It was a cool Chicago evening, and I had just found out via email that I had won the contest of a lifetime! There were strangers on the street around me watching me scream up to the sky, “Thank you Jesus!” I jumped up and down continuing to scream in excitement.
I knew at that moment that a spiritually transformative experience was about to occur, but wouldn’t realize its full magnitude until later. I had won the Jason Mraz “Love” Sweepstakes and would be flying to Colorado to see Jason play live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, thanks to Taylor Guitars and Southwest Airlines.
The night before my flight I could not sleep a wink, even though I knew I needed a good night’s rest for the whirlwind that comes with traveling. The flight was the easiest airport experience I have had to date — awesome customer service and quick and easy boarding.
When you have a great flight experience it just makes the vacation better. With Colorado’s breathtaking views and clean mountain air, a sense of calm rolled over me immediately, taking me to a place of peace. Nothing compares to Colorado. It is magical! If I didn’t have a life somewhere else I would move there in a heartbeat. The people are some of the nicest you will ever meet, and no matter where you are, you are one with nature. You can’t get that in a major city.
Red Rocks was always on my bucket list, and if you haven’t gone yet, seriously, get on a plane and go tomorrow! Its jaw-dropping beauty made me speechless for the first time in my life. I felt one with everything around me, nestled in the Garden of the Gods overlooking the most magnificent rock formations, mountains and valleys. You can even see Denver from there, and at night you can see every star and constellation. I almost felt like I was in space. It is a very spiritual, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Christina Perri was the opener for Jason Mraz, and both put on what I thought was one of the best shows of their careers. I especially liked Jason’s cover of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” — it took me back to the beaches of Hawaii while in the mountains. It was a very intimate, personal concert that was like being with family. I will remember this trip for the rest of my life, and nothing will ever compare.
Besides the Red Rocks show (as if that wasn’t enough), I stayed a couple extra days to enjoy the full Colorado experience. I drove all the way from Denver to Golden, through Aspen, and down the 285 to a town called Alamosa, not far from the Colorado/New Mexico border.
Along the way I stopped at a place called Dinosaur Ridge, which is actually on the other side of Red Rocks across the valley. I got to put my hand in a dinosaur’s footprint and see millions of years of history documented in the mountains. I found out that Colorado used to be an ocean that stretched for 800 miles and was a part of the Gulf of Mexico. I stopped in many other towns along the way, one being South Park, as in the show. It was originally a gold mining town, and if you like antiques this town is for you. There are also views of the high Rocky Mountains from every angle.
The drive down the 285 is also a must, as the views of the Rockies and the Kenosha Pass are spectacular. The last two days of my trip were spent at the Great Sand Dunes, one of the natural wonders of North America. When one mentions Colorado, the last thing most people think of are sand dunes. High Dune and Star Dune rise to a height of 650 feet and 750 feet, respectively, above the 7,500-foot elevation of the valley floor. I almost passed out climbing them, but the view from the top was worth the pain. The massive dunes loom on the eastern side of the remote San Luis Valley, which is surrounded by the alpine peaks of the Sangre de Cristo and the San Juan Mountain Ranges. These beautiful mountains provide a stunning backdrop for the wind-shaped dunes — all the elements needed for an exciting hiking adventure.
I was in Colorado for four days and was able to accomplish 95 percent of the bucket list I had always envisioned if I was ever lucky enough to visit Colorado. Thank you to Taylor Guitars and Southwest Airlines, as without you both none of this would have been possible.