Taking it back to 1989 with the Taylor Swift World Tour!

Sunday was such an incredible night. I had the extreme pleasure of taking my favorite little girl to her very first concert and what a show it was with Taylor Swift and her 1989 World Tour. Taylor came out rocking with Welcome to New York, which is one of my top jams on her 1989 album.

In the picture above you can see all the blue lights and your first thought may be that those are just cell phones. You would be incorrect. Every guest received a bracelet that was in sync with the concert which just added to the whole experience.

This show was full of amazing dance numbers and an incredible stage but one of the best parts was definitely when Taylor Swift grabbed her guitar and started playing You Belong With Me. It made me extremely nostalgic and realize I have been a Swift fan for ten years now. I remember listening to her albums in high school and have really grown with her music. And it is mildly humorous that I have listened to her music longer than the kid I brought has been alive.

IMG_7994

One thing that I have always respected about Taylor is her love for her fans and she went above and beyond to just stop and talk to the audience. She really emphasized the uniqueness and strength in us all and to never let anyone make you feel inferior. This is a message that truly resonates with me because, just like everyone else, I have my days of doubts and self-confliction. And maybe it’s silly but I find inspiration in hearing this message from someone I have admired for most of my life.

IMG_7997

Let me get off my soapbox here. Haha. If you have the opportunity to see Taylor Swift live, do it! This is the second time I have seen her perform and she always puts on an incredible show. She focused heavily on her 1989 album but brought a balance of some of her older fan favorites.

Another memorable piece was her revamping of Love Story. This song has always been one I can’t resist singing along to and with the heavier electronic beats, it was unbelievable. I still love the original but her new rendition was an excellent addition to this concert.

IMG_8001

I apologize for the small pictures now but Taylor Swift’s encore was rocking! Her stage actually raised up and made full 360 degree turns. She only played one song but what a great song to conclude her show with the chart-topping, Shake It Off. I had the absolute best time and made memories I will never forget. I look forward to the next time Taylor Swift comes through Denver.

Conquered Mount Evans….Twice

Okay. The first time doesn’t really count but I’ll get back to that momentarily.

Justin and I got our butts up at 5:30 this morning with every intention of climbing a fourteener. A two-year bucket list item finally coming to fruition. We had every intention of climbing Mt. Bierstadt but Justin and I fail at planning. We tend to just roll with whatever comes to mind and this is not advice I would ever impart on anyone else. Haha.

The mountain is only two hours from Denver, just outside Idaho Springs. The road up the mountain is stunning with the views but terrifying! The winds are super intense and in combination with twisting roads and the possibility of careening off the cliffs was slightly less than desirable especially for someone with a fear of heights.

But I digress. Justin and I were doing our best to simply follow maps on our phones and honestly thought we were getting close. There were a few cars parked at Summit Lake but there was still quite a long road beyond the lake and we thought we would venture further because Justin’s map said Mt Bierstadt was a bit of a way.

But you know what was at the top of that long stretch of pavement? The Castle in the Sky and the top of Mount Evans… So technically we made it to the top of a fourteener. But we aren’t cheaters so we drove back down to Summit Lake and found the trail that would lead us to the peak of Mt Bierstadt.

IMG_7907

The views were so beautiful but the wind is extremely violent. Definitely prepare yourself if you decide to make a similar journey. Good shoes, a warm sweater and gloves. That last one really is imperative. I felt perfectly prepared for the day minus my cold hands. My only saving grace was the awesome finger-holes in my hoodie.

But now the fun part of the story. The trail Justin and I were following was most definitely supposed to intersect at some point to the trail that lead up Mt Bierstadt. Where exactly that trail is, I still have no idea. We were legitimately climbing over and through rock crevasses when we both looked across the ravine to the next mountain and a wave of mild disappointment hit us. We were trekking up the wrong mountain. We had made a full circle and we had managed to climb the backside of Mount Evans. At this point, we agreed not to turn back and continued the last leg of the trail.

IMG_7912

I definitely feel like I earned this photo! Maybe Mount Evans wasn’t the plan but I am very pleased with myself for finally doing something I have been putting off for years. It was completely worth it and I can’t wait to take on more of what Colorado has to offer.

I Am One Tough Chick

030

A Tough Mudder chick, that is. Bucket list item number six: run a marathon. When I made that list, a twelve-mile obstacle-course isn’t exactly what I had in mind but I definitely think it qualifies! Therefore: run a marathon. Check.

Back in September, my brother and one of my best friends piled into my Hyundai Elantra and we began the roughly four-hour drive to Snowmass, CO. My nerves were a bit twitchy and my stomach jittery but excitement was undeniable. I had been eager to push myself physically and mentally but it was still intimidating.

tough mudder

Justin, Zach and I pre-race.

Walking through The Mudder Village, there are all sorts of people. You have the macho men trying to show off doing one-arm push-ups, the group of guys not taking it so seriously as the all sporting costumes of their favorite superheroes, and the group of girls with bouncy hair and glitter everywhere that makes you want to check that you are at the right event. Haha.

024

Look how tough I am 🙂

That’s the thing though, everyone is welcome and capable of competing in an event. Tough Mudder is about testing ones strength, stamina, and mental grit but it is also about teamwork. It is not a race, you are not timed. It is about conquering obstacles and working with your fellow Mudders to succeed together. As described on ToughMudder.com, “Tough Mudder is more than a fitness challenge, it’s a set of values lived out on the course, and in everyday life.”

I climbed over walls, under barbed-wire, swam in an ice-cold lake, army-crawled in the mud, and ran through electric-shock wires. My limits were pushed and there were definitely moments where I wondered if I could finish. But I’m a pretty stubborn gal and don’t give up easily. And I am so glad I didn’t.

026

Honestly, I wish I could explain the euphoria you experience at that finish line. Not only because you overcame all obstacles to get there but the camaraderie in the day and knowing that everyone was in it together. I know that sounds extremely cheesy but it is the honest-to-God truth. Tough Mudder is one of the best examples of what it is to be a team and embracing the “no man left behind” mentality.

027

Group photo at the finish line.

French Flashback Friday- You like that alliteration ;)

 Scene: Paris, France July 2013                                                                                                                                                                        Mission: Complete Bucket List items #21 and #29                                                                                                                                          Agent: Catie Johnson

Haha. Hello! Welcome to my first Flashback Friday where I am honoring the day I knocked off two items on my bucket list.

Paris, France: city of love and fashion. Truly an incredible place to visit and being there was an unforgettable experience. I constantly felt like pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

Europe 115

When I decided to travel to Europe, I was in a bad place in my life and knew I needed to finally put myself first and start doing the things I kept saying I was going to do. So, on a whim I signed-up for a trip with EF College Break. Scariest and yet, most rewarding thing I have done just for me.

Before arriving in Europe, I did zero research and in a way it was a blessing and a curse. Everything I got to see felt magical and amazingly new. But the downside was the rest on my travel companions had agendas and knew exactly what they were expecting/looking forward to seeing.

Prime example: Love Lock Bridge.

This bridge is literally decked-out in padlocks of all sorts up each side of railings. Legend has it that when a couple writes their names on the lock and attached it to the bridge, their love became unbreakable.

Europe 140

Many of the girls came prepared with their locks and tossed the keys into the abyss of the Seine. I did not. One, I was very much single. Two, I was ill-informed of any magical love bridge. I’m not the type to be left out though and wanted to create a memory so I took this lovely photo and hopefully one day, someone will complete the other half of my heart. (Go ahead and laugh. I’m not ashamed of my cheesy-esque charm :P)

Europe 146

But you aren’t reading this for my whimsical notions on love. I’m hoping you’re here to partake in a little bit of laughter and enjoy my stories and perhaps find inspiration to create your own.

So, Bucket List item #29: Visit the Louvre. Check. My favorite travel buddy, Katie (Coincidence on our names? I think not) and I started our second day in Paris by catching the Metro to the Louvre. Our tour director scored us free passes which definitely offset our 45 minute wait.

Europe 119

We grabbed a map but the proved rather pointless due to either our inability to read a map, period or both of us apparently lacking any sense of direction. Haha. The result? Us making multiple, large-looping circles but even in our crazy disorder, we still managed to see ninety percent of the museum’s highlights.

The most popular attraction? You guessed it! the Mona Lisa. And I’m going to embarrass myself again when I say I’m one of those idiots that thought it was a huge painting. It’s not. It is basically an 8X10 image. Just in case you were wondering 😉

After leaving the Louvre, Katie and I grabbed a quick-lunch to re-energize before visiting the famous fashion district, Champs-Elysées. We walked the entire district and at the end of the strip is the Arc de Triompe. This structure is just one of the many stunning architectural structures this gorgeous city has to offer.

Iphone photos 121

That night, Katie and I re-grouped with the others and that leads me to Bucket List item #21: Visit the Eiffel Tower. Check.

Everyone met underneath the tower and most of the group made their way to the staircase. A few of the girls were being sissies and complaining about being too tired to walk so thy opted to ride the elevator. I clearly was not part of the latter group. 🙂

Knowing I may never visit the Eiffel Tower again, there was no way I was missing the opportunity to climb the stairs. All 600+ of them. The view at the mid-level was amazing but the real treat was the highest point and watching the sparkly, light show on the tower. What can I say? I like sparkly things. Haha. But seriously, it was beautiful.

Iphone photos 152

I am so fortunate I got to share this trip with some amazing people and finally do some of the things I’ve always dreamed of doing.

As always, live with a story to tell! Continue reading

Mosh pits are not fun :(

This past Tuesday (Nov. 4 🙂 Happy Midterm Elections) I had the fantastic opportunity to see one of my favorite bands from my high school years play live. Insert goofy dance move as I do my happy dance and celebrate Relient K and their 10-year anniversary tour of the Mmhmm album.

For those of you unfamiliar with the band they are a pop punk, contemporary Christian group. I know, long description, but extremely accurate and necessary for a point I will address momentarily.

My sister and I arrived downtown fifteen minutes before the doors opened at Summit Music Hall and the line to get inside already stretched around the block down Market Street. The mostly young crowd was decked out in skinny jeans and flannel. Many even donned shoes depicting the album covers, my sister included in the latter group. She hand-painted these the night before the show.

RelientKshoes

This was my first show at Summit and honestly, probably my favorite venue for smaller shows. You have the main floor, standing-room only, right in front of the stage, a small wing off to the side for food and drinks, and then this awesome second floor with stairs and landings on each side of the venue. It really provided a neat atmosphere. The following picture kind of lets you understand what I’m saying, courtesy of Blondfire’s Instagram.

IMG_6263[1]

About 730, the lights finally dimmed and the restless crowd seemed to relax as the Californian band, From Indian Lakes took the stage. I personally enjoyed their instrumental creativity and sound but their vocals were another story. It’s not that they sounded bad per se, but I just couldn’t understand a word they were singing. Haha. Perhaps it was the acoustics of the venue or just the fact that they were nervous performers. The lead singer/guitarist, Joey Vannucchi, didn’t have a strong stage presence that you see with more established musicians but that didn’t really bother me. He clearly is a gracious and soft-spoken person and grateful for the fans and support of the music.

Next band up was the indie pop group, Blondfire. Lead singer, Erica Driscoll, possesses a very earthy aura on stage and appeared relaxed and in her element. Their mellow music is the type where you find yourself in a rhythmic sway. The entire band seemed to have an intense chemistry and for me that was really cool to see them connecting on a different level together on stage. They clearly love what they do and it shows.

9:30 pm hit and the energy in the room surged as the main event was about to take the floor. Relient K came out and immediately jumped into “The One I’m Waiting For” and the crowd went wild. It was surreal being in the thick of the group and standing only 8-10 feet from the stage. I could have stood there all night dancing but the other concert-goers had something else in mind. The band started their third song, “High on 75” and it was like being sucked into a black hole as everyone collided towards the stage. How I didn’t lose my footing is beyond me, partially because I was in heels but mostly because I was in shock.

A mosh pit at what I’ve always deemed a Christian group was the last thing I expected. The entire venue changed from this relaxed environment to this mass hysteria. And I loved witnessing it but preferred being an outsider in that instant. With people crashing around us, my sister and I caught each other’s eyes and both our looks said it all. Get me out of here. She grabbed my hand and we made a weaving beeline to salvation at the back of the main floor. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched the intensity of everyone jumping around and girls crowd-surfing.

RelientK

Relient K played through their entire album and came back to do an eight-song encore. The encore was by far my favorite part and made my night because they played two of my favorite songs: “Mood Rings” and “Sadie Hawkins Dance.”

This is another awesome experience to add to my life story.

Never stop living ❤

Why hello cliff… let me just throw myself off of you :)

Cliff Jumping 028

Let me preface this blog entry by stating: Do not google “cliff jumping” before attempting to cliff jump.

I had the awesome opportunity to join some friends for an afternoon at Green Mountain Reservoir, just a couple hours outside of Denver. The idea of cliff jumping, though exhilarating, sounded absolutely terrifying. So I got the BRILLIANT idea to do a little research beforehand to prepare myself.

Worst. Idea. Ever.

In a matter of minutes the Internet informed me that I would likely decimate my bones and that it would be unwise to jump unless I had a legal will drawn up. Are you kidding me?!? A will??

Needless to say, driving up to the reservoir, I was a mess. Waiting for the rest of the group to arrive, definitely broke into the rum for a few shots of liquid courage and to steady my racing heart.

I was starting to feel fairly confident as I watched some of the local high school teenagers jumping but I was adamant about not going first. (There goes my Dauntless status. Nerd reference. Haha) So, my buddy Evan climbs to the highest point to jump with his bestie, Victoria. She was extremely nervous but made her way along the jagged edges to the peak. Hand-in-hand, the two fell the thirty-some feet to the water’s surface but somewhere in the jump, gravity worked against Victoria and she landed sideways. The result:Cliff Jumping 047

All motivation I had went out the window and landed somewhere at the bottom of the reservoir. It seemed as if all my worst fears were being realized.

I let another couple of hours pass before the angst of wanting to jump began to take hold and it was time to not let fear control me. No way was I climbing to the highest jump but rather the fifteen-ish foot drop. And holy goodness was that in itself intimidating. When someone tells you to not look down, DON’T LOOK DOWN. I don’t care how brave you are, it’s scary.

But with everyone cheering, I wasn’t about to let them or myself down. I pushed off the edge and two seconds later water rushed over my head. The cold stung my skin in the most delicious fashion, balancing out my racing heart and shortness of breath.

IMG_5727[1]                                                Group

Of course, I had to take the expected “after-selfie” in commemoration of my survival. Haha.

But seriously, if you are the type of person looking for adventure or just a kick of an adrenaline rush, try this sport. Recognize that it can be dangerous but if you are smart, it is an incredible experience and one not easily forgotten.

You know my motto: Live life with a story to tell.

Cliff Jumping 053      Cliff Jumping 034       Best Friends

The Story of the Great American Beer, Coors.

I love taking tours. Know what I love even more? Free tours. Especially ones that end in free alcohol. Haha. Okay, if I’m being perfectly honest, there was indeed free beer but I did not partake in the drinking because I am adamantly opposed to drinking beer. It may be that I am repulsed by the taste of yeast but more than likely it stems from when I was thirteen years old and a friend’s grandfather let me have a sip and I ended up spitting it across the counter. So maybe I am not a beer drinker but being a native Colorado girl, it is embarrassing to admit I had not visited one of the most popular brewing companies, Coors Brewing Company.

The company is now called MillerCoors after a merger in 2008 and they are one of the top ten brewing companies in the world servicing the United States and 45 foreign markets. The Golden, CO location is the largest single-site brewery in the world. Founded in 1873 by 26-year-old Adolph Coors, the company created a legacy that continues today with exploration into craft and import beers.

                       

It wasn’t until 1991 that Coors became available in all 50 states. For many years, it was only available in the West and East coasters would travel to Colorado to purchase cases to take home with them. Story has it that President Gerald Ford was one of the many supporters of Coors beer and he transported several cases back east on Air Force One.

Things were not always easy for Adolph Coors. Prohibition hit Colorado in 1916 and the rest of the nation in 1919. During that time, Coors focused on malted milk and near-beer. Today, beer drinkers can enjoy Batch 19 which is a throwback to Prohibition-era beer and Coors beer carries the label “Banquet Beer” on their “yellow-belly” cans in honor of the “banquets” miners would throw during Prohibition. Fortunately, Coors survived and Prohibition ended in 1933.

When I decided to go on this tour, I didn’t realize how educational it would be. I honestly had never thought about the process involved in creating beer. I do have a friend who has made a few concoctions of home-brew in his bedroom closet but I never followed the process. I was just the taste-tester which as I have previously stated, I am not the ideal candidate for that role due to my great dislike of beer. But touring the brewery was a fascinating learning experience.

Each batch of brew must meet the approval of over 200 taste test specialists before getting the “thumbs up”  and it takes an average of 55 days (the longest in the industry) to brew a Coors beer. The Coors filler is capable of processing 1100-1800 cans per minute with sixty percent of their product canned. One of the main ingredients is carbon dioxide which is used to maintain freshness but what made Coors famous was their use of Colorado barley and pure Rocky Mountain water.

      DSCN3565

One of my favorite things about Coors is their efforts to lessen their environmental impact. I am not a huge environmentalist but I do what I can here and there but I appreciate when companies take a stance on helping the environment. Adolph Coors started the first recycling effort in 1885 by offering 45 cents for one dozen empty cans returned to the plant. In 1959, Coors created the first all-aluminum can and for every can recycled they offered a one cent return. Today, MillerCoors reuse and/or recycle 97 percent of their brewery waste and in my opinion, that’s pretty cool.

So, if you find yourself in Colorado, take a couple of hours out of your day and visit the MillerCoors Brewery. It’s free and educational and how many tours have you done where you get free samples of alcohol at the end? Plus, if I haven’t sold you on the popularity of Coors by now, you can always look at the fact that they won gold at the Great American Beer Festival in the Lager category in 1996, 2004 and 2009.