red rocks, white mountains, and blue skies. oh, and 22.

on the morning of the 4th of july, just as i was turning 22, i did something that i never do. 

i mysteriously woke up just before sunrise. 

maybe it was my body's recognition that it officially survived the crazy age of 21 and must now behave as adults do, waking up at a responsible hour... or maybe it had something to do with the puppy that found joy in bouncing on the air mattress i was sleeping on. 

the latter is most likely, because i'm never up before the sun is and i like it that way. my 22-year-old body does too. that morning, i fought for sleep, pushing the puppy away and squeezing my eyelids shut with all my might.

eventually i gave up the gig and thought i'd sit on the wood floor by my cousin's floor-to-ceiling windows and watch the sunrise. however, that same charming puppy left me a smelly birthday present right where i was going to sit... and i'd be damned if i was going to pick up poop first thing in the morning on my birthday. it just didn't seem like the proper start to my 22. 

so i ignored the shit, put on my poncho, and poured myself a cup of coffee that was luckily waiting for me in the pot because steven brewed a batch at 11 pm the night before and forgot it. (and it was still warm :). 

then, i made my way toward the rooftop terrace of steven's apartment building, unaware that the door leading to it is normally locked before 8 am. my lucky birthday angel must've been in denver this year because just as i read the sign that said i wasn't allowed on the rooftop, i noticed that the door had been left just slightly propped open. so i tip-toed through the door to find a rooftop terrace with a gorgeous view of denver all to myself. 

and that is where i sat, with my warm cup of coffee, to watch the sun rise on my new year of life.

it was heavenly.

after a couple hours of rooftop bliss, the boys began calling me, wandering where i'd run off to. i went back to the apartment for more coffee before heading out to red rocks with them for a morning hike. red rocks is a park and amphitheater just outside of denver. i saw death cab for cutie there last august and it was one of the greatest, most surreal moments of my life. 

the amphitheater rests at the base of two huge red rocks, providing brilliant acoustics and a completely unique atmosphere. it is hands down my favorite concert venue, ever. but aside from concerts and festivals, red rocks also hosts movie nights called "film on the rocks", and is also a place where many colorado locals go to hike and workout. 

we hiked one of the trails leading around the park. then we headed to heritage square to ride the alpine slides. i was mildly terrified going into it, and even took the slow slide while all the boys went on the fast one. but it was so much fun and offered such a pretty view of the valley and the city on the way down. 

after the slides, we went back into denver and began partaking in 4th of july activities. we feasted on delicious food, drank star-spangled vodka, hung out at the pool, went on a late afternoon bike ride with friends, grilled dinner on the roof, crashed a party, and ended up on the very same roof that i started the day on. 

dear 22, please be as good to me as this day was.