Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Amphitheatre
18300 W Alameda Pkwy
Morrison, CO 80465

I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my time and I have to say that Red Rocks is arguably one of the best places to see a show.  Before going, I had heard from several people that it was an amazing place, so the hype level was already high going into it.

For those of you that don’t want to drive to get there, a $35 train that leaves from Union Station in downtown Denver is available.  When you arrive, the first thing you should be prepared for is a bit of a steep hike up to the amphitheatre.  Give yourself a little time to do that, especially if you decide to tailgate beforehand.  Since I still wasn’t fully acclimated to the thin air, by the time I made it to the top I was wheezing like an old man.

You’re allowed to bring in food, but no drinks (including water).  And obviously weed isn’t allowed, but I’m more than certain that most people brought that in.  One other tip: Make sure to pack in layers.  This actually applies to everywhere in the Denver area.  I haven’t been to a city where the temperature varies as much as it does from minute to minute as it does in Denver.  It could be 75 degrees and pleasant one minute and then a cloud covers the sun and it becomes bone chillingly cold the next.

Most of the amphitheatre seating is general admission so if you really care about the band you’re seeing you should show up early.  That being said, there’s not really a bad seat in the house.  The incline of the seats is steep enough and there’s a ton of room between your feet and the seat in front of you.  You can easily stretch your legs forward and not even come close to hitting the head of the person in front of you.  This not only gives you an unobstructed view of the stage, but it also gives you a lot of room to dance and allows beer sellers easy access to get through (they serve beer pretty late into the night, 10:30 seemed like the cutoff time).

But the real star of the amphitheatre is the sound.  The sound goes right through you.  It’s incredible.  We went to see the Thievery Corporation and they were great to watch there.  Even if you’re not familiar with them, you probably know their song Lebanese Blonde from the Garden State soundtrack.  Because they have such an eclectic sound, it’s hard to describe how your body gets so enveloped in the music.  As the sun goes down and the stars come out, the rocks that make up the ampitheatre illuminate and it really feels like you’re in a time machine that’s stuck between today and the ancient Roman times.  If you’re in Denver and a fan of music, my recommendation is to try and plan a night out at Red Rocks regardless of who is playing.  The venue also shows movies and offers yoga as well, but getting there for music should be the top option.

LivWell Dispensary

http://www.livwell.com/

As many of you are aware, the state of Colorado legalized the sale of cannabis in 2014.  Since then marijuana dispensaries have popped up all over Denver for both medicinal and recreational purposes.  I’m personally not a pot smoker, but seeing as I was in Colorado I was interested in seeing what the scene was all about.

From what I could tell, there are dispensaries scattered throughout the city and no matter where you are you’re probably within striking distance of one.  The one my friend and I popped into was called LivWell, which is well-known for their partnership with rapper Snoop Dogg.

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I’m not sure why, but when I imagined going into a dispensary, I sort of pictured someone’s old living room with all the plants in their backyard.  My beliefs were quickly quashed the second we stepped inside.  LivWell was extremely clean and put together.  The moment you walk in, you get your I.D. checked by the front desk/security and they give you a number (it has a very DMV like feeling).  You wait in the Apple store looking waiting area until they call your number and take you in one of two storerooms.

The storerooms again are incredibly put together and look like something out of a store at the mall.  Because of their 3:1 customer to “budtender” policy, the storerooms aren’t too crowded.   Our budtender was extremely knowledgable — it felt like we were talking to a chemist more than a legal drug dealer as she educated us on all the science behind each item/bud.  She showed us all the offerings, which ranged from candies to drinks, brownies to patches.  And of course there were jars and jars of different marijuana strains.  Prices obviously vary depending on the product, but to give you an idea: a single cookie is $3, a three pack of mini-brownies is $12, patches that you place on your arm or ankle like nicotine patches are $10, and a bag of about ten sour patches gummies is $24.99 to name just a few of the prices.  Again, I never get high (Getting drunk? Well, that’s a different story), but I figured, “When in Rome…”, so I purchased a small edible for myself.

Pictures weren’t allowed, but I managed to sneak a few in.

 

Drinking Beer in Portland, Maine

Portland, Oregon may boast popular breweries like Rogue and Deschutes, but Portland, Maine has quite a few breweries of their own.

Maine Beer Company
525 US-1, Freeport, ME 04032
Hours: M-Sat 11-7; Sun 11-5

Located in Freeport, ME near the giant L.L. Bean headquarters, Maine Beer Company boasts what I consider probably the best quality beer of the breweries in the area.  Offering a $10 flight of four or $18 for a flight of eight, this brewery is pretty no-nonsense when it comes to naming their beers (e.g. Four of their beers are called Beer I, Beer II, Beer III, and Beer IV).  While the $18 may seem a little steep, their pours are very generous and the beers are very strong, so you’ll be feeling nice and good by the end of it.

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They have a wonderful seating area outside next to the giant solar panels that power the place and offer pretty good pretzels from a local bakery called When Pigs Fly that would’ve been better if they found a way to serve them hot.

Allagash Brewing Company
50 Industrial Way, Portland, ME 04103
Hours: 11-6

Allagash is probably the most popular company to come out of Maine since most people know of their Allagash White.  It’s located technically in Portland, but resides in an office park outside the city; you’ll think you’re lost until you roll right up to it.  Allagash offers a free tasting of a flight of four that they choose for you.  Their beers are very good, though I could have done without the sour one, and Allagash’s tasting area/patio probably offers the most “fun” since there are games such as Cornhole, playing cards, Jenga, etc. available for the patrons.

Shipyard Brewing Company
86 Newbury St, Portland, ME 04101
Hours: M-Sat 11-5; Sun 12-4

Shipyard is the least well known nationally of the Portland breweries we visited, but it is a local New England favorite.  Their brewery is located in the city itself, and their tasting room feels more like a tourist gift shop than a brewery.  That being said, in addition to all the souvenirs you can buy, they offer a free tasting in the back tasting room and unlike Allagash, you can pick which four you’d like to try.  Their beers are unspectacular, but solid.  They could up their glass game a bit though as the tastings were served in dixie cups.  All that being said, the server was the friendliest of the three breweries we visited, and I did come away with an awesome Shipyard beer bucket.

Duckfat
43 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101
Hours: Sun-Thur 11-9; Fri & Sat 11-10

Get this. Just get it.
Get this. Just get it.

On a somewhat related note, Shipyard is a block away from Duckfat, a local Portland favorite eatery.  All I need to say is this:  Get the Poutine fully loaded with duck and egg.  That is all.

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Quick Hits: Malibu Cafe

Malibu Cafe
327 Latigo Canyon Road
Malibu, CA 90265

Monday: Closed; Tuesday-Saturday: 11:30 AM – 10 PM; Sunday: 10 AM – 9 PM

Malibu Cafe is one of the more unique brunch locations I’ve had the pleasure of visiting.  Located on the Calamigos Ranch, this venue is a bit off the beaten path so you’ll need to plan a bit to get there unless you live in the Malibu/Thousand Oaks area.   The restaurant is mainly all outdoors and looks very much like an adult playground.  Besides the numerous tables for dining there are activities set up such as a giant chess board, outdoor bowling alley, giant Jenga, Cornhole, paddle boats and rowboats, and of course several bars.

This place is a perfect afternoon spot for big groups if the weather is nice out (and let’s be real, SoCal weather is pretty much always nice).  I’ve been told at night the garden lighting in all the trees light up and make for a really cute bistro feel.  The food overall was pretty good, the Mac and Cheese balls were fantastic, but the service could use a little work.  The waiters were very polite and personable, but they took a long time to get us basic things like napkins, water and our check (in their defense they said the credit card machine was down).  Luckily, we wanted to just hang out outside and enjoy the weather anyways so it wasn’t as much of a bother.

Quick Hits: Chaia

Chaia
3207 Grace Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Hours: M-W 11-8, Sat 10-8, Sun 11-6

When I first heard the idea of a vegetarian taco shop in Georgetown, my immediate reaction was one that any meat eating person would have: That doesn’t sound good.

I was wrong.

Chaia’s tacos are in fact very good.  Using some interesting combinations of hearty vegetables, the tacos have a ton of flavor and you won’t be left feeling hungry afterwards.  There aren’t a whole lot of options, but the three that I tried were all quite good (all with corn tortillas).  I put them in order of my favorite here:

  • Creamy Kale + Potato with pepperjack, poblano crema, green sauce + pickled onions
  • Winter Squash with caramelized onion, ricotta salata, chipotle yogurt + mint
  • Mushroom with feta, red sauce + cilantro

Do I still think tacos with meat are better?  Yes.  However, my view of what typically makes good taco filling has been significantly altered and I can honestly say that I’ll be going back.

Video: Gay Pride Parade, San Francisco

Fresh off the Supreme Court ruling in support of same-sex marriage, the annual Pride Parade in San Francisco just so happened to be slated the same weekend that we were there.  Needless to say it was a huge celebration; I really don’t think I’ve been around so many happy people (straight, gay, and whatever the person wearing the giant penis was) in one mass grouping like that before.

Unsurprisingly, the parade was loud, colorful, “fabulous”, hopeful…you name it, and that’s what the parade was.   And it was long too — it started at 10:30 in the morning and wrapped up at 5:00.  We only had so much energy for a few hours of the spectacle, but it was more than enough to get me exhausted.  By the end I was covered in Mardi Gras beads and had about 6 different rainbow colored “Livestrong” wristbands on my arms. It was a sight to see and I’m really glad I got to experience it.

The Pride Parade has to be seen more than told so please enjoy some of the videos and pictures from the event.

Silver Lake, Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles is an interesting place to visit because unlike most traditional cities in the U.S., you have a pretty lengthy drive on the highway to get from area to area.  No quick hop on the metro or nice walk along the river in this city.

So on my past trip to L.A., I extended my visit a bit to stay with some friends in the area of Silver Lake.  Most tourists probably wouldn’t come to see Silver Lake usually; its much more of a residential area for the more alternative crowd.  However if you do happen upon this area, there is a bit to offer, most of which is on Sunset Blvd.

A couple places for brunch

Millie’s Cafe

Probably my favorite of the two brunch places I went to, Millie’s has a really, really extensive menu.  With a lot of outdoor sidewalk seating, this little cafe is a good place to have some good ol’ comfort food while watching the numerous, sunglasses wearing locals stroll on by.  I had the healthy green burrito (very Southern Californian of me right?) that was made of egg whites, guacamole and spinach and comes with a side of fresh fruit.  It was enormous, and actually quite delicious for the “healthy” option.  I’d recommend it, however if you do need the grease and goodness of bacon, sausage, french toast, pancakes etc., don’t worry, they have all that too.  I’ll probably go back and have that when I’m not on a health kick.

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Sidewalk seating at Millie’s

Local

For a quieter alternative down the street, give Local a try.  The ambiance is a bit calmer, and their menu is not as extensive.  That being said, for a lazy Sunday type place, Local fits the billing.  There isn’t really any sidewalk seating, but their covered patio is large.

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The quieter alternative to Millie’s

Drinks

Thirsty Crow

Silver Lake, from what I saw, doesn’t seem to be a “going out” type of area, but there are a few places to grab drinks and have a good time.  The Thirsty Crow in particular is quite good.  It’s a very divey, dark place with a speakeasy, candlelit vibe.  Despite its darkness, the place is actually quite vibrant with some great Motown music playing the night I was there.  Outside a chef grills up hamburgers to order while listening to Michael Jackson.  And if you like whisky, THIS is your place.  The whisky list is extensive and you should be able to find one to your liking.

Things to do

Griffith Observatory

Not far from Silver Lake is the Griffith Observatory (as seen in numerous movies including Rebel Without a Cause and The Terminator).  Located at the top of a steep mountain, those of you looking to break a little sweat on your trip should try hiking to the top.  You should be in relatively good shape if you want to try the hike, and be sure to bring water, hats, sunscreen, etc. because there is practically no shade on the trail.  I’d say the hike was very similar to hiking up Masada.  When you get to the top, you can enjoy the exhibits inside the Observatory and there’s a $7 planetarium show that is the perfect recipe for the post-climb collapse.

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