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

Animals in Heaven

This is a question that comes up often for animal loving believers. Having read the Bible from front to back more than a dozen times I can say with certainty… it doesn’t say one way or the other. But of course, the absence of a definitive answer from scripture that doesn’t mean that it isn’t so. The Bible was written for people to read, and of course with the God given ability for higher thinking comes the responsibility about making a decision about God. The Bible is the reference book for humans to make that decision. Animals have no decision to make. Not having the knowledge of good and evil they are exempt from any decisions and are in no need of divine instruction, ergo there are no instructions in the Bible regarding the salvation of animals.

So as with anything, in the absence of hard evidence circumstantial evidence can be examined. First of all, what do we imagine Heaven is like? Revelation Chapter 21 describes a walled city with streets of “pure gold as it were transparent glass”. In the city there are pearls and jewels of every kind and there shall be no need for light because the Lamb of God is the Light. The twelve gates to the city are never closed because there is no night and no darkness. And in Chapter 22 there is mention of a pure river of the water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and the Lamb. A river lined with the tree of life and all manner of fruits and leaves for the “healing of the nations”.

We don’t know what is outside the gates, only that no unclean thing may enter the gates. My guess (and my theory on the matter) is that outside the gates lies a beautiful expanse of mountains, wilderness and gardens. Perhaps like the Garden of Eden, a magnificent place filled with abundant fruits and trees and plants. And of course there were animals in the garden, animals that Adam was supposed to name and care for.

Before sin entered the world there was no death and no need of death. The animals could not provide meat without dying so they must have been placed in the garden for some other reason besides consumption. Perhaps God just likes animals? How could He not enjoy the chirping of birds, the beautiful colors and patterns on their fur and the joyful play of the furry youngsters. A garden without birds or mountains, without the chatter of pika, deer grazing and bear cubs romping would be a sterile and boring place indeed. Heaven wouldn’t be Heaven at all without such joyful abundance of life. We are also assured that God is concerned with the return of animals to their Garden of Eden state in Isaiah 11:6 where it is said that during the millennial reign of the Messiah, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”. I don’t believe God would have created animals and put so much thought into them if He didn’t want them in His final Kingdom.

1937114_1183946444851_6660632_nMy wife Tricia, God rest her soul, was one of the most spiritually attuned people I have ever met and also a person who believed that there would be animals in Heaven and that our pets would be there too. This belief was cemented by the life and death of our first dog that we raised together. I have a long story about how we came about bringing him home, but that is a tale for another blog post. Anyway, this amazing story began in our back yard when I brought the dog home. At the time we only had a little two seat S10 Chevy pickup truck with an open bed. There was no way we were going to drive our new pet 20 miles through the nightmare that is Denver traffic in the back of an open pickup and he was too big to ride in a lap, so I went to get him alone. When I brought him home Tricia was inside so I just led Bear around back to his new backyard. After I had closed the gate and unhooked the leash Bear ran out into the middle of the yard and whirled around several times before racing back to greet me. It was a moment I will never forget as long as I live. As I mentioned, Tricia wasn’t there, she was busy and I was busy and I forgot to tell her about his joy at being rescued.

Years later after being as much a part of our family as any child would be, Bear crossed Rainbow Bridge and we were of course devastated. As we prepared to bury him Tricia was petting him and praying for God to give him back to us. All of a sudden she stopped and jumped up saying, I just had a vision of Bear playing in green grass, twirling in circles and jumping for joy! I said, “that is exactly what he did when I first brought him home”. She said, “He is happy in Heaven and will be waiting for us!”. I believe that he is and that she and him are both running through green grass even as we speak, joyfully and patiently awaiting my arrival 🙂

Dust in the Wind

Five days to go before I have to be out of this place and the donation truck is coming today to lighten my load. Over the last couple of weeks as I have been packing, donating and preparing to move out, I am intrigued by the perceived value of things. When we were younger we had all these ideas for businesses, many of which we actually tried for awhile. Some things worked out, some didn’t. Some were her ideas, some were mine. What is interesting is the value to me of the things that no longer have the valuable person to accompany them.

What were once our our hopes and dreams together, I find now that they are not my hopes and dreams. Items that fit in that category are of no interest to me at all anymore. As I loaded up the last item from the storage unit to cart off to Goodwill the wind was blowing and I was engulfed in a dust cloud. Rolling down that road for the last time was bittersweet. I was glad to not have to deal with those things anymore but I also know that going down that particular road for the last time was one more thing that we will never do together again. She is gone from this world and I was thinking so are the hopes and dreams that we have together. As the song says, “like dust in the wind”.

Of course I still have my own hopes and dreams to keep me going but it won’t be the same. So I guess the lesson here is to not invest too much in the things of this life, the things that you can’t carry with you into the next. We need to make sure that the things left behind are valuable, even without our presence. And as the bible says, we need to be thinking about the next life, storing up treasures there so that we have something to look forward to at the end of this short existence when we too become “dust in the wind”.