Freedom Ride for POW / MIA

Hard to believe, a whole year has passed since I photographed this event, but here it is, the 2017 Veteran’s Ride for Freedom for the POW and MIA soldiers who are unaccounted for in all wars. Riders assemble in Woodland Park Colorado and ride en masse to Cripple Creek where a cheering crowd of thousands greets them with an amazing Colorado style festival. I’ve had numerous opportunities to photograph the riders leaving Woodland Park, but this was the first real chance I have ever had to actually go to Cripple Creek and capture them coming into town. Almost could not drag myself out of bed this morning but fortunately the doggies know the meaning of the alarm clock and were not having any part of going back to bed πŸ™‚

Veteran's Ride for Freedom to Cripple CreekI couldn’t figure out from the website what time the riders would actually arrive so I wound up getting there way too early, so I thought… Anyway it seemed like an opportune time for another 50 cent breakfast at Bronco Billy’s which upon arrival looked like a no go when I saw the crowd. Luckily I received a tip from someone in the know that I could go to one of the bars and order breakfast from there instead of sitting in the cafeteria. Cool! The bar was empty so that worked out just right! The bartender filled me in on the schedule and I was happy to discover that there was going to be a parade in less than an hour so as it turns out I wasn’t so early after all.

Miss ColoradoThe parade was small but quaint and I didn’t notice until tonight, but I captured an image of Miss Colorado, which I think is pretty cool πŸ™‚ This year was also the last year for the Vietnam era Huey displayed on a trailer in the parade so I was glad to have gotten the opportunity to see that as well. A traveling replica of the Vietnam Wall was on the other side of town but I managed to miss that somehow.

Then I took up a good vantage point in front of the Brass Ass which was also where a couple of Teller County’s finest were stationed as well. So I chatted with them and listened to the play by play of the riders progress on their radios πŸ™‚ Finally I heard the roar of probably hundreds of Harleys making the turn from the base of 14,115 foot Pikes Peak on Highway 67 into the downtown area. It was especially important to me to capture the front runners carrying the flags. Such a cool sight, so I made sure I was in the middle of the road for that! Just in time for the arrival of the riders a big ugly cloud rolled in overhead to spoil all the colors but I got the shots and got out of the street in time to get them going west down into the massive crowd at the festival and towards the beautiful flag flying over the street.

 

Then I captured a few more sights and sounds, including a video from my phone, which never ceases to disappoint me with it’s lack of quality… My camera does video as well, but for some reason I can never remember to figure out how to use it until it’s too late. Something about switching a still camera to video just doesn’t seem natural!Veteran's Freedom Ride to Cripple Creek

The heat today was oppressive, which was another reason to get there early. I was able to park in the Double Eagle parking garage, so I made sure I lost a few bucks to the one armed bandits there to make up for using their garage. Tried to take the doggies for a hike, but it was way too hot and we only went a few yards before they did their business and wanted to get out of the sun.

As I work on the pictures tonight it occurs to me that it was at this event one year ago that I received the first hint that there was something seriously wrong with my 70-200 F4L lens. Weird… parts of the picture in focus and other parts in the same plane not in focus…. After grieving about it for a couple of months I took it in for repairs and now I have it back as good as new πŸ™‚ It needed a tune up anyway after a decade of hard use!

I thought it was great to see all those thousands of people cheering and waving flags, everyone fully in support of the rider’s mission, especially in this time of such strife when so many are so bent out of shape over everything under the sun. There was not a single fight the entire time I was there, no protestors to ruin the event for everyone else, just thousands of people being happy and polite. I wish there was more of that in this country now!

These pictures and more will be for sale on my website as wall art on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, canvas, framed and matted prints and also as novelty items including t-shirts and coffee mugs. Commercial editorial stock versions of the images is also available at 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

 

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Donkey Derby Days

Another thing I’ve been wanting to do, Donkey Derby Days in Cripple Creek, Colorado… like forever. Almost skipped out again but when faced with going home for cooking andΒ  cleaning it was a no brainer. A quick drive to Cripple and me and the doggies were headed for main street to see the action. Unfortunately, one of the first events was the doggy contests on the main stage and Son Boy wasn’t down for the whole contest idea. He just wanted to go play with all the doggies, which made it difficult to take pictures, stand still, stand up, or do any kind of normal festival activity. So off they went back to the truck in the nice cool parking garage for a nap 😦

Donkey WalkingI was expecting to see more of the indigenous donkey herd but there were a few donkeys owned by locals that were giving rides to kids that made for a good photo op. Donkeys and owners alike were decked out in amazing period costumes. Watched some donkey rides and a few of the doggy contests before retiring to the beer garden for a nice cold Belgian White before the main event was to take place, the famous donkey races… Enjoyed watching the music, including the Air Force Academy Band and taking in the sights… all the vendors and visitors in an amazing colorful old west scene!

Finally 1:30 rolled around and I staked out a vantage point where I could get some good shots. I watched through my long lens as the donkeys and people racers prepared at the starting line up by the Jail Museum. Finally, the gunshot and off they went! Right through the people and up Bennett Avenue towards the east end of town. Probably about a half dozen semi reluctant burros streamed past me on their journey to the finish line. Tried to get some video, but obviously I have not perfected that skill yet 😦Derby Winner

Don’t know who won the thing, doesn’t really matter to me, I just wanted to be part of this experience at least once! The local donkeys have an interesting history. They are believed to be the direct descendants of the burros used by the gold rush miners of the area’s old west origin over a century ago. The animals roam the streets freely in the summertime and enjoy receiving special donkey treats that can be obtained for a donation in many of the local establishments.

 

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

Paddlefest

Today turned out to be a pretty big day, the furthest from home I’ve been in a long time. After years of hoping to photograph the Paddlefest whitewater festival in Buena Vista, I finally made it today. I awoke at 5:00 a.m. and it was foggy and cold so I was tempted to just give it up and go back to bed, but I thought it was now or never and just headed out the door. My gear was all packed from the night before because I knew it would be a tough thing to do in the dark in the morning.

Collegiate Peaks

Collegiate Peaks

Fog and rain greeted most of my drive across the high plateau from Lake George to Hartsel, but a glorious view greeted me as 285 began to descend down into the Arkansas Valley. The massive Collegiate Peaks range came into view and was well worth the pull over at at the scenic overlook for some shots. The deep snow on the high peaks was literally glowing in the early morning light. I lingered and shot several angles and different peaks from various vantage points before continuing down the mountain to the turnoff to Buena Vista

As I pulled into town I spotted just the thing I was looking for at the moment. My early departure didn’t leave me time to drink my usual morning wake up beverage, so when I saw the Brown Dog Coffee Shop I knew it would be a good place to hang out and wait for the whitewater events to start. Love the place and it will now be my favorite coffee shop west of the Continental Divide!

Soon I decided to head on down to the river to find a parking place and scope out the event vantage points. Rain was falling so I was glad that I had brought along my Aquatech rain cover for the camera and a rain poncho. Down by the river tents were being set up with the necessary music and PA gear. I inquired and they told me the main festival was up the trail. Checked that out and decided to head back to the car to wait out the rain and kill the time before the events.

Paddle-Boarders

Paddle-Boarders

9:00 a.m. finally rolled around so I put the rain cover on the camera and headed back down to the river for the first kayak events at the eddy near the tents. As I was shooting the kayakers, I noticed some mountain bikers on the opposite side of the river high on the ridge, so after the first set I found the bridge and crossed over. According to the maps it looked like the Whipple Trail would afford me a good view of the high peaks to the west. True enough, if it weren’t for so many clouds it would have been awesome. On my way back across the bridge I received my good fortune for the day as a group of paddle boarders were headed down a very scenic segment of the river, all lined up in a very cool row! That will be my money shot for the day I am sure!

When I got back to the river I got the opportunity to photograph some rafters and the group of paddle boarders were getting ready to tackle some whitewater. A few more captures and I was ready for the drive home, which turned out to be an adventure in itself. It was snowing on the high plains, which is way more excitement than I need when I am driving my summer car. Fortunately I drove out from under the storm and it turned into rain in the lower elevations.

Finished up the day with some awesome Japanese Teriyaki chicken and am looking forward to processing almost 300 images and writing an article about the festival for the Examiner. The festival was great and I love Buena Vista and the Collegiate Peaks. I seriously need to think about moving over to that side of the Divide!