Rocky Mountain Ramblings

A Failed Attempt to Summit Mt. Princeton – Tips, Tricks and What to do Next Time July 1, 2018

Filed under: Hikes,Travels — rovinglady @ 12:28 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Without much preparation or planning, Chris and I decided we were going to hike a 14er on Saturday.  The only real intention we had was to leave for Buena Vista, CO after work on Friday, set up camp and hike on Saturday.  Though we tried, we did not summit our chosen mountain peak of Mt. Princeton, and there were many things we could have done differently to aid in a successful climb.  I’ll chalk it up as a live and learn experience, and perhaps next time I will triumph.

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High hopes from the parking lot trail head

The first thing we did wrong on this adventure was we didn’t choose which peak we wanted to hike in advance, or spend enough time researching the trails. While we drove down 285 south toward Buena Vista on Friday evening I did some quick searches on Google while my phone was in and out of cell service range, and decided that Mt. Yale seemed like a good choice for us to hike.  We knew the trail head was off of county road 306, and we figured we’d set up camp somewhere in the vicinity.

By the time we got to CR 306 it was getting dark.  We were greeted with a sign that said “road closed 9 miles ahead”, which was about three miles before the trail head.  We drove as far as we could on CR 306 and set up camp on BLM land. We headed back to town to go to the grocery store to get provisions for breakfast and lunch the next day. This was our second mistake; not doing meal prep in advance.  Usually when we go camping we get out all the equipment prior to departure and look through the supply bag to make sure we have everything we will need. This time we just grabbed the supply bag and packed it in the car, and of course it didn’t contain everything we would need.

Since the road to the Mt. Yale trail head was closed I tried to look up alternate hikes on my phone from the grocery store parking lot, but cell phone reception was terrible, which turned out to be caused by a nearby wildfire that reached some cell phone towers.  Chris had some previous experience with the Mt. Princeton trail and said he had always wanted to summit that peak, so to make our decision quicker and easier we settled on that choice.

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Chris had mentioned wanting to wake up early to begin the hike, but our third mistake came in not setting a morning alarm.  We woke up later than desired, and then realized we didn’t have a pan or other cooking utensils to make bacon and egg sandwiches for breakfast.  This required us to go back to the grocery store in the morning, because there was no way I was going to attempt a long and strenuous hike without eating breakfast. By the time we stopped at the store and then prepared breakfast and lunch at the trail head parking lot, we didn’t start out on our hike until 10:00 AM, which as an experienced hiker of 14ers knows was the fourth mistake.

The fifth mistake we made was that when you hike Mt. Princeton, you have the choice to either park the car in a larger parking lot on CR 322 at 8,900 ft. elevation, or continue driving for three miles to a smaller parking lot at the radio towers at 10,800 ft.  When I had internet service I did see that driving on CR 322 to the radio towers required a 4WD car and I was nervous about taking my 2002 Honda CRV on the road. Also, Chris said it would be cheating if we drove three extra miles instead of hiking, so it seemed a no-brainer to us to park the car at the lower lot and hike all the way up.  It turned out that parking in the lower lot was a bad decision (at least for us, anyway).  And for the record, after seeing the road to the radio towers, I think with very cautious driving my car would have made it to the upper lot.

The hike up to the radio towers was on a dirt road which was very dusty and not very scenic.  As we strained ourselves hiking three extra miles and about 2,000 feet in elevation, we were passed by at least 15 cars that were driving up to the second lot. Everytime a car passed dirt and dust swirled around us and stuck to the sweat and sunscreen on my face and body. It was already not my favorite hiking experience, and we hadn’t even reached the radio towers yet.  

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Dirt road (CR 322) to radio towers

It took us two hours to reach the radio towers and we had already breaked several times, eaten one snack and sought out shade as often as possible.  Due to the 10:00 AM start we were hiking in the blazing sun, which did not support our efforts whatsoever. The sixth mistake we made was that we weren’t sure how long the hike actually was.  I had taken a few screenshots to reference from a website that gave directions in elevation, but not miles, and Chris had read something that said 7.4 miles, but wasn’t sure if that was one way or round trip. It turned out 7.4 miles was one way from the lower lot.

We hiked the three miles to the radio towers at 10,800 feet and our next direction was to look for the trail head off the dirt road at 11,800 feet, which turned out to be another 1.5 miles away and took us about one hour. En route to the trail head I was starting to wonder if I would even make it that far, let alone to the summit. By this time my hip flexors were hurting very badly and every step I took was painful, so I was walking slowly and with small steps, all the while fighting back tears and negative thoughts about my capabilities.

I’m going to go ahead and say my seventh mistake was not having any music to listen to on the hike.  It was a long hike and Chris often forged ahead, and while quiet time alone on a trail can be wonderful, I really wished I had some music to boost my energy and take my mind off the difficulties I was facing. As we neared the trail head we passed three men on their way down. Chris asked them if we were getting close and one man laughed and said “you aren’t even warmed up yet.”  I found his remark to be incredibly discouraging and it definitely acted as an anchor to my already sinking spirit about the hike and my physical condition.

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In between the radio towers parking lot and Mt. Princeton trail head. Elevation 11,600 ft. Wildfire smoke visible in distance.

We took a break at the trail head and talked to a small group of people that were coming down.  They said they didn’t reach the summit because the terrain turned very rocky and challenging, and the summit was still “very far” away.  Once we were off the dirt road and on the actual trail this part of the trek was actually beautiful and enjoyable and much like I would hope for on a hike. There was green grass, wildflowers and high elevation life such as marmots, pikas, bees, butterflies and birds.  

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Mt. Princeton trail, elevation 12,100 ft.

The beautiful trail didn’t last long, though, and wasn’t enough to revive my spirit.  After about .4 miles the terrain soon turned to all rock scramble and there wasn’t much of a visible path. It was around this time that I broke down and cried. I knew I didn’t have it in me to keep going, and I felt like a failure and like I was letting Chris down as a hiking partner because he was going much faster than me and wasn’t experiencing the hip flexor pain like I was.  According to my best guess from the websites we had looked at, it was still another 2 miles to the summit after the terrain turned rocky.  I knew I was not making it all the way.  I stopped where the green grass and trail turned to rock and sat and waited for Chris who went a little further to about 12,500-13,000 ft elevation.  

 

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Where the trail turns to rocky terrain. Mt. Princeton on the right.

Sitting and waiting for Chris was my favorite part of the day.  There I was sitting on a mountain top at 12,100 ft. elevation with just me and the solitude of nature.  It turned out I was sitting near a marmot den, and he or she came out to visit and we looked at each other and I got a few awesome photos.  

 

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Mr. Marmot

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Marmot kingdom

While waiting for Chris I took off my hiking boots and rested on my backpack as a pillow and felt some of my spirit return. I realized that I had still hiked five miles and just over 3,000 ft. in elevation, and that itself is an accomplishment, even though I didn’t reach the summit. I talked to several others who didn’t reach the summit, so I shouldn’t feel too bad, but I can’t help but feel like I failed and like all the time I’ve dedicated to going to the gym the past few months hasn’t paid off and why should I live in CO if I can’t summit a 14er.

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my stats according to my cycling GPS app when I called it quits at 12,154 ft. elevation

I think if we had started from the parking lot at the radio towers I may have made it to the top of the massive Mt. Princeton, but I guess I can’t be sure until I try it again, which I’m honestly in no rush to do. To quote someone I talked to who also didn’t summit, “I’m not loving this that much to keep trying.”  

Mt. Princeton is rated a class two difficulty (on a scale of 1-5), but we heard from other hikers that it’s a very challenging summit over the rocky terrain. Being that I’ve only actually hiked (and successfully summited, thank you very much) one 14er, I decided that next time I want to try a trail that may be easier, or at least shorter, and prettier, so that I can summit, boost my confidence and give me more experience before I try to tackle Mt. Princeton again. 

I guess I’m not much of an ivy-leaguer, anyway…

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Goodbye Little Green & My Month of Uber January 31, 2018

Filed under: Ain't Life Grand,Buscapades,Uncategorized — rovinglady @ 8:41 pm

Friends! Hi!  Once again, it’s been way too long since I’ve written a blog.  But hello! It’s happening, and it’s about my lack of transportation this past month and how in reality, everything worked out in my favor.

One day in late December right before Christmas 20017, my much beloved 1998 Honda CRV broke down in Denver not too far from my house, and it turned out to be that car’s last hoorah.  Little Green, as I liked to call my pine green love bug on wheels, made it to 241,000 miles (almost), and f’n kicked a$$ the whole time I had it.

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The day I got LG 08/31/2015

I got Little Green (LG) days before Dick’s 2015, which means I had it for 2 years and 4 months.  My parents actually got the car for me and had it “shipped” to Denver.  For realz mom and dad, thank you so much.  It was probably the best car I’ve ever had.  It never let me down.  It always started and got me where I wanted to go – it made it to three Phish Dick’s, several camping adventures in the mountains (including the one when mice decided to build a nest in the blower motor), snowboarding, hiking; and even when LG broke down, she allowed me to park her in a safe spot overnight and take Uber home and take care of the ‘broken down car thing’ the next day, when it wasn’t dark and 0 degrees out.

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LG packed and ready to roll – Phish Dick’s 2017

LG broke down right before Christmas 2017.  I was told by my mechanic that it needs a new transmission, that it isn’t worth fixing and I should look for a “new” car.  (Easy for you to say.)  I’ve learned it’s pretty hard to shop for a new car when you don’t have a car.  It takes forever to take the bus places, and why should I pay Uber or Lyft to bring me to look at some shitty car I’m most likely not going to buy?  I only want to buy a car that’s convenient for me, a car I like, and that has good internet reviews.

You want to know what car has great internet reviews?  A used Honda CRV – just like I had.  I have learned that older Honda CRVs really hold their value.  An ’02 can still go for $5-6000, depending on mileage/condition.  My budget is less than that, and though I could take out a loan, I just don’t want to.  So my shopping options have been limited.

It turns out used car dealerships aren’t open on Sundays, which most weeks only leaves me Saturdays to car shop, but if I want to have the car checked out by a mechanic to ensure I’m not buying a lemon, I need to do that on a weekday.  Add that to me not having a car, and that I injured my knee and couldn’t really walk for about a week, and you will realize I haven’t been doing too much car shopping.

But it’s back to to it tomorrow!  I made an appointment to look at a CRV through a private owner via craigslist, and then I might take the bus down south Broadway and get off whenever I see a used dealership I want to check out.  Doesn’t that sound fun!?

Did you know some dealerships make you have your own car insurance if you want to test drive a vehicle?  Luckily I still have Little Green, sitting in her parking spot outside my apartment building, and she is still insured.  I refuse to sell the car until it’s replaced.  If I get another CRV I might be able to switch the tires and/or radio headset, and that’s what I’m holding on to.  (That, or sentimental value.)

So what I have I been doing the past five weeks without a car?  Utilizing all the city’s options!  I’m back on the bus! I was taking the bus to and from work, which is rather affordable at $5.20 for a day pass that gets me around Denver until 1:59AM each day; I just have to dedicate a lot of my time to sitting on and traveling to/between buses.

I’ve also been taking Uber quite often, which was supposed to be the point of this blog but it kind of went astray.

I’m a fan of Uber.  I know it has kind of a bad rep on the internet, but I prefer Uber over Lyft.  I find the rides to be cheaper most of the time, and I like that I don’t feel pressured to sit in the front seat.  Also, they always e-mail me promotions, which is really the reason I use Uber as much as I do.

Wouldn’t you know, that on January 3, 2018, I got (another) Uber e-mail promotion to pay $5 on the spot and then have discounted rides via Uber for 28 days.  What perfect timing.  Yeah, it sucked that my car died, but Uber really pulled through with discounted flat fares for the whole month of January.  I used it occasionally in the beginning of the month, but once I injured my knee I started taking it everyday, including to and from Urgent Care in the snow storm (on crutches) to have my knee checked out.

My “Month of Uber” has been amazing.  It’s great having someone pick me up for work and drive me home after, all at the click of a button.  Plus, my drivers have been amazing.  They are all so friendly and kind, and if I don’t feel like talking, we don’t talk.  But if I do feel like talking, we talk the entire ride.  It’s been really cool meeting so many different people as they drive me around, and I’d like to think they like meeting me, too.

A few special drivers that stand out to me are: the guy in the band Eminence Ensemble, the older man from the US Virgin Islands who has eight kids and ten grand kids, still uses military time, only sleeps 4 hours/night and absolutely refuses to babysit or spend more than a few hours at a time with his grand kids, and the few Uber shares where we picked up riders and it turned in to an entertaining commute. (The woman who got off her Tuesday afternoon blind date, the girl who made us sit in traffic in downtown Denver for 30 mins and I didn’t know if I’d make it to Sancho’s happy hour but the driver was cool, and the gal who was getting married and told me flowers can cost around $20K).

Tomorrow I will go back to riding the bus and shopping for shitty, used cars.  I can’t actually afford to take Uber to and from work every day if I don’t have a promo. But all I would like to say is, it’s been fun.  In fact, I’d even consider driving for Uber part-time, that’s how much of a good experience I’ve had with it this month. I also hope to find a new (used) Honda CRV…tomorrow.

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July 2017 – the day DeadMau5 moved in

I think that’s about all I’ve got right now.  Peace out.

 

 

Blog Life! Twenties, curls, interviews and dumpsters April 27, 2017

Filed under: Blog Life! — rovinglady @ 6:22 pm

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog.  Too long.  Google didn’t event use auto-fill when I was typing in the WordPress page, and that is sad.  I used to write mad blogs, and I’m going to try to do that again.  My Buscapades blogs were definitely the best, but I don’t ride the bus much these days, so I am just going to write about day-to-day life, starting with today.

Today I had an interview for a “real” job that I actually think I am a very good fit for.  I wanted to be prepared and look nice for my interview, so after researching hairstyles for long hair and job interviews, I decided I better go purchase a curling iron.  I picked up a curling iron and hairspray at Wal-Mart and went to pay for it at self checkout.  When I stepped up to the self checkout counter I saw the unmistakable image of Andrew Jackson out of the corner of my eye.  I looked down and saw that sure enough, there was a twenty dollar bill, folded in half, lying on the ground, halfway underneath the self checkout station.  I quickly bent down, scooped it up, put it in my purse and continued paying for my hair supplies.

As I was checking out I was thinking to myself, “I wonder who lost the twenty dollar bill? Should I give it to the self checkout clerk? If I keep it, will I lose something in return?” I decided to tell my conscience to shut up and keep the money and use it to buy groceries.

However, after I finished my transaction and walked past the self checkout clerk, I noticed she was ringing up a man for fried chicken and that he seemed to be searching his pockets hard, as though he lost something.  I stalled and tried to hear if he was going to tell the clerk what he was looking for, and he and I ended up walking out of the store at the same time.  I saw that he was still heavily searching the cargo pockets of his sweatpants, so I asked him, “Did you lose something?” And he said, “Yeah, I lost my twenty.”

“Well, I found it,” I said, and I reached into my purse, grabbed it and handed it back to him.

“Thank you!” he said, and asked where I found it.  I told him, I said “you’re welcome”, and we carried on our separate ways.  That’s it.  That’s all the happened.  There was no hug or tears or sign from the universe that I did the right thing, but I know I did because I felt good about it.  I felt like a good person who did the right thing, and I hoped those feelings would carry with me to my job interview.

When I got home from Wal-Mart it was time to start getting ready for the interview.  First I ironed my outfit, and learned the hard way that the pants I ironed were made from a “do not iron” material.  I didn’t have enough time to throw a different outfit together, so I wore the pants anyway and figured no one would stare at the spot that looked like it may have melted a little bit.

I then moved into the bathroom to use my brand new curling iron.  I haven’t really curled my hair in something like ten years (probably more), and I know that my hair doesn’t hold a curl, so I took my time and made sure to use lots of hairspray.  I curled half of my hair and thought it looked very nice, then moved on to the other half.

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fresh curls

The curls on the first half of my hair had already started to fall out while I worked on the second half, and my whole head of hair was looking a lot less curly by the time I put on my jacket to walk to the bus 30 minutes later.

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leaving for the bus, not curly

I brought a mirror in my purse and checked my hair on the bus en route to the interview, and the curls were completely gone.  Curling my hair was a waste of time and money, and I smelled like I used hairspray as a perfume.  I told myself it was OK, and that at least I tried.

I’m not so sure how the interview went.  It was in a big office building in the middle of downtown, and I think I really want the job.  As I already mentioned, I think I’m very well qualified for the position and have relevant experience, I’m just not sure how I did in the interview.  I can write a good cover letter and resume, but when it comes time for the face to face interview, I am not so sure about my interviewing skills.  I don’t think I expressed my interest and relevant experience enough, and the woman asked me what my salary requirements are and I totally drew a blank.  I wished she’d told me what the salary would be.  It’s kind of an entry level, assistant position, and it’s not like I’d be leaving a professional job and salary to take this position, so if I want the job, I’d take what they offered me.

Oh, well.  Once again, at least I tried in the interview.  I put in a lot of effort, and hopefully my resume displays the things I neglected to say.  But if you’re reading this, maybe you can keep your fingers crossed for me that I get a call back.  She said they hope to make a decision some time next week.

Just when you thought this blog was going to end, I have one more little story I can tell that happened to me today.

After I returned from the interview I brought my bike out the backdoor of my apartment building and there was an older man going through items in the dumpster, which is right next to the backdoor.  It was the second day in a row I’d seen him doing this.  Yesterday I thought he was a homeless guy, but today when I came outside he said hello to me and asked how my asthma is doing.

“My asthma?” I thought to myself, because I DO have slight asthma, and it’s actually been worse than ever lately, but how the hell does this guy know that?

“Oh, it’s OK,” I said.  “Why do you ask?”

“Because I remember you saying you have asthma, and I know this time of year can be tough, with so many things in the air.’

“Oh, yea,” I said.  “I have an inhaler, so I can use that if I need to.”

“Well that’s good,” he said as he was checking the pocket of a red women’s jacket someone put in the dumpster.  “You wouldn’t believe the things some people throw away,” he said.

We shared another moment of small talk and I joked that the women’s jacket would look good on him before I biked away.  It dawned on me that I think he is actually my neighbor and lives two doors down from me in the building.  I believe he owns a white pickup truck which is always filled with items he must find in dumpsters around town.  I remembered that one time I passed him in the hallway and I was wearing tie-dye pants and non-matching floral print shirt, and he told me he liked my outfit, which was kind of funny because it wasn’t a very good outfit.  I think I was doing laundry.

But anyway.  That’s all I’ve got for now.  Hopefully I wrote another blog soon.  Thanks for stopping in.  CIAO!

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PURPS!

 

Re: Pizza in Denver April 29, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — rovinglady @ 9:08 pm

If Denver is going to insist on growing at a dynamic rate, all I request of the city is that it gets an actual GOOD pizza place. I’m sick of being disappointed in my meal when I go out for pizza on a Friday night.  I often get pizza at Fat Sully’s or Atomic Cowboy or whatever the name of that place is, and almost every time I go to the location on S. Broadway I walk in with high hopes, but am usually left disappointed and wondering why I spent so much money on my experience.

I find their pizza slices to be too large, too thin and topping selection is quite weak.  It’s awesome food for if you’re drunk, or if you’re from some state in the country that isn’t known for having good pizza, but if you’re craving authentic, east coast, very delicious pizza, don’t go there.  The slices fall apart in your hand.  They serve gigantic slices, but they are so big that if you add even a single topping, the crust disintegrates as you’re eating it.  It’s not worth it.  I rather have a regular sized slice and get the toppings that I want.  But this place doesn’t even have all the toppings that you want.  It’s printed on the box that they have a “perfect slice of New York pizza”, but I don’t think that’s true.  I don’t even think the owner is Italian, because an Italian pizza-shop owner would have fresh mozzarella as a topping option, and actual whole leaves of basil, not a few shreds worth, sprinkled about the slice.  He would put more than seven miniature chunks of sausage on your slice, and actual cut up cloves of garlic, not a dusting. He would slather the huge slice in your topping of choice, and not start ⅓ of the slice up and scatter the topping on the remaining end.

I’m not saying it’s the owner’s fault, because I know it’s probably the kitchen employee’s fault.  And I feel bad about saying this because I have a friend who works at the Colfax location, and I have no beef with the Colfax location, it’s the S. Broadway restaurant location that has repeatedly let me down.  Tonight I spent $30 and don’t even think that my experience was worth it, at all.  Though, I did have two beers, which I enjoyed, as well as salad and pizza.  They had what I would consider to be good music playing, and they have a nice beer selection.  The family style salad is quite tasty.  They also have a bunch of of board games you can bring back to your table.  I like the environment and the vibe of the place, which I why I keep returning, I just wish their pizza satisfied my pizza desires a little more.

It makes me wonder, why doesn’t Denver have any authentic, awesome Italian owned pizzeria restaurants?  I really took them for granted when I lived in Morris County, NJ.  I even worked at one, and though I knew the food was tasty as fuck when I worked there, I didn’t realize then that those little hometown joints don’t exist all over the country.
All I want in Denver is a really good pizza, sandwich and Italian food restaurant option.  I don’t know if those types of Italian people live in Denver.  I guess I don’t blame them, because it might not be their scene, but I wish someone would fulfill my desire…and I don’t want it to be me!  

 

Protected: Sub Life, Gangster’s Paradise December 2, 2015

Filed under: Ain't Life Grand — rovinglady @ 9:09 am

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Phish Dick’s 2015: Please, Be Kind. September 8, 2015

It occurred to me during Phish’s Sunday night “THANK YOU” encore at Dick’s that perhaps part of the reason Trey Anastasio played with Dead50 was so that he could train under their leadership on how to make a community feel more banded, more connected and more uplifted by spreading a peaceful, positive message, giving thanks, and playing a unifying song that makes people feel stronger, like “United We Stand”.

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After Friday night’s show I saw a status update from a Deadhead friend who said the people on Phish lot are mean and rude and that he didn’t have a very good time.  At first I wasn’t sure I agreed with his post, until I coincidentally experienced people be rude to me on Phish lot the very next night.

First I walked by a guy who had a table set up with glass pipes and he asked me if I wanted to buy one and I said no.  He responded with a nasty attitude and told me to “keep walking, then.”  First of all, I was still walking, and second of all, there was no reason to be nasty to me just because I happened to walk by his booth and didn’t want or need to purchase a glass pipe from him.

About thirty minutes later I had a girl be a bitch to me because I bought a burrito at the stand next to hers and she didn’t like that I stopped to take a bite of the burrito in front of her stand and she came out and commanded me to “go eat my burrito somewhere else.”  I had just put condiments on my burrito and had only been standing there for about 30 seconds when she rudely asked me to move.

I realized then that my friend was kind of right; the scene contained some unconscious, non-friendly people, which of course happens everywhere, but shouldn’t.  I think the Grateful Dead always made valiant effort to fill their fans with good words, lyrics, messages and vibes, and I think this is something they told Trey Anastasio – that he needs to ensure his band carries on the legacy and uplifts their fans to feel like better, kinder people than they were yesterday.

The Phish scene will never be the Dead scene, and that’s OK, because it is what it is.  I think this was also made evident to me in the camp site, when people were listening to Hanson and 80s music that I had to get away from, and when some idiot sat down in our camp and started talking very loudly about how he thinks Donald Trump is the best candidate for presidency.  I asked him to take his conversation elsewhere and he responded by telling me that I probably don’t even vote, and I don’t know what I’m talking about.  He pissed me off more than anything the entire weekend, he made my heart beat fast and he made me want to be mean back to him, but I kept my mouth shut, because deep down I know that anyone who has to talk at a louder volume than anyone else to make sure his opinions are heard is really the most ignorant person in the group.  Plus, of course I fucking vote, and I’m an organ donor, because that’s what Bob Weir and Phil Lesh asked of me years ago when I fell in love with their music.

Phish definitely knows how to throw a party, and I love dancing to their grooves, and I think I see that they are trying to take their power to the next level and unite their fans.  Hopefully their message spreads, they stay healthy and continue to play together for another 20 years so I can attend their 50th anniversary concerts one day.

 

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead at The Ogden February 16, 2015

I saw Joe Russo’s Almost Dead at The Ogden Theater in Denver last night, and it has recently been considered by some to be the greatest Grateful Dead cover band of all time.  The band is cast with some very outstanding musicians, and it definitely brings a new energy and perspective to the much-loved tunes that have been played for years.

Google photo stock

Google photo stock

While JRAD tries to stick to traditional sound during each song, the jams and improvisations are incredibly unique and progressive.  “It’s like a modern day ‘Space’,” I commented during one instrumental portion of the show when Russo held his drum sticks above his drum set, making it look like he was creating sound, even though it was coming from Marco Benevento on keys.

Tommy Hamilton simply shreds his role as lead guitarist, and I think his sound gives fans insight as to what Trey Anastasio might sound like when playing with The Dead this summer. Hamilton’s vocal cords don’t really resonate with those of the late Jerry Garcia, which is something I am accustomed to when seeing Dead cover bands.  “It’s not about the vocals with this band,” said Chris, after I commented that both guitarists, Hamilton and Scott Metzger, read lyrics off their music stands, and of course he was right.  So much talent rains out of this band, you can’t help but be blown away by their sound, and at least Metzger does a pretty good impersonation of Bob Weir on vocals.

The band’s namesake, Joe Russo, was front and center on drums, beating away all night, pouring all his energy into every song.  He played so hard, in fact, that part of his drum kit disassembled during “Shakedown Street” toward the end of the first set.  The band had to stop playing, and the house tried to cover for them by putting a “Shakedown Street” remix on over the speakers as the band walked off stage without appropriate or well-deserved applause from the audience. The band snuck back on stage after setbreak and picked up the Shakedown jam right where they left off, and Chris and I tried to regain our spots in the center of the first tier, but the crowd was too thick and we spent second set a little further back.

Stage left of Russo was bassist Dave Drewitz (from Ween), and he brought some awesome new licks and flavor to the classic songs.  I can only imagine how awesome it would have been to have seen him play side by side with Phil Lesh this past New Year’s Eve in New York, because last night my face got rocked and my spirit refreshed from spending a few hours in the presence of such talented instrumentalists.

Just like when I saw JRAD in Denver this past October, after the show ended people raved about the band, saying they put on a better show than Furthur, or any current Dead cover/tribute band.  While I do agree that Furthur does not have the same youthful energy as JRAD, I can’t say that JRAD is better.  Nobody can be better than the original artist, that’s not the way the universe works.  The cover band wouldn’t even be on tour if it weren’t for the OGs.

While leaving the venue last night a man behind me said, “Fuck The Dead’s 50th anniversary shows in Chicago, I’m going on JRAD tour,” and I thought to myself, “Good.  Go on JRAD tour. You’ll be one less person to fight for tickets in Chicago, cause that’s gonna be that real deal Grateful Dead shit.”

I left the JRAD show feeling great.  I was very happy to go out, see friends, dance my booty off and have my musical horizons expanded to a new level, but man, now all I can think about is how I need to see Phil Lesh in the flesh as soon as possible!