Naked, Wet & Glittered

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Everything I knew about Aspen, Colorado, I had learned from Lloyd in Dumb & Dumber.  Supposedly it was “a place where the beer flows like wine” and “beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano”.  However, this past spring, I learned something new about Aspen.  The quaint mountain town was about to be taken over by thousands of stretchy-pant-clad yogis.  Wanderlust Festival was coming to the Colorado Rockies. 

I had never been to a huge yoga festival before and I desperately yearned to be a part of this one.  I had images in my head of sweating glitter on my mat, and dancing into the evening with other bodies adorned in festival paint.  One way or another, I was making it to Wanderlust Aspen.

An Instagram photo contest sponsored by Wanderlust and Manduka (makers of the very mat I was planning on sweating glitter all over) hit social media feeds shortly after.  The winner would be crowned with two Sage Passes to the festival, airfare and lodging included.  I immediately sent a screen shot of the contest rules to Mitch.  If anyone were going to win a yoga photo contest, I would bet my money on him. (He will probably be embarrassed I wrote that.  Or maybe it will get me brownie points.  Either way, that sentence will not be edited out.)

Life is a funny thing.  In the middle of a summer where Mitch and I had not seen each other in over three months, where Mitch did not have the luxury of attending any yoga classes due to his isolated work location in Northern Alberta, and where I was sitting in California still dreaming about wearing festival paint and sweating glitter all over the place, Mitch won the contest. 

Being an archetypal girl, one of my favorite parts of the whole thing was that he won with a picture he had taken of me on our first date.  It was a photo I had never even seen before.  The theme for the contest was “Lust 4 Life”, and our first date included a sunset hike, along with a headlamp-clad descent.  Lust for life was a given.

The timing was perfect in that our trip to Aspen piggy-backed on the only time we were going to see each other during summer.  We were planning on spending five days in the Canadian Rockies at the end of June, but because of the contest, we got to extend our tour to the Colorado Rockies as well.  Thanks to Wanderlust, Manduka, the universe, and both Mitch’s talent, and his scattered way of organizing and forgetting photos he took months prior, we spent five amazing days in Aspen.

I could go on and on about the yoga, music, and dancing, but I won’t bore you.  (If you are sure you won’t be bored, hit me up and we can do tea.  Then I will really talk your ear off about Cameron Shayne, MC Yogi, DJ Drez, Jurassic 5… Tea, anyone?).  Since we were only in Aspen for a few days, we tried to capitalize on our time and squeeze in some adventuring off-site as well.  Between our scheduled yoga classes on Saturday, we headed to see what the Maroon Bells hype was all about.  It’s official- the hype can continue.  I will let the beauty Mitch’s photos captured do the talking on that one. 

The best part about hiking through the Maroon Bells was the destination Crater Lake.  Yes, Crater Lake was gorgeous, though there was something else eye catching about the location: getting to watch “men” participate in what “men do best”.  Let me explain.  Mitch decided to go for a dip in the lake.  Even though Mitch has swam in water that literally had ice floating in it, in nothing more than underwear, apparently this water was worse.  The video to prove it is rather funny though his choice phrases for the chill are inappropriate for our current website rating. 

Flash forward to us getting ready to leave the lake (note: Mitch is still in wet underwear he attempted to ring out).  Here we see a boy, maybe the age of ten, who had commandeered a huge log and was straddling it while haphazardly paddling himself toward the middle of the lake, much to his parents’ dismay.  I am surprised I forgot the kid’s name; his family was yelling it repeatedly trying to persuade him to return to shore.  Mitch snapped some funny pictures of the boy attempting to get back to the edge of the lake while riding the log like a sedated bull.  When he grows up to be like Mitch, he will learn you don’t need a log to strip down, get wet, and cuss while doing it. 

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When our epic Wanderlust adventure came to a close, we still needed to make it back to Denver’s International Airport.  I have to say our drive back to the airport was the most fun we had during our twelve days together.  We made a good decision in leaving the day prior to our flights home.  We wanted to cruise Independence Pass (the scenic route between Aspen and Denver) during daylight, since we had previously arrived in Aspen at four in the morning, and missed the immense beauty the route encompasses.  The only thing keeping me awake on the drive there was avoiding all of the wildlife dancing across the headlights.  At one point around three a.m., I mistakenly wondered why there was a small horse (possibly a Shetland?) trotting down the road.  Turns out it was actually a moose…  Needless to say, Independence Pass via daylight was a treat. 

We pulled over countless times during our trek back to Denver.  The funny thing is neither of us seemed to care how long it took us to get back.  This was our favorite type of adventure- simply flying by the seats of our weakly powered rental car.  

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There was a great lookout at the peak of the pass and we stopped here so Mitch could take some photos.  Mitch chose a rock for me to jump off of and being the good (stupid?) sport that I am, I did as he said.  Let me clarify by saying this was jumping off a rock, onto rocks, and I was wearing sandals, not shoes.  Needless to say, he wanted a retake.  “Can I jump off this lower rock?” I questioned. 

“No, do the higher one,” he responded.  “But can you stretch out more when you leap?” As he asked, he demonstrated an outfielder stretching for a fly ball.

“Sure, you want me to belly-flop then?” I called back from the highest boulder, getting a chuckle out of a few onlookers.  I jumped one more time… without the belly flop.  Mitch was not thrilled.  I was relieved of my duty when he said he would do it, and I could take the picture.  Okay, stud muffin, be my guest.  He set up the camera for me and made his way onto the highest rock.  He paused once he stepped onto its uneven apex. “It’s a little higher once you get up here,” he hollered over.  Hmmm.  My first leap ended up being the best.  Let’s leave it at that. 

The last thing I will leave you with on our return drive is getting pulled over an hour outside of Denver by a lady cop.  We were going thirty-two in a twenty-five miles per hour zone.  Was this Super Troopers?  Meow I started looking for hidden cameras.  There weren’t any, though.  It was just me and Mitch on a desolate, middle-of-nowhere road.  Oh yah, and the female cop that Mitch had just accidentally referred to as “sir”.  That desolate, wide-open road suddenly got really small.  Luckily, she was a good sport about being referred to as a dude in a male-dominated profession. (Seriously Mitch?  All joking aside, this moment was the highlight of my summer.) We laughed our way back to Denver without a speeding ticket.

Our Aspen adventure in its entirety was surreal.  We are forever grateful to those who made it possible, and I am incredibly appreciative of my handsome photographer for inviting his glitter-sweating, festival-paint-dancing-obsessed girlfriend.  With regards to the unexpectedness of our trip, Mitch took the words right out of my mouth: “In my wildest dreams, I could never have dreamed up something as epic as this.”  Agreed.  I love when life is more awesome than any of us could have ever hoped for.  I wish for us all to be that lucky. 

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(photo credit: Mitchell Taylor)