Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we do not have to do something far from our own backyard for our Resolution Destinations. After all, the whole point is just to see and try new things that we haven’t experienced before. There’s no rule that says we have to go far to find that. So, after another multi-day destination in February we reminded ourselves of this principle and were determined to find something a little closer to home. Although, if we’re being honest, it was probably more just to reign in our spending a bit.
As March began approaching we started doing some Internet digging to see what sparked our interest. It only took a few minutes for Corrie to find what she thought was the perfect close-to-home destination…the Frozen Dead Guy Days Festival in Nederland. Even though we both grew up in the area, and it’s a seemingly popular event, neither of us had ever been before. Not wanting to miss another chance to join the party, Cameron excitedly agreed. With the destination locked in we both started looking into the festival events to see if there were any we might want to participate in. While Corrie thought the frozen turkey bowling sounded fun, Cameron had something a little different in mind. The Costumed Polar Plunge. After talking about it a bit, Cameron seemed certain it was something he wanted to do. So Corrie signed him up. She did not sign herself up.
Saturday March 10th was festival day. We slept in (duh) and leisurely prepared to head up to Nederland. We had to be there by 11:00 to get Cameron signed in for the plunge, even though the event itself wasn’t until 2:00 that after noon. He packed a warm change of clothes and an impromptu costume and we headed towards the mountains. Unfortunately, while the weather was warm and inviting down on the flatlands, there was a winter storm brewing up higher in the mountains. By the time we had reached Nederland there was a spring blizzard in full effect. We hit the Nederland town limits around 10:55am and came to a near stop in a long procession of cars looking for parking. We slowly watched 11:00 (the sign-in deadline) come and go while we inched our way across town. While we could have still tried to find parking, and get Cameron signed in, we were both in the midst of having flashbacks to the Georgetown Christmas Market in December. Without much discussion, we decided that we didn’t feel like fighting the masses for a parking spot and then standing outside in a heavy spring storm for hours waiting for the Polar Plunge and the other events we wanted to partake in. Without even stopping, we steered the Jeep north out of town on to the Peak-to-Peak Highway. Feeling a little disappointed that our plans hadn’t panned out the way we wanted, we also knew that we didn’t want to waste what was a beautiful day in the lower elevations. As we drove into Lyons, we decided some warm and sunny hiking on Rabbit Mountain was just what we needed. It was t-shirt weather (for Cameron) and a beautiful alternative to standing in a crowded little town in a blizzard. It ended up being perfect. But it also meant we had to find a new resolution destination for March!
After work one day, Corrie was standing in the kitchen watching Cameron cook dinner (because he’s awesome like that!) idly chit-chatting and scrolling through Facebook when it popped into her news feed…Axe Throwing! It was located close to home, something we had never done before and a great opportunity to be more social with our resolution (at least we thought so). So, we picked a day and put it on the calendar. We then threw a few invites out to some friends and family that we thought might be interested in joining us. Surprisingly (to us), we were met with little enthusiasm. We accepted the excuse from some that they couldn’t make it because they were going to be out of town. The others we guessed were just plain scared or thought we were weird. But in the end we were joined by the perfect pair – Corrie’s brother and his wife, Nick and Niki (aka, the Nicks).
Corrie booked us the 3:30pm slot for a couple hours of rugged, dangerous fun. And on the last day of March, the four of us jumped in the Jeep for the short ride to downtown Denver. Our destination was DAGAR Downtown Art Gallery and Axe Room. Incidentally, we didn’t notice any art. But what we did find was an awesome space that is really comfortable and inviting. We signed in, signed their waiver and got our wrist bands that proved our legitimacy as badass axe throwing maniacs.
Before DAGAR allows you to start throwing, you have to listen to a brief instructional and safety “lecture.” You know, the typical don’t chop your toe off and here’s how to not suck at axe throwing. As we waited for the briefing to begin, we were informed that another group of three gentlemen would be joining us on our lane. While they were nice and polite, we couldn’t help being a little disappointed. As we looked around the room, there were a couple groups ahead of us that were made up of just four friends, so we were not sure why we were combined into one group. We also knew that it would eat into our own throwing time and, despite what our parents taught us, we didn’t want to share. Nonetheless, we were excited to get started!
The lanes are set-up as long narrow cages. The floors are plywood, with a pile of rubber shavings under the targets to minimize the sound of thudding axes. The sides are chest-high walls with chain-link fence that extends to the ceiling to protect onlookers from a stray wild throw. Each lane is also assigned a coach / safety observer to ensure the rules are followed and to give you tips on how to stick your axe in the target. We were all certain that our coach was totally stoned the whole time.
The lanes are set-up for two people to throw side by side at the same time, and we entered first. After watching some of the other groups we were certain that hitting the target would be no problem. We drew our axes (more like hatchets) over our heads and launched them forward with all of our might (at least Corrie did, Cameron casually tossed his forward, because big biceps don’t require a lot of force). And we quickly found out that we were right, hitting the target was no problem! Hitting the target in a way that would cause the axe to stick… that was a different story. Both of our axes thudded straight to the ground after bouncing off the target. We walked out of the cage with our heads hung in shame and made way for the Nicks to show us how it was done.
And show us they did. On their first throws, they both stuck the axe and Nick even had a near bullseye. To rub more salt into the wound, they were also able to maintain a consistent accuracy the entire time we were throwing. The two of us gradually got better as we threw more, but if we’re being honest, Corrie was progressing faster and out throwing Cameron.
After practicing for a bit, we decided to be friendly cage-mates and engaged in a couple games of 21 against the Three Amigos (or Team Danimal as they referred to themselves). It was Team Danimal against Team Fungal (don’t judge us) and, through no fault of the Nicks, we got creamed.
After losing our second game in a row, we decided it was time for a break and headed downstairs to Jagged Mountain Brewery for a cold beer. While they’ve been open for more than a year, DAGAR has yet to receive their liquor license, though their bar stands ready. So you have to go elsewhere for a drink and cannot bring it back with you. But, luckily, Jagged Mountain is right downstairs and we found it to be a great place to grab a beer in between matches. Its mountaineering theme has it adorned with lots of ice axes, and left Nick wanting to throw more than just an axe. As we were finishing up our beers we saw Team Danimal walk in, so we knew it was our chance to get some uninterrupted throwing time and quickly swallowed our last sips and went back upstairs to play a best two-out-of-three, couple against couple.
It’s sometimes amazing to watch the effects that even the littlest amount of alcohol can have on certain people. Some people get less coordinated, and some people are like Cameron. Who, with a beer in his belly, found his game and was nailing nearly every throw. Corrie ended up being one of the uncoordinated. She had lost all the momentum she built up before the beer break and now couldn’t stick the axe to save her life. The Nicks continued to be too cool for school and hadn’t lost their momentum at all. But, thanks to Cameron’s new-found accuracy, we ended up winning two games to one against the Nicks.
With 10 minutes left on our time, we were just getting ready to start another match when Team Danimal reappeared and we had to politely share the throwing lanes with them again. While they were taking their turn, Nick devised a speed game for us to play with what little time was remaining. Two people entered the cage and threw until one hit a bullseye. The person who did not get the bullseye left the cage and another opponent entered and tried to dethrone the bullseye champion. Feeling generous, we asked Team Danimal to play with us and we continued rotating through (in reality, Corrie, Cameron and Niki rotated through while Nick remained the bullseye champion) until our time was up. We left feeling pumped and happy we had tried axe throwing. There was even talk of setting up own axe target on Corrie’s parents farm.
We headed back north to Lafayette for dinner. After some discussion in the car we decided on Black Diamond Restaurant & Tap House. We had first tried Black Diamond with Corrie’s sister and brother-in-law right after they opened. It had been so terrible that we hadn’t been back since. But it had been a long time and we wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt, since they had only been open a week on our first try. Things had to have gotten better by now. Plus, we are short on local options. So we all agreed to give them a shot. We can now say with absolute certainty that they have been permanently stricken from our list of dining options. And that’s all that needs to be said about them.
At the end of the day, even though we felt a little sick to our stomachs, we had a great time throwing axes with the Nicks. It was a unique and fun way to spend a local Saturday afternoon. And maybe next year, with warmer weather, we’ll be able to finally experience Frozen Dead Guy Days.
DESTINATION RATING: 4.0 OUT OF 5.0
What We Learned:
DO make reservations ahead of time. We suspect Dagar will get much more popular once they can serve alcohol at their bar.
DO pay the extra $10 for a private lane if you don’t want to share your time with others.
DO be polite and engage in friendly competition if you do get paired with people you don’t know. It will give you more throwing time than if you take turns.
DON’T get cocky. You never know who will come from behind to win the game.
DON’T eat at Black Diamond Restaurant in Lafayette. Ever.