Saturday, March 2, 2013

Snowmass/Aspen, Colorado in the Winter ~ Part Two

We tried to make the most of our short time frame each day to see as much of the Snowmass/Aspen area as our time would allow.

The hotel provided bus transportation into Aspen, with stops along the way,  for no charge.  Well, let me back up ... There is a small fee when you check into the hotel,  and then you can ride the bus all day long or every day if you wish, for no charge.  The trip into Aspen is about 9 miles with beautiful scenery all along the way.

A nice, comfortable, warm  bus was provided for traveling into Aspen.

It was COLD when we arrived in Aspen and our mode of transportation was walking!  So we walked briskly in order to warm up so we could enjoy being in the area.

Aspen being a ski resort, it seemed appropriate to have this beautiful sculpture in the heart of town, on the way to the ski lift.

In the below photo is one of the better known landmarks in downtown Aspen.  This building which is located in the center of town is called the Wheeler Opera House.  Built in 1889 by one of the city father's Jerome Wheeler. The building was restored to it's current Victorian splendor by the City of Aspen in 1984.  The building is on the State and National Historic Registers.

The Aspen Times is another 132 year old landmark.

The Hotel Jerome is called Aspen's "Crown Jewel" landmark.  The hotel was built in the 1880s by the same builder as the Wheeler Opera House, who was co-owner of Macy's.  He wanted the city to have a hotel that equaled European hotels in it's refinements and amenities.

During our walk through town I spotted these pretty little pine cones.

There were a lot of well known and upscale shops in Aspen.  In the below photo on the right is the well-known Ralph Lauren store.  We were sight-seeing not shopping, but I would have loved to peek inside.

In the below photo the Red Onion is another historic landmark in Aspen.  The two-story building was built at the height of the silver boom in 1892.  Originally the Red Onion was a saloon catering to men interested in the sports of the day such as prize fighting, wrestling and cycling.  Back then it was one of the only three places in Aspen to get a meal.

This cute little house was located just across the street from The Aspen Times building.

Another view in downtown Aspen.

In the below photo we are looking East.  They told us the afternoon sun keeps the snow melted on this beautiful red mountain.

Below is a working ranch, family owned and operated since 1938.  It is called TLazy7-The Ranch.  Their snowmobile adventure ads caught our eye and we knew we had to take this tour.  Their ad said:

"Our most popular tour.  Come on out and ride a snowmobile all the way to the lake at the base of the world famous Maroon Bells, North America's most photographed mountains."  Well! that did it for me.  It was a must-see adventure.

Aspen trees.

There were about 12 snowmobiles signed up for this exhilarating adventure.

I would have loved to drive along very slowly in order to really take in the beauty all around, and of course be able to take pictures, but I guess we had to go so fast in order to get there ... It was a two hour trip even going as fast as we were.

This is the only photo I was able to get while moving when we slowed down in this area.

We were told we were traveling about 30 miles an hour except around curves ... Thank goodness for long-johns.  The weather was in the 20 degree range that  day.

After traveling awhile our guide stopped to check on everyone and take a break.  This gave me an opportunity to snap a few photos.  My helmet got in the way of seeing the view finder often times.

Lots of others in our group were snapping photos also.

We passed a lot of people cross-country skiing.  But, flying along at approximately 30 miles an hour it was impossible to get a picture of them.  Some of them had their dogs with them and the dogs looked like they were having the most wonderful time.  I did wish they would devise some kind of dog sock or shoe of some sort for what must have been very cold feet for those little fellas.

One cross-country skier came by while we were stopped for a break.

After resting awhile we began again and reached our destination at the Maroon Bells Mountain area.
Our guide made hot chocolate for everyone and threw what looked like bread out to the birds who began to congregate around us.

Our guide called this big bird a mountain Blue Jay.

The state of Colorado was admitted as the 38th state in 1876.  Colorado is of Spanish origin, meaning "colored red" because of so much sandstone soil in the state.  I wonder if mountains such as in the below photo inspired the name.

And here we have the famous Maroon Bells Mountain.  What a sight it was.

Below is a photo I used from the Internet in hopes of showing you the beauty of this area in the Spring and Summer.  As you can see, there is no way in the winter photos you would ever know you are looking at what is a beautiful lake in the Spring and Summer months.

What an amazing difference.

A shuttle transported us back into downtown Aspen.  It was a nice drive back and we were able to warm up a little from our adventure out into the wilderness of Maroon Bells.  While in town we wanted to make the most of our time and take the gondola up to the top of Aspen mountain.

They told us if we wanted to see great views,
to be sure and take the gondola to the top of Aspen Mountain.
The trip took about 18 minutes.

The gondolas had thick glass and I was afraid my pictures would not turn out very well, but at least you can get a good idea of what it was like up there.

What a view as we went up, up and up.  That is the town of Aspen below.

Being an 18 minute trip up we were delighted to have two young skiers in our gondola with us.  They were telling us all about skiing down the mountain and what it was like.  He said they actually can go as fast as 30 miles an hour going down the mountain.  I asked permission to take a photo of this very colorful skier and he said, "Sure, why not!"  Then I asked if I could use the photo for a blog post and he also said, "Sure!"  He was a good sport and they were a lot of fun!

 Views from the gondola.

We reached the top! - Lots of colorful ski outfits - Restaurant in the background.

 What an amazing view from the top ...  The mountains in the background look like a painting.

A view from inside the restaurant looking out the window.  Can you imagine sitting out on that patio in the Spring and Summer with that beautiful view.

 Lots of folks taking advantage of the nice warm restaurant.

Back on the gondola headed back down.  Photo taken through the glass.  That is the Aspen airport down in about the middle of what looks like a black and white photo.

We wondered if our gondola skier friends were any of the skiers in the below photo.

A gondola view of Aspen down below.  Another what looks like a black and white photo, but it wasn't.

This is the last photo in the gondola,  looking East at the red mountain in Aspen,  before we reached the ground.

Back on the bus headed back to Snowmass and to top off the day there was a beautiful sunset.  Not the best photo in a moving bus and looking through the window, but I just had to show you this beautiful sunset.

What a fun day!  Thanks for coming along with us on our adventures in Aspen.  

Next time come along with us for the final segment of the visit to Aspen, as we take a tour of what they called, "A Tour of the Rich and Famous in Aspen." 

I hope you have a nice weekend wherever you may be.

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