Lessons from the Colorado Rockies

Getting out of bed at 4am is never fun for me, no matter what the reason is. But arriving at my destination without spending a whole day traveling makes that sleep sacrifice worth it.

This was my first time to fly into the Vail airport. It is a nice little airport for being tucked away in the high mountains. The opulence of the terminal really speaks to the wealth in the Roaring Fork Valley.

It is misleading to look around at the peaks without the knowledge of the elevation. At over 8,000 feet the Rockies do not tower over the area with the same look as they do in Banff. And if it were your first time at that elevation, you might be concerned more by the low thud of a headache and shortness of breath.

Truffle Fries

There is no lack of excellent food choices and even the most ordinary items have been elevated to a new level of decadence. Good old fries are coated with parmesan and truffle oil, mac’ and cheese is made with truffles and the most decadent cheeses. Even the most unassuming establishments have had to raise their game to attract the highly discerning tastes of this consumer.

The same goes for hotels. Our first night was at The Osprey in Beavercreek. Every need is taken care of by the staff with a friendly smile. The rooms feature the most modern, high-end convenience a person could dream of and the beds are fit for royalty. It is a truly fantastic perk to be able to stay at one of these Rock Resort properties.

In the village there is an ice rink that is kept covered from the heat of the sun to allow summer ice skating. Everywhere you look there is another treat for the eyes. If the sights provided by mother nature are not enough, there is extensive landscaping and highly ornate architecture to please.

A short drive down the Interstate took us to the town of Aspen. In the summer one might think that the off-season would keep everyone away and the emphasis on guests would be relaxed. Of course that is not the case in this resort. The walking streets are spilling over with places to sit and relax with food and drink. Music is heard wafting through the air ranging from live instruments to popular recordings. Fountains of water erupt from the ground in amazing sequences, as if choreographed by a musician.

Aspen is a great escape from reality. There is no evidence of all the modern social problems usually present when groups of people live close together. That makes for a pleasing break from reality, but one always feels as if something is missing. It almost seems to be a computer generated reality that has stripped out every possible detail of unpleasantness. Of course that is not possible. There was a board covering a store front and upon questioning it was revealed that a person was thrown through the window a few nights before during a drunken bar fight that spilled out into the street. Stuff like that happens, even in Aspen.

All in all, either one of these communities would be a great place to live and enjoy the best of mother nature and most times, the best of human nature. Unfortunately, very few of us will ever visit, let alone live there. Downtown living in Aspen and Vail require financial resources that are the privilege of very few.

An interesting experiment in community planning would be to take some of the greatness of these towns and apply it to communities with a lower-income base. A few ideas spring to mind:

  • What would it take to remove wasted front lawns and have flowers, vegetables and fruit trees?
  • Can some back lanes or even streets be converted to walking only?
  • In communities with speed limits of 50km or less allow neighbourhood electric vehicles?
  • Why not allow special licenses to sell fresh foods in communities, right in the middle of the walking streets?
  • What about the resurgence of the old English pubs where everyone walks instead of driving cars?

Reflecting about this trip on the flight back to YVR, it would be nice to take some learnings from the Colorado Rockies and re-create a little bit of that charm, here at home.

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