Woodland Park, Co | Travel Diary
Traveling to Colorado for Amelia and Trevor's intimate wedding day had a lot of first for us. It was the first time we ever used Turo to rent car (it literally was half the cost of using Avis). It was the first time I'd been to Woodland Park, Co. It was the first time I was in charge of setting up a couples adventure session without ever traveling to a destination. It was also the first time Ivey would be shooting a destination wedding with me, even though her role was very minimal (spoiler alert, she nailed it). Since we weren’t one hundred percent ready for Ivey to take over, we brought along our friend Shannon to help with all the second shooter responsibilities.
I have many guests at weddings approach me and ask if I'll travel to a destination, the answer is almost always yes, but this time Amelia truly followed up and over the months leading up to her wedding day we connected and planned the best we could.
Our flight left at 7:05am Monday morning, which meant we had to leave our house no later than 4:30am to get there by 6:00am, which we ended up getting through security at 6:15am, just in time for boarding. We met Shannon at the gate, he lives in Houston area so it was super easy for him to catch an Uber to the airport.
We landed in Denver around 9am and 7 degrees outside, hungry and tired (not the greatest combination). I messaged our Turo guy, Zach, about picking up our RAV4 for the week and he directed us to a lot where we picked up our car. Check in process was super easy, just took a bunch of pictures to make sure we returned it in the same condition we picked it up in.
Our first stop was obviously to find food, but what we didn't expect to find was the best food we would experience on the trip. Enter Denver Biscuit Company.
Known, obviously, for their tremendous biscuit concoctions we were crazed by the massive size of their chicken biscuits as we saw them pass by on their way to other people's tables. I had "The Lola" which was buttermilk fried chicken bacon, housemate honey butter, covered in maple syrup. Ivey and Shannon had "The Ellsworth"(fried chicken, local Colorado honey, stone-ground mustard, and house-made pickles).
We were stuffed.
A short drive later we were approaching many mountains in the distance, each one we were trying to determine if it was Pike's Peak or not. We may or may not have named 7 different large mountainous formations Pike's Peak. A bit alter we arrived in Woodland Park, Co and at our Airbnb which was coincidentally across the street from a new barbershop, Straight Razor Barbershop, and directly above a vape shot. On our trip we took advantage of the former and avoided the latter.
I was honestly super tired from the trip and I had to take a nap when we got our place. It was totally worth it though, I was refueled and ready to go.
We spent a while googling places that were close for us to check out and possible locations for us to bring Amelia and Trevor either on the wedding day or for the preceding adventure session. The closest was Red Rocks Campgrounds. Known for their huge red rock formations that were only a short walk uphill and was only a 7 minute drive from where we were staying.
We made the drive, which was full of trees, mountains in the distance, and quiet mountain air. When we got there and started walking up toward the Red Rocks, Ivey began to complain of some nausea, headaches, and overall discomfort. I was concerned but she kept insisting on moving forward.
These rocks were ridiculous. Covered in snow from the previous days, amidst all the trees and surrounded by footpaths of those who had been out exploring before us.
As we were checking out the place, Ivey wasn't getting any better. We took a few pictures, climbed over a few rocks and began to make our way as high us as we could.
We reached a point, however, where Ivey just couldn't go on. She had been debating making her way back to the car, which wasn't far but I was still worried about her. She finally said she was going back, alone, and I said, "this is how people end up on my favorite murder." (We had been listening to MFM constantly for the past month.)
She insisted though, and after the fact she said she had to stop in a patch of grass and lay down on her way to the car.
Shannon and I persisted in reaching the highest spot we could. We reached a few points that I knew that Ivey would not have been able to get to in her condition. Once we got to the top, it was all worth it. Even though it was about 7 degrees, the views were absolutely insane. Looking over the top of the trees and seeing the tree covered hills right at sunset was a sight to see.
When we finally made our way back to the car, we found Ivey sleeping in the drivers seat with her head on the steering wheel. We knew we needed food and planned to eat out every single meal, so we headed to Safeway and grabbed dinner for that night, breakfast and lunch for the remaining days. We had planned to eat out only once a day, usually dinner.
We cooked "fajita tacos" and watched the end of "The Day After Tomorrow". Watching a movie would become a bit a nightly ritual for us on the trip.
The next morning, we slept in and woke up to a view of Pike's Peak (we assumed) and breakfast time. While Ivey and I made eggs and sweet potatoes, Shannon decided that a couple Smucker's Uncrustables was sufficient for himself.
Slow morning led to a slow start on the day and we were going back and for on what we should do that day. Stuck between doing what we wanted and finding somewhere to take our couple the next day, we decided to head to The Garden of The God's and follow It up with The Crags Campground (a spot at the foot of Pikes Peak).
We drove to GotG, which was only about 20 mins away, and ended up at the visitor center/overlook. We were pretty confused, since none of us had been there before. Come to find out were not at the actual formations just at the visitor center and after a quick client phone call we made our way to the northern parking lot.
We walked the garden for about an hour, making our way to the highest point we could and were treated to views of the grounds and what we assumed was Pike's Peak in distance. We still had no idea, hahah.
Lunch was a couple of sandwiches and chips in the car. Something about sandwiches on a trip just hits you differently.
We headed back toward The Crags, which was in the opposite direction of The Garden from where we were staying and as we were driving through one of the passes we noticed a sign that said Cave of the Winds with tours and other attractions. Ivey loves those kind of things. Honestly I do too. So as we were driving by the entrance I gave Ivey one last chance to decide if she wanted to go and right before it came up to us she said, "Okay!" And we turned in.
We had to drive up some winding roads that were climbing in elevation. I of course was a little nervous because I just didn't want to do anything wrong and drive off a cliff (worst case scenario). We parked in a snow covered parking lot that wasn't very full, it was 3:15pm on a Tuesday after all. Ivey asked the clerk in the gift show if they were still doing tours and we ended up deciding to take one, cause why not?
Quick recap of the tour: Caves are not for claustrophobic people, there are two main types of formations stalactites and stalagmites (which Ivey recalled from her aunt Mona), cave darkness is the second darkest dark on earth besides the darkness at the bottom of the ocean, it was actually windy in the caves, and Shannon likes to buy the cheesy pictures they take at the beginning of the tour.
After the tour we headed to The Crags, it was just about sunset and so I knew we needed to get in and out pretty quick. This was further reenforced by the area that we found ourselves in. It was by no means sketchy, but it was pretty isolated. We drove up the side of the mountain and encounter snow covered roads and a houses that were about 10ft deep in snow. We never actually made it to the campground, due to the gate being locked (also due to snow). So we stopped and decided to get out and explore. Honestly, it was everything I had wanted. I could have lived there. In every direction there were tall pines and the ground was covered in snow. Everywhere you walked you ran the chance of stepping three feet in the snow. It was over my knees at one point. Shannon explored a bit more as we flew the drone over the trees and he even discovered a cool little teepee someone constructed at the top of a hill.
After The Crags, we knew we need to find food. Because we love food. That night we found this bar and grill, which was mostly a bar, and took advantage of "Taco Tuesday". From a native Texan's point of view, these weren't very good tacos, but I'm not going to hate on anyone's taste. I kinda knew that this would be the case, so I opted for hamburger instead.
Movie night was Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the classic starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
When we were planning Wednesday, I knew it was meant to be focused on Amelia and Trevor and their adventure couple's session. Shannon and I decided to take advantage of the barbershop across the street and it was actually a really great experience. The barbershop had two barbers who specialized with straight razor cuts and fades. They talked about how they wanted to bring something new to the area and felt they could add something different. The best part, aside from the haircut, was the two shop dogs that hung out with us. I don't remember the breed, but the bigger one was about 160lbs and slobbery. Super sweet dogs though. A few things ran a bit later for them than expected so we didn't get to start until that evening, which was great for the light!
We headed out to Red Rocks again and spent the next couple hours walking through the snow, slipping and sliding up and down the hills, and capturing some incredible footage.
Movie night was The Revenant.
WEDDING DAY. I knew that this was going to be different than any of the weddings I'd done before, but I don't know if I was prepared for how laid back it would be. Most wedding days we are running around somewhat frantically capturing all the decorations, location, as many moments as possible and working diligently to stick to the timeline. This experience was anything but that.
The whole day was a slow and enjoyable process. Amelia took her time writing out her wedding vows. Trevor and Amelia's dad shoveled the snow to make pathways for the ceremony, and we walked the property capturing the incredible location we were in. The house was Amelia's aunt and uncle's house, only about two bedrooms two baths with a garage attached. There were homes that could be seen through the trees if you really looked, but it all felt so peaceful and secluded.
Amelia and Trevor had drove from their home in Ft. Worth, Tx with their two doggos. We spent most our day with Gus hanging around the house, staring out the window waiting for Trevor to return from the house he was getting ready at.
The ceremony was the best part. We had the best light, they had the best most honest vows, the day couldn't have gone any better. We finished up our day with their family in the house, eating salad, bowtie pasta, and lasagna that was cooked in the kitchen. Sitting in that living room with a bunch of people that I didn't even know the day before, who all felt like family now, I couldn't help but tell myself, "wow, this is what I want to do."
There is something so special about having just a few people to celebrate with. You don't feel like you need to talk to everyone, to make everyone happy, to put on a show. You get to just be. Be yourself, and be with the one who you love.
We are so thankful to Amelia, Trevor, and their entire family who welcomed us into their special day. Be on the lookout for their feature film SOON!
p.s. movie night was The Great Gatsby