It has been a little quiet around here if you haven’t noticed. Life with two littles is amazing...but also crazy. The past two weeks have been filled with potty training incidents, diaper explosions, writing deadlines, and prepping my for parent conferences and upcoming curricular units. In other words, I’m exhausted—but I was finally able to sort through our photos from our trip to Aspen a couple weeks ago.
I have wanted to visit the Aspen area since we first arrived in Colorado. In addition to having that movie star glow, the area is home to the Maroon Bells, one of the prettiest sites in the Centennial State. I’ve always heard that the Bells were best seen in autumn, when the aspen trees are changing, so naturally I wanted to see them in all their golden glory. In the last few years, Doug and I have put off this trip for multiple reasons—not the right time of year, fear of traveling with young children, lack of time off, and, more often than not, lack of proper funds. This year, as we approached peak foliage in the mountains, I decided that it was time to just pack up and go. So, on an impulse, I found a relatively inexpensive hotel in the area and we pounced on it.
Waking up before dawn on Saturday morning, we threw everything and everyone into the car and headed to the mountains. The 3-hour car ride, which I was fearing with a toddler and two-month old in tow, was absolutely gorgeous and actually wound up being incredibly peaceful. Both kids slept for the majority of the drive, and even when awake seemed to be silently taking in the scenery. We wound our way through the breathtaking Independence Pass while listening to our favorite tunes, including the amazing Fleet Foxes, who we just saw in concert at Red Rocks a few days ago. Taking only two short stops for nursing/diaper changes and to stretch our legs, I can honestly say that the drive out was one of my favorite parts of the trip.
To avoid Aspen prices, we opted to stay in Carbondale, which is about 45 minutes northwest of Aspen. We hit up the Whole Foods in Basalt for lunch along the way. I don’t know if it makes me a nut or not, but if there is a Whole Foods anywhere near where I am staying, I have to visit. Whole Foods is my happy place.
Once our bellies were full, we continued on to Carbondale to hike. With Everest on Doug’s back and Dahlia in the BabyBjörn, we climbed our way up to the Mushroom Rock in Red Hill Recreation Area. It was a short but strenuous hike and made me feel very deserving of the beer and ahi tuna burger I enjoyed for dinner at The Goat. We capped off our evening with a short swim in the indoor pool and some silly cable television, which felt indulgent since we don’t have a tv at home.
The next morning, we enjoyed the complimentary breakfast at the hotel and drove down to Aspen. We were able to drive our car out to Maroon Bells, which was nice since vehicle restrictions are in place during the peak season. Lucky for us, families traveling with babies under two are allowed to drive Maroon Creek Road—thanks, Dahlia! Also, isn't my husband such a babe?
The drive out to the Bells was gorgeous and our walk around Maroon Lake was absolutely breathtaking. Despite being a popular tourist attraction, everything was still and peaceful. A cool, thought-provoking mist filled the air and I felt thrilled and calm at the same time. As we headed back to the car, it began to pour and I felt like a kid caught in the rain. It was such a magical memory; I can’t wait to go back.
After visiting the Bells, we headed downtown to explore the city a little and get some lunch. We ended up eating at Justice Snow’s, a hip eatery and bar housed in the Wheeler Opera House, built in 1889—bonus points for this nerdy history teacher. Doug got a burger (typical, babe) and I had some eggs over easy with potatoes. Yum. Before heading out, I grabbed us coffees at Colorado chain ink! and, boy, did they hit the spot. To tell the truth, I have not enjoyed the coffee around Colorado, at least in the Springs, as it almost always comes with this green, sour taste. From what I can tell, Colorado roasters seem to prefer light roast coffee. Douglas and I are dark roasted drinkers all the way. Thanks, ink!, for doing it right.
It may have only been two short days but our trip to Aspen was exactly what I needed: tasty food, cold beer, crisp fall weather, and time with the ones I love best. We’re hunkering down for most of the season as we navigate through hefty medical bills and the upcoming holidays, but it was so nice to squeeze in a quick, affordable trip and to check Aspen off the list. Until next time!
Jenna is a writer, educator, wife, and mama living in Colorado with her husband and two children. She founded American Ingenue as a personal blog in 2008 after losing her mother to breast cancer, using the forum as a reminder to live life to the fullest. Jenna loves cooking, dreaming, and adventuring with her family. She has been inspired to share her experiences with others as she navigates this crazy life and strives to have "it all."