I’m not going to lie, when I got an invite to attend an overnight camping event in the Pawnee National Grasslands with Fellow Magazine, I didn’t even think. I just answered yes and then did this (so thankful that people on the other end of my emails can’t see my real reactions). All they had to say was “wine sponsor” and I was completely on-board.
Apparently I am not the only one so easily swayed, because The Makery Experience was kept pretty well under wraps prior to arrival. We were told we could bring a +1 and to pack for a general overnight camping experience. They said food – and wine – were covered, oh and we would have accommodations and transportation. Seriously, my kind of camping trip. We’ll drive you, we’ll feed you, we’ll give you wine and then you can go cart your self off somewhere to sleep at some point.
There is literally no downside here.
Have you heard of a disillusionment charm? If you’re over the age of 30, I’m fairly certain you haven’t. A disillusionment charm is used to conceal a person or location. You might remember in Harry Potter when he attends the Quidditch World Cup (Bulgaria vs. Ireland, go Viktor Krum)? He arrives to a barren looking grassland only to eventually find a gigantic stadium that took the Ministry a year to build and conceal. Our campsite for the weekend reminded me of that a lot.
We were driving through the beautiful, yet plain… plains in Northeastern Colorado, when we go up and then down a hill and VOILA, there’s a gorgeous scene from Harry Potter (or a Wes Anderson film) just waiting for us.
Did I mention that whilst driving through the Colorado plains, we happened to be in a black party bus, complete with disco lights and stripper poles? I’m not going to make any commentary here, just inserting so you can really grasp the scenery.
The whole event was completely surreal. The Makery Experience was a gathering put on by Prisoner Wine Company + Western Daughters Butcher + Fellow Magazine, with several other collaborators who joined in to make the weekend one of the most amazing ones I can remember.
The first order of business in our campsite was claiming our tents. Brianna and I chose a beautiful one close to the edge with two twin beds. I have always had that “roughin’ it,” kind of spirit, but I’m not going to bull-poop you, sleeping on a cozy twin bed after a day of sunshine and wine, under a canvas tent (provided by Stout Tent) does have me rethinking my sleeping bag setup.
The next item on our agenda was one that lasted the whole day, from noon until Midnight: food. Western Daughters spoiled us in a way that I have never been spoiled before. Their team was cooking the whole day, non-stop. They brought out platters of various meats, hand-picked gooseberries, fresh pastas, hearty salads… It was a bit like a roman festival and my stomach was the emperor of the whole event.
Prisoner Wine Company also supplied us with an experience to remember. The wine flowed non-stop. Dionysus would be so proud. We did a few tastings, to sample their wide array of offerings in both red and white blends. They gave us a truly interesting education, not only on their own products, but on the winemaking process itself.
The group of about 50 of us, largely didn’t know one another. My former roommate was there, along with a few distantly familiar faces, but the majority of the experience was meeting new people and making new connections.
Nothing says “get to know people” like endless wine and sage-gathering hikes. We walked through the Pawnee Buttes on a quest to find native herbs (and also take 1900 iPhone photos). Most of the attendees of the event were tastemaking small business owners from some of the most hip and interesting establishments in Denver.
My +1 Brianna and I also checked out the bow & arrow station, hosted by Craftsman and Apprentice. I was clumsily trying to tie an arrow to a piece of wood when I noticed Brianna stringing up a bow and arrow and aiming at the target. Proof that Brianna is the most badass person I know: she picks up the bow and shoots an arrow straight into the bullseye.
We spent the evening drinking and eating sage peach cobbler and looking up at the Milky Way. It was quite possibly my favorite weekend ever. A big thanks to Fellow Magazine and Bre for the invite, as well as all the foods and beverage purveyors, including Our Mutual Friend for their delicious beers. Super special thanks to Brianna for coming out and humoring all of my ridiculous photoshoot requests!
See more of my photos on my instagram.