Morning Sunshine

With a terrible ache in my heart I set out on my morning routine without my four legged friend. It was hard but there isn’t really anything else to do, I need the exercise, I need the pictures, and I need to eat breakfast. The other choice is to sit at home and do nothing which is no choice at all for me… I have to go, that’s just the way it is.

Deer Herd in the Wilderness

It’s been a long time since I have seen my deer friends on the ridge but today I looked up and there she was, peering out from the forest at me. She paused long enough for me to attach my camera to the monopod and get a couple of shots off in the beautiful morning sunshine of a late Colorado summer day.

As I proceeded further along the trail I heard the thundering of hooves as a couple of bucks just below the summit detected my presence and made a run for it. I was

Deer Herd in the Wilderness

hoping they would not run too far before turning around to see what I was up to. The good news is they did stop, but the bad news was they stopped part way into the shade of a tall pine tree at the edge of the wilderness. I took the shot anyway hoping that I would be able to make a decent picture in post with Photoshop. I’m not totally thrilled with it but at least there is a record of the sighting ๐Ÿ˜‰

From that point I just descended the mountain and headed off to breakfast. With tears in my eyes I swallowed the last bite, the one I always saved for my exuberant friend. Anyway, it’s done… I made it all the way through the morning. Maybe tomorrow will be easier.

The picture of the doe is available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas or traditional framing and matting. All kinds of cool gift and household items are also available with a picture including apparel, tech items, stationary and more.

 

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My Go To Move

One go to move has served me well throughout my entire life, when I am down and can’t think of anything I want to do I can always find the motivation to “get in shape”. Since my best buddy crossed Rainbow Bridge last week I haven’t felt like doing anything, nothing sounds good, nothing sounds fun and I have been just laying around the house watching stupid shows on TV.

Bucks in Grouse MeadowBut today the old message finally came through, “You can’t get all out of shape now.”. So even though I didn’t want to and I knew I was going to feel nothing but sadness on top of the mountain that I have never climbed without my Big Dog, I packed up my gear and drove to the trailhead.ย  It took a lot less timeย  to reach the summit without having to stop and dig up every prairie dog hole along the way and I got a lot more out of breath with the more steady pace that I can set without so many distractions.

But without the unbridled enthusiasm of my big four legged buddy to light the way, most of the joy has been removed from the experience. However there is still the idea in the back of my head that I am training for something greater, perhaps there will be a 14er in my future, or maybe a long hike into the wilderness to see a waterfall. I have been looking at Mount Quandary on my 14ers.com account… Maybe it will be my first peak in my sixth decade of life on this earth. Time will tell.

I didn’t see any animals at the summit, but on my way down I encountered my three buck mule deer friends who were on their way in a hurry, probably to some favorite location in the high meadows ๐Ÿ™‚

Bucks in Grouse Meadow

Farewell My Friend

He was my best friend… He went with me everywhere, pretty much anything I did, I did it because of the pure joy I received from the great enthusiasm he had for life and nature and all that could be discovered in the great outdoors. I met him full grown in 2016 and it wasn’t long before we became inseparable. He was the smartest dog I have ever known and it wasn’t long before he figured out that our main goal on all of our excursions, whether it was a hike or just a ride in the truck, was to find wildlife. As we drove along the mountain roads his eyes would scan the hillsides and ridge lines looking for deer and elk. When he finally spotted something he would let me know by pointing and woofing. Out on the trail his nose was in constant motion, his ears eventually alerting me to the presence of wildlife long before my human senses had any hope of detecting them. At the end of our treks we would go to the grocery store and get a ham, egg and cheese sandwich that I would bring out to the truck to eat. I would give him a puppy treat while I ate my breakfast and he would wait patiently and expectantly for the last bite of my sandwich. By day he was at my side, by night he slept at the foot of my bed. His snoring put me to sleep at night and his whining to go outside would awake me in the morning. He asked for nothing other than to be at my side wherever I went and when we got home from our travels he would lick me on the cheek to show his gratitude as I reached for his leash to hook him up to his run in the back yard.

Son Boy waiting in the truck

Now, suddenly and without warning he is gone. Struck down in the prime of his life by complications from his Lupus Medicine. Monday began like any other day with a long hike in the woods. Monday afternoon he ate his food and a few hours later he was gone.

My heart is broken, I can’t seem to do anything because everything I try to do just reminds me of him and without him there is no joy in anything. I’m sure in time I will find the strength to go on, I always do. But for now I mourn with no desire to do anything so you all will probably not be hearing much from me for a while. My camera lies dormant in the corner along with my hiking boots, out of sight so that they cannot remind me of him. Without his hopeful eager eyes to spur me to action I have little incentive to reach for them.

Sooner or later my heart will once again yearn for the snap of the camera shutter, the sight of God’s creatures peering out from the woods at me and the smell of pine in the crisp Colorado mountain air. Eventually I will answer the call of the wild, but for now it just doesn’t seem worth going on.

I take comfort in the knowledge that he is running free in the tall trees on the other side of Rainbow Bridge where he will meet me some day and we can resume our adventures in eternity.

Majestic Snowcapped Sangre de Cristo

 

 

 

 

A Day Off and Random Musings

Checked Accuweather when I awoke this morning… -11f with a real feel of -35f was the report. A quick trip outdoors for Big Dog’s morning duties also revealed another inch or so of fresh powder. Off in the distance I could hear the sound of snowplows out cleaning up the mess. Forgot to bring in the trash can from yesterday, finally found it a block away in a snowbank, I thought I could hear the wind howling last night through the fog of sleep.

Considering all that and also how dang tired I am from all the physical activity these days, the decision was made… a day off. Well almost off, Big Dog still needed his morning walk down the street to the open space to finish all his morning duties. My instinct was to grab the camera but I didn’t feel like it and off we went. Well the Sangre de Cristo Range was on fire from the sunrise on the new storm clouds heading this way and I was just sick… I knew by the time I got home and back with the camera the show would all be over. Oh well, I captured some the other day that were probably about the same and just as good.

Herd of Deer on a Winter MorningFortunately I did get out yesterday for some snowshoeing and shooting. Thought our hike was going to come up dry, but as we started our descent I saw three bucks headed the other way in a hurry, so fast in fact that I almost missed them! I didn’t have my camera on the right focus selection and I couldn’t bet my snowshoes turned around fast enough to catch them all, but I finally did get composed for one shot of the last buck making his way through the deep snow :) I wasn’t satisfied with the pictures from on our hike so we headed up Highway 67 to see if the bighorns might be out. Unfortunately they weren’t so I headed for home to start adding up the books so I can do my taxes. But as I neared my home I thought, “I wonder if I should drive up Teller 1 to look for the elk?”. Naa… probably won’t see any, it will be a wasted trip.

Used to be my only criteria for hopping in the truck and going somewhere was whether

Storm Clouds on Pikes Peak

or not I wanted to go. Now there is always this voice in the back of my mind haunting me… asking, will it be profitable? Back in the day in school they made us study the Great Depression and one thing about it has always stuck in my mind… the people that went through that terrible time were changed forever, their whole way of thinking about the future permanently scarred. I didn’t really understand that then, but now after the Great Recession I get it. I was a software engineer in the aerospace industry at the time and we had seen many ups and downs. I had somehow managed to survive all the down times but I had plenty of friends who didn’t, but they all found other jobs some in completely different fields. And with contracts constantly won and lost we all knew that one day the axe would fall for the final time and we would all have to find something else to do.

Herd of Deer on a Winter Morning

There were plenty of jobs that I thought I would like, the camera stores for example,ย  we had a brand new Circuit City and they had techies there…ย  I loved book stores, maybe that would be a fun place to be. Our mobile disc jockey service had always done well and I was still picking up some wedding photography, perhaps more if I put my mind to it. Well that was until the Great Recession. Suddenly it was all gone… our brand new Circuit City went out of business, the book stores that I loved closed their doors, the computer stores were all boarded up, and 50 percent of Denver’s camera stores bit the dust. Every backup plan gone in an instant it seemed like. I still remember my wife asking me, “So what’s Plan B?”, my reply, “there is no Plan B.”. I still don’t know how we survived it, one day at a time, one miracle at a time I guess.

But like the survivors of the Great Depression, my thinking is changed, my confidence in the future diminished. So I guess that is why the usage of each dollar is prefaced with the question, “Is this going to be profitable, or is there a more thrifty option?”. So I almost didn’t go yesterday, the voice in the back of my mind was saying, “There aren’t going to be any elk.”.ย  But I decided there was enough of a chance that it would be worth such a small effort. Maybe 30 miles of driving for a good payoff?

Herd of Deer on a Winter Morning

Well as it turns out I didn’t see any elk, but I did see these deer out of the corner of my eye. Had to turn around and drive back to get the shots and I thought the freezing wind was going to blow me into the next county! But it was well worth the effort, the picture of the doe with the two bucks is one of my favorite of all time so I’m glad I made the trip ๐Ÿ™‚ And maybe that is a lesson to be learned about taking chances. Those terrible years are behind us now, maybe it is time for a new mindset. Maybe I don’t want to be like the survivors of the Great Depression, maybe it’s time to leave fear and despair behind and take on a mindset of optimism and hope and winning again!

As always these images and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, canvas, traditional framing and matting and tons of cool household, tech, and gift items!

The Clearing

My favorite part of the day comes after I have made the long steep climb to the summit and break through the trees into the high clearing where there is the anticipation… I never know what I am going to get to see. There might be a herd of elk, some mule deer bucks, a coyote hunting for his meal or even a hawk or eagle. One thing I can be sure of is that I will get to see the Continental Divide marked by the magnificent Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. They may be obscured by a fog bank or blowing snow but they will be there, towering above all else with imposing jagged peaks of such beauty I never get tired of looking at them.

Snowy Clearing

On this day dark gray clouds, tremendous wind and blowing snow greeted me as I crested the ridge. The trail was completely obscured byย  the drifting snow that had covered a layer of ice on the mountaintop making for some arduous progress. Softball sized rocks were also hidden under the snow making for some painful ankle twists as I searched the drifting snow for the trail with each step through the fresh powder. Blowing snow swirled like a tornado in places and the steady wind made the barren clearing on top of the mountain look like waves on a lake. I imagined what it must have been like 100 years ago for the miners searching for their fortunes in gold in this rugged terrain and fierce weather without the benefits of all the high tech winter gear available to us now.

I was hoping that the fresh snow would attract the elk herd but the wind probably caused them to remain in hiding under cover of the dense pine forest to the south. There were no deer willing to brave the blowing snow either but the amazing view of the Sangre de Cristo Range was even more magnificent than usual! Although there was a dark cloud above me the light from the early morning sun was able to break through and illuminate the beautiful snow capped peaks, creating a perfect Colorado winter scene worthy of a postcard ๐Ÿ™‚ Big Dog was eager to continue with his exploration but I had to stop and make sure that scene was adequetely captured!

Winter Sangre Range

Eventually we made our way over the top of the mountain and around the other side where the snow and wind subsided and the trail was easier to negotiate. I was hoping the lower forest would yield some wildlife but no such luck. There was no view of the mountains through the fog and snow to the south so we just enjoyed the walk back to the car as I continued to scan the woods for animals to photograph.

These pictures and more are now available for purchase on my website as wall art and a lot of cool gift and household items. This of course is a great time for an annual plug for my Christmas Card products. I have reduced the price this year and a box of ten cards can be ordered for only $25! Also available are coffee mugs, apparel, towels, blankets, pillows, phone chargers and much more! For those needing some new wall art, my pictures can be ordered on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, traditional framing and matting and much more! Just click an image on the website and the products and pricing will become available for selection!

Happy Memorial Day

Ok, now I’m angry… I was going to pay my respects on this day quietly, to the courageous men and women who have given their lives and some who have given limbs so that we can live free in this great land we call America. But now several of my so called friends have decided to desecrate the day by coming out in favor of the despicable NFL children who dishonor the flag that much greater men have deemed worthy of their very lives.

By voicing support for these degenerates you disrespect all those who have given their lives, their grieving families, their descendants, and all those who have faithfully and selflessly served.

There is a difference between right and privilege, yes you have the right to disrespect the flag if you choose, but you do not have the right to be an NFL football player. That is a privilege just like anyone else has who works for a large enterprise. When you are working you are representing your company and make no mistake, if you were working in the real world and your behavior at work cost your company 10% of it’s annual revenue you would be summarily fired on the spot.

Grow up and show some respect for those greater than you. To the rest who support those players, show some respect for this day and the men and women who have made this life of freedom possible.

And to the vast majority of people who love this land, Happy Memorial Day and thank you for your service to those who have given all!

Dust in the Wind

Tremendous wind howling up from the Arkansas River Valley last night. Big Dog was startled out of a sound sleep at 5:00 a.m., leaping to his feet and letting out a massive woof that woke up the entire town I think. I looked around with the flashlight and didn’t see anything so I was going to just go back to sleep, but instead got to thinking I would like to see the sunrise over the Sangre de Cristo. Sunrise would not be until 6:30 though, so there was time for one of my favorite activities… morning coffee ๐Ÿ™‚

Sangre de Cristo Sunrise

The wind overnight had created a dust bowl out of the valley making the mountains barely visible, but it was still an inspiring sight when the alpenglow band settled down over the peaks. The effect was only good for a few minutes and we were headed back home for some more coffee.

The old 1970’s song by Kansas, “Dust in the Wind” was going through my mind as the wind whipped the dirt up into a veritable cloud around us. Got me to thinking about the truth of the song, “Everything is dust in the wind”. Everything in this life is truly temporary, jobs, houses, relationships… I was thinking back on my computer career realizing that all the software I had been paid to write is now gone, along with the very computers that it was meant to operate. Even the company I worked for is gone, like it was never there. The job seemed so important at the time, deadlines, overtime, status meetings to explain how it was all going to get done on time, weekends misspent at the office, and now that it is all gone it seems so silly to have been so stressed out, so stupid to have spent so much time away from family, to have lost so much sleep.

Even life itself is temporary. For some people, life is long and fulfilling. For others like my wife, life itself can be unexpectedly swept away far too soon. We never know when we are going to be struck down by illness, accidents or natural disaster. Cancer took my wife along with all the things she dreamed of, collected and worked so hard for. Everything we had together is now like the song, just dust in the wind. Her life itself is a faded memory in the minds of few, the fruit she and I measured our lives with now remembered by no one.

In the end it all comes down to the words spoken at the final judgement, “Well done good and faithful servant.” If we have lived our lives in friendship with Him we will never have to hear the bitter words, “Depart from Me, I do not know you.”, our legacy will live on in the afterlife and all we have done in this life will not be blown away forever, like dust in the wind.