The Quick Vacay

School is just around the corner, and I just felt like a getaway. So I went to the mountains!

The reason for this trip was because of a ticket that I purchased for a concert at Red Rocks Ampitheater. If you are unaware, Red Rocks is a highly touted concert venue in the Front Range of Colorado, near Denver. If you are a major artist on tour, a stop there is almost required.

My first Red Rocks show couldn't be anything but the best, and when I saw that the Colorado Symphony Orchestra was performing, and that they were going to be performing video game music (as part of the touring series Video Games Live), I knew that I had to go.

I purchased a general admission ticket for $25, and all that was left was for me to figure out how to get there. Since I love on the eastern side of Denver, getting to the mountains - especially at rush hour - can be long and challenging. This has also prevented me from getting to Red Rocks for a lot of sunrise runs. Getting there before 6:00 a.m. is easy, but trying to get back after 7:00 is not.

Therefore, I decided to join these two Red Rocks adventures into one trip, combined with an overnight stay in Breckenridge in between. Here's how it went:

Part 1: The Run

I woke up at 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning and was on the road very soon after that. Earlier this summer I missed the sunrise because it was happening around 5:30, but in August the sunrise occurs around 6:00. Many of the people gathered at Red Rocks were there solely to watch the sun rise in the east - and Red Rocks offers the perfect view.

The first part of my run did require me to go around people in sweats who were just trying to get a good picture. I did think about jumping right into their shot, but then reconsidered. About 15 minutes later, all the sun watchers were gone and more people were coming in to work out.

I start from the top and weave my way down the rows - probably the easiest way to work out at Red Rocks. The rows are not even, however - one end is higher than the other - so every other row required me to do some slight uphill climbing. Another way people run is straight up and down - I don't have very good coordination, so I would probably trip and fall ten rows down and get banged up.  Others combine climbing with push-ups, squats, and other strength-training exercises.

The park isn't "officially" open till 10:00, but so many people come to exercise that it's really open around 6:00. I was done with my workout by 7:30, and was ready to head west!

Part 2: Breck

Instead of dealing with Denver traffic, I headed in the other direction and worked my way west on I-70 to my favorite town in Colorado: Breckenridge. My relatives graciously let me use their condo for the day, and I needed it to feel clean again!

Around 10:30 I was feeling refreshed and decided to head down to the town for a bit of walking. The last time I had been down there it was the middle of ski season, so everyone was out and about. But Breckenridge has quite a touristy quality in the summer, too, and while most people were taking the gondola up to the "Fun Park," I stayed and went up and down the street.

My first purchase was a sliver of fudge - I am not a big enough fan of fudge to get a giant block of it, but I do enjoy it in small doses. The fudge sliver was about $2, and I nibbled on it before lunch and after supper.

I went back to my living quarters for lunch and a nap, and around 4:00 I decided to take the gondola up to the base of Peak 8 - one of my favorite ski locations, but currently it had been transformed into a Fun Park with a putt-putt golf course, zipline, roller coaster (kind of) and slide. All of those things cost money, but I knew I wanted to get up and see the snow pile that was a ways up the mountain.

There was a staircase they built to help people get up there, so it actually wasn't as hard as I first thought. There were a lot of families up there throwing snowballs, and it provided a great view of the resort below.

After I spent some time up on the mountain, I headed back down the gondola to the city for dinner. I knew exactly where I wanted to go - The Lost Cajun, where I had eaten in two previous trips. This time, I ate outside, because the weather was absolutely perfect, and their outside tables overlooked the river that ran through the village.

I had seafood gumbo and hush puppies, and they were, of course, delicious. I spent about $15 on the meal and every bite was worth it.

I walked off my food and found a nice area to read from my Kindle (The Two Towers, if you're curious) near the performing arts center. There was a chamber orchestra concert that night, so I stuck around the village a little longer and heard some of the performance. They have windows in the back of the center that can open up, and for the first bit (before it got too loud outside) they had them opened a crack. It was very nice to listen to - and for free!

Part 3: The Second Day

I didn't sleep in the second day. Instead, I was up by 6:30 to go on a hike. I'd found a sheet at the Breckenridge Welcome Center that had a few hikes detailed on it, and from that list I'd chosen the Burrow Trail to hike.

The Burrow Trail was right off of the Beaver Run Resort and Peak 9. I had only seen the base of Peak 9 in the snow-covered winter, so it was quite a change to see it in its grassy form! It didn't take long for me to find the trailhead, and it was clearly marked. It wasn't a climb, but just a walk through the forest. Since I was up so early, I only ran into two people on the trail.

The goal was 3 miles from the trailhead - a road that would lead me to further trails, if I wanted to continue. But when I got to the road, I chose to turn around and head back. The round trip was six miles, and it took me about three hours to accomplish. The first three miles were mostly uphill, and I was glad that I could go at my own pace and not feel rushed. Coming back down was easier, and I ran into many more people heading up the trail who had started later than me.

I had lunch at Wasabi, a Japanese restaurant that I had noticed in previous trips but had never tried. Their lunch menu was reasonably priced, so I got the teriyaki beef with vegetable bowl for $8. It was all right - I'm glad I tried it, but I wouldn't recommend it.

I should mention that the most popular place - Crepes a la Cart - was busy every single time I passed, so I chose not to get something on this trip. I did notice that the building next door was getting renovated - perhaps the Crepes stand was getting an addition?

My favorite part of the trip occurred as I was using the free wifi from the Starbucks to check up on things. I was sitting outside on a bench, and suddenly I heard string music. I looked down the street, and a string quartet had set up outside the Welcome Center and was playing Beatles tunes. I was impressed, so I walked down there and found a nice shady spot to listen.

They played all sorts of great hits - my favorites being the more current songs, like "Some Nights" by fun., "All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor, "Pompeii" by Bastille, and "Set Fire to the Rain" by Adele. But they did do some classic hits by the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and ABBA. They played for over an hour, and I just sat back and enjoyed! I wasn't in a rush to get anywhere, and no one was rushing me, so it was a stellar time.

Push play on the video below to hear one of their songs!

When they finished up, I relaxed back at my living quarters until it was time to pack up, clean up, and get going back to Red Rocks for the concert. I didn't have any troubles getting there, and I found a very nice place to sit just as the concert was starting. They had some cute kid stations at the top level where kids could make video game art, and they let me make a piranha plant from Super Mario Bros. out of construction paper, a popsicle stick, and a heavy-duty green cup. I got a poster as well featuring Ludwig van Koopa.

The concert was wonderful, and I recognized most of the music played. They started by playing music from Castlevania, which has some amazing music in it. They also played music from Kingdom Hearts, Donkey Kong Country, Grim Fandango, Tetris, Journey, and Civilization IV, a song which had won an Emmy!

They started the second act with a suite of music from The Legend of Zelda video games, which was one of my favorites of the night. They followed that up with music from Skyrim, Halo, Final Fantasy VII (entitled "One Winged Angel," I'd heard it before and was excited to hear it with full orchestra and choir!), and Chrono Cross. To end it all, they finished with a piece my brother had played for me before - the end credits from the video game Portal called "Still Alive." It's kind of creepy, but fun, too (can that happen?).

It didn't take long for me to get out of Red Rocks, which was wonderful, because I've been stuck in concert traffic before and it took forever to get back on the highway! But I was back home by 11:00 p.m. from my quick vacay.

It took less than 48 hours, but I had been able to escape city living for a while and really enjoy the nature around Colorado for a bit - as well as some great music! And aside from gas, I only had to spend about $50 for the whole thing! Well worth the trip, that's for sure.


  1. How did you get the widescreen pictures?

  2. Panoramic view on the camera. It's listed on the bottom of the screen when you're taking pictures - just swipe the words to the right. (You might need to practice a couple of times.)


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