Unless you're an aspiring body builder or power lifter, the main things you need are both weightless and free:
A goal – to establish your desired end in explicit terms (lose 20lbs, improve endurance, gain strength). More specific equals more prepared.
Motivation – the enabling factor allowing you to achieve the stated goal (which includes your research of the means: what to physically do, how to eat, etc.).
This edition, which focuses on alternatives to costly gym equipment, will give you the tools to attain general fitness, or even become a functionally fit machine – depending only on what you bring to the table in terms of the two critical factors mentioned above.
All equipment found on the following pages can either be used in public for free, easily built, or inexpensively purchased. Enjoy.
Easily the most legitimate excuse on the list, the threat of cold related injury can scare even the most dedicated Aspenites off the road to fitness. Though very important to be aware of, fear of these problems need not stifle your progress. Serious conditions like hypothermia and severe frost bite make for an easy cop-out, but are even easier to avoid in the first place.