Q: We finally made it back to Aspen late this winter after a year’s absence due to the pandemic. Obviously, the whole world has changed in a short time, although we weren’t prepared for our beloved mountain town to have undergone such a transformation—the energy, the people, the places—so quickly. It’s hard to recognize it. Do I have a fundamental inability to adapt to new things, or is it really that different around here?

A: Welcome back! We missed you. Well, we missed people (but especially you). Aspen has taken a beating since March 2020, and you’re right that the downtown landscape has shifted perceptibly. The thing about Aspen is that it’s a feeling as much as a destination, and you can still find places that evoke the “old Aspen” you know and love. Throw on a cowboy hat and head up to the Snowmass Rodeo on a Wednesday night for a reminder that you’re out West. The untouched-by-time Snowmass Mall will give you a healthy blast of 1980s ski-town funkiness. The Woody Creek Tavern has new owners but not much of anything else that’s new (we hope). The Aspen Thrift Shop will give you all the memory-lane feels (and not just because of the post-pandemic influx of people’s old stuff). Pioneer and Ruth Whyte parks in the West End still offer peace, quiet, and a peep at historic homes just a few blocks from town. And of course, there’s Smuggler Mountain Road, where the people you pass while hiking up may look different (or the same, depending on the skill of their aesthetician), but the view at the top has blessedly remained the same.

Have an Aspen etiquette question for Meredith? Submit it to [email protected], and we’ll consider it for a future issue.

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