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Road Trip USA 2022

From Aspen to the North Pole in one day

The Rocky Mountains in Colorado

We start from Parachute in the direction of Aspen, where I have already picked out a breakfast location. The journey takes approximately 1.5 hours and coming from the north you will pass right by Aspen Airport. Here it becomes immediately clear that there is probably something to the prejudices, because dozens of private jets are lined up at the airport. Anyway, the sun is shining and we're getting hungry too. We quickly find out that the city center is mostly closed off because it's the Saturday market. Nevertheless, we find a parking lot with a parking meter directly in front of the Spring Cafe.

Strengthened, we throw ourselves into the fray. The market is a mix of stalls selling local fruit and vegetables, baked goods and local handicrafts. As so often, it is a totally relaxed and friendly togetherness and everything in the very pretty historic city center.

Of course, there are also Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, Dior, etc., even though Aspen officially has just over 7,000 inhabitants

Aspen - historical centre The Wheeler Opera in Aspen Aspen city view

We learn a bit more about the history of Aspen and the region in the Wheeler/Stallard Museum. Here a very friendly elderly lady welcomes us and tells us, among other things, that Aspen receives many more visitors in summer than in winter, since the Aspen Music Festival takes place here, for example. I've always associated Aspen with winter and skiing, which of course is just as easily possible in the surrounding mountains and with the many lifts.

Hotel Jerome in Aspen Aspen - small residential buildings on the main street Aspen city view

We also learn that Aspen was originally founded in the 19th century after silver deposits were discovered in the area and then mined on a large scale. At the time, all of the surrounding forest was cut down to build shelters and tunnels. The current tree population has been completely reforested.

We can explore remnants of mining just a few hundred yards further at the Holden/Marolt Mining & Ranching Museum and later along Independence Pass (Independence Ghost Town). The road itself meanders beautifully but narrowly through the surrounding mountains. The air is great and so is the view.

At the highest point of the pass, you suddenly find yourself at over 12,000 feet (3700 m) without realizing it. I can't remember ever having been that high, and certainly not by car. The whole thing is then topped by the surrounding mountains, almost all of which are over 14,000 ft (4270 m) high. Oh yes, if you walk a few meters you will quickly notice that the air is pretty thin.

Mountain panorama at Independence Pass in Colorado

It is now early afternoon and as already mentioned, we still want to get to the North Pole. So it's going downhill again for now. Past the Twin Lakes and then on towards Colorado Springs. On the way we keep coming across small settlements, which we use for a short stop.

Holden/Marolt Mining & Ranching Museum General Store and Gas Station at Twin Lakes VW Bulli somewhere in the middle of nowhere

Around 6 p.m. we arrived below the approx. 14.100 ft (4300 m) high Pikes Peak, where the legendary "Race to the Clouds" mountain race takes place every year. And right here is the entrance to the North Pole :-D Even if we can only catch a glimpse of the outside, it's just so typically American.

The North Pole in Colorado

Now it is only a few minutes to our accommodation in West Colorado Springs. For dinner we go to a Texas Roadhouse. For me also at least once a must, if one travels through the USA. Yes, it is a chain restaurant, but that is simply part of the USA and the price-performance ratio is almost always right.

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