"The funniest, truest
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           - James Patterson

Susan and Angie’s Road Trip

Posted in Aspen, Malibu, Music, travel by Susan Hamilton on February 24, 2014 2 Comments

A few months after Alex and I moved into The Malibu House of Malevolence, I convinced my new friend, Angie Best (yes that Angie Best — ex-wife of soccer great George Best) to go on a road trip to Aspen. It could be a test-drive of her brand new Toyota4runner.  We brought along Alex, her son Calum Best (Alex’s best friend), and another lucky waif who was known both as Jordan and Damien.

Calum Best and Alex

Calum and Alex being useful

The drive to Aspen is just shy of 1,000 miles, and takes about 13 or 14 hours with no traffic and good weather. We took our time—visited a few of the National Parks along the way: Zion, Bryce and Capitol Reef.

We stayed overnight at the Zion Lodge. Very basic, but comfortable rooms with *NO TV*.  The boys were horrified! We compensated by telling ghost stories in the dark. At some point, Angela wriggled silently along the floor up to their beds and scared the shit out of them. Much giggling…

The next day we hiked in Bryce, then drove through Capitol Reef (spectacular mesas). On a north/south highway headed up to Interstate 70, we ran into a fog bank like none I’d ever seen. I first made out what looked like a wall across the highway.  We hit it—were instantly enveloped in a dense grey soup. For the next hour, we had to creep forward at less than 20 mph all the way to Grand Junction.

That Aspen stay was nothing but pure fun, day and night. The boys and I skied during the day (Angela passed), and after the last run and a snack, they entertained each other with TV and the local video game parlor. Back in Manhattan, I wouldn’t have let Alex walk so much as half a block without an adult. Yet in downtown Aspen, by the time he was eight years old I felt perfectly comfortable allowing him to wander about by himself. He never went farther than the game place and the local McDonald’s.

Angelea Best

Angela Best, après ski

Thus liberated, we girls were free to go out and about. Angela is stunningly beautiful with a tight, lithe body to match. Every man (repeat, every man) we passed on the street found it next to impossible to resist a quick once-over of the whole package. Having had my fair share of Aspen rendezvous, I was perfectly happy to play wingwoman as we made the nightly circuit of the local hangouts. It was fascinating business to watch her draw the admirers in droves…

Our list of establishments included: The Tippler (strategically set at the bottom of the runs coming off Ajax—THE place for late afternoon après ski); the Bar at Little Nell (elegant, expensive and crowded: an appropriate setting for fancy people busy reinforcing their importance); Little Annie’s (Little Nell’s polar opposite, catering to young beer-drinking Townies); and The Caribou Club (a members-only late-night club for visiting glitterati—I wasn’t a member, but the owner always let me in).

The only thing that did bother me a tad about Angela would happen at other times. During the day More…

Harrowing Travel: Aspen, Part 1— Flying Blind

Posted in Aspen, Music, travel by Susan Hamilton on February 15, 2014 No Comments yet

Getting into and out of Aspen, Colorado could sometimes run the gamut from daunting to absolutely terrifying.

The town itself is small: a grid of just a few blocks jammed between towering peaks that rise to over 14,000 feet in places. The airport has a single runway—it’s known to be quite the challenge for pilots—and always subject to sudden, disastrous changes in weather.

Regardless, Aspen was my favorite go-to winter vacation spot for decades. I went as often as possible; from NYC; from the Palisades; and most often, from Malibu (accompanied by whomever could be talked into it).

Susan Hamilton in Aspen

Aspen was the go-to winter destination

I estimate that about one out of every six of those forays turned out to be near-calamitous either on the way or coming back.

The one that almost killed me started out in Manhattan. My traveling companion was a chiropractor I had been seeing—first as a patient, and then socially. I started to have suspicions about him just before the trip got underway; they were confirmed in Aspen. My skiing partner was a pathological liar (though a relatively harmless one). This was a person who compulsively exaggerated at every opportunity. Also just plain flat-out lied. I made the choice not to confront him, but once I figured him out, it made for a few very uncomfortable days…Aspen Airliner

We had flown out of JFK. In Denver, we hopped on one of those Aspen Airways over-the-mountain flights that usually took just under an hour. I’d been on them dozens of times, starting back when we passengers were obliged to suck on oxygen tubes. I’d never been afraid before, but this flight was different. It was snowing heavily, and, with no visibility at all, it put me on the edge of my seat for the duration. I remember we were sitting in the first row, face up against the carpeted bulkhead. After an eternity or two of that, we finally began the steep descent, always short and dramatic. As we broke through the low-lying clouds, it took one glance out the window for me to set my feet against that wall, thinking “this is it.”

The thing was, we weren’t over the Aspen Airport. We were over Starwood Estates, a community of mansions right next to Red Mountain, a mile or so over from the airport. The plane shuddered loudly and shook violently as the pilot pulled the nose up to abort the landing. Suddenly, the engines stalled…and there came a heart-stopping silence…but a few long seconds later the engines caught again and we could actually feel and hear the strain as the plane slowly (oh so slowly), screamed to regain the bit of altitude needed to just skim over the top of Red Mountain…

We returned to Denver. There we were offered a choice: stay overnight, or get on a different plane More…