February 13, 2006

Beaver Creek, Boulder, Robert Randolph

Filed under: Friends,Music,Places — Cory @ 2:08 am

Recently I spent some time out in Colorado, here’s what happened.

Snowboarding at Beaver Creek

 [ Snowboarding at Beaver Creek, CO ] After landing at the Eagle/Vail airport I met up with some mutual friends and caught a shuttle to our place at Beaver Creek Resort. When I arrived at the house I didn’t know any of the other 7 people there, but they were Chris’s friends and everyone was very friendly. We had dinner and played some games until everyone was ready for sleep around 10. Chris arrived later that night.

The next day we hit the slopes. It had been about 3 years since I had last used my snowboard, so it took me an hour or two to get back in the swing of things. Soon I was back on the advanced blues and hitting the black daimonds. I started skiing when I was in the 4th grade, and switched over to snowboarding around the 11th grade in high school, but almost all of my experience is from the mountains on the east coast, especially at Wintergreen Resort. In college Tate and I used to go up there several times a week in the winter, good times. When I lived in New Orleans I flew out to Winter Park, Colorado to hang out with my cousin and snowboard for a few days. I remember thinking then how much more intense the slopes are in the Rockies, and Beaver Creek is no different. (check out the trail maps)

We snowboarded for 4 solid days and after each day everyone was completely exhausted. Usually everyone passed out by 10pm, but one night we took the opportunity to head over to Vail and check out the scene. By the end of the 4 days my calves were a jelly-like substance and there was no way I could think of spending any more time on the slopes. The only thing that kept me going was the excellent food that Katie, Jason and the group prepared each night, although I am quite sensitive to peppers now. We headed out Friday morning, and I caught my flight to Denver to continue the rest of my trip.

Hanging Out in Boulder and Denver

Ken picked me up from the Denver airport around 4pm on Friday and we headed over to his friend Scott’s place to hang out. While we were in Denver with Scott and Jenny we went to dinner at Tommy’s Thai. When we walked in we noticed that everyone was wearing jackets, gloves and stocking caps. It was very cold inside, but the food was worth it. I ordered medium hot Pad Thai and an order of vegetable gyoza, and every bite was excellent. I’m not a huge fan of Asian food, but I could eat at Tommy’s any day. After playing several games of pool and being reprimanded by a middle-aged woman in an “N’Sync” shirt, Ken and I headed up to Boulder where he lives.

The next morning we woke up early and got off to an extremely good start by having breakfast at Lucile’s. Breakfast is my favorite meal and I think its pretty hard to get a top of the line breakfast. There are many great lunch and dinner spots, but few places specialize on breakfast. Lucile’s breakfast was one of the best I have ever had. There were 3 or 4 things on the menu that I really wanted to order, but I finally settled on the New Orleans french toast. It came with eggs, sausage, fresh fruit, and was hands down one of the best breakfast meals I have ever had.

After breakfast Ken showed me around the Pearl Street Mall in downtown Boulder. There were all kinds of interesting shops and stores, and I picked up a few CDs from Bart’s CD Cellar. After a few hours of this we headed up to the foothills and walked around for a while. By this time we were ready for a late lunch so we headed back down to the city and stopped by Foolish Craig’s for a byte to eat. Once again the meal was incredible. I ordered their chicken salad sandwich and a Raspberry Frambozen and all was at peace. We walked around for a while longer then headed back for a break.

My friend James Taurman recently moved to Fort Collins, CO which is about 45 minutes north of Boulder, so I called him up when I got to town to see if he had plans. James drove down to Boulder to meet up with Ken and me at the Red Fish Brewhouse for dinner. We all ordered one of their Pilsners and I thought it was quite tasty. (I originally order their “Badonkadonk Brown,” but was disappointed to hear that they were sold out.) The meal was pretty good, although my previous three meals were a hard act to follow. James’ suggested that we head down to Denver to see Robert Randolph and the Family Band at the Fillmore Auditorium. Danny told me that Robert Randolph put on an excellent show at last year’s ACL Fest, so it sounded like a good plan to me.

Robert Randolph at the Fillmore in Denver

When we arrived at the Fillmore Auditorium there was a large gathering of people around the ticket window, but we were still able to get tickets. I thought the Fillmore was actually a really cool venue, with the blacklight-fueled purple chandeliers and the sunken center area. We were only there for about 5 minutes when a man on the center of the stage started making some incredible electric sounds. It sounded like a guitar, but the man did not appear to be playing a guitar. Then I finally realized that it was Robert Randolph and he was making these sounds on a pedal steel guitar, an instrument almost exclusively used in country music. But here he was playing it in funk/soul/blues music. Insane!

The show lasted about 2.5 hours, with about the last 30 minutes of that being a 4 song encore. These guys can really jam, as several of their songs lasted 10-15 minutes each. They are also great showmen. At one point in the show Robert started pulling people from the crowd and giving them an electric guitar (a PRS, btw) for them to play leads on. Two different white guys jumped up onto the stage, but their skills weren’t quite on the same level as the rest of the bands. Around that time the band also had about 25-30 girls from the audience come on stage and dance with them. But of all the stage tricks they had, the most amazing was when they started swapping instruments. At first Robert went back to play drums, while the drummer came down to play the pedal steel. Then Robert went to bass and the bass player got behind the drums. Then there was more swapping with the keyboard player until they all finally swapped back into place. The crazy thing was that each one of them did a fantastic job on each instrument, they are all extremely talented.

Without question this was the most high-energy concert I have ever seen, and I see a fair amount of music shows. Whenever he wanted to Robert would make the pedal steel screen and the entire room would be just buzzing with energy. This lasted throughout the entire show too, I have no idea how the band members can sustain it without any break other than the 3 minute gap between the show and the encore. In addition to their own original music they covered a few older songs including Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean”, Bobby McFaren’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” All in all, it was an excellent show and I would highly recommend checking out this band.

Wrapping it up…

Sunday morning Ken, James and I had a really good breakfast over at the Buff Restaurant in Boulder. Afterwards Ken and I bid farewell to James and then headed towards the Denver airport, where I had the only negative experience of the whole trip.

I arrived at the airport at about 12:45pm (an hour and fifteen minutes ahead of my flight), waited in line at the United Airlines counter for 30 minutes, and when I finally made it to the front I was told that I could not check my luggage and snowboard since the flight was scheduled to leave in less than 45 minutes. It was actually around 42 minutes before the scheduled departure time, and she told me that she didn’t care that I had waited in line for 30 minutes, only to miss the checkin deadline by 3 minutes. I had checked-in online the night before, I only needed my baggage to make the flight. I told her that the baggage could come on a later flight if necessary, but she wasn’t interested in making a deal. She put me on standby for the next flight to San Antonio, which was at 7:30 and told me there was almost certainly no way I would make it, as the flight was already overbooked. Thanks, lady. After talking with several other people for the next hour and a half I finally ended up in front of a man with a brain and the will to get things done. He immediately told me to ignore what everyone else had told me, and that he would put get me a seat on the 7:30 flight, which is exactly what he did. I asked if there was anyway that I could tip him, but he said no and quickly asked to help the next person. Rock on, dude.

I’ll probably avoid United Airlines from now on, just as I have done with Northwest for the past year. Sometimes the lower price just isn’t worth it.

Overall, I had an excellent trip and it was great to see a few old friends and make some new ones. Oh, and Boulder has topped San Francisco in my list of most awesome cities. I didn’t think that would be possible, but The People’s Republic of Boulder is one extremely cool place.

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  1. Sounded like a great trip…. We will be there next year! Can’t wait for the VA ski trip.

    Comment by tate — February 13, 2006 @ 11:53 am
  2. Before long you’ll be a goddamnhippie.

    Comment by Ken — February 13, 2006 @ 10:51 pm

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