Aspen Adventure - Outside Beyond The Lens
- [Narrator] So I get asked this question a lot. Hey, Jeff, where do you go, and what do you do when you're on vacation? - Okay, Aiello's, let's roll. - [Narrator] My answer this time was to take a camera on vacation and shoot a travel show in Aspen, Colorado.
But as you're about to see, this family adventure did not start out smooth. - We're at the gate and we saw it starting to snow outside here in Denver. And I thought this probably isn't good for us. - [Narrator] But the lessons learned in this travel nightmare were worth the pain. There is a beautiful trout stream running through the middle of this valley.
Because when travel throws a curve ball. And at some point it always will. Butt slide, nice. Learning to pivot quick and make a new plan will deliver you to places and moments like this.
- We got a double, we got a double. Both Conly and Mark are hooked up on fish right now. - That you'll remember long past things like a white knuckle blizzard death drive. I quite possibly had the best pancake of my life. I'm going to go ahead and call it a semi-religious experience.
And as we found once this trip got back on track, Aspen, Colorado isn't just a playground for movie stars and the super rich. A very well photographed group. Okay. Got it. Jill went into the store without me. She used my on-camera bit I was doing here, to her advantage.
There's plenty to see and do for the rest of us. And taking in the beauty of a Rocky Mountain View like this, is free of charge. - It's stunning and it's different.
And nothing like I've ever seen, actually. - Get ready for an Aspen adventure that's big on beauty and high country vibes. Rocky Mountain High. You guys ready to sing it? You just go to the chorus, just go to the chorus. - [Group Singing] Rocky Mountain High.
[Laughing Indistinct] - Colorado. - This is cheesy. - John is looking down most displeased right now, at this crowd. When you travel, the world becomes a smaller place. When you explore with friends that share a love of photography, destinations come to life.
This water is emerald green. We tell the stories of travel with our cameras. Capturing some of the most beautiful locations on Earth. But every adventure reveals more than what's in the frame. - Thunder boomer. - We see it popping up right now.
- [Narrator] The people, the food, and unexpected turns in the journey. - [Man Of Camera] Now, they're going to swim right with us. - [Narrator] Brings the full experience of travel, into focus. - [Narrator] Outside, Beyond the Lens, brought to you by... Visit Fresno County. Nature, Diversity.
Found in the heart of California Central Valley. Stay in Fresno or Clovis and drive to three nearby National Parks. By Hendrick Chevrolet, supporting the spirit of travel in each of us. Every journey has a first step. Start your next adventure here. by Fresno Yosemite International Airport.
Rediscover your love for travel with more options. More flights. More connecting you to the people and the places you love.
And by Visit Yosemite Madera County, California's gateway to Yosemite National Park. Explore the outdoor magic of Madera County, and be inspired to discover more. And by viewers like you - [Narrator] I've been packing bags and camera gear and jumping on planes to shoot travel shows since 2009. Almost nonstop.
I love when I finally get to a new destination to film, but have grown pretty weary of the travel process itself. But it's part of the deal. When I'm hanging out with friends or meet new people, common questions I'm asked are what's your favorite place you've been? Or where do you go when you're on vacation? The first question is easy. It's Switzerland.
This drone shot I pulled in 2019, pretty much captures why. But the second question is a little more wide open. When the Aiello's plan of vacation, Hawaii has always been high on the list. We seem to go there a lot. And recently the big island has been our go-to getaway.
And as you might imagine, I usually bring a camera along to capture the fun and almost always put a little video together to memorialize the adventure. But besides last season's Alaska fishing adventure, I've never actually shot a show while on vacation with Jill and the kids. For starters, it sort of cancels out the meaning of the word vacation.
And shooting a three minute vacation video with your family, is a whole lot different than shooting an episode of this show with them. But this time we're going to give it a try. The pandemic caused the cancellation of several international shoots Zach, David, and I had planned.
And since we already had a family trip booked to Aspen, Colorado with our close friends, the Biglione's who we travel with a lot, I decided to document this adventure and share it with all of you. So here we go. - All right. So it's uh, it's about 5:00 AM. Ten after five. On a Thursday morning.
Getting ready to get everybody up, and get cleaned up, and headed to the airport. We're all packed up. Like any family vacation, getting everybody up in the morning and out the door on time is always a deal.
Especially when you have two teenagers who like to sleep until like three o'clock in the afternoon on a normal basis. So we got some coffee going, Jill Aiello is right there. She's not going to show us her... Honey. Let's see. Let's see. I know you got those
things on your eyes but... She's not going to... She kind of showed me. It's authentic. People like authenticity don't they? Viewers of TV shows like authenticity. (Jill laughing) - She's got these things in her eyes. She's not going to let me show them - Stop it.
- They make the puffy go away. Anyway, so we're gonna get ready, get everybody up and running and then, head to the airport. Meet our friends there.
And got a short flight to Denver. And then an even shorter flight into Aspen. But we do have weather today. So it's supposed to be snowing in Aspen when we land.
Which is also one of the more extreme airports in America to land in, the Aspen airport. So that ought to be interesting today. All right, let's get this party started. (piano music) - Lauren are you awake? - Yeah? Why? - Let's go.
Had the same thing your mom has with those eye things. All right. Jett. Oh, you're awake.
- My alarm went off and I just had a flash back so... (laughs) - There you go. You ready to fly to Denver? - Yeah. - All right, let's do it bud.
You get your, did you get any breakfast yet? - Coffee's all I need. - Coffee's all he needs. Fourteen years old and just wants a cup of coffee. - [Narrator] When I'm shooting a show with the guys, the getting out the door process is obviously a little more streamlined. This trip to Aspen is only a four day long, weekend run.
So everyone is packed pretty light. Lauren and Jett are in their mid-teens now, and have been lucky to travel a lot more than I did at that age. So they've got this process down pat. - [Jill] Make sure the cat doesn't get locked in something, somewhere.
(Jill laughs) - [Jeff] We're ready? - [Jett And Lauren] Yeah. - You guys ready to fly through a big snow storm and to one of the most dangerous airports in America? (Jill laughs) - Don't put it like that. - [Jeff] What did you find here? That's just... - I'm going to open this up on the plane and stink everybody out. And I'm going to be talked about for many years to come. - Yeah that shouldn't even be...
That shouldn't even be allowed in the airport. - Remember the lady that opened the sardine salad kit on the plane? What was she thinking? (Jill laughs) - Bad call on that. - [Narrator] The Biglione's have caught up with us at the airport now, and are choking down a quick breakfast before jumping on the two hour flight from Fresno, California to Denver. - [Jeff] You gonna eat those tots? (nervous laughter) - [Jeff] Are You ready to go flying? Is this your first plane ride? - [Taylor] Yes it is.
- [Jeff] Is this your first plane ride? - She has her festive Colorado socks. - [Jeff] Oh she's got her Colorado socks on. This is big, first plane ride. Okay Aiello's. Let's go.
Group number three. Let's roll. (airplane taking off) - [Narrator] Looking down at the Sierras, headed east, a light year of snowfall in California is already retreating from the higher elevations by mid April. The flight over to Denver is always one of my favorites for checking out the canyon lands of Utah below.
I never get tired of this view. - [Pilot] Ladies and gentlemen we've initiated our descent. Please assure your seat backs and tray tables are upright, in the locked position. - [Narrator] The bad weather we're expecting is already over Denver as we begin to land. Signaling the moment where the wheels, start to fall off the bus. The Biglione's are on an earlier flight than us and headed right to their gate, as we grab some lunch during our two hour layover.
After getting a text from the gang that they made it safe into Aspen, we headed to our gate to make the thirty minute flight ourselves. But mother nature had different plans for us this day, as the storm up in the Rockies worsened. And snow began to fall here at the Denver airport. Thirty minutes before our flight was set to take off, it was canceled. We would not be flying to Aspen this day.
- This is what you do in travel, which is called pivoting. You can kind of cross your arms and pout and sit in the the gate for another four hours until they tell you that that flight is canceled. In this situation we're gonna pivot.
So we're going to go rent a car. Our plane... we found out that our luggage will be shipped up tomorrow to Aspen. We're gonna go rent a car. Hopefully four wheel drive, right? - [Jill] I hope. - And then we're gonna drive in a snowstorm up to Aspen, in the Rocky Mountains.
This ought to be fun. - [Narrator] I have to say, the kids did better than expected here. Secretly inside, I was really bummed out and, somewhat dreading the drive on I-70 into the heart of the Rockies, during a legit blizzard. But outwardly I tried to keep it positive and moving right along. The drive to Aspen from Denver in good weather, takes about four hours.
In a heavy snow storm, it would take longer. - [Jill] Were in a Rent-A-Car. - All right. So that was fast. We processed through the airport really quick. Got to a rental car company here that we prefer. And got ourselves an all wheel drive vehicle.
And we're leaving at rush hour on a snowy day. Which outta by fun. So let's see if we can get ahead of the program here. - [Narrator] Without really even thinking about what we were doing, we were doing it. Snow began to come down hard as we entered rush hour traffic in Denver. Then we climbed a blindly into the Rockies on Interstate 70 as conditions worsen.
Still singularly focused on one thing, getting to that one condo in Aspen, filled with friends, so we could put this white knuckle drive behind us. - [Jill] Honey they're not scared. - [Jeff] I'm scared. (Jill laughs) [Narrator] Seven hours later, around 11 o'clock at night, we made it. The inviting vibe of Aspen welcomed us after one of the longest days in recent memory. Now this vacation could begin.
- All right. So last night was a rough night. Yesterday was a rough day. Um, driving from Denver up to Aspen in a blizzard. Finally got to the condo last night, late. This morning we're up early.
I got Conly and Mark Biglione, uncle and nephew, I'm about ready to hit the stream. What stream are we fishing at today? - [Man Off Camera] Roaring Fork. - We're going to go to the Roaring Fork and do a little nymph fly fishing. That's fly fishing with an nymph as the offering, right? - Correct. You got it. - All right. So, and Connolly, looking forward to this? - I'm so excited.
- All right. So we're really excited. It's really early. Coffee's done. It snowed all night long and, not super heavy but enough to put five or six inches on the ground.
You can see the trees are gorgeous here. And it seems like every tree in Aspen has Christmas lights in it. I'm starting to figure out. So anyway, that's cool. Hot tub down there is probably going to see some action later on tonight.
Right now we're going to go on the river early, and see if these boys can catch a couple of trout for us on camera. - [Narrator] One thing about my buddy, Mark, he's all chips in when it comes to fishing. He and nephew Conly Biglione are serious about fly fishing enough to head out in 25 to 30 degree weather with fresh snow on the ground to be the first ones on the Roaring Fork. For the people out there that don't understand why people like Mark, Conly, and me would get up at o'dark 30 to walk two miles in the snow to go fishing, this is why we do it. To experience settings like this. - Mark and Conly are well ahead of me because I've been stopping to shoot the beautiful landscapes this morning here along the Roaring Fork.
It's the river that basically runs through Aspen, Colorado. And you know, we had that snow last night and it's left this place like a true Winter Wonderland even though we're in mid April right now. But stopping to film here. Grabbing some of these shots as we hike in. Uh, something I can't resist. So the guys are leaving good tracks for me to follow.
Snow is not too deep. All my hiking clothes and boots and everything are in the Denver airport right now. So I'm doing this in tennis shoes and sweat pants but, you know, what you do what you have to do to get the shot, right? So... and it's nice.
It's not too cold. It's about thirty degrees and it looks like, I see Conly is up ahead, it looks like we're getting to the spot. This is some of the stuff we've been dealing with hiking through here.
Going underneath these low bridges and, looks like the guys are getting ready to dive off the trail here and get in the water. Here you go. Butt slide, nice.
Now I have to do that in sweat pants. That oughta be fun. - [Narrator] Like most things that require special skill, fly fishing is a practice. It's never really mastered. In these conditions, where flying insects are not stupid enough to be out here, the rainbow and brown trout packed in this section of river will take small nymph patterns floated near the bottom of the Creek bed.
- [Narrator] The ability of these trout, to spot an imitation insect in its larval state, the size of a grain of rice bouncing with all the other subaquatic stuff in the water in low light, never ceases to amaze me. On his third cast, Mark was into his first fish of the morning. A nice little rainbow trout.
- A rainbow. Let's find your big brother. - [Narrator] Five minutes later, Mark landed his fourth fish. And I begin to sense an anxiety in Conly who began moving closer to Mark's position on the river. Here's another example of how crazy fly fishing like this is. If you don't mend your line just right on the moving water, the current will grab the fly line floating on the surface and drag it in such a way that the trout will notice the small nymph pattern on the end of the leader, not floating by naturally. And it will reject it.
To get a hook up here, the presentation of the line and the fly has to be perfect. And after an uncle shares his experience on many rivers like this, with his nephew, under falling snow and a gray sky, the lessons of a life chasing trout are handed down and the practice goes on. - [Jeff] All right, Conly finally, got it done. Nice job.
Let's see what you got there. Wells it's not... - It's a dink. - It;s a dink. Hey man at least you're not skunked, right? - That's right. - [Narrator] Both Mark and Conly ended up doing great on the water.
And the snowy conditions only made the stories that will be told of this morning later in life, that much better. The city of Aspen is about 8,000 feet in elevation and is surrounded by several of the top ski resorts in the world. Silver mining in the late 1800's gave this place it's start but that boom waned by 1930. A turn around here started in the fifties when the first ski resort was opened and today, Aspen and the surrounding White River National Forest make a popular year-round playground for locals and tourists alike. High end restaurants and bougie shopping are another big draw to Aspen. Which is why the celebrities and super rich like to be here.
But the town is also very approachable to people that live in the real world too. We found lots of great places to eat that were fun and affordable. With the sky starting to clear up, most of our group decided to hit the mountain for some skiing. Jill, Lauren, Mark's wife Heidi, and myself split off and took the Aspen Mountain Gondola, to the top for some sightseeing instead. - [Jeff] Okay, you guys ready for the big ride? - Yeah.
- Oh yeah. - [Jeff] Lo, Are you ready? - Yes (laughter) (soothing guitar music) - [Narrator] The enclosed Gondola ride to the top was about $30 a person. And the views from this quiet and comfy coach to the top, are breathtaking. Up on the summit, at just over 11,000 feet, we warmed up in the lodge and took in more top-notch views. In mid April, we're here at the time of the year called "The Mud Season". When the snow is almost gone but the ground is still too wet to hike and see some of the big nearby attractions like, Maroon Bells.
The iconic mountains that drop big crowds every summer and fall and something I really wanted to see. So instead I did a little work on Google Earth and after talking to Mark, who lives in Denver and comes to Aspen often, we make a plan to take a short drive up Castle Creek Road up to the Old Ghost Town of Ashcroft. - Now we're definitely back here on this Castle Creek road drive which is just outside of Aspen. We're seeing a lot of really nice private residences back here which are massive log homes.
Lots of stuff going on back here. But the valley is opening up now. Oh man, look at that. Dude, are you seeing that hole of water? You didn't see that Conly did you? - I seen it.
- Oh man. There is a beautiful trout stream running through the middle of this ca... this valley. We got to find a place to pull over. I gotta turn the camera around. You guys gotta see this.
- [Narrator] This valley was originally settled in 1880. After another rich strike of silver was discovered. By 1885, 2000 people lived in the town of Ashcroft here. Today, only a few buildings still remain, as monuments to this area's past. - I'll tell you the light right now... The light is awesome.
These aspens are pretty in their own way even without any foliage on. Everybody loves them when they have the gold in the fall. They're green in the summer. But right now, to me, they have a really beautiful quality to them. Almost like a sheen, that sort of a contrast against stark background. Of course, when you're shooting in the mountains this kind of lighting is actually really, really good.
A lot of people freak out when there's big puffy whites blowing around but that changes the light. Just in the couple of minutes I've been sitting here talking to you these Aspens have started to kick off and, pop a lot better now . They're almost back lit But the sun isn't hitting the dark mountains behind it so you get a really cool frame. - It's stunning and it's different. And nothing like I've ever seen, actually.
- [Jeff] Yeah, the Rockies are beautiful. There's a... it's a very different vibe. You know, we're, we're California people. Mark, you've been living here in the Rockies for, in, in Colorado for awhile. What do you like about the Rockies versus like the Sierras from like your hometown.
- Yeah I grew up in the Sierras, this is totally different here. There's a lot more trees then the Sierras, and you don't have the aspens like we do here in Colorado. So, it's just a little different but, it's beautiful. Both places. - [Narrator] The Rocky Mountains of Colorado have a grander to them you don't see in most places. The mix of aspens, crystal clear waters, and majestic snow covered peaks present gorgeous frames for the camera.
A morning visit from our friend the magpie, reminds us that it's time for a short walk into town, for breakfast at one of Aspen's best eggeries, Poppy Cox. The Locks Benedict was perfect but the oatmeal pancakes here, are legendary. Now we did a lot of stuff on this trip that I didn't film. We did spend a fair amount of time walking around town, eating great food and enjoying our time together in the condo. But after breakfast, we decided to take a nice walk down to the Roaring Fork before heading to the airport.
- All right. So we're on the trail here now. We're down by that Roaring Fork and, right in the middle of Aspen here. And I think it's kind of cool because there's a, there's a big shout out to John Denver.
Obviously John played a big part of Aspen. It was a big part of his life. - [Jeff] Rocky Mountain High. You guys ready to sing it? One, two, three. I don't even know how that really starts. That says, I'm shy. I shouldn't admit that.
We'll just go to the chorus. Just go to the chorus. - [Singing Together] Rocky Mountain High. (nervous laughter) - [Singing Together] Colorado. - I think that's cheesy.
- John is looking down most displeased right now at this crowd. - [Narrator] Time spent like this with friends, that you travel easily with, is important to me. I spend a lot of time on the road away from my family shooting this show. So being able to experience a new place with them and our friends is extra special. Building memories in a place like Aspen, Colorado is easy to do.
It's a town that has a definite magic about it. But making time to be with the ones you love, wherever you decide to go, is the first step in a journey where the destination isn't as important as the path you take to get there. (guitars playing) ♪ He was born in the summer of his 27th year. ♪ ♪ Coming home to a place he'd never been before. ♪
♪ He left yesterday behind him. ♪ ♪ You might say he was born again... ♪ (music fades out) - Outside, Beyond the Lens. Brought to you by Visit Fresno County.
Nature, diversity found in the heart of California's Central Valley. Stay in Fresno or Clovis and drive to three nearby National Parks. By Hendrick Chevrolet. Supporting the spirit of travel in each of us. Every journey has a first step.
Start your next adventure here. By Fresno Yosemite International Airport. Rediscover your love for travel, with more options, more flights, more connecting you to the people and the places you love.
And by Visit Yosemite Madera County, California's gateway to Yosemite National Park. Explore the outdoor magic of Madera County and be inspired to discover more. And by viewers like you.
(rocket blasting off) (happy, upbeat tune)