Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving, ​This day in November of the year 1621, when the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered at Plymouth to give thanks to the Almighty for their survival and a bountiful harvest.

This Thanksgiving I too give thanks for my survival, the culmination of a decade of hardship, loss, sickness and death. I Watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles for the first time in years, a long tradition abandoned after Tricia’s passing. To be honest I wasn’t sure I would ever want to celebrate the holiday again and I am stunned at the developments of this year. 

The year began with an injury severe enough to prevent me from my usual duties unloading trucks at Walmart, another winter of wretched survival and the terrible isolation of life in a 1971 camper trailer.

This Thanksgiving finds me in a new home in a new town with a new career, surrounded by friends and family and a turkey baking in the oven. I know none of this would be possible without a miracle crafted in Heaven by the Almighty Himself and there are no words to describe how grateful I am.

I am well aware however, that there are many still living in quiet desperation who will not be celebrating in comfort this year and it is my fervent prayer that the Lord will sustain them through the hard times as he did me.

 “I will give you beauty for ashes and turn your morning into dancing.”

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Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness

This title and powerful truth of course, a quote from the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One of our most sacred rights in this country is our right to free speech, followed by freedom of assembly and freedom of association. These are called “unalienable rights”, rights so important that the government is forever banned by the constitution from taking them away. We in this country have the right to choose great beliefs or repugnant beliefs and we have the right to speak our minds about them and to try to convince others to believe the same. It is what makes our country great, it is what sets this nation apart from all others before it.

However we are also a nation of laws. Speaking our minds in public of course must be done within the limits of the law. Anyone has the right to apply for a permit and have a parade or a rally, whether it be for Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, or Christmas or anything else. What we do not have is the right to not be offended. There is no constitutional right in this country to live life unoffended and being offended doesn’t give anyone the right to physically attack the offender. If someone holds beliefs that are repugnant to us, we do not have the right to beat their beliefs out of them, evil cannot drive out evil. That of course does not apply to our right to physical self defense… naturally if someone is attacking us with a knife or club we have the right to respond violently. It is also not freedom of speech to incite to riot or conspire to commit violent crimes.

We do however have the right to speak our mind, to try to persuade others to believe our way. Hopefully, if our beliefs are superior others will also believe and follow and by spreading our light we will be successful in driving out evil and those with inferior ideas will naturally become marginalized and rendered irrelevant. If we choose to take the other road by allowing one group of people to eliminate another’s right to say things that offend us, it will soon be followed by seeking out those who believe things that offend us in order to correct their beliefs. A huge and powerful segment of our population including the judicial branch of our government, the media and the Hollywood elite have already taken this country well down that path and if that course is not soon reversed it will be soon be followed by calls to physically eliminate people who believe things we find offensive. This has always been the progression in the evil empires, Rome, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and now with ISIS in the Middle East where “infidels” are beheaded.

Think it can’t happen in our time? One only needs to look to the Communist and Islamic countries. People of “incorrect” religious persuasion in those places meet in the darkness of night in private places in fear for their lives. They aren’t hurting anyone or even speaking of their beliefs in public. But never the less, if they are found out they are sent off to prison where they are tortured and often killed. Those who live in darkness  cannot stand even a pinprick of light.

A place where the state is allowed to determine who’s rights and speech are correct and allowed is a dictatorship. Is that what we want for our country? Do we really want an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth” enforcing the beliefs of the state, or do we want to continue the unprecedented high road this country has taken by allowing people the freedom to exchange ideas in a peaceful manner. Granted it hasn’t always worked out that way, the expression of new ideas has often been met with anger and violence but in the end the right to speak those ideas remained and evil has not prevailed. Darkness is not power, it is the lack of power and it cannot withstand light.

Matthew 5:16 ”Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

The Art of Walking Away

Had a pretty good day today, have to say so myself! Started out with my usual hike up the mountainside with the puppies. It was a beautiful cool cloudy morning portending the rainy day we have had. The forest is beautiful this year, very green, almost like the rain forest of the Great Northwest only our Colorado mountain pines are not nearly as large! Had to cut the hike a bit short though when I noticed a deer on one of the upper switchbacks that I didn’t want the dogs to scare. I hate to see them have to run on that terrain, so easy for them to hurt their spindly legs. Once they get to limping they are just bait for the lions 😦

Colorado Mule DeerWith a whole day ahead of me and nothing planned, I decided to take a drive down Twin Rocks and Teller 1, I usually have a pretty good chance of scoring some wildlife pictures somewhere along there, a great stretch for deer and elk to graze all the way along that route through the high prairie. I was fortunate to spot a couple of bucks foraging in a clearing of mountain grass and wildflowers. I attached my 70-200 zoom and set the ISO to 400 as it was a bit cloudy, nice light… just not as bright as usual. As usual I started shooting from a distance to make sure that I got some kind of record of the scene while moving ever closer for the best shot possible. Of course the deer noticed me right off but paid little attention until they noticed me closing in. Finally I got as close as they were going to let me get and snapped a couple of frames before they started wandering off. I could have wasted time trying to follow, but I knew I got the shot and just walking away was the most profitable action at that point.

Colorado LlamaAs I continued down Teller 1, I ran across another beautiful scene with llamas in a beautiful field of wildflowers and grass in front of the foothills. Stopped along the side of the highway and picked up a few more frames using my long lens. The rest of the drive to Cripple Creek was uneventful, except for a few morons who are willing to take their own lives and everyone’s around them by feeling the need to pass on the curves. I just can’t understand what is so important about going fast that it is worth risking life for the thrill.

Then it was down to Bronco Billy’s for steak and eggs. The waiter seated me clear in the back which suited me fine until I noticed I was sitting by a large multi family table of overweight tourists shoveling in food like there was no tomorrow. No apparent chewing, just shoveling… I waited about 10 minutes and no one came… As I grew more aggravated and disgusted I finally realized I no longer had an appetite and it was time to just “walk away” while I was ahead. Went out and stuck a couple of bucks in the slots, won $2 and got my appetite back. Went back to the cafeteria and got a different seat in the front away from the large groups 🙂

On my way out of town I decided to stop in at the Double Eagle and try my luck with a couple more bucks in the electronic thieves. It was mostly up with a little down on a few different machines before winding up at a new .25 cent bet model with a few more dollars in my pocket to risk. After a couple of spins the thing went nuts! Turns out I had won back to back free spins, about 40 altogether I think. Well anyway by the time it was all done beeping and whistling I had almost $50 on the scoreboard… Took a few more spins with nothing and once again decided to just “walk away” while I was ahead.

So at the end of a good day I have a few extra greenbacks, a few pictures to work on and a pretty good life lesson that is applicable in many a situation. Knowing when to walk away can save a lot of grief, whether it be at the poker table, an argument with the wife before the situation becomes too heated or even a close encounter with some irritable wildlife perhaps!

Of course the images from today will soon become available on my website with the commercial stock versions available on the image licensing portal.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Turning Point

One of those memories from one year ago popped onto my Facebook today, it was a great memory of a great day, breakfast with my beloved cousin whom I hadn’t seen for too many years to even count. However the good part of that day was overshadowed by the memory of the rest of the day after I received a call from a friend who told me, “Steve, all hell has broken loose here.”, a terrible day in which several lives were irreparably altered, and not for the better. It was also the day that resulted in me having the two dogs that I wasn’t planning on or prepared for by any stretch of the imagination. However as you can imagine, these two beautiful doggies have worked their way into my heart and now they go with me everywhere. One riding shotgun in the passenger seat of my truck and the other standing on the console in the middle making sure there is nothing unusual lodged in my right ear or my mouth and nose 🙂

I had to take a part time job unloading trucks to make ends meet and it is a job that is physically difficult for people 40 years my younger. Unfortunately a few months ago I sustained a serious injury from which I have not been able to recover and is getting worse. Each day at work is a new lesson in pain and fatigue and I am sure I’m not going to be able to endure it much longer. And Son Boy is starting to look so sad when I have to work, like he knows. I hate leaving them behind, hate taking time away from writing and photography. And I have been praying “Please God, don’t make me go back there…”, pleading and begging the Almighty to have mercy on me and my little family of fur babies.

On the upside, the economy must be turning around, my stock photography sales have been picking up substantially. After years of terrible sales I have actually made more selling than I have working in the last few days… and I think that too is a sign that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Also I had a vivid dream the other night of a house in the country… one of those dreams that you just have a feeling is significant, a sign even perhaps. And after a long time of feeling repulsed by writing and out of inspiration for my photography, ideas are starting to come to me and the words are once again flowing onto the page… Every storm has to end and my storm that has washed away a home, a wife to cancer, a family, a career and all my savings and plans for retirement and almost everything but my faith, has lasted a decade.  It is a storm that I am hoping will soon be on the other side of the turning point.

“He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.” Psalm 107:29-30

Little Grouse Mountain

Woke up early this morning with no real plan for the day, but as always I threw my camera in the truck… just in case. The doggies both did their business quickly, which is a good thing, and a big time saver! So instead of my usual trip to the gym I decided to head for the high country in hopes of seeing some wildlife, especially perhaps some bighorn sheep. I have heard rumors of sightings along the route to Cripple Creek and the 50 cent breakfast at Bronco’s was appealing to me as well, so that’s where I headed.

Curious BurroUnfortunately no bighorns, but I inquired as to the possible location of the burro population in town in hopes of seeing them for the first time in the wild in Colorado. So after breakfast I took a couple of roads to the outskirts of town in hopes of spotting the herd. No herd, but while on the hill I did see a big commotion and some ambulances at a casino… probably one of the ancient decrepit souls with oxygen tanks smoking a cigarette that seem to so often frequent those places. Lol I don’t know, just a guess but that is what came to me when I saw the scene. Then as I was on my way back down the hill I heard a big fight going on around some pickup trucks and motorcycles with lots of yelling and cursing, followed by sirens and cop cars. Another foray into the countryside revealed more cop cars and some sort of biker gang having a meeting. Certainly not my idea of a day photographing wildlife surrounded by the peace and solitude of the Colorado Rockies!

Eventually I decided to give it up, but on my way back down Bennett I spotted a burro, then another… hanging out at the jail museum west of the casinos. I wondered, will they let me just walk up to them and take pictures? I had heard they were used to people so I put on the wide angle and sauntered up. Sure enough, they paid me no attention and I started snapping some pictures. About that time a guy came of of the museum and told me they had burro treats inside. So I went in and made a donation and got a little bag of treats to reward them for being such good subjects. In fact they were so good the wide angle was definitely required to get any kind of shot of them due to their curiosity about the camera and determination to put a nose print on the lens! They like to be petted and also like the treats and were happy to eat all that I could give them. Eventually they lost interest when I was out of the treats and moseyed on over to the water tank that the museum provides for them. A big shout out to the museum for taking such good care of them!

Unfortunately, having to have an extra job is taking a toll on my concentration, my body and my photography skills. I knew something was off by the sound of the camera, but paid no attention to my instincts. Turns out the camera had been accidentally set to Tv  at a 20th of a second. I’m lucky I got any pictures at all of the burros, very disappointing… But just the same I am happy this one turned out, it was one of my favorites. Oh well, now I have an excuse to go back soon and see those sweet natured beasts again 🙂

Upon returning to the truck I discovered that Son Boy had found a hitherto forgotten packet of BBQ sauce and had managed to explode it all over the inside of my truck 😦 Actually it was a big relief when I finally ascertained what had happened because when I first saw him I about had a heart attack, thinking he was bleeding from his mouth!!!!!!!!!! Luckily the packets don’t hold much so I was able to clean up in short order and be back on the way. That reminds me… there is still sauce on the ceiling that I need to deal with 😦

Collegiate Peak Mountains in ColoradoWell then, off to Victor… There were a couple of spots along that road I wanted to photograph in the morning light… On the way I spotted an overlook I have never noticed before, so I pulled in to check it out and discovered a nice hiking trail to a small mountain appropriately named “Little Grouse Mountain”, just short enough for the doggies including 14 year old Kitsu to come with 🙂 Nice little hike with all sorts of historic landmarks and interpretive signs along the way. Turns out Grouse Mountain is rich in mining history and there are a number of abandoned sites to study along the way. At the top there is a magnificent view of the Sangre De Cristos and the Collegiate Peaks to the west and northwest.

Finally I had escaped the hubub of a tourist invasion in Woodland Park for “free fishing day”… which reminded me of Tricia. After she was diagnosed with cancer she said she just wanted to go fishing. She had never been and finally decided she would like to just retire and spend some time along a stream fishing. Unfortunately she kept finding too many things to do and never got to go. My advice on that subject? If there is something you really want to do don’t delay, there are no guarantees for a tomorrow in this life. As I wandered the summit of the little mountain and took in the magnificent views I wondered… did the miners appreciate this solitude as much as I was on this day? Were they as appreciative of the stunning views as I was this morning, or were they blinded by greed and the gold dust. I could sense their ghosts as the breeze whispered in the pines, occasionally accompanied by the mournful sound of the historic Cripple Creek Victor narrow gauge railroad train whistle. It had to have been a brutal lifestyle, I wonder if it was worth it? All the work and suffering for that gold only to leave it behind on the journey into the afterlife. And I wonder, am I just like they were? Only with a camera, prospecting for a different kind of gold in the harshness of life in these mountains two miles above sea level. I don’t know, but just the same I thank the Almighty for the legs and the lungs and the opportunity to be able to climb to a place like this and the eyes to see the magnificence of His Creation.

I was so enjoying the solitude, the happiness of finally getting to climb a mountain even if it was only a little one, a place all to myself save for the critters who call that mountain home. But sprinkles soon made my decision for me and it was raining steadily by the time we made it back to the truck. The puppies gladly hopped out of the rain into the camper topper and I decided it was time to return to the madness of the city. But it was a good day in the mountains, not what I had planned but that is ok with me.

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

10,000 Captures

Today was a milestone of sorts… I hadn’t noticed until I transferred the images to my laptop, but today my camera rolled over 10,000 images and started over at 00001. And as fate would have it, #10,000 was my favorite one of the day. I was at the library in the reading room checking out the new issue of Outdoor Photographer when I saw the storm roll in over the peak. So I grabbed my camera and went out onto the deck for the show.

Thunder on the MountainSo today reminds me of the day two years ago that I purchased this camera, a Canon 70D, down at Mike’s in the Springs. It also reminds me of an online discussion I was reading one time about what exactly is a professional photographer. Some argued that it meant you made a full time living from it, others said you were a professional if you were paid at all for your pictures, others said you were professional if you acted professionally while performing your art. One guy said you were definitely not a professional if the first thing you do in difficult financial times is sell your equipment for cash.

Well that last one is certainly not me! Two years ago Tricia and my 40D passed at about the same time, along with my living as a caregiver to her while she was dying of cancer. So a few people sent me cash to help out with the death expenses and when I received my final check from the medical company that I worked for I put it all together and spent everything I had to acquire this camera. I could not imagine being without a camera… I felt like an incomplete person without one!

Since then, this camera has been to countless sporting events, festivals, hikes, on top of seven of Colorado’s 14ers… and more I’m sure! Well anyway, here’s to number 10,000 and here’s to a joyful and prosperous future!

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Tour of the Mines

Had a day off from unloading Walmart trucks yesterday… Didn’t bother to make any plans as I am usually so  trashed from the trucks the day before that I am unable to function, but unfortunately I was up way early anyway with nothing to do. Was going to make my usual rounds running errands, which mostly consists of going to the gym and Walmart, lol not a whole lot to do in Woodland Park. Was looking forward to the burger special at the bar later in the day, but other than that, nothing 😦

Elk in the Fossil Beds National MonumentHowever, as I was on my way to the gym I thought why not take a cruise through the Pike National Forest over to Divide to see if there are any elk hanging around… Didn’t see any, but decided to pick up a Gatorade at Venture Foods and continue on down Twin Rocks Road to Teller 1 for another look.  Not much there, but I did spot one pair of the giant beasts running from the mountains over to the Fossil Beds Monument and managed to grab a couple of shots of that action.

By then it was early enough and I was so close to Cripple that some 50 cent biscuits and gravy were sounding pretty good… Plus I have been meaning to take a drive down the Tour of the Mines Road so I kept aiming the old Dodge south towards casino town. A quick walk for the doggies and I was enjoying a very economical breakfast before heading out for some serious pictures of the mines at the base of the magnificent snow capped Sangre De Cristo mountain range.

Abandoned gold mine near Victor ColoradoI drove a few miles down the rough dirt road south of town but wasn’t seeing anything impressive enough to continue so I just turned around and went back through Cripple Creek. I’ve also been wanting to take Highway 82 over to Goldfield. I was there a long time ago exploring the mines with the wife and was wondering what might have changed since then. As it turns out everything! Hard to believe how massive the Newmont Mine has become… When we took the road years ago, it was just a little dirt road winding through the forest past some abandoned mines. Now it is a highway past the massive crater that was once mountains. The mines that were once little abandoned, and probably quite dangerous death traps are now marked monuments, complete with fences and signage. But it was still fun to retrace the steps I had taken with my wife so long ago before the cancer changed everything.Newmont.jpg

Took the other way home, past the beautiful west face of Pikes Peak. By the time I got home it was raining pretty hard and getting cold. Was very tired and it was too early for burger night so I decided to just make the best of the excellent sleeping weather by taking a much needed map. Had to light the pilot light and fire up the furnace first though! 45 degrees indoors seemed a bit on the chilly side for almost the middle of May!

Be sure to watch for the rest of the pictures to be posted in the coming days! Click the links on the upper left side of the article to find the categories for prints, gift items and stock images!

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items