Driving to Red Rocks is a little ridiculous. It's a huge, unspoken part of the experience that goes directly against why the amphitheater is so great in the first place: It's a natural venue in a picturesque part of the state, a space where you can see an amazing show while admiring how fucking awesome nature is. But then we drive thousands of cars to and from the spot dozens of times over the course of a concert season, often idling cumulatively for hours to get in and out of the park. That's no way to honor Colorado's natural beauty.
Sure, there are party buses and carpooling situations happening, and that's wonderful. But as a concert-goer, I usually find that it is me, alone in my car, driving up to meet friends for a show because our modern lives are so packed full of scheduled crap that we can't rendezvous ahead of time. Enter Car2Go, a new-ish car-sharing program that has recently expanded its coverage to include Red Rocks. I used it to travel to the Drake vs. Lil Wayne show earlier this month.
The Car2Go concept itself is radical, one that I think Denver absolutely needs if we are going to continue to grow in a healthy way as a city. After living in New York for a short time, I realized how nice it can be to not have a car. But navigating a sprawling city without one can make even minor errands a huge pain in the ass.
This is Car2Go's premise: It's a no-frills method of transportation you can use for short trips within the city, without having to invest in maintenance, insurance, parking and all of the other daily and monthly expenses of having a car. Of course you pay to use Car2Go, and you have to get your driving record approved, but overall, it is meant to be part of a larger plan for a car-free life. The car -- a special edition of Smart's Fortwo, with either a gas or electric engine -- is like a cab in that you're not meant to personalize it in any way. There is no real storage, no place to plug in your phone, no use of the stereo beyond what you can get on the FM dial. Car2Go is for transportation only, and preferably for short, uncomplicated trips. For this, it's great!
The day of the concert, I signed up for Car2Go, filled out some basic information and was ready to go. Using the app on my phone, I found a Car2Go in my area, which was about fifteen blocks from my house. So I ended up driving my car to pick up my Car2Go. Oh, the irony.
Once inside the car, I felt like Mr. Bean. It made me realize just how American I really am. I have rented a Chevy Tahoe before and felt right at home, but inside this missing roller skate, I felt like everyone was staring at me. Which they probably were. Still, the ride was mostly smooth once I adjusted to the go-kart-like acceleration and deceleration.
My first hiccup came when I was making a quick stop while my passenger boyfriend stayed in the car. Hint: Choose the "stopover" option. Do not, under any circumstances, just turn off the car and leave the keys in. Shit gets really confusing if you do this, because the car thinks it can start looking for a new driver.I watched this tutorial like twelve times because the hipster actor guy is hilarious.
Ultimately, I had to make my boyfriend get out of the car several times while I ended and restarted my trip, accidentally hitting the panic button in the process. But once I called Car2Go's 24-hour customer service helpline, I figured it out and we were back on track.
In the upper north parking lot, there are spots designated for Car2Go. They are right in front, in an ideal location. When we got there, a very nice dude (I think his name was Jackson) was waiting for us with bottles of water and tote bags. I'm guessing you won't get this treatment every time you show up at Red Rocks in a Car2Go, but it was lovely -- very VIP. It was at this point that my Virgo brain got a little panicky, though: Since these cars are for short trips, what if other Car2Go users decide they want to drive one home, and I leave the concert to find no Car2Gos left to drive back to the city?
Jackson explained that when your show reaches the encore, it's a good time to log in to the Car2Go app and reserve a car. You can only reserve a Car2Go for up to thirty minutes, so this seemed like the way to ensure that you had an option to drive home. But as the show was coming to a close, I learned a harsh lesson: If you don't get service at Red Rocks (which I don't, because I have Sprint), you can't reserve a car. I freaked out.
We ran back to the parking spot, where, fortunately, my car was still waiting. Getting out of the parking lot was a different story; at Red Rocks, as at many places flooded with cars and self-entitlement, you have to be a bit of a bully to get out of the lot, which is impossible when you are driving one of Car2Go's tiny vehicles and trying to enter a stream of SUVs. I wound up yelling inside my jellybean on wheels for ten minutes while my boyfriend's blood pressure went through the roof. But we made it out and onto the road.
I wouldn't recommend using Car2Go for the first time in a mildly stressful situation such as a trip to Red Rocks. But overall, I think that this service rules. Even if you're someone like me, who already has a car, a service like Car2Go might be the thing that helps wean you off the single-occupancy-driver lifestyle you're used to.
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