Never a Missed Opportunity

Winter Garden

It was just a yearly checkup at the VA clinic, but the gears in my mind began to turn… The route to the doctor’s office goes right past Garden of the Gods! So I packed up and left three hours early in hopes of a few shots of the Garden in Winter. Unfortunately there wasn’t much snow but the day and the sky were magnificent. I also liked the stark scene that the leafless trees created at the base of the huge red spires. Good advice though, never leave the camera at home! The polarizer on the shot below was a big help too… without it the beautiful wispy cirrus clouds were virtually invisible.

Winter View

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A Break in the Storm

Awoke to a beautiful clear mountain morning and a day off of work. But by the time I got done getting ready for the day the temperature was dropping and clouds had already begun to move in over the mountain, followed by a few flakes of snow to make it an official Colorado Memorial Weekend. So I abandoned any ideas I had for replenishing my cache of images to work on and just got ready for an errand in the Springs with a possible detour to REI for some equipment I’ve been needing. Almost left my camera home, but something told me to just throw it in, not going to hurt anything to have it along.

Mystical Garden of the GodsWell, REI on a holiday weekend turned out to  be a fiasco… dozens of cars circling the rather small parking lot looking for spaces. Too claustrophobic for my taste so I decided to just head for home. It was raining hard and it looked like the day was going to be a total dud. The water spray on the freeway and traffic jam on Highway 24 down in Old Colorado City due to the Territory Days festival going on there made Garden of the Gods road the most sensible route, so I took the exit. As I neared the Garden I noticed that the rain had mostly stopped, but I sure didn’t expect the amazing vista that appeared before me when the massive red sandstone spires came into view, it was breathtaking!

Deer LoveSo what was looking like a total bust turned into a full fledged photo shoot 🙂 Beautiful storm clouds were swirling around the peak and a fog bank had moved into the Garden behind the big front rock formations. I stopped in front of the visitor’s center for a few shots, but the Kissing Camels formation was blocking the show. I leaped back into the truck and headed for the top of the ridge for a better look. Quite a few people had gathered there already and it was hard to find a parking spot, but there was one still available in a big deep water puddle. No matter, I had my Gor-Tex Asolo hikers on so I took the spot and sloshed through the water to a good vantage point. This shot with my beloved 70-200 turned out to be my favorite, but I definitely needed the wide angle to drink it all in! Those are nice also and will soon be available as prints and commercial stock on my website.

Eventually I felt confident that I had adequately captured the scene and the black clouds up the pass convinced me to put some hustle in my step! However, on the way out of the park I received another unexpected gift… a beautiful herd of cute young mule deer feeding in a clearing. So I drove a bit ahead so as not to disturb them too soon and put the 70-200 back on. I moved as stealthily and slowly as I could, hoping they would not bolt. Fortunately it looks like they were somewhat used to people photographing them and stayed put while I  grabbed a few shots in the beautiful light of the springtime sun shining through a thin layer of  clouds and fog.

By the time I finally made it up the pass it was raining again, I was hungry and didn’t feel like going home just yet. A brat and a beer at my favorite micro brew in Woodland seemed like a good idea though! I hoped there weren’t too many holiday travelers packed into the place though, I can’t stand sitting at the big table in the middle with strangers. Luckily there weren’t too many people there, quite a few seats at the big table and two smaller tables in the back which suited me just fine. I ordered my beer and brat and was just getting ready to enjoy lunch when the kid running the place came and asked me if I wouldn’t mind moving to the big table, a group of people obviously more important than me were arriving and needed seats. But I thought, “what the hell, let them sit at the big table!”…  and told the kid I really didn’t want to move. But he wouldn’t leave me alone and by then I was already too annoyed to want to stay so I just took my food outside and wolfed it down, payed my bill and left. I know… I’m an asshole for not happily giving my seat to strangers. But just the same, I’m still pissed off that some snot nosed 20 year old kid kicked me off my table that I was enjoying.

Probably just as well though, gave me the opportunity to come home and work on these pictures. Won’t be able to do it tomorrow and if I hadn’t gotten it done today it would be next week before getting them up for sale. Anyway, the good part is that I had a pretty successful day when the Almighty parted the storm for a few minutes to reveal the magnificence of His Creation 🙂

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

 

Surreal Day

Stopped by the Garden on my way back from giving a friend a ride to the cancer Pavilion at Penrose to see if I could find the bighorn sheep. No luck there, but the view of Pikes Peak was kind of pretty. Well worth stopping at the visitor’s center for a few shots anyway.

Garden of the Gods Spring with snow capped Pikes PeakBeen about two years since Tricia passed, I guess the trip alone back from the cancer center reminded me of how much nothing has changed in those two years. Kind of feels like I am in that old “Groundhog Day” movie, the one  with Bill Murray. Only I am in the same routine with different people, waiting at the doctor’s office for cell count reports… snapping pictures on the commutes back and forth when I can, grabbing free coffee every chance I get.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing… I was going to hit the road the instant Tricia passed and start a new life somewhere else, but as I was cleaning up the remnants of the old life with her I became more and more entangled in a new life here. Almost exactly like the old life but with new people. This old beast of a camper trailer that was going to provide my deliverance from this place now feels like a shipwreck on some island I can’t get off of. Maybe that’s alright though, considering the beauty of this place, it’s hard to imagine where I would go that would be better.

Who knows, maybe like Phil in the movie I am doomed to repeat this scenario until I learn some profound lesson in life. Or maybe this is the place I am destined to spend my days in, brought here by God for some purpose which has not yet been realized. Long before I moved here I had begun receiving dreams and signs that this would be the place… Perhaps it is true what is spoken in the Bible, God is the one who sets our boundaries:

Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

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

Layers of Stress

`At first, upon Tricia’s death I was even more stressed out than I was before. But as time passes I can feel myself unwinding, as if it is one layer at a time. For so long I have been in a race against time, running one errand at a time and coming right home to see if everything is OK, followed by a sprint to another errand or appointment. Doctor’s appointments were literally an all day scramble to get ready and get there on time. A missed appointment could be a catastrophe, another week without medicine, pain pills or referrals to necessary treatments. Too long at any one errand and I could find a plugged air hose, a missed medication, or a relapse into AD.

So now I find myself still racing around, heart pounding, running and racing, skipping meals and forgoing my own needs. But each day is a little better, a little more relaxed, a little more like I used to be. Today I was on my way to Denver via Black Forest and I noticed I was speeding and my heart was pounding, and I thought to myself, why? There was no real possibility of anything going wrong, I just had to make a little drive and come back. And if I could just slow down, I could even make a nice day out of it. So I forced myself to think of the pleasant things that would come after my appointment. Lunch, I wanted to have lunch. I haven’t had time to stop for lunch anywhere in a year. So when I got back to the Springs I decided to get a salad at the salad buffet on Garden of the Gods Road. And I forced myself to not hurry.

View through the keyhole

View through the keyhole

Soon I was proceeding past Garden of the Gods and I thought, why not pull in? Why not drive through it instead of past it? But what about the time? Well what about it, I have plenty of it now. Once in the park it was so beautiful. Brilliant snow covering the peak and the early spring light bathing the red sandstone spires with beautiful afternoon glow. The weather was perfect as I was hurrying through, and I thought, why am I hurrying again? Why not stop and take a walk? I have been wanting to try the Spring Canyon trail for a long time, so I forced myself to pull in and park. It was so worth it to see new parts of the park that I had no idea even existed from racing past on the road. Fantastic views of the peak, rock features that I had never seen or even heard of. I was hoping to snap a couple of pictures so I would have something to do tonight and I ended up with eighty. I will be busy from these for a while!

Finally I let the boy kitties out the back door for some sun and exercise. For some reason they didn’t take off as usual and were just hanging around the door as if they wanted something. My chair in the backyard was in the sunshine and it looked so inviting, so I just decided once again to stop everything and just go watch them play. They were happy to see me out there once again after months of having to entertain themselves. Soon they were back to running back and forth, batting around various objects that have collected in the yard over the winter. I forgot how much I enjoyed my kitty time. As I sit there watching their fun my mind slows down and the important things manage to bubble to the top while the days unimportant problems sink to the bottom.

So as I continue this journey it is like stress is falling off in layers. Entire levels of worry melting away. New plans forming, messages I need to send to old friends, and most important of all… I am starting to feel closer to my God again. He has felt so distant for so long but as I rested in the yard with my critters it started to sink in that He was never distant, only obscured by so many layers of stress that have been piling on gradually without notice until they had become an unbearable burden. But time passes and with each day another layer falls off. I don’t know how long it will take, but I hope soon the burden will be lifted.

A New Day

Finally got a little sleep after being awake from Tuesday afternoon when we went down to the ER until midnight last night. I was intercepted by my neighbor when I pulled in late last evening with a bouquet of flowers for Tricia and a card. All of our neighbors put together the gift to pick up our spirits.

This morning’s coffee finds me numb. My old body is stiff and tired and my brain is tired. We had a terrifying incident at the end of the day when her heart began to race uncontrollably. I have never heard of anyone’s heart beating at over 200 beats per minute for a sustained period of time. They brought in the paddles just in case, but got the situation under control with some magic medicine that they had up their sleeves.

It is a beautiful clear morning and my mind is finally starting to come to life as my coffee is starting to take effect. We lost our view yesterday afternoon when they moved us off the 7th floor back down to oncology but the room is a lot more comfortable. It is bigger and the chairs are softer. The rehab nurses that brought us there were jealous about the posh surroundings, but concluded that it is probably necessary because the oncology patients are there a lot longer than some and they and their visitors need the extra comfort for the long haul.

I didn’t have time to get my camera into our room on the 7th floor, but I don’t think I’ll let that stop me. There is still the parking garage that has the same view from the top floor and there are no windows to blur the pictures. I think today is the day. I will bring my camera and get the shots so everyone can see the view. Stay tuned!

Dog Days of Summer

Now begins the long hot stretch of summer following the 4th of July that flies by with disappointing rapidity. I had intended to have a great holiday in the park enjoying myself and getting a bunch of great pictures, but it was not to be so. By the time I was done with my morning agenda dark storm clouds had moved in over the mountains and lightning, thunder and rain chased away the holiday revelers.

Things have also taken a turn for the worst with my patient’s health and I find myself in the visitors chair in the oncology ward of the hospital on this beautiful weekend trying to come up with an idea for an outdoor and recreation article for the Examiner. In the meantime, the Examiner is upgrading some servers and I can’t even get the site to come up even if I do come up with an idea.

As I look out of the hospital I can see the Garden of the Gods at the base of Pikes Peak. It is a beautiful place and I have enjoyed many hours of hiking and photographing the beautiful red sandstone spires jutting upward hundreds of feet from the park floor. I think I have my idea. I will write an article on hiking in Garden of the Gods Park. The good news is I have plenty of pictures for the associated slide show.

Have a great weekend!