Dog Days of Summer 2019

The Dog Days of Summer… According to Wikipedia, “The dog days or dog days of summer are the hot, sultry days of summer. They were historically the period following the heliacal rising of the star system Sirius, which Greek and Roman astrology connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck.”. For me, the sun is up way before I am, the colors are obliterated by the intense light of the overhead sun, the animals are all hiding in the shade. Do I want to sweat out a photo shoot in vain? Or…

vParadox Brewery in Divide Coloradoo

What better time to try out a new watering hole πŸ™‚ I have driven past this place a hundred times, it’s right by some sort of feed plant and I always thought the unexplored building was just part of the feed business in rural Divide, Colorado. Until the other day I was doing a search for brew pubs and Paradox showed up in the search results. So I’m thinking, I know that place, it’s the feed building I’m always driving past????

Saw the bighorn sheep up on 67 the other day at about 2:30… no camera along of course but I make a note of the time and place thinking that they might be making a return trip on another day…

Paradox Brewery in Divide ColoradoSo the trip is planned, bring along the camera so in case I see the sheep, if not… onward to the brew pub. I love a sure fire plan :) Well those pesky sheep knew I had the camera along so they stayed out of view like always when I have my camera :( No matter, onward to the brew pub.

And what a cool place it is! I can imagine it used to be some sort of country business, a

Paradox Brewery in Divide Colorado

big metal building with double garage doors facing the south with an awesome view of the northwest face of Pikes Peak, I might add! I entered the building past some brewing barrels and into a comfortable tasting room where I encountered a friendly and knowledgeable young lady behind the bar who was happy to let me taste the large variety of brews that they currently have on tap πŸ™‚ Never had beer like this though, all called “sour beer”. Some are more sour than others but I did find one that I liked, called “Future Knowledge”.

Paradox Brewery in Divide Colorado

Outside the big doors is a nice outdoor beer garden with a view of the great peak… The sun was a bit too intense for me this day so I chose to just enjoy the cool shade of the bar at 10,000 feet of elevation πŸ™‚ Outside also is a food truck which was serving some tasty steak, chicken or fish tacos.

I arrived fairly early, probably earlier than most people would be out and about so I had the place pretty much to myself for a while, which suits me just fine πŸ™‚ It wasn’t long though, before the place started filling up, looks like a pretty popular place for those in the know! So anyway, that was how I whiled away one hot dry Dog Day in this short Rocky Mountain summer πŸ™‚ I highly recommend this place if you have an afternoon or evening that you can spend just relaxing in the Rocky Mountain High Country πŸ™‚

 

Advertisements

Awesome Autumn

Crystal Creek AutumnEverything came together like a dream. For years I have been looking longingly at photo magazines, facebook posts by other photographers and online articles dreaming of actually going somewhere new to do some shooting. There was always something, somebody was sick, not enough money, truck broke down, whatever… always something to keep me from going anywhere.Β  This year though was truly awesome! Made it to several places I have been wanting to get to, like forever it seems. Rocky Mountain National Park, Phantom Canyon, Crystal Reservoir

Sunset on the Collegiate Peaks

My week long autumn blitz is about over… Fitting that I was able to get this wonderful sunset picture on the last night of my project πŸ™‚ Not that I am done shooting for the year, I will still get out on days off and on the mornings when I don’t sleep too late! Already though I can see that the wind has taken it’s toll on the autumn leaves, some of the trees are already looking a bit threadbare. The actual fall color season in the Colorado high country is quite short…. wind and rain and even snowstorms are quick to bring the amazing color show to an end. At lower elevations it is quite different, I’m sure down in the cities the trees haven’t even begun to change yet. But up here where I live the long Rocky Mountain winter is making it’s steady advance, bringing with it a stark beauty of it’s own.

 

Steve on Trail Ridge Road

Today finds me at my computer screen, looking over all that I have captured over the last week, happy in my memories of successful photo shoots. The day in Rocky Mountain National Park though will be the one day that stands out in my memory the longest. It is so amazing there, the rugged beauty of Trail Ridge Road, the wildlife, the amazing blue Colorado sky and fresh air are unparalleled πŸ™‚ Please be sure to check in on my website often, I will be putting up new imagery as quickly as I can!

 

Phantom Canyon

Funny the twists and turns my days make… I had fully planned to take Big Dog for a short hike followed by a road trip up Highway 67 to see if the bighorns were still there this morning. However on my way through Victor I glanced down towards the south and thought, “Hey, it looks like the trees are changing down there too! I wonder what the road is like?”. I’ve been wanting to explore Phantom Canyon Road along the Gold Belt Tour series of day trips since the day I first saw it on the map! Surprisingly the road is listed on the “Dangerous Roads” website, but I didn’t think it was that bad… although it could be inΒ  bad weather! So… I turned the old Dodge south and headed down the dirt road toward the canyon. After a couple of miles I was thinking it really wasn’t too bad. The last time I even attempted that route, the ice and snow of the Colorado winter had made a complete mess of it. Now it was a little rough but not a brain rattling washboard like Rampart Range Road the other day… So I just kept going πŸ™‚

According to my brief study of the road’s history, the road actually began as a narrow gauge railroad bed providing access to the gold fields of Cripple Creek and Victor. The name of the canyon is also steeped in history as well according to the website Colorado.com, which attributes to a ghostly inmate who was executed at the Colorado State Penitentiary in the 1880’s. I saw no ghosts on my trek through the haunted canyon πŸ™‚

Entrance to Phantom Canyon

The northern part of the canyon really isn’t too much of a canyon. Just a nice dirt mountain road past a lot of golden aspen leaves with a nice view of the Sangre de Cristo range in the background. Stopped a few times for pictures of the mountains and even the road winding it’s way back into the trees while making my way ever further south. Soon I was way too far down the 30 mile road to consider turning back and I’m glad I didn’t! The canyon is magnificent, beautiful high walls along the sides between really pretty aspen groves and meadows.

There are a couple of places where the road gets slightly dicey, pieces of it somewhat Phantom Canyon Drive in Autumnwashed out and other places are quite narrow due to rock walls on both sides. No big deal today, but I could see where it would be a pain in the butt on a busy weekend day, especially during leaf season. It is possible somebody would have to back up if two cars met in just the wrong place. There were even a couple of one lane tunnels through the rock that I tried to get shots of with my phone but the bright light at the other end of the tunnel coupled with the dark canyon turned out to be an unrecognizable photographic disaster! Oh well… And there was a very cool old wooden bridge that I really liked but was on it before I realized it and so I didn’t get a shot of that either. Come to think of it, a canyon in general is quite difficult to get pictures of. The high walls look very impressive to the three dimensional capabilities of the human eye, but not so much to a two dimensional camera view. So mostly I just cruised along in second gear, enjoying the tight turns, the dense forest, cool rock formations and high cliffs along the sides.

Phantom Canyon Wall

I did get one shot of the road behind along the canyon wall with my phone camera, but as far as capturing the canyon as I saw it with my eyes, it was pretty much a photographic bust. Even the shot I did get is much less impressive than the view that my mind was enjoying! You can kind of make out the path along the cliff that the road is taking but it seemed much steeper when I was driving! I would have liked to have stopped and gotten out and spent a little time in the dense forest, but didn’t have all day… I mainly just wanted to drive the road so I could check the bucket list box in the sky πŸ™‚ Actually I’m much more of a high peaks person than I am a canyon person anyway… I like to get up where I can see! I was also surprised that I didn’t see any wildlife at all on the entire trip… I don’t know maybe deer and elk aren’t big fans of canyons either?

I have to confess, by the time I was about two thirds of the way through, I was just wishing that I was all the way through. Finally with about five miles remaining, the road widened out and the bumps relented allowing me to finish quickly in the 30-40 mph range, followed by some black top road where full speed was possible and I was in Canyon City in no time.

Pondered going on through to Salida to see the Sangres, but as I thought about that I realized I had actually been to Salida before and don’t really remember the Sangres being all that impressive from right beside them. So I opted for the Highway 9 and High Park Drive turnoff for a quick trip back to Cripple Creek. I had read somewhere that there are supposed to be great views of the Sangre range from High Park but I didn’t see it. I’ll go visit the Sangre de Cristo range when that is all that I have planned for the day. Maybe in the winter when the peaks have snow and aren’t just big brown rocks!

These pictures and more are now for sale on my website as wall art, including glossy metal and acrylic sheets, wrapped canvas and traditional framing and matting. You can also purchase a good variety of cool household items and gift items such as phone chargers and hard cases, t-shirts, beach and yoga mats, shower curtains, greeting cards and much more!

The Detour

Had to make a second trip to the city to complete the transaction to acquire my new glasses. For some reason, even though my lenses were in stock the lab was not able to get the specs ready until today. Since they won’t mail to a P.O. Box and Cripple Creek doesn’t deliver mail there was no choice but to make a second trip all the way back down to the city. Pretty sure the Russians had something to do with this inconvenience 😦

WildernessWell on the way down I noticed traffic backing up from halfway down Ute Pass all the way to the 31st Street, grrrrr…. So I decided I was not going to come back up that way but there are only two other choices, go almost to Denver or go through Canon City. I’ve never taken the High Drive route from Cripple to Canon, so I thought, “What the heck, today is the day!”. Only problem was that it was close to 100 degrees in Canon and I’m used to like maybe 65.

Can’t say I was impressed with Canon City… just a plain ordinary ugly town that seemed to go on forever. I did find the turnoff to Phantom Canyon which I almost took but reminded myself that my mission was to map out the paved road along the Sangre in hopes of a future photo trip. Phantom Canyon is one that I want to try from the Victor end and will most likely not take all the way to Canon City. Well anyway, I was expecting to see a turnoff to High Drive close to Canon City but never did and finally arrived at the Highway 9 turnoff near the Royal Gorge.Β  I was pretty sure that the next stop on Highway 50 was going to be Salida so I figured I’d better get while the getting was good. Much to my surprise though, after a few miles I did finally encounter the High Drive / Gold Belt Tour road back to Cripple.

Once again, can’t say I was too impressed. Just a lot of seriously sun baked hills and some pine trees along with a lot of scrub oak and a few aspen trees. Might be nice in the fall but I saw nothing worth stopping to get out the camera for.

Finally home with my new glasses which I am completely not used to… It’s been two years since a case of soup at Walmart finished my other ones off and these are making hills where there are no hills… I vaguely remember going through something like this when I got glasses for the first time and the girl assured me that my brain would compensate. I’m assuming that the same will be true this time. All in all I would have to say that this was a good day, got to try out a new road and avoided a whole lot of stop and go traffic in Ute Pass πŸ™‚

First Snow

It was a beautiful crisp morning… the hint of fall definitely in the air here at almost 9,000 feet high in the Rocky Mountains. After a long week of drudgery and stress I knew I was in need of a road trip and the puppies needed their hike so I decided to take care of both in the same trip! I love taking the doggies to Little Grouse Mountain near Victor, beautiful scenery and almost zero chance of coming into contact with another person or dog up there, and the doggies love it too. Thought of going to church but when I’m stressed out, being around a bunch of married people and feeling alone is even more stressful. If I’m going to feel alone I’d rather just be alone, and the solitude of the mountains there is perfect therapy… Just me, the doggies and the amazing cool mountain breeze blowing in the pines.

Spring Water.jpgNoticed three empty drinking water jugs in the backseat and I have always wanted to stop at the spring for water. Almost at the split in the highway to Victor or Cripple Creek there is a big tank to catch the spring water coming out of the ground. A rubber tube funnels the water into the tank and anyone can fill water jugs from the spout for free. Animals, including elk, deer, and all sorts of big critters can also benefit from the big tank, and of course there is water spilling from the constant flow onto the ground for the little ones. Got my three jugs filled and headed on into Bronco Billy’s for some 50 cent biscuits and gravy.

stormy Collegiate PeaksThen me and the doggies were off to Little Grouse Mountain for a hike to the spectacular vista of the Sangre De Cristo and Collegiate Peak mountain ranges. Storm clouds were building over the Collegiate Peaks and a heavy haze made the Sangre Peaks almost invisible against the cloudy sky, not worth stopping for pictures but the billowing clouds off to the west were kind of neat. I felt this one looked much more dramatic in black and white, the elimination of color seems to have cut through the haze better. By the time we got back to the bottom the doggies were satisfied and ready for a nap.

Went in to Cripple to the Double Eagle and made some nickel bets, long enough to get a Untitled-1.jpgcouple of free brews to wet my parched whistle before heading back over the pass to Woodland. As I cruised through Gillette Flats I thought I could make out some snow up high on Pikes Peak through the storm clouds… the first sign that the fleeting summer in the high country is nearing an end. Figured I’d take a better look when I got to Woodland with it’s good views of the north face. Sure enough, from the excellent vantage point in Woodland it was apparent that the first snow of the year had fallen down to about 11,000 feet on the peak. But when I went to my usual vantage point the best view of the snow wasn’t visible so I took a swing up Paradise and on up into Paradise Pines for a better view which paid off… it was the perfect spot. The north face of the big peak shows a little dusting but the most snow can be seen on the little peak, which might be Cheyenne Mountain, towards the middle left of the frame.

Pair of Buck Mule DeerThen on my way down I could not believe my good fortune… two beautiful buck mule deer grazing in a meadow of wildflowers. Once again, extremely happy I had set my camera up for back button focus. For some reason once the bucks noticed me they took quite a few steps towards me, so I just held the button down which activates AI Servo focus (continuous) mode as long as I hold the button.Β  Normally a camera is set to one shot mode which activates when the shutter button is depressed. Then what happens is only the first shot is in focus and the subject becomes blurry as it moves closer to the camera. As a result I got quite a good bounty of the two deer in the beautiful meadow. What a way to finish a great day in the mountains πŸ™‚

These pictures and more from the day are available on my website as wall prints on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, or matted and framed with your choice of frame. Gift items including coffee mugs, t-shirts, greeting cards, pillows, towels and other handy household items are also available. Commercial stock versions can be purchased from the image licensing portal of my website.

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

Road Trip

Didn’t even feel like getting out of bed this morning, much less going out and doing anything… But after wrestling with my mind I finally made it out the door πŸ™‚ Of course having doggies who need their daily activities attended to help a lot! Had to make a stop at Walmart to pick something up for a friend and after that we just kept on going… There is a secret place I like to take the doggies for their hike, no one is ever there and that suits me just fine

ThunderbirdFinally arrived at the destination and was getting the doggies ready to hop out of the back door of the camper shell when Son Boy decided I was moving too slow… Dang near knocked my teeth out with the camper door, while smashing my sunglasses into my face and then onto the rocks where they received a number of lovely scratches. A few exclamations later for which I have since made peace with God I noticed that a group of nicely dressed well to do people had pulled in near me and were looking at me with sad disapproval… Lol, but in my defense, Son Boy can be an asshole and though he looks quite sweet they were not there when he was dragging me face down for about 30 feet across the Walmart lawn, and I feel quite justified in calling him an asshole for today’s infraction!

We had a lovely hike to the summit of Little Grouse Mountain and the overlook onto the distant Collegiate Peaks and Sangre De Cristo Mountains. It was a beautiful cool cloudy day in the Pike National Forest and a magnificent day for a hike. On the way home I was tailgated by a Teller County Sheriff all the way to Florissant where I finally ditched him by pulling into the Thunderbird, a place I had always wanted to check out anyway. What a cool place it is! Sort of a biker bar in the middle of nowhere in the Pike National Forest, it is an amazing landmark and oasis that everyone should visit if possible! Well anyway, I also ran into a writer for the Ute Country News there and gave her my business card in case they might need my photography services. You never know what you might accomplish by just going out the door in the morning, a lesson I will have to keep in mind the next time I don’t feel like facing another day πŸ™‚

It had started raining while I was there and I didn’tΒ  get any good pictures, in fact it wasn’t a good day for pictures at all and I didn’t get any for my website either. Tonight it is still raining and I am just enjoying being inside enjoying some hot chocolate. It is becoming obvious that we have moved past the hottest part of the summer, the days are still warm, but you can really feel the Rocky Mountain chill in air on these nights lately!

 

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