Returning to the Denver Airport meant we had to drive back through the mountains. Instead of staying on the freeway, we took Highway 6 through A-basin and Loveland Pass. It was one of the most beautiful parts of the trip. We got out of the Fiat at the top of the pass and walked a bit up above the tree line. It became quite obvious why trees weren’t able to grow: I was out of breath after 10 steps up the mountain. For some reason, I kept thinking about the advantages sports athletes from high-altitude cities have.
Anyway, we took some awesome pictures.
We returned to Red Rocks on our way back into Denver to take some daytime pictures and walk through the visitor center. Needless to say, the place isn’t as cool without My Morning Jacket. There were just a lot of strange people working out. It was worth the stop, though.
Overall, great trip. I’ll be returning for a longer stay in the mountains for sure.
After an action packed day on the river, we decided it might be nice to take things a little more slowly on Sunday. We visited Vail Village. If you’ve never been, it’s basically a group of over-priced shops and restaurants at the base of the mountain. The contrast between the local ski bums/hospitality workers and the rich tourists/second homeowners is glaringly obvious in Vail village. The locals all seem a little bit jaded and fed up with the tourists they have to deal with on a daily basis.
After Vail Village we headed up to a small mountain lake to enjoy the end of our last full day of vacation away from civilization. We grilled brats, swam in the lake, drank a few beers. I listened to Preston and Brian play some geetah. Other than My Morning Jacket, I think it was the best part of the vacation. It’s nice when things are simple, relaxing and slowly paced. I left the mountain Sunday night with a clear head.
Saturday we floated down the Colorado river on a Turtle Tubing trip. A party bus picked us up at 9:30 am. While there was a bar on the bus, we were able to drink beer from the cooler we brought.
When we arrived at the drop-off point we were provided with a 6-person tube with built in coolers. The float down the river took about 4-hours. I won’t say I over did it on the beers, but I think it was close. The sun, drinking, thin air, and previous 3 nights with little sleep really took it out of me/us. We were all in bed by 5 pm. I woke up at about 8pm with what may have been the worst hang-over I’ve ever had. I went back to sleep and ended up waking in the morning feeling great.
Friday morning we drove from Denver to Avon, CO (very near Vail). The weather in the mountains was wonderful, 85 and dry everyday.
We arrived at Preston’s friend Brian’s apartment about 1, grabbed lunch, packed Brian’s jeep and headed for Piney Lake. This was my first experience off of a highway in the mountains. Needless to say, it was really cool. It is great how you can pretty much just camp anywhere in Colorado. Being from Minnesota, we are used to paying for most campsites, especially ones with great views.
Our trip was fairly short. We arrived around 5 pm and had camp packed up by 8 am the next morning. It was nice to just sit around a fire, drink a few beers, enjoy the views and breath the mountain air.
Whoa. That was an action packed 5 days. Clearly I didn’t keep up with my 1 post per day proposition. I’m still going to write the posts, they’re just going to be late.
Thursday was pretty much the reason for the trip. I’ve fallen in love with My Morning Jacket over the last 6 months. I fell in love with the Red Rocks 4 years ago when I was in Denver. It’s safe to say that I had high expectations for this show. It’s also safe to say that the show exceeded my expectations.
My experience Thursday at the Red Rocks encapsulates a lot of what I love about Colorado: mostly, the people there just want to have a good time and see everyone else have a good time. We arrived at the park about 4 hours before the show and there were already a healthy number of people tailgating. Everyone talks to everyone and shares their beer and food. The drinking starts in the lot and continues on the walk up to the gate and while waiting in line at the gate. It was really nothing like any other show I’ve been to. There didn’t appear to be any rules other than don’t mess with anyone else’s good time and don’t climb on the rocks because you may die.
As for the music itself. I consider a show good if I like the band as much afterwords as I did before. For me, there have been a few instances when my affinity for a band has increased exponentially after seeing them live. This show fell into the latter bucket. Jim James has stated many times that he goes to a spiritual, almost other worldly, place when he is in the middle of performance. It was clear that he was lost in his special place during the show. It was 2:45 of pure pleasure. Proof that I like the band more now than before the show: Jill said to Gwen today, “I think daddy has a man crush.” It’s true, I’ve been watching MMJ videos all day.
I didn’t take pictures during the show, I was to busy taking it all in. This video and this photo set should give you an idea of how awesome the experience was.
Our flight went off without a hitch. We arrived in Denver at about 9 am local time. After getting off of the plane we spend 15 minutes thwarting the National Rent-a-Car clerk’s attempts to up-sell us a sedan instead of a compact car because, “you know, those compact cars are under powered, and you’re going to lose 10% power every 1000ft you go up into the mountains.” When we got out to the lot to choose our car, we were informed we could upgrade to a truck for no extra charge. After some deliberation, we declined and decided to go with the most ridiculous compact car on the road: the Fiat 500C.
The National lady was right, the car is under powered. But, it has 6 gears, so I’m sure it will be able to handle the mountains.
We ate our first meal the the Wazee Supper Club in the Lower Downtown area of Denver. The food was fabulous and the beer selection was decent. When we got to the Wazzee, I realized that I had forgot my ID in the Fiat parked in the hotel parking lot 2 miles away. Being the resourceful problem solver that I am, I rented a B-Cycle (Denver’s version of NiceRide) and road back to the hotel to get it.
After lunch and a few beers, we attended the Rockies game at Coors field. The field is similar to target field in its position relative to the city and its layout. There isn’t, however, a good view of the skyline from the stadium.
After the game we met up with a high school friend of ours (Derek “d-rock” Warmbeir) for dinner and a few more beers. The most notable place we went to was called 1Up. The bar is full of 80′s/90′s arcade games and life size Jenga games. It’s normally not the kind of place I would go to, but it was pretty fun.
Even though I’ve been here before, this is really my first time experiencing the actual city of Denver. It’s been fun so far, I’m looking forward to the concert tonight and the next few days up in the mountains.
I leave tomorrow morning at 8:15 am for Denver, CO. So, instead of packing and/or sleeping, I’m writing a first blog post. You may remember Hugluk In Chile. It turns out that I had fun blogging everyday during my trip to Chile. I also learned somethings and I think it made the trip better. I have decided that it would be cool to start blogging about every trip I make.
So, tomorrow I leave for Denver with my friend Preston. The main attraction is a concert at the Red Rocks featuring My Morning Jacket. We’ll also being seeing a Rockies game, tubing, indulging in the local microbrews, camping, and a lot of other fun stuff.
My goal is to write one post per day. I appreciate you taking the time to read the first one.