Finding Solace in Colorado's Wilderness

Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen | Photographer + Writer

I Left My Heart in The Colorado Wilderness

I know I’m not the first person to say or believe it, but Colorado serves an immeasurable magnetism. It’s been years of my constant visitation every summer, soaking up the wild, lush mountains and evergreen landscapes. I have good fortune with my family being born and raised in Grand Junction, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, and Denver, so my time is often spent with excellent company. Each time I am invited, I make it a goal to explore one spot I haven't yet seen, to ride the wave of spontaneity and learn yet another fact about our nation's most exquisite state. If you ever find yourself en route to Colorado, there is only one thing I can tell you from the heart: search with an open mind and if you cannot do so… this place will do it for you.

My most recent visitation stemmed from my friend’s invitation to our first ever Red Rocks concert. We drool over local cider and excellent live music from our favorite bands, so I couldn't pass up that opportunity. We drove nearly 14 hours straight from Phoenix, Arizona to Denver and crashed at our other friend’s quaint apartment in Capitol Hill. Our days were numbered by the hikes we took outside the city’s corridors and soaked every last minute of our time in the fresh, summer air. And sure... we snuck inside a bar or movie theatre every now and then — you have to do “all the things”, so they say.

One of the reasons why I keep going back is that I’ll never know what I’ll find (nor will I ever be able to predict weather conditions, which is half the fun!). From day trips to the northern mountainscapes to stellar backpacking locations across the state line, there’s room for all levels of leisure. Some days I felt weak, so we’d hop around the hot springs in Glenwood, and other days we’d feel up to roaming the entirety of a 10-mile hiking trail. Never rush the process, though. You can always return, always come back and seek the path less traveled. It’s best to wholly enjoy one thing than to run around in circles aiming to experience everything.

Verde Hot Springs

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Trippy & Hippy

I’ve been wanting to visit Arizona’s infamous hippy, trippy Verde Hot Springs for forever. Reyce has visited only once before (and still tells the story of how he had the worst “high” in his entire life on the banks of the Verde River), but carved some time to take me earlier this month.

I mean… look at this place. It’s grungy and a bit dirty, but worth every naked fleeting moment. The walls are covered in unique hand-painted drawings that range from wierd to weirder. Near our campsite, we fleshed conversations with older folks living out the #vanlife with their trusty steeds (dogs).

Snapped little snippets of our time on 120 film… medium format is gorgeous, isn’t it? I don’t even bother with my digital anymore.

Soaring the Caribbean

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Natalie Allen - Travel Photographer + Writer
Natalie Allen - Travel Photographer and Writer
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Natalie Allen - Travel Photographer + Writer
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Turks & Caicos, The Bahamas, and The Dominican Republic

“Cruises are for total normies”, I’d whisper to my red-headed firecracker gal pal, KJ, as we boarded the Carnival Breeze in Orlando’s stuffy Port Carneval. The carpeted staircase leading to Deck 8 towards our stateroom number smelled of fresh Lemon Pinal with a running line of children anxious to hit the lido deck. We meandered through the crowded halls, bumping shoulders with passengers in search for the nearest cocktail on board.

A nice, strong Moscow mule with speckled fresh lime tipped the perfect treat after our red-eye flight. My mouth felt in need of something cold and wet and riveting; especially since I misplaced my favorite Yeti water bottle on the flight from Phoenix to Miami (can’t think too much about that one, otherwise I’ll grow emotional). We sat atop Deck 10 under the warm Floridian sunshine that later imprinted an infinite number of suns spots across our pasty skin. We talked about life and love and loss till our tongues grew numb and our drinks shined empty. The Atlantic’s oceanic sway moved our bodies in a sweet, gentle manner. 

We didn’t have a care in the world. It was absolutely perfect.

Daytime meant timeless soaks in the Caribbean gold, while nighttime meant bottles of Malbec, fancy oysters, and hours upon hours of careless dancing under bright purple nightclub lights. We’d laugh until our bellies hurt and flirted with 80 year old men at dinner because it’s a cruise, so why the hell not? I’d write for an hour, without hesitation, in my leather bound journal on my stateroom’s balcony staring into the open abyss. Kj and I would joke about pirates invading the ship, talking in our best Johnny Depp impersonation voice.

There’s a sort of inexplicable happiness I feel when sousing open waters under bright, blue skies. It reminds me of the Lake Powell days back in ‘04 when my cousins and I would fight over who got the open-bow seat as our uncles ripped through the lake’s tide. We crash and bump against the waters with force, love, and vigilance. We’d hit the water so damn hard my spine would nearly break in half.

Words cannot express the amount of gratitude for this trip. I loved every minute.