Thirty Thursdays: Red Rocks Concert (and Eric Church)!

When Chap and I went to Colorado for the first time (my first time ever) in 2015, I was completely mesmerized by the landscape.  We hiked Rocky Mountain National Park, White water rafted, ran a half marathon and climbed all over the Red Rocks.  As we were driving back to Tulsa, in between my sobs, I decided I wanted to see a concert at the Red Rocks.  And what a great thing to have on a bucket list.

Eric Church comes into this because he’s long been on my list of concerts to see.  I was supposed to see him in graduate school, had my tickets and everything but it was right as I was gearing up to move and I just couldn’t swing it.

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Light packers?!

When I saw that he was playing at the Red Rocks, it was such an easy decision to jump into.  And lucky for me, Chap is fairly easy to convince to go to Colorado – even for country concerts.  This time around we’d planned to camp (also on my bucket list), hike and end the trip with the concert.  I’ll have to write about the camping and hiking later, maybe next week.  But after a few days of some crazy weather and being one with nature, we crashed at our favorite Air Bnb, the same mountain castle we stayed in last time.  Unfortunately it’s a little out of our price range now so it’s our last time there.

We were so tired.  We’d been driving for a while, after spending the past two days hiking our way to Crater Lake and spending the night in a tent somewhere along that trail.  My sleep was pretty fitful that night because of discomfort, cold and a tiny fear of bears.  So, as soon as we got to our castle, we showered and passed out hard.  I woke up a little bit before Chap, to read about the parking and drinking protocols for the Red Rocks Amphitheater.  And I about leapt off the bed with excitement when I saw that my fave little songwriter Maren Morris was opening for Mr. Church.  I’m not ashamed to say I was legitimately more excited to see her than Eric (sorry, man).

The wait to get into the venue wasn’t too bad.  It rained on us a little but we had drinks and the company of the Church Choir (what Eric calls his fans) and it’s good company y’all.  Funny, good country company.  Seating was pretty open so we picked a seat in the middle and waited for Maren.  The views while we waited were amazing.  Storms performed an intense show as a back ground to the stage and the night air was perfect.

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I loved both shows, the venue and my company!  It ranks high up there with my favorite concerts.  Eric is amazing, and I’ve seen him again in Tulsa since – if you like his music, I highly recommend seeing him live.  Maren is a little powerhouse vocalist and I love that she writes her own music.  I will always try to see her live if she’s close (or hell, I’ll go back to the Red Rocks to see her!)  Her lyrics just speak to my little soul.

This is a little side note for those of you still with us.  Maren and her band were on our flight back to Tulsa the next morning.  I realized it too late and didn’t get to sit in the empty seat next to her, but Chap did!  And he didn’t even get an autographed napkin for me or anything.  I didn’t talk to her while we waited for our bags because I never know what to do with famous people.  This is not the first time I’ve been with some low-key (not high-key like Tom Hanks you know?) celebrity and not known what to do.  What would you have said?

Have you been to the Red Rocks?  Who did you see?

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Thirty Thursdays: Hang the Porch Swing

This summer holds many exciting milestones for me.  Less than a month after we tackle the marathon, I’ll tackle my 30th birthday.  Even with just over a month to go, I’m not really freaking out about it.  For the very reason that I know there’s no real reason to.  At the same time, I can understand some of my friends who are having a little bit of a hard time with it.  Yes, I know we’re still young (younger than we think), but I just want to know if anyone ever really gets the hang of this adult thing.

For example, in my thirties, will I be able to finish projects in a reasonable amount of time?  And not have to create massive bucket lists just to get them done?  Case in point, this porch swing.  This porch swing was one of the most important criteria on my housing search check list.  Or at least a porch on which I could hang my own.

I bought my house in August 2014.  My wonderfully thoughtful parents, knowing one, the glory of porch swings and two, how much I wanted one, gifted me one as a housewarming present!  And despite my excitement and anxiousness to have this accessory on my front porch, I waited over two years to cash in on their gift (luckily it didn’t have an expiration date).

And then, once I did cash in and find the perfectly white swing for my house, it sat in a box in my living room for months.  It literally took putting it on a list with a deadline so that I could check it off one night when I didn’t have as much to do to get me to assemble and hang it.  And of course the nudging and guidance of Chap.

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It was his idea to make a whole night of it.  We had take out, drank wine and built the swing.  It was pretty easy to assemble; cake compared to IKEA type furniture.  I think there were four or five pieces of the main swing to piece together, a little hardware to make them stick, and then the chains for it to hang on.  We bought some extra bolsters at Chap’s recommendation a few days later when we were ready to hang it up.

I wanted to be as hands on in the process of hanging the swing as I could, with the careful eye and guidance of someone who could make sure I was attaching it so it wouldn’t fall once anyone sat down.  So, with step by step verbal instruction from Chap, I managed to use a borrowed drill from my neighbor to get the braces hung in the roof.  Hanging the rest was super simple and soon I was swinging to my heart’s content.

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I spent many happy moments reading, drinking coffee/wine/tea and chatting with friends on that swing last fall.  And I am looking forward to many more times on that porch.

The swing is from wayfair.com.

Thirty Thursdays: Snow Ski

Here we go for your first tale of the 30 Before 30 Checklist:

Until this past March, I’d never been snow skiing.  Never with my family.  Never with the high school youth groups.  I blame some of it on our geographical location smack in the midwest (although airplanes these days will take you just about anywhere).  More of it on how my dad’s very last trip snow skiing ended (on a medic sled with a torn ACL).  And most of it on our (rightful) preference for beach vacations or family reunions in the Georgia mountains.

I don’t blame my parents nor do I hold any grudges for the lack of this experience in my youth (certainly not like the swingset and Barbie Jeep grudges) because I’m not a huge fan of the snow myself.  I tolerated it growing up because I had to, and I sure loved a decent sledding hill but as soon as I could fly the coop in college, I headed south. And now have settled just a bit farther south.

Now that I’m in Oklahoma, I’ve never met so many people who travel to Colorado to ski in the winter or to escape the heat in the summer.  It’s a serious hobby here.  Even that wasn’t enough to get me interested.  But then, I started dating this guy around Christmas time.  He is one of those snow skiing hobbyists.  He went at least three times that first season we were together.  His love for the mountains isn’t just limited to the winter either.  Our very first big trip together was a drive from Tulsa to Colorado for one of those summer escapes everyone here seems to do.

That’s when the snow ski pressure started.  While we were hiking there was lots of imagining this place covered in snow, and tales of horrible traffic going out of Denver into the mountains on the weekends.  After a long weekend of hiking, rafting and running a race, I was smitten with the Rockies.

That initial infatuation with Colorado coupled with Chap’s incessant snow ski talk, led to a 2015 snow gear-themed Christmas.  I got ski pants and a ski coat which was just what I wanted that year to get ready for a spring trip.  New Year’s eve we spontaneously booked flights to Denver in March, and that was that.

First rule of ski travel, as I was told by Chap, was to take the earliest flight out.  We had to check bags (I hate it) to fit all of the bulky snow gear in.  And of course barely made it to our gate.  Then there was the trek with all our stuff to the rental car place and then the drive into the mountains.  It had been snowing (still was really) so the drive took us a couple of hours.  5 of us crammed into a Jeep Cherokee.

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We finally made it to Breckenridge.  The boys were so anxious to get on the slopes for the afternoon but Maaike and I hadn’t ever skied before.  First we stopped at the house to drop things off and for the skiers to get layered up.  Next, we had to go get our rental skis and boots (this hobby is not for the faint of heart, or the shallow pockets.  I saved for most of 2015 to afford these four days).  Finally, we dropped the guys off at the lift and then opted for pizza and some grocery shopping for the weekend while we let the guys play.  Our plan was to check into ski school the next day.

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Sending the fellas off!

Y’all just getting dressed for this activity is a workout in itself.  Base layer of skin tight warm clothes comes first.  Then a comfortable cotton shirt on top.  Then the puffy layer of ski coat and pants.  Gloves then mittens.  Face warmer and neck guard.  Helmet with goggles attached.  Skis and  boots.  These boots are an exercise machine in themselves.  Heavy and awkward to walk in.  Even requiring help snapping them shut.

Ski school was such a good decision and investment for me.  I think I certainly could have gotten the hang of it on my own, but I’m glad I opted for the full day of drills and practice.  First lesson was just maneuvering over to our instructor on a flat spot in our skis.  That’s still the hardest part to me (followed right up by walking around in the boots).  Then we got to practice keeping our skis apart on a downhill by railroad tracking down a snake hose.  After that skill was mastered, we moved on to the bunny slope.  This is not even a hill y’all.  But it was exhilarating for the first time and great practice just staying up on the skis.  We practiced that hill over and over, working more towards french fries (fast stance), and away from pizza (brake stance).

After a lunch break and catching up with the boys who’d already been on several longer runs, we went back to our instructor.  This time we graduated to a real ski lift and got to practice going down some real hills.  I feel like we both mastered enough of the technique pretty fast.  Maaike and I spent an hour or two together on those slopes and then decided it was time for a green run.  The guys helped us down by leading the way, turning at appropriate times and shouting encouragement.  Before long I was ready to head off with Chap for some longer runs.

I was confident but in no way a master.  I’d start down a hill and then feel completely out of control which led to one of three scenarios:

  1. Me staying on my feet but screaming the whole way down for people to get out of my way “I’m out of control!  Can’t stop!” (hey, at least I give fair warning.  and really, I’m surprised there aren’t more collisions out there)
  2. Me falling into the snow on purpose in what I dubbed a “controlled wipeout” in order to stop the next option from happening.  Sort of picture a gentle fall to either side, or just completely sitting down.
  3. A complete wipeout.  These are terrifying and should be avoided.  I had two big ones where skis came off (that is a workout too, getting those suckers back on and trying not to slide across the slopes) and it ended my run for the day.

The end of the day was always fun because the five of us would come together over drinks in the base camp bar and watch NCAA March Madness.  Showers, naps and snacks by the fire at our condo came next and then we’d head out somewhere into the darling town of Breckenridge for dinner.

The tale of the Single Blac

On the last day, Chap talked me into looking down a black slope.  It was on the way to one of the blue runs I liked so he said, “let’s just go look at it, and we can skip if you want to”.  We got there and peering over the edge was like looking off a cliff.  One of our other guys was there too, and he was just a little more experienced than me.  We decided to go for it, but even after that decision I just stood there staring at the run for at least five minutes.  Finally, I devised a strategy to take it as wide across the pass as I could, and then employ step number 2, before whipping my skis around to face the other direction.  Repeat.  I did this about five times before I felt far enough down the hill to not have too much momentum gather behind me if I lost control.  And then we were on a blue again, and soon enough I was done with my first ski trip!

It was so fun!  I completely buy into the hype, save year round for my ski lift fund and plan to go at least once a year for as long as I can!

30 before 30

My birthday is in just a few short days.  A few months ago I told someone I was 27.  Then last week I told Chap that I promised I’d make a dentist appointment before I turned 30 next week.  Apparently late 20s comes with some memory loss?  Or I’m deep enough into ambiguous ages that I can’t even keep track anymore….I am 28.  29 on Saturday.

I know people react differently to aging, and I’m sure part of that is being at different stages of life.  This current age used to seem so old and adult and put together.  If I could only tell my 15 year old self what it’s really like (some days you’re a great adult and other days you survive on cereal and naps with your mutt Miley) maybe she’d not be in such a rush to grow up.  Although the cereal and dog parts aren’t so bad.

In anticipation of the monumental (so they say) dirty 30 next year, I started making a list of things I wanted to accomplish, experience or learn before then last year.  I’ve slowly been working my way through the list and using the hashtag #sprenks30before30 on Instagram to document it.  I had some friends ask for the complete list so I’ve compiled it below.  I like to think I have a nice mix of adventure and travel, fitness and knowledge, goals and skills to master.  Many of these will be money dependent so I’m not expecting to complete the entire list but it’s nice to have something to dream about.

These are in no particular order except what I thought them up in:

  1. Skydive
  2. Snow Ski
  3. Red Rocks Concert
  4. Travel Out of the Continent
  5. Open Fitness Studio
  6. 20 States on the Race Map
  7. Porch Swing on House
  8. Eric Church Concert
  9. Skinny Dip (not in a pool)
  10. 2 Nights Camping Trip
  11. Scuba Dive
  12. Learn Another Language
  13. Rappelling
  14. Hot Air Balloon Ride
  15. 15 Pullups
  16. Half PR (beat 1:47:36)
  17. Open Retirement Account
  18. Sub 21minute 5k
  19. RYT Certification
  20. Winter Cruise
  21. Remodel Bathroom
  22. Alaska Trip
  23. Payback Graduate School Debt
  24. Cook Rice Without Burning It
  25. Helicopter Ride
  26. File My Own Taxes
  27. Read
  28. Shooting Range
  29. Year of News
  30. ???

And as I’m typing this, it appears my inability to count my age also translates to making lists.  I thought I had 30 things!  What would you put as the last item on my 30 before 30 list?

Austin Bucket List

One of my goals for 2014 was to be a tourist in my own hometown.  If you’ve followed me since my Memphis days, you know this has always been important to me.  Explore. Do. Sightsee.  Learn.  Wherever you live, the history, culture and activities of your hometown are unique and you should soak them up!

My situation is perhaps a little more unique because I might be running out of time.  I moved to Austin a year and a half ago to start graduate school at UT.  I like this town a lot, and it has provided ample opportunities for me to learn and grow in my field.  But I know it is not my home.  I will not settle here.  I will not dig the roots of my fitness business here.  I know for sure I will be here through the end of school (May) and through the end of the lease on my house (early August) but after that I have no plans.  No plans to leave, no plans to stay.  I’ve got six months to make those plans but in case of the latter, I do have plans to DO a lot of things in and around Austin!

Here is a Bucket List my roommates and I have constructed for things we’d like to do before we leave:

  • First Thursday (SoCo)
  • Gospel Brunch – Stubb’s
  • Roller Derby
  • Top Golf
  • Peter Pan Mini Golf
  • In.Gredients Trivia Night
  • Greenbelt
  • Hamilton Pool
  • Float the River
  • Tower Tour
  • Two Stepping
  • Capitol Tour
  • National Park
  • Boat on the Lake
  • Bat Bridge
  • McKinney Falls
  • Chicken Shit Bingo
  • Hippie Hollow
  • Wimberley
  • Run the Cap 10k
  • Fredericksburg
  • Juan in a Million
  • Uchi
  • Freddie’s
  • Mozart’s
  • Enchanted Rock
  • Explore Downtown
  • Slam Poetry (Spiderhouse)

A pretty comprehensive list I’d say!  Some restaurants, some outdoor activities, some culture, some history.  The list is by no means complete so if you have a suggestion for something for me to do before I peace outta this town, let me know!