A ski trip to Aspen provides a trip down memory lane

DAY ONE — You’re never too old to take the kids. And they’re not too old for a trip with mom and dad.

Mark Yemma at top of Cirque -- the highest point on Snowmass

Sometimes, that can include a trip down memory lane—on snow.

In fact, we’re chowing down on excellent BBQ at Sam’s Smokehouse atop Snowmass Mountain checking out the stupendous views on this blue sky day and time traveling back more than 35 years.

Back in the day, my husband Andy Yemma, his brother Mark Yemma and various friends and siblings made the 18-hour drive from Austin to ski Aspen’s four mountains. “We stayed at a really cheap place and ate a lot of pasta,” said my brother-in-law Mark Yemma. “But the skiing was great and when we were young we’d be there when the lift opened and stayed till the lifts closed. And anyone who didn’t got ridiculed!”  Lift tickets were less than $25.

While we’ve been back to Aspen in the past three decades with our kids, Mark Yemma hadn’t. So we organized a trip to include his son Chris, 30, (who wrote his own travel diary), and my son Matt, 28. Mark’s wife Anne doesn’t ski but was happy to relax in our condo—The Top of the Village—(www.destinationresorts.com) and, I was delighted to discover, cook a stew for dinner.

Of course this trip we’re not staying at the cheapest motel in town but a luxe, cozy three-bedroom condo that is slope side. Last night, soon after we arrived, we watched a red fox on the slopes just outside as well as snow cats grooming the mountain. There is a hot tub and sauna across the road, a gas fireplace and a shuttle that will take us anywhere we want to go in Snowmass.

And rather than grabbing a greasy burger, we’re   enjoying our excellent sit-down  lunch—a combo plate of brisket, ribs and barbeque chicken complete with beans, coleslaw, fries and corn muffins (and all from local providers, my daughters would be glad to see). We’re looking out at the mountains and talking about 35 years ago—cable bindings, long before parabolic skis, jackets and ski pants bought at a surplus store and lunch?  “Just a burger at the cafeteria at the base.”

Those trips, they skied all four of Aspen’s mountains—Aspen, Snowmass, Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands—and our crew aims to do the same. We’ll see.  Certainly our equipment is a lot better—and no waiting in long lines in ski shops either.  My husband and I brought our boots but left our skis home, opting to demo this season’s equipment from Black Tie Ski  Rentals (check deals that include kids free!).  They came to the condo to deliver the skis and we just have to leave them outside the door our last day of skiing. Easy! And should conditions change on the mountain or we want to try another pair, we just call them and they meet up with us wherever we are – all that at not much more than demo rentals on the mountains.

Kids always love hearing about when their parents were young and stupid and my son and nephew are no exception. Most important, it’s nice to see the kids still are happy to share a week with us when they don’t have to. (Of course we’re paying!)

Whatever age the kids, Snowmass is a great bet for a snow-loving family.  It’s got the Treehouse—perhaps the best children’s ski center in snow country. Ski resorts like Snowmass these days offer a lot more than skiing and riding.  Take a dogsled ride and enjoy a gourmet lunch or dinner (www.krabloonik.com) Snowshoe (www.blazingadventures.com). Go snow-mobiling, take a hot air balloon ride or even go para-gliding.  Let’s not forget plenty of spas, and even sing-a-long storytelling by the fire—every Monday and Wednesday on the Snowmass Mall (www.snowmasstourism.com).  Every Friday, you can watch athletes on the massive Big Air Jump on Fanny Hill.

There’s so much terrain no matter what level skier or rider you are — 3,132 acres with 91 trails and Long Shot—the longest run at 5.3 miles. Half of this mountain is intermediate terrain while 44 percent is expert.

There’s plenty of good eats too—besides Sam’s Smokehouse we had a great lunch at Base Camp Bar & Grill (awesome nachos!) and a stand out dinner at The Artisan in the Stonebridge Hotel— grilled artichokes, calamari, tuna tartare, followed by trout, filet, short ribs…yum!  “People think all of the good restaurants are in Aspen but that’s not really true,” one local said.

Certainly you want to venture into Aspen just 10 miles away for a meal or an afternoon—How about a foodie tour,  a stop at the Aspen Art Museum, a walking tour or a visit to the Aspen Historical Society (if you don’t want to join the kids on the slopes.

As for us, we’re happy to hang out in the condo and entertain ourselves with family memories. We didn’t ski till the lifts closed either. We got off the mountain at 3 pm—the kids too.

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