Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Conquering Red Rocks

I attended a recent comedy show here in Denver where the touring headliner made a joke about how people don't like to walk anymore. Dead silence. Crickets chirped. He looked puzzled and did not understand why the joke fell flat.

He'd failed to grasp a basic Colorado philosophy: All forms of outside movement are taken very seriously. Not only do we walk with great zeal, we hike, run, cycle, ski, board and climb. For this, I am forever grateful to the Centennial State because without significant peer pressure, I am quite the lazy ass.

The above photo was taken last Sunday from an entrance ramp at Red Rocks Amphitheater - THE best place to see a concert on the planet, or even a classic film. It also happens to be the very same place where folks go hiking and conduct grueling exercise regimes.

Although one can certainly park at the top and walk down, the great majority of locals tend to park at the bottom and hoof it up. I once heard a KBCO DJ scoff when he'd heard a visitor complain: "Hey, if you can't make it, you don't deserve to be at Red Rocks." They are not kidding. (Seriously, they have suggested exercise routines posted on their website.)

So, when guests visit, we inevitably end up at RR, where they 'oooh' and 'aaaah' and point to the tiny Denver prairie-opolis in the distance. It's not just the intense reds and pinks of the rocks, it's the entire natural grandeur of the place. (We think the rocks resemble melted Neopolitan ice cream or super stripey bacon.)

Even performers gush. When Tom Petty launched his Mojo tour last summer, he chose Red Rocks and thankfully, we were there too. Lyle Lovett makes no bones about RR being his favorite venue and plays every summer. Then there's Steve Martin during his comedy tour, who, after coming out on stage, looked around and deadpanned: "What a shithole. I'm gonna have to fire my manager."

And I don't think I need to even mention U2. (After Pollstar magazine awarded Red Rocks Best Small Outdoor Venue for the 11th time, they finally just gave up and renamed it The Red Rocks Award while permanently removing RR from the running.)

Anyhoo, when my dad visited in August, we took him to Red Rocks and we watched people work out there - running the bleachers, upside down push ups, stair climbing - you name it. It all looked painful to me until I saw a woman jogging back and forth, working up the venue, one row at a time. 'Hey,' I thought, 'I could probably pull that off sometime.'

So, this past weekend, I did! Took me about 40 minutes but I heard Rocky music at the end, even though I forgot my headphones. This ended up being a blessing as I would have missed a beautiful song by some girl down on the stage in a cowboy hat and jeans. Her voice was angelic and the acoustics were perfect. Less angelic but equally adorable was the old guy who followed with a crusty rendition of 'King of the Road.'

From the ground, post-run.
Meanwhile, every time I passed someone sitting on the bench, I'd ask, "Encouraging words?" This elicited some funny responses, such as:

"Um...It's nice and cool at the top!"
"Only 90 more rows to go!" 
"Whoever is chasing you, you've lost them."
"If you stop, you'll have to do my homework." 
"Great job! Way to go!"

SweaterGod, I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest so many times but once I got the rhythym, I knew I would not be stopping for anything. Eventually, I conquered 69 really long rows at 6,400-ft. elevation and I felt like a Colorado milestone had been reached.

(No matter that Kirk flew up and down the venue three times - two stairs at a time - with enough leftover time to take a fucking nap - he's a freak of nature, so it does not count.)

  I can't wait to do it again.


Kath said...

Did you know I have money socked away so my wake can be held at RR? True story - just ask HDW :-)

Lisa said...

That is awesome Heather! What a workout!

ClizBiz said...

Kath - What a great plan! I can't think of a more suitable send off for a true blue Coloradoan.

Lisa - Would love to share this with you sometime.