Thursday, February 9, 2017

30 Before 30: See Lumineers in Concert

Ok. I cannot believe I haven't written about this yet considering it was one of my favorite 30 before 30's!

Dan and I have always loved the Lumineers. Their first album is basically the soundtrack to the beginning of our relationship. It has so many memories for us. From streaming through car speakers, to shared headphones on the airplane to now, blasting on the bluetooth and dancing in the kitchen. Not to mention Ho Hey was the first dance song at our wedding!

I had signed up to be on their VIP members list- receiving pre-sale access to all concerts. I received the special code to buy tickets- I had my eye on some summer dates at Red Rocks. Turns out 8,000 people had the same idea as me, and they were sold out within minutes.

I scanned the tour cities to find the closest one to Denver, or at least one in a cool city we'd like to visit. San Diego... perfect, plus some of our good friends live near there! Click, Buy, Confirm. Initiate Planning.

We booked plane tickets, found a nearby hotel and called Shannon and Dominic to let them know the deets. The show was at a smaller venue on Friday night- so we flew in early Friday morning. We wandered the city, had some drinks and took a nap before bee bopping an uber to take us to the show.

When we arrived, I was surprised at how small the arena was, but thankful for the intimacy. I was also surprised by the line of.... 250 people for a god damn drink. Deep breaths, I guess this is happening.

Thank goodness we got there early and the opener went long, because it took us over 90 minutes to get drinks and when we did- we loaded up- "how many can we order at a time?!"

We found our seats and settled in for one of the coolest shows ever. There was nothing in particularly special about this, but the fact that it was "our band" singing "our songs" made it special. ANYONE who loves a band and shares that love for that band with another person understands this- I don't need to explain the musy gushy emotions I had over it.

All I can say is that is was an incredible night with my boo by my side!

Not to mention the rest of the weekend was filled with friendship chats, tipsy Mexican food, bright red lipstick, a mediocre comedian, mimosas, brewery tours, street art, and a SURPRISE cruiser bike scavenger hunt through the city secretly planned weeks before. Eeeepp! It was a really spectacular weekend!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

30 Before 30: Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

I think that riding in a hot air balloon is just one of those things that seems so interesting to do. Well, until recently when there was that fatal balloon ride.

That didn't stop my sister and me. Both of us have always been intrigued by riding in a balloon. There are hot air balloon festivals every year in Colorado Springs, so we grew up watching them rise with the sun, gently gliding against a mountainous backdrop. It seemed incredibly peaceful.

For Nicole’s 27th birthday and for my 30th, our mom gifted us a balloon ride!

The starting point was in southern Colorado Springs. We met at a hotel where we were then transported to an open field where the balloon baskets were unloaded and the balloon itself was inflated.

It was actually a really interesting process, one that I volunteered to help with. Basically I held the balloon open while a powerful fan blew air into it. I’m basically a balloon captain now.

After the balloon was inflated, Nicole and I, along with 10 new friends, used a step stool to get inside of the basket. This is where it started to get real for us. After everyone was loaded, we were given safety instructions. Which basically consisted of letting us know that the probability of us tipping over the basket when we landed was very high. What the …

I didn’t think it was thorough enough but everyone else seemed pleased with the amount of information they received for a new, often rare experience they were having…

It was time to go.

The captain blew a few powerful puffs of fire into the balloon to lift us off the ground. We were bundled up because it was so early but it was like sitting next to a roaring fire- it got quite toasty!

The captain explained to us that he can control the balloon to go up and down but that’s about it. Where we actually go and land is up to Mother Nature. The lack of control seemed very stressful to me. He went on to tell us that there was a “retrieval” van following down below so they could pick us up after landing.

Right after lifting off the ground, Nicole and I literally squealed with delight. What a unique, surreal experience. A brief feeling of weightlessness. We soared high above the buildings and trees and had an phenomenal view of the sun rising in the East and the light morning glow of Pikes Peak to the West.

It was southern Colorado Springs, so beyond those views and few herds of animals, the view was a little anticlimactic. After about an hour, it was time to land. The captain dropped the basked lower to the ground, but couldn’t find a good place to drop us as we ended up in a cluster of neighborhoods. He finally found a clearing and directed us there. At this point he was instructing us to brace for landing, because if you remember, there was a large chance we were going to tip over and the way he was steering us, it looked like the side Nicole and I were on was going to be sandwiched between the ground and the other side of the basket full of people.

I think I may of blackedout because I don’t remember what happened, just that we were close to the ground one minute and I was climbing out the next.

As our handlers packed up the balloon, our captain poured us each a glass of champagne. It’s a tradition to drink champagne post hot air balloon ride. It started back in the 1800s. When people would land their balloons in an open field or farm, the farmers would come rushing out with pitchforks and weapons thinking the foreign object was a dragon, an alien, or an intruder. People started bringing champagne on board to wave to the farmers and thank them as they landed in their fields.

It was a really fantastic experience! 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

30 Before 30: Go Horseback Riding

So, I actually have been horseback riding before. I was 12, at my aunts house. She lives on a ranch with all sorts of farm animals. Her kids - my cousins - were always feeding the animals, riding the horses.

This city girl wanted in on that fun. So I went for a trot on one of their Chestnuts. I wasn't on him long... the trotting seemed a little boring for me, so I gave him a swift kick to the side. No no, he didn't like that. He lifted his front hooves in the air and buck me off, running the opposite direction.

Ouch. It didn't hurt and I wasn't injured, just a little.... shocked. I pulled my now sore body off the ground and headed back into the house. You know that thing you do when you're fine, totally fine after a physical or emotional experience but then you see your mom, or someone else you care about and that's when the waterworks come.

My mom came outside as I was walking in the house and I.Just.Lost.It.

After she dried my tears, I swore I would never get on one of those beasts again.

Fast forward 16 years.

There's nothing that's necessarily drawn me to horses, nothing in particular that's piqued my interest. I think it's more of a challenge, more of a conquering my fear situation.

A few years ago I bought my mom and I a Groupon to go horseback riding in Estes Park that we never used, I was busy when some friends went horseback riding through Garden of the Gods, and I missed the trip my parents went to the Breckenridge stables.

The chance to go horseback riding came unexpectedly but perfectly.

Dan has a college friend that owns a town... yes you read that correctly, a TOWN. It's called Hillside in Southern Colorado, population 100.

Read about their story to buying the town here.

The town has a post office, a event hall and a handful of cottages. Chris renovated these cottages and turned them into vacation rentals. A few of them weren't booked for the weekend, so he invited us down to stay and catch up.

Wow! These cottages are gorgeous- they did an amazing job renovating them, turning them into rustic, modern cabins!

That night, we drank wine, chatted and got caught up on the recent happs. Chris mentioned that he was getting up early to meet his brother at their grandfathers ranch (just up the road) to go horseback riding. He asked us if we'd like to join.

Um... yes.

The next morning we got up early and headed to the ranch. I had moccasins on, and Chris informed me those were in no way proper riding shoes, so I had to wear his oversize running shoes. It was hilarious.

We arrived at the quite ranch where Chris grew up coming to. You could tell it had a special place in his heart. The horses we were going to ride were out in the pasture, so we brought some rope and a bucket of feed to lour them to us.

We walked about 200 yards through the pasture of horse poo (thank goodness I wasn't wearing my moccs) when they came trotting towards us. Chris showed us how to loop the rope around their necks in order to lead them to the stable.

Back at the stable, he gave us each a brush to use on our horse. My horses' name was Sancho and he was a beautiful chestnut brown. Being so close to such a giant animal is very surreal. These animals are used to people, are ridden frequently, and are use to this interaction. But for me it was a whole new experience.

I am an animal LOVER so I didn't mind giving him brushes and pets and pep talks.

After getting pampered, Chris showed us how to saddle our horse. After that, it was time to hop on. This is when things got a little scary for me, but Chris was an amazing teacher and oozed calmness, which I tried to mimic.

We gently trotted through his grandfather's ranch, even up through the trees and woods, up and down hills, across small streams. It was amazing.

At one point I got emotional at the sheer beauty and calmness that surrounded us. It was a grey morning, but still, so incredibly peaceful . Not to mention we were nestled in the beautiful Sangre de Cristos.

My horse was very silly. I nicknamed him Hungry Hippo because he would try and eat anything in his path, dipping me down as he did. Also, Dan's horse was his brother, so they always had to be riding next to each other. It was adorable.

We rode for about 2 hours before heading back to the stable. It was an incredible experience that I will not forget. I also think it's such a unique experience. It wasn't guided, the horses weren't constantly ridden by tourists, they weren't following a pre-planned route.

We were free and open and in their world. It was simply beautiful.

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