Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Aspen trees in the fall Aspen trees in the fall

Different places in this country have different kinds of beauty at this time of year. Here, in Colorado, it is the aspen trees changing color. They are mostly bright yellow at their peak, in huge patches across the mountain sides. Yes, down on the flats (i.e. the plains east of the mountains), you have the redder colors of the willows, oaks, etc. But somehow to me, and my ancestors, the aspens are king.

Maybe this is because aspen tours in the fall are a tradition with my family. My grandparents did it, starting in 1923 when they came here. My parents did it for 57 years - the last trip they made together was to see the aspens about two months before my mother died. They had to make it a short, half day, trip, due to her condition. But for 56 years, every fall they would take off for two or three days and tour western Colorado. When we were young, they would dump us with my grandmother.

The trick is to hit the right long weekend. The problem is that every year, the timing is a little different. Add to this, that aspens range from 5,000 feet (Denver) to 10,000 or so feet, and the higher the elevation, the earlier they change. So, it is not uncommon for them to be done in Dillon, while they are still glorious across Vail pass in the Vail valley.

One quick trip I took two years ago was quite nice. I had a speeding ticket in Edwards. So, I had to drive over Vail pass and most of the way to Glenwood to get there. Being that far down, I figured, I would just go home via Aspen. Down the Vail valley to Eagle was spectacular, as was the drive up the Roaring Fork to Aspen, with the obligatory side trip to the Maroon Bells. East of Aspen, over Independance Pass was done, as was Summit County, as I finished the circle tour. But, still, a nice morning trip, getting back to Dillon shortly after noon.

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