I think every person has a fascination with places, a longing to pack up and go visit just to see if you’re really missing out on anything. For me, I have many of those, but a strong one has definitely been Colorado as of late. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t seen a mountain since I was 18, after spending many years regularly snowboarding and skiing, or if because as a kid I was visting Utah, not the Rocky Mountains. But either way, when Brea floated the idea for us to go to Denver for Decadence, I was down. Especially because I am pretty anti-New Year’s Eve. While I always get excited about a new year, I dread the “sooo…what’s the plan?” texts. I hate crowds. I hate people touching me. I hate people getting so drunk they can’t stand up. I hate waiting in lines. And, of course, there’s always the guys. You know the ones…Where it doesn’t even matter if you say you have a boyfriend, because they’ll hit ya with a “well he’s not here, is he?” I don’t know, maybe I should shove my foot up your ass and see if we can find him there?! So the idea of a music festival, where people are happy and you get to start your new year off with amazing artists, was right up my alley.
(Sorry in advance for length!)
Getting and Staying There
We arrived at Denver bright and early, after an always marvelous nonstop to Southwest. I just have to plug here, I love Southwest and I don’t think I’ve flown anything else in years. I especially appreciate the way you can message them directly on Twitter and they almost always figure out any problems within minutes. Luv it. Anyway, so we got to Denver and Brea and I were both exhausted, but not tired enough to ignore how pretty it was. We stayed at The Curtis Denver, which is a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. I’m not going to say it wasn’t nice and that the beds weren’t 10/10 comfortable but I will say, it was super weird. We were on the “Game Floor,” which the girl at the front had sort of pushed us to stay on and we both were very confused by what was going on. Apparently, each floor was themed something different. The elevators talked in different voices; there was Pac-Man everywhere; and the rooms were uniquely decorated to reflect the theme of the floor. I get that it’s supposed to be fun, but that’s just not really my preference for a hotel. I would probably stay there again, mostly because of location – it’s located very centrally and it’s easy to walk just about anywhere. Right across from the hotel was the Opera House, which I was just obsessed with. As well, it was about a three-minute walk from the hotel to the convention center, which is where Decadence was held. So we ended up saving a bunch of money by being able to walk to different restaurants and back and forth from the convention center.
Getting to and from Arapahoe Basin was a different story though…Because the Colorado Mountain Express was $80 per person, we decided to call an Uber because they said they’d drive us out there. Awesome! Because the trip was around $90, and we could split that between the two of us and save tons. Now, when I ordered the Uber, I put in the location of The Inn at Keystone (where we were staying), saw the price estimate, then ordered. VERY IMPORTANT: I PUT IN WHERE WE WERE GOING WHEN I CALLED THE UBER. Remember this. Soooo, we get picked up by a man in a brand new Jeep Cherokee. In my head I’m like, awesome, what a great car for driving in snow. He helps us with our luggage, gets us in the car, then starts driving while following the directions the Uber app is giving him. Ya know, from the end location I entered. About five minutes in, he asks us, “so where are you going?”
“Keystone! I put it in the app before I entered.”
“Oh…” *Brief pause while Brea and I share a glance.* “What did the Uber app say the estimate would be?”
“Uh…about $90.” You know that moment where your instincts start to kick in and you’re like, how do I get out of this moving vehicle with my friend and all of our luggage? Yeah, that was me.
“No…I’m going to need more than that.” Brea immediately starts looking up how to call the CME people to get a price estimate on a trip from them and the guy starts instructing me to either give him more money or cancel the ride and reorder it so he can take us to the airport. The ride keeps getting picked up by some other random and I keep having to cancel. I know that he’ll try to gauge me for more money than the actual price and Brea and I are both starting to get the “bail, bail, bail” feeling. We spot a McDonald’s and tell the guy to drop us off there, after he tells us that he’ll take us to Keystone for an extra $150…because CME would be $160. Yeah no thanks. If you don’t know, this is not how Uber works and if you find yourself in that situation, immediately get out. Brea and I posted up at McDonald’s and got picked up by a super cool guy who we recounted the story to. He offered to take us out to Keystone with the Uber app, but we were a little too rattled by the other guy and just wanted to get out there and it over with.
We had an uneventful, hour and a half long journey out to Keystone, where we were dropped off at The Inn at Keystone. I really liked it! The room was nice, with a long hallway and lots of space, and a huge bathroom. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it had a bar, and good food, “free” breakfast. We took the shuttle every morning to get out to Arapahoe Basin to ski, although that was a little stressful at times. It always kind of is because you never really totally feel like you know what you’re doing. The CME shuttle back, however, was a disaster. I don’t know why transportation for us in Colorado was such a mess, but it really was. There was a terrible snowstorm when we were trying to head back to Denver. We were supposed to leave at 12:45…but our shuttle was over an hour late to get us. He then got lost picking up the final passenger. I wasn’t feeling well and had been struggling to breathe the entire time in Colorado, because asthma and altitude don’t mix. I also don’t do well when I’m anticipating a small space, and Brea and I were forced to sit in the first row of the shuttle, with me being sandwiched in an extra seat between Brea and the door. All of the stress and the situation led me to struggle through a panic attack for the duration of the SIX HOUR SHUTTLE RIDE. It should’ve been an hour and a half. And although I think Brea disagrees with me lol, there was just no reason for it to be this long. It was miserable. Luckily, we weren’t leaving that day like the people in the shuttle who missed their flights, but we did get in super late which was a real disappointment, considering we had planned on spending the day in Denver. But we were so exhausted and ready to be done with the day that we didn’t even get to go back to the city. We stayed at the Hampton Inn Denver-International Airport, which was about 15 minutes from the airport with a free shuttle. Brea and I had eaten gross airport Subway for dinner, but thoroughly enjoyed the complimentary hot chocolate in the lobby. It was actually much nicer than I had anticipated, and the beds were so comfortable. They book your shuttle for you to the airport when you check in, which was really nice to not have to stress about it in the morning, especially considering our ($57) flight back was at like 7 a.m. so we had to leave by 5:30. We were super nervous about getting stuck because of all of the snow, but of course, the Denver Airport has protocol for that because that’s normal. It was really cool to watch them de-ice the plane, although I was not at all jealous of the guys doing it. Plus, Brea and I got our own row, which never happens, so I guess you could say we were ballin hard. Our flight back to Austin was uneventful, but twinged with sadness for leaving, but relief on getting to see our pets and sleep in our beds.
Growing up in Austin, you start to have an affinity for music and, especially, any chance to enjoy music on a large scale. Maybe this is why I get so heart-eyes-emoji whenever I step into a music festival; I’m like a giddy kid in a candy store. I was so excited when entering Decadence, I like couldn’t stop moving or smiling. Everyone there was so happy, including the people working the festival, which never happens. They’re usually the most miserable people you’ll see all week. Not in Denver! They were joking with us, smiling, complimenting everyone, and genuinely wishing us a good time. For me, that makes me feel a little safer and more trusting of help, because you never know what could go wrong. You can tell Brea and I had an amazing time, because we hardly took any pictures the first night, when we saw R.L. Grime vs.Baauer, Griz, Marshmello and Bassnectar. We stopped at other sets, but those were the ones we saw the most of. My favorite of the night was probably Griz, because he’s just so happy and funky and truly enjoying himself, plus he’s the most fun to dance to. Brea is the biggest Griz fan you’ll ever meet, and when your friend is seeing someone they love, it just makes the experience better! We rang in New Year’s Eve with Big Wild, Keys N Krates, The Chainsmokers, Flume (!!!), and Snails. New Year’s Eve was the literal best. I had heard of Big Wild, but not listened to much of his music before, and he was jamming so hard that I became a fan right then and there. He was just this cool, young guy who was so clearly enjoying what he was doing that you couldn’t help but love him. Plus, it was easy to get right up to the front and see him clearly.
The Chainsmokers were sooo flipping good, even though we could barely see them lol because duh, everyone was there. They always put on a hard set that I think shocks the people who go to see them because they’re like “lol but Closer.” Getting to hear Setting Fires live, though, was really cool because I had anticipated that it would just be totally different than the radio version and they did not disappoint. Plus, they’re hilarious. I was most looking forward to Flume, who we got to literally ring 2017 in with. I had been sort of disappointed by him at ACL, because he basically just played his album and we were so far back we could barely even hear it. I’m super picky about where I am in the crowd and especially the level of the music and if it’s not basically blowing my eardrums (I wore ear plugs this time!), I can’t commit my experience to it. But Flume was…incredible. Way harder than at ACL, way more fun and honestly taking the night to a whole other level. Plus he had giant balloons. Who doesn’t love giant balloons? The night ended with Snails, who I had literally never listened to before, and I think I shocked Brea by actually enjoying it! It was super fun and I was just so wrapped up in the festival and overwhelmed (in a good way) that I was just in awe the entire set. Plus it was just really, really, really awesome. Like really awesome. Awesome.
My friends are much deeper into the EDM scene than I am, so I am by no means an expert, but I really enjoy going to EDM or mostly EDM festivals. Decadence was the perfect way to spend NYE and I’m so glad I went, although I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to keep up. However, literally everyone – workers, crowd, artists, and everyone in between – was so nice and just genuinely happy, which was a really good place to be, considering how daunting 2017 has been for many people. I got to kick off the New Year with some of my old favorite and new favorite artists and people all there to enjoy the same thing, which is an experience I’ll hold close. (Ya know, in case 2017 is worse than 2016.)
Now that you’ve read my horror stories about getting to and from Keystone, you might expect that our time on the mountains was either really good or really bad. It was…in between. The first day was super fun, although a little overwhelming considering I hadn’t snowboarded in many years. It’s always hard to adjust to the altitude and the way your body is affected by that and just the full body workout of snowboarding or skiing. I think I have hit my “I’m too old for this” wall with snowboarding and I’m ready to return to skiing…Problem being I couldn’t even tell you how old I was the last time I skied! Yikes. Our second day was catastrophic for me, so maybe I’m just out for good and I should just stick to drinking at high altitudes as a sport. The snowstorm had begun and although the snow was powdery, it was a little daunting because there was so much falling at once and made it hard to see. I hit a patch of ice and completely lost my legs out from under me. Problem was my arm stayed in one place while the rest of my body flipped. So, yeah…ouch. Like, really ouch. I immediately couldn’t use my right arm and when I got down to the bottom I was like, “Break time!” Brea ended up having to go alone because I was so unsure of using my arm. One of the ski patrol guys told me that it was definitely sprained, maybe fractured and I ended up having to stay off the mountain period. Luckily I got a refund when I returned my board, since I wasn’t using it! When I got back, a small fracture was confirmed by a doc – not enough to be permanent damage or anything, but enough to be super painful even still now (a month later!) when I lift it. Kind of a downer on the trip, and I think the pain was part of what led to me being so panick-y on the way back. The one thing I regret was that Brea and I didn’t even attempt to check out the Keystone area. It was hotel room, bed, mountain, repeat. It’s just so exhausting, and when it’s just two people, sometimes it’s easier to be lazy hermits, because there’s not a bunch of energy just bouncing around. But all in all, that’s a pretty small regret!
Although Colorado wreaked havoc on my skin and sinuses, I am so glad I went and would definitely look better. I kind of want to go in the summer time and do some hiking and actually get to see Denver and just take in the beauty that is Colorado. I’m not sure that I could go to Decadence again…I’m not sure any other time could ever compare. After all, one of our favorite jokes was, “How could anyone be anywhere else for NYE?!” Or maybe I’ll just move in to the Convention Center and wait for Decadence year round. Guess I have a decision to make…Colorado, I love ya.