The Mile-High City
I live for the spontaneous trips. The majority of them are short, one to six hour drives that are either for the day or perhaps the entire weekend. Because of where I live, I could be in New Orleans, Louisiana in about two and a half hours and head over to the world famous Café Du Monde to devour some beignets. I could also drive about six hours towards the East Coast and find myself in Jacksonville, Florida attempting to surf! For the majority of the time, I had always stuck around the southeastern part of the States. The furthest West I had been at the time was Austin, Texas. So one day, as I was driving to one of my random day-trip destinations, the light bulb above my head turned on and the most profound idea struck me!
It had been nearly ten years since I had seen my childhood best friend (he moved to the northern part of Texas when we were younger) and I thought of the idea to meet him in Denver, Colorado, to go snowboarding with him and catch up. We always did the craziest things when we were younger (some of which made me end up in the hospital) and I had never tried snowboarding in my life.
So, why not meet up in Denver? The flight was cheap, the Airbnb was even cheaper, and I also had a friend living in that area at the time, so all I needed to do next was bring someone along with me. After a few weeks of planning, one of my best friends and myself boarded our flight. We didn’t know what to expect, so we brought just enough to make it through the upcoming week. I had one set of skiing clothes, a beanie, and a pair of insulated boots, but that’s about all I needed.
We finally touched down in Denver and then drove roughly an hour to get to our Airbnb. Our hosts had redesigned their entire downstairs basement to model a traditional style apartment which I thought was incredibly neat. My childhood friend drove about six hours from northern Texas to get there and when he finally arrived, we all talked for hours on end trying to catch up nearly until the sun came up. We decided to make a last minute itinerary (at five o’clock in the morning) and chose to go to Breckenridge Ski Resort since I had a friend that worked there. Fast forward about three hours and we were out the door and on our way.
I remember the first day in Breckenridge and the forecast called for a cloudy (and bitter cold) day with a a blizzard that was supposed to come through later on in the day. For the majority of the time that day, I was trying to learn how to keep my balance on my board, but time after time, I would end up on my butt. Think of a very, very big number and multiply it by ten and that’s about how many times I fell, but I finally figured it out. It was like riding a bike then. I then figured out how to turn and stop and soon enough, I was actually snowboarding! It was an awesome experience and I was getting much more confident about it.
So much to the point that I was racing my friend down the slope, but what happens when you get too arrogant? Something along the line of the tip of your board catching the snow and you topple over head first into the ground. Oh, well. It was something to laugh at (the kind of laughing where you can’t breathe at all). Later on, after a handful of wipe outs, the resort was about to close because of the blizzard coming in. I was at the top of one of the tallest peaks at the resort and I only had a beanie and a pair of sunglasses on my head with the temperature steadily dropping. Brilliant of me, right? That peak nearly took an hour to get to the bottom and when I finally did, everyone there was panicking to get out of there before the roads were too bad to drive on. The four of us regroup at the car and make our way back to our house. As we start on our journey home, we notice that all of the traffic is heading the opposite direction of us. We didn’t think much of it, but after an hour goes by, we all notice something is very wrong. Nothing looked familiar at all. As it turns out, we were driving in the wrong direction for the entire hour in the midst of a blizzard! Yes, you read that right and yes, we all felt stupid because of it, but we couldn’t help but burst out laughing. So our easy, one hour drive turned out to be a very slow, six hour drive (we had to extra careful because none of us had much experience driving in the snow), but we finally made it home! Needless to say, we all got very drunk that night and laughed about what happened until we were rolling on the floor.
As far as the second day went, we didn’t do too much. We all slept in and we all woke up very sore from the day before, but we were fine enough to go back to the resort, especially since the blizzard laid out some fresh powder. After an easy day of snowboarding and a lot less falling (woo!), we went to check everything out in the downtown area of Breckenridge. It was a cute town and gave me the feeling as if I was living in a Christmas movie, with decorative blue and white lights everywhere and a gentle snowfall to compliment it. We didn’t stay too terribly long before we made our way back to our house so we could checkout out downtown Denver. We went very late at night, not realizing the bars shut down around two in the morning (the bars close much later from where I am from), but I couldn’t complain. I got to try some new, yet tasty, drinks with a great view of Coors Field and I was able to sleep much longer that night. It was still a great night if you ask me.
We all intended to go snowboarding on the third day, but we woke up much more sore than the day before, so we all agreed to skip that and do something else instead. We set a time later that afternoon to go snow tubing in Winter Park, so in the meantime, we drove around the city of Denver since we haven’t yet seen what it was like. We drove around for about ten minutes until the huge breakfast we ate put us all into a food coma, so we headed back to the house to take a power nap before we went sailing down the slopes in a tube. Fast forward to around four that afternoon and we were in Winter Park waiting in line with our tubes.
It was only the original three of us and we all tied ourselves together and went sailing down at the same time (try to imagine how fast six hundred pounds sliding down a hill can be). It was like we were all children again; racing each other downhill, throwing snowballs, or hitting each other with our tubes. It was one of those serene feelings that you won’t ever forget.
The fourth day arrived and my friend from Texas had to leave the night before to make it back home in time for work. My hometown friend and I didn’t have much planned for the day, so we drove to Colorado Springs to go cave exploring and check out Pikes Peak.
The cave exploring was actually a lot more interesting than I originally thought it would be. The guide made it fun and did an exceptional job at giving us the history of the caves. After the forty-five minute trek was over, we drove over to Pikes Peak to try and drive to the top, but unfortunately, it was closed because we got there too late in the afternoon. Oh, well. We at least got to say we have been to Pikes Peak before.
Our trip was coming to an end and the “post vacation blues” were slowly creeping in. We had an early flight the next day, so we had to make sure we were up in time to ensure that everything was packed and the house was clean before we left. We had cut it very close on time and after about thirty minutes of frantic packing, we were finally out the door and on our way to the airport. We still had to drop off the rental car and catch a shuttle from there, but dropping off the car actually took much longer than expected. So, what do you think happened? Yep, we missed our flight home by just a few minutes. Awesome. F****** awesome. So, what do I do to help with this situation? Go stress eating at Panda Express, of course. We didn’t have very many options to choose from in regards to getting home. It was either stay in Denver for another weekend (because there wasn’t another flight leaving for the next three days), or we can purchase a ticket with a different airline that can take us to New Orleans and we figure out a way to get back home from there. We chose to go with the latter and, coincidentally, there were only two spots available for the flight! How crazy is that?
As we touched down in New Orleans, we had one of our greatest friends drive two hours to come pick us up and then drive another two hours back home. Words don’t begin to describe how grateful I am to have a friend like her. Otherwise, it would have been a disaster being stuck in a different city for who knows how long?
My trip to Denver is still one of my favorite trips to this day. I got to go snowboarding for the first time and I fell in love with it. To top it off, I got to do it with some of my greatest friends and make some lifetime memories. I recommend taking a trip there to everyone and someday, I will be going back! 😉