Telluride Bluegrass Festival

Everyone knows the John Muir quote ‘The mountains are calling and I must go’ – especially if you live in Colorado. This year marks the 45th year of the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, where the gorgeous San Juans are the back drop for a 4 day music festival with Bluegrass legends, camping and all the outdoor adventure you want. And we answered the call.

Our amazing crew has been true festivarians for years, knowing the ins and outs of navigating the festival and we were lucky enough to be included in the gang. Mike actually got a gig working backstage security, a paying gig where he’d work a 6-8 hour shift everyday/night and in return get two meals a day, a free camping & festival ticket, and $400. It was a no brainer! Planning started months before the actual event so we knew what to pack, although there’s nothing that actually prepares you for the amazingness that is the Telluride Bluegrass fest, especially the way Whitney (Queen B of camp TC) does it.

Our caravan headed out of Arvada late morning on Wednesday June 20, packing Mike’s F250 to the gills. Our girlfriends, Stacia & Anna, carpooled with us, making the 6 hour ride super fun, with car games galore! We stopped at Eddyline, in Buena Vista to break up the trip & grab some delicious lunch and beer. A citra IPA & quinoa salad hit the spot!

Telluride welcomed us around 5:45pm, the perfect lighting to unload. Our site was in Warner field, a converted baseball field that would serve as home base for the next four days. Navigating to left field with loaded wagons and wheel barrels, we shuffled back and forth unloading all the gear, food & booze. The views were absolutely amazing…We had arrived! Whitney, Dusty & Kelly had taken the gondola to mountain village for a free Little Smokies show, so we grabbed brews and set up our camp. The compound the early crew had assembled was nothing short of phenomenal. Complete with a kitchen, cooler tent, multiple hanging lights and decorative lanterns, our camp was by far the most impressive setup I had ever seen! The crew had come in early to line up at 6am Wednesday to set up shop and damn their efforts paid off! Instead of being crammed into a small patch, our compound spanned 25 by 50 feet, with 10 tents, 5 sunshades and an open space where the grills and kitchen was set up. Glamping isn’t even the right word to describe the fabulousness!

After our tents were pitched, we headed to get our wristbands (our tickets for all 4 days of camping & music) then headed to High Pie (where we had watched the Birds victory at this years super bowl). Huge pizzas were ordered, beers were drank & gratitude was felt all around for making it safe. Back at camp we found the early crew and decided to head over to Town Park, another campground that had authentic dirt, trees, rolling grounds and elaborate shanty towns set up. In a number of these were musicians strumming, picking and singing Bluegrass.

Small hippie dressed crowds gathered round to watch and sing along, creating a woodland concert. A really beautiful and unique night!

The next morning we arose early for the first tarp run. If you’ve never been to TBF, this is a foreign concept, but the seasoned veterans have it down to a science. You stand in line to receive a ticket, which gave you a spot in line later in the morning to run inside the venue to reserve your spot for that days’ lineup. The lower thre number, the better chance at reserving a good spot! Whitney had teamed up with another group to ensure we’d get the best position for the day.

This year they randomized the numbers, giving the first person in line just as much chance for a decent number as the 200th person in line. And they had 750 numbers! Once Larry (the ticket handler) arrived, the crowd arranged into a semi-straight line, we got our numbers (47 was the day’s winner!) and headed back to camp for more coffee and burritos. Whitney had made over 90 for the group (although I packed all my own plant-based food) so we munched and conversed about that day’s activity before the music.

A few of us decided to mountain bike on Telluride mountain, so headed to the gondola (which was free!) to ride up. The trail would take us all the way back to town, flowing mostly downhill. A super fun, not too technical, 11.6 mile ride, with some loose turns, rocks and roots to navigate. A wonderful way to spend the early afternoon, pre-music. Heading through town on bikes was super fun too and so convenient to be able to bike straight to camp without touching a car.

I got lunch together when we got back: Bahn Mi rice noodle bowls with homemade pickled veggies and baked tofu. Totally hit the spot! Mike had to work the 4 to 11:30 shift, so after lunch headed out while we got ready for the afternoon of music. Our campsite was a stones throw from the venue, making it extremely convenient to shuffle back and forth for more water, booze, snacks or reprieve from the music and sun.

Our tarp runners had reserved two clutch spots, one up front and a sun-shaded spot in the back, equipped with blankets, tapestries and chairs to enjoy the scene out of the Colorado sun. We had quite the hookup, courtesy of the TBG veterans in our group.

The Wood Brothers were the first set I caught that day & they did not disappoint! We saw them last summer in Steamboat for a free concert…they were awesome! I’m with Her followed, a beautiful women group with amazing harmony.

Throughout the afternoon, I’d pop over to see Mike at his post, which was at the entrance to backstage: total VIP. The crew headed back to fix some food before that evenings’ headliner Tedeschi Trucks Band…which was an amazing show! Susan has the most beautiful voice and with the lights, sky, and amazing crowd, it was truly a spectacular Day 1 of the festival.

The night was low key after the shows’ end, but some went to Town Park in search of strummin’ & pickin’. A day for the books!

Friday arrived with coffee, burritos & talk of another MTB ride. Holly, Jaime, Janine, Steve, Mike and I headed back up the gondola to headed down Village Way, to Jurassic Trail, to Meadow way. Well, while taking a loose turn, my back tire fish tailed, I braked and flew over the handlebars, scraping and bruising quite a few places on my body, including my chin, both palms, ankle, knee, inside of my elbow and upper thigh. A mess!

Shaken, but not defeated, I got back on the bike and we rode down, this time going a short ways to make it to the Telluride Brewery.

Oh sweet nectar to wash away the pain! This small brewery had over 20 beers on tap, including a kettle sour, Senor Gomez, that was absolutely thirst quenching. Thoroughly watered, we hopped on our bikes and rode the 4 miles back to town. In one of the pavilion areas we happened upon a beautiful sounding violinist. The beauty of the TBF weekend – music everywhere!

Back at Camp we decided to hit the river after our lunch, so changed into swimwear and jumped into the icy waters. Woah, it really wakes you up!

Refreshed and rejuvenated, we sunned ourselves dry & headed back to camp, where Mike changed for work, and I chilled with the crew until heading in for the Infamous Stringdusters, followed by Emmylou Harris. I headed up to the front for the legend Emmylou, who is still rocking it at 71. Back to camp for fresh libations & food before heading in to see Greensky Bluegrass- Whitney’s favorite!

Mike let me know that he’d be allowed to get 10 of us into the pit, which was the VIP section in front. So, at 10:15, a few of us were ushered to the front to watch the best act of the weekend! A total once in a lifetime experience!! We hung for awhile that evening, Mike having just gotten off his shift, then headed to bed to snuggle (it was 40 degrees out!)

Saturday was a little slower getting up, although Mike had to giddy up to work….so, Amanda and Kelly stood in line for the tarp run, Mike went to his security detail, and I hung in camp and drank coffee!  Afterwards, I headed into the venue, our co-team lugged in a couch & we all hung to listen to the tunes. The weather was phenomenal!

A few took a short hike up to some small waterfalls – so I joined, thinking I’d save my energy for the Via Ferrata we were planning to do later (unfortunately, we didn’t end up going, dang it!). That left me sleepy, so I headed back to the compound and laid about….in our amazing spread of a camp! The crew came back to grub, Mike got off work (although he went back to the VIP area to eat dinner, which was apparently gourmet, and he completely rubbed it in!) then we all headed back into the venue until about 8ish, when we headed back to give our girl Nicole a surprise birthday celebration.

She was ringing in her 30th, a new decade, in one of the most beautiful towns, with one of the coolest crews (ok I’m biased). A really remarkable night for a remarkable girl! We had some brownie cake then headed into the front row for Leftover Salmon – which Mike was able to get us dead center yet again. It’s good to know people with orange hats. The night was incredible!

Sunday morning was even slower than Saturday, as you can imagine after 3 days of bluegrass, early mornings, late nights, camping shenanigans and fumanchoos (don’t ask!). My girl Stacia and I headed to hike Bear Creek falls, a beautiful 5.6 mile hike to a waterfall, steep without being unbearable, and just enough to get the heart pumping, sweat dripping, landing us in one of the most beautiful valleys in Colorado just gorgeous!

Mike, Dusty, Jaime, Holly and a few others biked the same trails I ate it on….and all met back at camp, where another river bath ensued. Mike then left for work and I, beat with happiness, hung back at camp. I only made it in for a bit that evening, knowing we’d have to leave uber early, but with a happy, full heart. Monday morning we hit the road to reality….leaving one of the best festivals, best weekends, best feelings I’ve gotten from a group of people gathering in one place to celebrate life, music, love, and the beauty of nature. It was my first Telluride Bluegrass Fest, but won’t be my last!

Staycation in Breckenridge: Part II

Traveling and experiencing new things is a huge part of my DNA, what I love to do and a major reason I work so hard! Having moved to Colorado back in December of 2013, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed traveling to new places….Ireland, Vieques, Amalfi Coast, Belize, Jackson Hole, Park City, Moab, Oregon…to name just a few! That being said, there are literally thousands of places to travel, trails to hike, mountains to climb, beers to drink, rivers to raft on, paths to bike on in the glorious state of Colorado.

So, when we bought a time share at the Grand Lodge at Peak 7, the idea of spending a week up in the mountains, in our own backyard, was exciting! Although we typically head to Breckenridge in the winter for the glorious skiing….that’s pretty much why we bought the timeshare to begin with, so we would have ski-in, ski-out access. It’s been great. Our week approached (we have odd years, in the summer) and we packed up, hit the road, and headed for the mountains. The first half of our Staycation was incredible…..biking, great restaurants, gorgeous sunsets, craft beer, and that was just through Tuesday!

Part II of our Staycation began on Wednesday, with a gorgeous morning walk on the mountain with the doggies…coffee in hand. Working on East Coast hours allows me to wake up early to enjoy the morning before most people have even stirred. It’s really a gift to get up with the sun, especially when you’re in the mountains. By 6:30 am I was back in the room working, while Mike planned another mountain bike ride. The plan was that I’d wrap up my morning and head to meet him, riding my bike down into town. It was a wonderful afternoon and I was pumped to get back on my bike.

We finished our ride and headed back up on the gondola so I could finish up my day. The gondola drops you off right at the top of peak 7 – so convenient! Our bikes fit in the gondola car, so we could avoid riding up the steep hill. So nice! After I wrapped up the work day, we headed to another private movie in the Grand Lodge, brought snacks too, watched Bad Moms (which was horrible!) then headed out to soak in the hot tub to overlook the mountains. It was officially a perfect end to a glorious day.

I took Thursday and Friday off, so when we woke up on Thursday, I was so excited! It was Breck Bike week and there was a women’s beginner mountain biking clinic from 10 am to noon so I got dressed like it was Christmas. To fuel up, we headed down to town to somewhere we’ve not ever been, Mom’s Baking Company. A European style bakery, with cozy seating and beautiful decor.

Mike ordered a burrito with french cheese and caramelized onions while I had a spinach & mushroom pastry. It was perfection! I rode over to the Blue River Plaza where the clinic was meeting. The ladies who gathered were at all different levels – some had never mountain biked ever, some were recovery from injuries (myself included) some had been out of the saddle for awhile. Our instructor Kat was awesome, a chill mountain chick who had great pointers and took us to the pump track then the B n B trail where we practiced uphill and downhill skills. It was an amazing day – my first time taking a bike clinic and boy was I a fan!

Mike met me back in town where I poured over the details of the day. We headed to Park & Main for lunch (again!) where we got beet sliders and a huge arugula vegan salad and Mike got the zucchini parm (again!). It was delicious! I was wiped afterwards, so we headed up to the lodge where I promptly showered the sweat off and took a rest before meeting a girlfriend for happy hour at the Blue Ridge Bistro. Although I had a pretty bad experience there early in the week, their happy hour is great (2 for 1 appetizers) and $2 off drafts. Plus, my girlfriend could walk there, as she worked in Breckenridge. We had a blast catching up and after BRB, headed to RMU for some drinks and ski shop shenanigans. Great bartenders and a hipster vibe….Mike has quite a few Manhattans while chatting up the owner, who he claims wants him to be a sponsor. Fun, fun night!

Friday morning came a little slower and after we awoke, got coffee and walked the pups on the hill, we got our bike gear on and headed out, down the four-o clock run trail, through the construction they’re doing to create a traffic circle through town, and to the Bold Restaurant for breakfast.

Mike ordered the huge breakfast burrito with veggie green chili and I had an quinoa & egg white frittata with citrus salsa. Oh yes, we were fueled!

After breakfast, we hopped on our bikes and headed to the pump track. A crew of little kids were there, ripping, so Mike and I jumped in and tried not to let them beat us. I had done the track yesterday, so was very pumped to show him the ropes, although he smoked me.

It was a blast! We climbed up above the course to a small track that took up up and down and around, back to the road, where we headed to the B n B trail. Instead of following the trail I did in my women’s clinic, we took V3 to Barney Ford to Barney Flow to Carter Park….oh man, if you’re ever in Breckenridge and want an amazing ride, do this one! Nothing crazy hard, definitely some climbs and rocks (that I walked my bike over, as technically I wasn’t supposed to be mountain biking at this level with my ACL recovery) this was a great ride!

And the VIEWS!!! It couldn’t have been a better day! Biking back into town, we both felt wonderful and hungry! Heading to Mi Casa, an incredible Mexican restaurant with the best margaritas I’ve ever had, where we ate our faces off! Guacamole, sweet potatoes tacos, homemade chips….oh my! Our cousins were heading our way that evening, so after paying the check we headed back up the gondola, took showers and rested before our guests.

The evening brought grilled veggies, good beer and hot tubbin’! The cool mountain air was perfect, so we stayed outside late, talking, soaking and enjoying being in Colorado.

Saturday, we awoke and planned our hike…Spruce Trail to Mohawk Lake. The hike was amazing, with several lakes and waterfalls, it was the perfect end to a wonderful Colorado staycation. At 11,300 feet & 6.5 miles I have to say, my knee was back!

All-in-all, we had such a fabulous time in the mountains, exploring the wonderful trails, town, and mountains. Make sure to get outside and enjoy the wonders of summer, especially those you find in  your backyard!

 

Intentional Progress

I’ve been climbing lots of mountains this summer….14’ers they’re called in Colorado.

 

View from Quandary Peak
View from Quandary Peak

Quandary

Kelso RIdge
Kelso RIdge

Kelso Ridge of Torrey’s & Grays Peak

Snowmass
Snowmass

Snowmass

Challenging, sometimes death defying mountains that not only test your physical strength and stamina, but your mental state. I found myself questioning my capabilities several times, hesitating more than I ever have when faced with a gnarly cliff, full expose, jagged rocks, steep gullies with loose tallas and skree. I couldn’t seem to catch my breathe at times, so I’d stop….thus prolonging the summit. Never had I experienced anything so mentally challenging, physically demanding, but naturally beautiful and peaceful all at the same time.

It’s made me think of how I choose to concur, tackle, face life’s challenges. My girlfriend and I do yoga almost every Wednesday and recently, I listened to a teacher discuss intentional progress. This resonated so deeply with me! To intentionally seek that next step, be aware and alert to what’s needed to get there, then actively put it all into motion!? It sounds so obvious, doesn’t it? Yes, that’s where I want to go….and I got there. Duhhhhh!

But I stopped to think about how many times I had just gone through the motions of something. A work project, a family obligation, a hard climb. You trudge through it, hoping it will soon come to an end.  Climbing some of those mountains, there were times I couldn’t find my intent – I just wanted to get through it. The thought of intentional progress awakened something in me.

If I can learn to do things with intentional progress, to fully commit, be in the moment and focus on completing the task with my full being…oh what a lesson that will be.

Happy progress!