But why Denver for a Bucket List Trip? I’ll explain.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to take a trip to a city I’ve never been to and see a concert. So, when a band or a musician I like goes on tour, I always look at the entire list of the cities they’re visiting to see what might work for a possible Bucket List Trip.
Several years ago, I booked a Bucket List Trip with my best friend to Las Vegas to see John Mayer. I bought our concert tickets and was ready for the trip of a lifetime.
And then John Mayer had to have surgery on his vocal chords, and he cancelled his tour. I refused to believe it until I checked my email and saw the refund from the ticket company. My friend and I still went to Vegas, and we had a blast, but it didn’t end up being one off my Bucket List.
As many of you know, I’ve been going through it (what I would consider Hell) since September, when my dad had brain surgery to remove a mass. He passed away in February, shortly after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
I am still very much in pain, and sometimes it feels worse than it did the day he died.
In November, after my dad’s surgery and diagnosis, I saw on Twitter that R&B artist Khalid was going on a new leg of his tour. I’d wanted to see him so badly, but the tickets were always so expensive.
I looked at the stops on his tour, and yes, he was coming to Austin, but he was also performing at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre – a place I have ALWAYS wanted to see a concert. If you’re not familiar with Red Rocks, it’s the only natural acoustically perfect concert venue in the world. Basically, it’s at the bottom of a canyon, and the pictures look insane.
The tickets for the show went on sale just a few weeks after I saw the tour list, and I vowed to get myself a ticket. So, on a Saturday morning between dance classes, I locked myself in a dressing room at the studio and purchased a ticket for the show at Red Rocks.At the time, I had no idea I’d be grieving, no idea that I would so desperately need a vacation, but alas, here we are, and I’m so thankful I’ve planned this trip for myself!
But I’ve been waitin’ all year to get the hell up outta here
and throw away my fears.
I started listening to Khalid about a year ago. I heard his single, “Location” on the radio during my commute to work and I liked it so much, I wrote it down in my phone.
Months later, I took a trip to Indianapolis to see friends, family, and a guy I liked. Well, one of my friends refused to see me, my family lied to me, and the guy turned out to be an asshole with a house straight out of an episode of “Hoarders” (and recently confessed to my best friend that he actually liked her all along).
I couldn’t get out of Indiana fast enough. When I got to the airport, I decided to download “Location” and I had it on repeat for a few days. Slowly, I started buying other songs off his album, “American Teen”, and before I knew it, I was listening to the entire album on a loop.
In September, when I flew to Chattanooga to see my dad before his surgery, I was listening to his album to comfort me while I was hysterically crying in the airport:
I cried for my entire Lyft ride to the airport, through security, and once I got to my gate, I found a corner and cried. I cried so hard that someone from TSA came to talk to me to see if I could calm down.
The truth is, how could I be any semblance of okay after what had just happened? In just four days, I’d received the news about my dad AND all of this drama that comes along with my dad’s side of the family had come crashing into my face.
I felt alone; I feel like I don’t have anyone rooting for me; and I was scared shitless that I’d never hear from my dad again. I knew one thing for a fact: I wouldn’t be getting updates from his partner anymore.
Two things stopped me from crying for my six hours of travel home: my trusty Khalid album, and the Dallas Cowboys’ burger kiosk at gate A21 in the DFW airport. It’s the second time I’ve eaten there, both times I was upset, and both times I’ve abandoned my vegan lifestyle to get the Cowboy Blues burger and it is so worth it.
It’s cheesy, but music has always comforted me, and it’s something my dad and I had in common. He loved all sorts of music, and my very first concert was with my parents, seeing one of my dad’s favorite bands, Natalie Merchant and 10,000 Maniacs.
So yes, I’m AMPED to see Khalid, and I’m as equally excited to see Red Rocks… I will probably cry over stimulation overload and I’m okay with that.
The thing about Red Rocks is that there’s always a 99% chance of rain given its location and natural setup. Part of planning for this trip meant reading lots of guides and other blogs from people who’ve been to Red Rocks before. From that, I learned what kind of shoes to wear, and what to pack: an empty water bottle, warm clothes, and a rain poncho.
The concert is rain or shine, and many times it does rain, and the concert keeps going. But sometimes, they cancel it. And I will be damned if this turns into another John Mayer/Vegas/Non-Bucket List trip!
I’ve kept this trip very close to my heart – I’ve only told a few people – because, well, this trip is for me. I’m traveling alone, as I often do, and I’m experiencing this on my own. So many people I know have been to Denver already and I wanted to keep things new to me – sometimes it puts a damper on things when people share their experience with a place before you even get there.
Ever since my dad’s passing, I’ve been very aware of my own mortality. I’ve always felt some sense of pressure to live life, and do things, and don’t regret a moment… but that feeling is very amplified as of late.
I’m also very aware of people around me and what they’re doing with their life: whether it’s planning and taking trips, or building a business, or having a family… I’m just here, and I feel like I’m being left behind. So, this trip is coming at a perfect time – a time when I feel like I need to just get out there and live, and do something I have only dreamt of doing.
I wanted to plan my own activities and make this trip a complete getaway. So, aside from the concert, I do have a list of restaurants and breweries that I want to indulge in, and I’ve got a few sightseeing things on my list. I also treated myself to a fabulous hotel right in Downtown Denver. I’m looking forward to a true adventure.
For the sake of being present, I’m keeping the social media documentation to a minimum. I plan on posting a few Instagram pictures (@OrangeJulius7), but will be staying off other channels.
I’ll tell you all about it when I get the chance.
So…who watched the premier of the “Roseanne” revival? Heh, ME!!!! I was overly excited for it, and well, I’m looking forward to seeing what the remainder of the season has to offer. I also whipped up some vegan sloppy joes with rosemary red potatoes, and it was pretty delicious.
I am continuing to roll right on down my reading list and I’m really excited to share the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club with you! It’s “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. Here’s the description from Amazon.com:
In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.
Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and, unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.
Jon Krakauer constructs a clarifying prism through which he reassembles the disquieting facts of McCandless’s short life. Admitting an interest that borders on obsession, he searches for the clues to the dries and desires that propelled McCandless. Digging deeply, he takes an inherently compelling mystery and unravels the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.
When McCandless’s innocent mistakes turn out to be irreversible and fatal, he becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines and is dismissed for his naiveté, pretensions, and hubris. He is said to have had a death wish but wanting to die is a very different thing from being compelled to look over the edge. Krakauer brings McCandless’s uncompromising pilgrimage out of the shadows, and the peril, adversity, and renunciation sought by this enigmatic young man are illuminated with a rare understanding–and not an ounce of sentimentality. Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, Into the Wild is a tour de force. The power and luminosity of Jon Krakauer’s stoytelling blaze through every page.
I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure just how this book wound up on my reading list. But, as you may have come to realize, when a book becomes available on my reserve list, I drive straight to the library, walk straight to the reserve shelf, check out said book, and I often start reading it without even looking at the cover or anything else.
One Sunday night, I laid into bed and cracked this book open, reading by just a small book light hoping to fall asleep. Well… I actually read almost the entire book and before I realized it, it was 1 am and I had to force myself to close my eyes.
This book HAUNTED me. I am not quite sure what about it gave me the chills, but I think it’s because this entire story is just so far beyond me. I have no dreams of living off of nature or purposefully abandoning myself into the coldest wild. In fact, that sounds like my biggest nightmare.
A few things about this story really struck me. For starters, he really didn’t do much prepping before he crossed the country by way of hitchhiking, and during his travels, he really had an impact on the people he met.
I was also absolutely amazed by his ability to remember things; details that helped him survive as long as he did. And, I won’t give anything away, but he didn’t die in stupidity. This guy was smart – and he lived a lot longer than I think most people would have.
Krakauer’s writing – at times reporting – was incredible to read. So much so, I added some of his other books to my reading list. There is a movie based off this book, but I’m not sure I am ready to watch it. The book shook me so much, I don’t know if I could see it… you know?
I’m recommending this book for adventure lovers and anyone who enjoys true stories. The next book I’ll be reading is “Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives” by Gretchen Rubin.
Tonight, I’m heading out to see the premier of “Ready Player One” – a movie based on a book I read last summer. I have been counting down the days for this movie to come out! I hope it’s fantastic and I’ll have a review of it tomorrow!
It’s my birthday-eve, and I admittedly get reflective around this time each year (as if I’m not reflective every day of my life). Before writing this, I took a look back at the last few years of birthday posts – and most of them are similar in fashion; I’m really just trying to forget the fact that another year has passed without me really reaching any of my life goals, while somehow simultaneously trying to get my life in some sort of order.
Truth be told, I’ve had such a shitty few weeks that it’s not really worth me worrying over the baskets of unfinished laundry or seemingly never-ending stack of bills that’s attacking my small income.
What I really want to know is, where is this all going? And please, spare me the Jesus talk. I’ve heard it plenty of times, and it’s not my thing, and let’s just leave it at that.
I started thinking about this a few weeks ago while listening to Chris Gethard’s podcast, “Beautiful Stories by Anonymous People”.
It’s episode 15, “The Hardest Part is That You Love Me”, and it’s a 25-year-old woman from California, and she claims she’s experiencing her quarter-life crisist. Preach, girl!
She is questioning where her career is going, and she’s convinced that instead of picking something she wants to do, she needs to let the universe gather information and guide her to where she needs to go (she’s admittedly a California hippie).
Eventually, he asked the caller what was keeping her from living her dreams… and whoa; that really got me thinking. I think about my hopes and dreams a lot; but never in those terms.
And the thing is, I think most of the time, we’re keeping ourselves from living our dreams over fear of failure. Right? Sure, there are other little excuses that could live in the way – money, location, people, etc. But when you REALLY think about it – what is it, what’s that thing that’s holding you back?
I found an old article in “Forbes” magazine, “The Lies We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back,” that talks about this exact subject.
“Always the easiest move is to do nothing. The path of least resistance is well worn. It’s when we decide to do something that things get trickier. It’s difficult to determine when we’re being cautious or being fearful. After all, we’re masters at rationalizing our fear into prudence.
Fear exists for a reason — protection. That same fight-or-flight response that prevented us from being eaten by tigers also warns us when our mental selves are in danger. Fear feels bad, and we want it alleviated.”
All very true. Sure, we’re afraid of failure, but what about when failure becomes the comfort zone? I think about this a lot in terms of dating. I know failure very well in relationships; I know it so well I’d venture to say that heartbreak is my homebase.
I know how to mend my heart when it’s hurting – it’s almost sad how sad of a science it’s become. I have certain go-to movies; comfort foods and positive phrases. I pack the memories in boxes and toss them in dumpsters; I ritually delete things from my phone and inbox. And with each time, the failure gets easier to get over, almost scary in a way, like the relationship was just a means to an end.
…Which explains why I’m terrified of something actually working. What does that even look like? What is that like, when a man introduces a woman to his family with no other intention but to include her in his life? Or when he does something for you with the hopes of nothing in return but your happiness?
But what about other hopes and dreams? Maybe it’s taking a trip, writing a book, running a marathon, recording a song, winning a contest – would it kill us to fail at something like that?
Many of my dreams involve living certain places or getting published… and I’ve failed plenty of times at that. But perhaps my fear is just never being successful at it; then I’d be crushed. Or would I? I’ll never know until I try, right?
In the podcast episode, Gethard tells the California girl a similar sentiment; that before he became a comedian, he was afraid of discovering the sting that he just wasn’t good at it. But, eventually he got his first big gig (right before he was about to run out of rent money).
But he packs a lot of truth in saying that there’s one reason you SHOULD try to go after your dreams: happiness. That one reason outweighs the 100 reasons you shouldn’t do it.
And yeah, I can get behind something like that. So, this weekend, I’m old AF, and I don’t care. I’m getting drunk, I’m eating all the foods I never let myself eat, and I’m sleeping in. Maybe I’ll make a dreamboard; maybe I’ll start writing the script I’ve got in my head. There’s another year ahead, in the adventures of me.
So, if you really want to wish me a happy birthday, I’d love to know what your dreams are. Maybe you’ve reached them, and how? Or how do you plan to reach them? Or what’s stopping you from going after what you want?
Let’s dream it, and let’s do it. This year.
Follow Holly on social media @OrangeJulius7 to catch up on her weekend antics (really just cat pics). We’ll see you right back here on Tuesday!
I’ve lived in Austin, TX for 9 months now (time flies!), and I can honestly say, I’m not sure how long I’ll be here. Don’t get me wrong, in general, Austin is pretty freaking cool, but I just don’t know if I’m ready to say, yes, this is the place I’ll be for the rest of my life.
It’s a commitment I’m not ready to make. But, I definitely want to make the most of my time here, whether it’s two years or 10 years, I want to leave knowing I experienced everything there is to experience in this cool city. So, here’s my list (so far):
- Have an Adventure on Lake Travis – I’ve been to Lake Travis a few times already, and it’s gorgeous! But I want to kick things up and have an adventure! There’s all sorts of things out there, such as: jet skis, dinner cruises, parks, wineries, cooking classes, and festivals, among many others. I’m on it!
- See a movie at the drive-in theatre – The Blue Starlite Drive-In is one of the best out there, according to Conde Nast. They are always playing cool movies, and it looks like they are playing a “Grease” Sing-a-long this weekend! Might have to hit that up!
- Eat at The Salt Lick – This is the place everyone’s heard about, and they’re known for their large outdoor fire pit where they make some (apparently) delicious BBQ!
- See the bats – From March to November, the bats are out in Austin! Rumor has it, the largest urban bat colony lives in Austin! There is even a boat tour where you get to see the bats leave the Congress Bridge; definitely must do this.
- Hit up Rainey Street – This is the historical area of downtown, although it’s come along way in the last few years. It’s known for its collection of dive bars, but it also has hot brunch spots, pizza places, and a few notable pieces of graffiti.
- Eat at The Hula Hut – Located on Lake Austin, it’s always island time at the Hula Hut! Mexican food with a Polynesian twist – this place looks delicious.
- Visit Waterloo Records – This shop has been the iconic place to get tunes since 1982, and although Austin’s grown a lot since then, it’s still the mecca for music lovers in Texas.
- Have a Moment at Teo Gelato & Espresso – I saw this spot on my way to UT the other night, and after some Googling, I see that this is the real deal; authentic gelato made from scratch. Yum!
- Bullock Imax – A part of the Bullock Museum, the IMAX theatre has tons of good flicks coming up, including “Finding Dory” in 3D. I’m admittedly really excited about this!
- See a baseball game at UT – I went to the UT campus for the first time two weeks ago, and stomped around a little bit. And I must say, the baseball field looks beautiful. I must see a game there!
- Host my own breakfast taco competition – Not a real competition, but I do want to try as many different breakfast tacos from different places, and see who’s got the best one, in my opinion. I’ve already tried them from Taco Deli and Torchy’s (both delicious).
- Bullock Texas State History Museum – I don’t really know much about this, but I’ve heard it’s great, and seriously, when was the last time I went to a museum??
- Sushi at Uchiko – Saw this place on an episode of #FoodPorn and although I might have to save my whole paycheck to eat it; I must do it.
- Pedicure at Caesar’s in the Domain – I saw this place when I was Christmas shopping and it looked so nice, and my hairstylist actually goes there and told me it was great, and sanitary. Always a plus! She said they even serve booze there; count me in!
- Austin City Wide Garage Sale – Started in 1977, this isn’t really a garage sale at all, but it’s a bunch of vintage items all in one place on certain weekends of the year. I’ve been on the hunt for a typewriter for awhile now, so maybe this is the place I’ll actually find one!
- Wait in line for Franklin BBQ -Waiting in line has become commonplace at Franklin BBQ…and we’re not talking a 20 minute line; it’s at least a 3 hour line. So, you get a bag of tacos and you eat while you wait for the food, and I’ve heard there’s sometimes beer pong.
- Dollar hot dog night at a Round Rock Express Game – This happens on Mondays and I’m SO down to hit up a ball game on a boring Monday night! Bring it on, summer!
- Lala’s Little Nugget – An Austin institution, Lala’s is known for keeping the Christmas spirit alive all year ’round with Christmas decor and even an old school jukebox. Cash only!
- Baylor Street Art Wall – This historic wall shows various street art from many years passed to the present.
- Buy Stuff at a Farmer’s Market – There are farmer’s markets all over Austin (seasonally, of course), and I’ve really never been to one. I’d like to go and check out all the fresh grown foods and homemade goodies.
- Tour Jester King Brewery – Jester King has a TON of beers, of course, made right here in Austin! Their brewery tours are free, and the tasting room is located right near a local pizza shop. Yes!
- Take an Antonelli’s cheese class – Aside from just wanting to visit this shop, I want to take one of their cheese classes, where you get to learn about certain cheeses and the wines that taste best with them. Cheers!
- Tackle the Wine Trail – There are 48 wineries in the state of Texas, and each October, you can purchase a “passport” that provides you with a free tasting at each winery and a discount pass if you buy wine at the wineries! YAS.
I’d also like to note that I’ve already done several things that would be on a bucket list like this, such as Zilker park for Kite Fest and the Trail of Lights, Mozart’s Coffee, went ice skating at Whole Foods, eaten at Hopdoddy, been to several Texas Stars’ games, been to The Oasis, had drinks at Midnight Cowboy, partied on 6th Street, and have seen several movies at the Alamo Drafthouse. I’m all about an ATX adventure!
Over the weekend, I’m proud to say that my friends and I completed what’s known as an “Escape Room.”
I won’t give anything about our particular scenario away, but these escape rooms are all over the country (I even saw one in London, too!) and groups of people are setting out to conquer them. I’ve boycotted “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” franchise, but I heard there was an escape room on one of the episodes this season.
Basically, you and a group of people are placed into a fictional scenario and you have a certain amount of time to get out.
Our scenario was that we were kidnapped by a local serial killer, taken to his home, and given 60 minutes to get out before he returns to “consume” us.
The “room” was actually about four rooms, all full of puzzles and riddles that must be solved before continuing to the next part of the room.
I’m happy to say our group was added to the 10% of people that solve ALL of the riddles and make it out before the killer returns — we didn’t have a second to spare — and it was incredibly fun! I love mysteries and CSI, so it was cool to be a part of something similar.
I will openly admit to anyone that I’m scared shitless of everything. I hate Halloween, I cannot watch scary movies (can’t even watch the previews), and I’m terrified of several things that happen in every day life. So, this whole escape room thing took a little convincing.
My friends assured me that no one would be chasing us, no one would be hiding in the room to scare us, and we wouldn’t ever be left alone. It was more about problem solving. I do love a challenge, so I agreed, and I’m so glad I did.
Was I scared at first? Yes. The morning of our appointment, I paced my apartment; told my mom I loved her in case I didn’t make it out; and I fed my cat enough food for a week. Despite having one vodka drink before entering the escape room, my stomach was in knots. But once our time started counting down, I knew there was no time to be scared and I just wanted to help the group.
The cool thing about our group? We all contributed in some way. We didn’t fight, and we all celebrated together, with the 13th Gate Escape Room staff. Afterward, we recounted every single minute of our adventure over mango margaritas.
It was a glorious summer night.