While at holiday time you never know what famous person you might accidentally run into in these resort communities, some are more conspicuous than others. One who fits that description out of necessity, is the nation’s 2nd in command. Air Force 2 with its “United States of America” paint job landed at the Eagle County Airport around midday Tuesday. The Aspen Times and the Post-Independent are reporting Vice-President Mike Pence and 2nd Lady Karen are now staying at a private home in Snowmass Village for a few days of year-end R&R. Notices from the FAA say they’re expected to leave about 3 in the afternoon, New Year’s Day. The Vice-Presidential motorcade moved upvalley with a minimum of hassle about mid-afternoon… various local law enforcers clearing the way down Glenwood Springs’ Midland Avenue, and momentarily halting traffic at the Highway 82 and 133 intersection at Carbondale. The Vice-President is last known to have visited Aspen in late July, when he met with the Republican Governors’ Association. He’s been in the air a lot lately too, having just made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan last week.
What a great holiday weekend it was on Roaring Fork Valley hillsides, with as much as 9 fresh inches of snow blanketing the resorts last Thursday & Friday, then another 5 or so in most places Christmas Eve and morning. Snowmass reports 16 inches new the last 5 days, Aspen Highlands 15, Ajax a foot, and Buttermilk only 6 inches, but that was enough for a top to bottom opening Saturday. But there’s of course a downside, and backcountry fans, you now know what that means, especially since those amounts were a bit more than anticipated. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center reports that after our recent extended dry period, with this much new snow and warm temperatures, the snowpack is weak. CAIC says there are very dangerous avalanche conditions in all areas above treeline, and especially east of Vail Pass if you’re heading toward Eagle & Summit Counties. The center goes on to say travel in and below avalanche terrain is NOT recommended.
Well-known and respected ski instructor Brett Bean’s body was found by Snowmass Village Police in his local apartment Saturday night. Authorities say the 48-year-old had taken his own life. Officers found Bean’s remains after friends requested they check on his welfare. Skico says Bean had been with them 16 years, and was an expert on teaching teenagers the sport. The company calls him poised and wise, someone his students idolized. Skico adds his loss creates a big void in the ski school that can’t be filled.
More from over the holiday weekend– a fire broke out a bit before 7 Friday evening near state highway 325 and Garfield County Road 251 north of Rifle. The barn fire didn’t hurt anyone. Colorado River Fire Rescue responded quickly, along with the Sheriff’s office. The 2 CRFR engines managed to control the flames within a few minutes, and save a nearby home in the process. Still no exact word on the cause, but it’s not believed to have been a suspicious fire.
There’s yet another amazing charitable effort going on at holiday time, making sure many locals don’t miss the chance to eat when Mother Nature acts up. Grand River Meals On Wheels in Rifle delivered its annual “Blizzard Bags” earlier this month, to relieve anxiety about the availability of food, especially for folks who aren’t very mobile, and can’t easily get out to replenish their supplies. Blizzard Bags provide someone with about 2 extra days of food, intended to supplement regular Meals On Wheels deliveries when the weather’s especially bad. A grant from the Western Colorado Community Foundation helps pay for them, to the tune of about $1500, then volunteers including some Rifle High School students help put the bags together.