Last month, we took one of our favorite family vacations. We went to the Winter X Games. The Winter X Games have been going on for thirteen years and have been held at Aspen's Buttermilk Mountain for seven of those years. We recently heard ESPN plans to continue holding the games at Buttermilk through 2012, which means we've got three more years to enjoy them. Sweet.
The games are free and we go for the free concerts (this year it was the Flobots and Pennywise), the free schwag, and, of course, to watch the top athletes of skiing, snowboarding, and snocross rip it up. It is always a fun time for us and the kids look forward to it all year.
The games started on a Thursday but we didn't get to Buttermilk until Friday afternoon. The kids skipped school on Friday, we packed the Subie, hit the road, and four hours later we were checking into our hotel.
We stayed in a hotel down valley, which is the local way of saying we didn't stay in Aspen, we stayed "down the [Roaring Fork] valley" from it. Down valley towns include Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Basalt, and El Jebel. We chose Glenwood Springs, which is about 4o miles from Aspen, because we had been there before, we got a stellar corporate rate on a two-bedroom suite, and, honestly, there is not a whole lot going on in El Jebel, Basalt, or Carbondale. At least Glenwood Springs has a Target.
Highway 82 links Glenwood Springs to Aspen and the drive is quick. It took us a little bit longer because of this:
A huge boulder had come tumbling down the mountain, skipped over the northbound lane and completely blocked one of the southbound lanes heading into Aspen. Thank goodness no person or car was crushed by this monstrous boulder. I was a little bit anxious driving after that, at least until we got through the part where the road and the mountainside are very near to each other.
When we got to the Spectator Intercept Lot, a fancy way of saying "lot where X game spectators must park their cars, then board one of the shuttles that will take you to Buttermilk Mountain," it was snowing like crazy and I thought the kids might start complaining, but they didn't. They loved it and my heart swelled a little with pride because I have raised these kids to love life in this state, and its many quirks including blizzards in late March, as much as I do.
Last year, it was sunny at the games. This year, it was snowy. We definitely preferred the snow because it just felt right:
We spent a few hours at the games before heading back to the car and driving into Aspen. We stopped for lunch at Little Annie's Eating House. Dee gave us some great restaurant ideas but we went out on our own...and it didn't work out, so next time we are up there, we will try the places she recommended.
We tried Main Street Deli for dessert, which is actually another place Dee told us to avoid, and the pastries were good but the service was bad. The cashier was rushing us because, I think, he is used to people who know what they want to order. I felt like a noob in a Starbuck's line.
We checked out of our hotel on Sunday and got home in plenty of time to unpack, do some laundry, and relax before starting the week.
And, aside from those two food busts, we had a really fun time. The hotel was nice. The kids actually played together for more than two minutes without screaming at each other. The games were less crowded this year because of the economy, or at least that is what I heard. The games were the perfect January getaway. We can't wait to go again in 2010. Maybe we will see you there next year.