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New and traditional ways of exploring the globe, and your own backyard.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Aspen, Aspen - A place so nice, they should have named it twice

As part of my quasi-daily routine, I have a bunch of Web sites – um, 24 to be exact – that are on my “Favorites” list that I read when I get into the office: All Over Albany , the New York State School Boards Association, the Retail Council of NYS, and the Wall Street Journal, to name a few.
Today in the ol’ WSJ I saw an article about how Aspen is bucking the trend of the national housing market and, having gone to this beautiful and obviously fairly rich city for the past two summers, that comes as no surprise to me.
My first trip there was last summer as part of my
dad’s big nearly-cross country train trip.
And, I’ve said this before and I may say this again, but being on a train for a total of 79 hours is nearly- cross country enough for me. So, I was ecstatic to finally arrive in Denver even though our original itinerary had us coming into Glenwood Springs. We rented a van and, after a few days in Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs, we drove to Aspen to visit our family there. So, it did not take long for me to really enjoy myself in Aspen. It’s surrounded by mountains, many of which are great for skiing and I think that was part of the initial attraction to the area. Well, that and the nearby silver mining. (which now has resulted in some pretty nifty ghost towns just a few miles away from Aspen)
The diversity of the natural world is not hard to see either. Lush green pastures of wild flowers are not far from snow-capped 14,000-foot mountains, which, in turn, are just a quick drive, or a longer hike, from some very arid nearly dessert-like ecosystems.

I actually named Aspen my favorite city in my post- cross country road trip blog . And its nearby Conundrum Hot Springs Trail is definitely one of my favorite hikes I have ever done.
So, it suits me fine that I have family that have put down roots in that area. I have a cousin who owns her own business in downtown(across from a very yummy Austrian restaurant), another cousin who works at a beautiful resort in Snowmass Village just outside the city, and a cousin (-in law?) who also owns a business downtown by making furniture for the seemingly ever-expanding homeowners in Aspen.
The Aspen disparity is not just seen in nature, however, since the resident millionaires also need services – restaurants, coffee, newspapers. Across the street from the Aspen airport, a couple miles down the road from downtown, a lovely community was developed for people who could not quite afford the now $6 million average priced home (up from $5.4 million in 2006). The development has beautiful, spacious one-family houses, yards, quiet streets, and playgrounds. It’s perfect for raising a family, and it’s close by necessities like the supermarket, mechanics, and gas stations – on my road trip, I think the most expensive gas we paid was in this community. It was $3.50 and that was a year ago!

As a visitor, it seemed Aspen offered a good life for even the not-quite-millionaire community members (since my family has been there for years, they seem to agree). And then, of course, for the millionaires there’s the $40 million ranches with outdoor and indoor leather-padded pools (‘cuz, ya know, why not).
Personally, I’m looking at the $559,000 home listing in the nearby trailer park. My thinking is that if the housing market is doing good, the newspaper home delivery is probably not shabby right now either in Aspen. But, uh, don’t tell my editors.

Above: (first picture) of a bell in downtown Aspen that has Troy roots
(second picture) of the arid-looking area not far from a condo where my family stayed last summer
(third picture) My sister and brother take a well-deserved break during our 18-mile roundtrip hike at Conundrum Hot Springs


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