Hard Ride

Well, that didn’t go as planned… in my mind was an enjoyable ride, maybe out to the overlook on 67 near Victor, some awesome pictures and a joyous ride back down the hill to town. The reality turned out otherwise 😦 Two years ago I was in great riding shape, but haven’t had a lot of time for myself or for exercise since then. I knew the hills in Cripple Creek are formidable, but in trying to ride them on my mountain bike, they went from formidable to simply wicked!

Fox and KitsThe morning started out fine… a nice ride down the hill to Bronco Billy’s for a cheese omelette. Breakfast was awesome :) Then I began the ride to Victor which lasted about three minutes before thinking better of that idea. It wasn’t so much the hill up there at that point as it was the gloom of the day. The main reason for riding to the overlook was to get pics of the Sangre, but it is just so dusty and gloomy that successful photography was just not going to happen.

So instead I decided on the dirt roads south of my house. Thought that might be a place to test out the old legs and see what is left after two years of much less beneficial physical struggle. The ride up the hill from Bronco Billy’s pretty much answered that question. I made it about halfway before I had to resort to standing on he pedals for more leverage… That is when I found that the old legs were already too tired to stand, nothing left to do but get off and walk.

But I was not about to give up until I at least did some riding on the dirt! I was encouraged by the first hill, steadily climbing the mountainside to another vista point I enjoy. Once there though, the hills once again became too steep for me to negotiate on wheels so I just turned around and headed for home. Very discouraging ride, but I think I’ll try to stick with it and see if the aging legs will bounce back and make it possible to do some pedaling around this area.

Didn’t get picture one today, but I did get one processed last night from the little fox family that I found a couple of weeks ago.Β  I don’t know, maybe I’ll head down the trail with Big Dog this evening and see if there might be a nice sunset to photograph. Other than that, it looks like the end of the road for picture exploring for a while 😦

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Morning Reflection

Slept a bit later than I anticipated this morning… although I do like the rest I am always a little disappointed if it is already light when my eyes first open because it means I have missed a potentially amazing sunrise, oh well. Sat up and checked the weather on my phone and discovered that it was already a balmy 38 degrees with no wind. Turned on the coffee pot and took Big Dog out for his morning duties. As I wandered around with him looking for just the right spot, I looked down the valley towards the Sangre de Cristo. It was a beautiful morning and there was a layer of clouds behind the rugged mountain range that helped paint an amazing pastel colored picture that I knew I was going to have to capture.

One cup of coffee later my four legged buddy figured out that today is not a work day and began his victory dance at the front door, which is a bit difficult to ignore! Grabbed the camera and filters and loaded up the pockets of my military field jacket with all the things I might need and we hit the road. It was such a pretty morning I really didn’t care if I got any pictures or not. We just strolled down the trail casually looking for any critters that might be out doing the same.

Turning 60 last month has changed my entire perspective… I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not but the two year countdown to early retirement has really brought the finish line into focus. I just read an article that people who retire too soon don’t live as long as people who work longer, probably because of the loss of sense of purpose and connection with society. Don’t think that will be a big deal for me as I have tried my best for most of my life to avoid connection with society anyway πŸ™‚ For me it just means I will have more time to spend out in the mountain landscape doing what I love. Although the money that a regular job provides is nice, I have always been resentful of being cooped up inside a building I don’t necessarily want to be cooped up in.

As I was strolling down the trail thinking about the finish line my mind reflected back upon the starting line. I still remember opening the box and exploring my first real camera, my Minolta X-700. Up until that point I had been using one of those ridiculous c-110 cameras which left me perpetually disappointed in the results. I remember the amazing little red LED lights informing me of my shutter speed and aperture settings, important things I had never been able to control before. This of course was pre auto focus and I was fascinated with the little prism that would even out when focus had been achieved, and with the little digits on the lens that would inform me what was in focus and what was not. It was 1984 and I had no idea of the life long journey I was beginning with the love affair between man and gadget.

My mind drifted further back as I realized how long I had been fascinated with cameras, and upon my regret that I had not participated in the photography class in high school. I remember feeling the urging to check the box on the classes list, but something held me back… don’t remember what, perhaps the fear of the unknown. I had never used a real camera before, only the 110 with the flash stick. Perhaps the dial and button laden 35mm cameras of that era looked intimidating. But I can’t help but wonder if my life would have taken an entirely different road had I taken that course? I would have discovered that a my love for the gadget and it would not have seemed like something so out of reach that it was not worth pursuing. I wonder if I could have avoided thirty years in a cubicle inside a windowless building, glued to a computer screen and strangled with a tie around my neck? Plus I have always regretted not having a good camera during my four year stint working in northern California after the Air Force. I saw so many magnificent landscapes from the Pacific to the Sierra, and my pictures from then simply do not do the beauty of that place justice 😦

Waterfall in the Black Hills

It was then I realized that was not the beginning… my fascination with cameras began further back in time to when I was about 12 years old with an old Brownie box camera. I didn’t get a lot of practice in those days, I was on a tight film budget… one roll of black and white film per year! Well I tried to get the most bang for my parents buck, shooting my one roll of film on our yearly camping trip in some amazing mountain location. So this is one of my very first pictures, a shot of a waterfall somewhere, maybe in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

By now me and Big Dog were nearing our wilderness destination and the Sangre came into view. A bit hazy today but the beautiful pastel colors had persisted through the long walk to the vista point and I brought my Canon up to my eye for a look see. I usually zoom all the way in with my 70-200 to get in close to the mountains but today I could see I needed to get some sky in the image. I wanted to get all the beautiful pastel clouds in the picture, all the way to the brilliant blue Colorado sky above the layer of cloud cover. Big Dog was passing the time trying to dig to China, or maybe just unearth some subterranean critter that his extraordinary senses were detecting.

Sangre de Cristo Spring Morning

I worked the scene for awhile, trying various focal lengths in an attempt to fully explore the beautiful vista before me. Finally the rising sun was lighting the haze so much that the mountains were beginning to fade and my job for today was done. We began the long trek back home, looking in vain for some elk or deer along the way.

These pictures and more will be available on my website as usual in the form of wall art and many nifty household and gift items, including apparel, coffee mugs, pillows and blankets and more. If you like my articles, please be sure to click the follow button and you will receive an email notification each time I publish.

Special Mountain Morning

It’s not every morning I get a visit from a herd of deer but I did today and I had my camera with me πŸ™‚ Right at the beginning of my trek through the woods and up the mountain, there they were. I would never have even seen them if Big Dog wasn’t pointing them out for me, like, “Hey, look some deer!”. They were peering out from the mountain grass and I really couldn’t see them because the sun was in my eyes, which didn’t make for very good pictures, back lit and all. There was not going to be any opportunity to move around and get a better angle, I knew the minute I moved they would be gone so This is the best I could do under the circumstances 😦 It is kind of cool that you can see individual hairs in their fur though and early morning sunlight is nice πŸ™‚

Colorado mule deer in the winter

Three doe mule deer in the sun

The sun was much more handy in lighting the Peak though, the south face of America’s Mountain was magnificent today! With just the right light for me to use I was able to set the camera on f11 and use aperture priority to get some really good depth of field. The golden morning sun made for some great color on the beautiful red rocks and the scene was a joy to behold πŸ™‚

Didn’t get to see my elk buddies today, but there was a coyote in the distance carrying on quite a conversation with me and Big Dog. I’m sure he was just telling us we were on his mountain. Been a long time since I’ve seen one of the little wild dogs close up, even longer since I’ve gotten a decent picture! Still, they remind me of my bucket list item to travel up to Yellowstone to photograph the wolf packs that have been nurtured there.

Pikes Peak Winter Morning

Fresh snow on the south face of Pikes Peak

It’s been a great few days on the mountain but tomorrow it’s back to the rock pile. Saw an article today that says there is spike in the death rate of men at age 62… Something about feeling useless and disengaging from society. Lol… I won’t have a problem I’m sure! Unless the death rate has something to do with falling off mountains because of the increased time spent there? Well who knows, all I know is I can’t wait for these annoying work week interruptions in my otherwise rewarding life to end!

As always, these pictures and more are available on my website for purchase as wall art, cool gift and household items and on the stock portal as commercial stock for all your advertising needs!

Time

Time is a funny thing. It is supposed to be a constant force, marching on without regard to its effect on us mortals. Though it may be a relentless enemy, when we are hurting time can be our friend. Time heals it is said. Father Time’s advance is supposed to be steady, but there are circumstances in which it seems to slow down or race ahead uncontrollably. For example, prior to my trip to Denver I needed to get my truck maintained and time seemed to stand still while I waited the estimated hour for the work to be completed. Occasionally time flies by unnoticed like the six years that have gone by since I have had lunch with my old friend. For the fifteen years that we met weekly for lunch, time was steady and the years long and memorable. Yet in these difficult years since Tricia’s diagnosis, almost half that time has slipped by without notice.

Yesterday’s trip to Denver was a compacted combination of all those phenomenon. Had to stop in the Springs to pick up my final check at the medical company where I don’t work anymore. It seemed like yesterday when I made my first trip there to take my tests and learn of the company’s policies and procedures. My time there was like a vapor and now I will never see any of those people again. Before long, it will be like working for that company didn’t happen at all.

Colorado Springs was the same, as I left town time seemed constant. I see it every week and it hasn’t changed much over the years. Same with I25 on my way up to Denver. The route is mostly unchanged and the effects of time seem normal. The freeway is being widened near Park Meadows. It was being widened when I moved away and it is being widened again. Nothing unusual here. But when I made my turn off onto Arapaho road I began to notice some odd feelings. Arapaho and the Valley Freeway looked all different to me. I made a wrong turn and had to make a loop under the bridge and try it again. Home Depot is still there and I remembered that is where to turn so I pulled in off of Clinton Street, but the shopping center looked different and I didn’t see JD’s where I remembered it to be. It seemed like a lifetime since I had been there.

However as I approached Home Depot, I found my old parking place and spotted Dennis’ car there as well. Suddenly I felt as if I had been there last week, as if no time had passed at all. Dennis looked the same, save for a few more gray hairs and we quickly picked up where we left off. We still have the same friends and interests and a common past. Soon we were discussing our internet problems, some things never change. However, as we discussed megabytes and gigabytes and data rates we had to laugh. If someone would have described these numbers to us thirty years ago it would have sounded about as likely as Star Trek. Thirty years ago we had an acoustical modem that you used by sticking a telephone receiver into rubber lined holes . Our data rate then was a whopping 100 bits per second. Then we upgraded to 300 and then 1200. Later 9600 bits per second was warp speed. The five million dollar mainframe we worked on had 65k of memory, not 65 megabytes, just 65k bits. We typed our code on card decks. Those times seem like a million years ago, maybe even another lifetime.

The time for lunch to end was upon us and just as always we sauntered into the parking lot and vowed not to let six more years pass. Leaving was as always, like it was just last week and we were on our way. But as I proceeded down Arapaho towards the east, time warped again. Everything is different. There are new businesses, new buildings, new roads and new signs. Even the intersection at Parker Road is different. Seemed like forever since I had been there. Parker too is quite different for the same reasons. Feels like much time has passed since the 20 years I lived there.

However, the instant I passed the town of Parker, I was jolted from the future to the past. South of Parker nothing has changed in six years. It was like I’d never left and I could have been driving down the road yesterday and I wouldn’t know any different today. My subdivision is also unchanged, the same deer are still standing around in the yards eating the grass and the forest along the street looks exactly like it did all those years ago. My old house is different though and I’m glad Tricia didn’t have to see it. We worked hard to make it look and feel like the mountains so the house was surrounded by rocks and trees and a beautiful rock garden in the center with a colorful crab apple tree in the middle. In the years we lived there some of our pines reached at least 50 feet. However, it appears the new owner doesn’t like trees. Majestic old pines chopped down and disposed of, the rock garden, the tree, the flowers, the juniper bushes all gone. Twenty years of loving attention to detail all wiped away. Now the house could be something transplanted straight out of the sterileΒ  and monotonous neighborhoods of barren Aurora.

Finally, my destination. The storage unit to pick up my photography studio stuff, and the weirdest part of the entire journey. Here, time had stood completely still. I can still remember being miffed that my studio wasn’t making the trip. We were going to get a new start in the mountains, but it did not appear that my photography was going to be a part of it, and it wasn’t. The daily war on cancer soon consumed us and the years passed by quickly, almost like a blur. But now standing here looking at my backdrops, my wall prints, brochures and office equipment it seemed that time had stood completely still. Almost has if I had been transported out of my life and into someone elses for six years. But now I feel like Father Time has waited for me, patiently standing by while I dedicated the years to another person’sΒ  needs. It was like I had been suddenly transported back to a life that has been faithfully awaiting my return. In fact it was like the clock had actually gone backwards six years to pick me up where I left off.

I don’t know if I will want to have a studio again, probably not since my interests have changed and I am more at home outdoors than in a studio. But I know one thing, my equipment wasn’t doing me any good up there with me down here. Time marches on and I am eager to find out what he has in store for me now.