Bucket List Deckers

As usual the day began with no clear plan. Saturday is my big day for picture taking so I had in mind a couple of ideas, one of which was driving to the peak to hide from the heat… I really didn’t want to pay the $15 toll though so I just headed out, reminding me of when I was a teenager. My mom would ask me where I was going, I never really knew so my reply was always just “Out.”.

Yellow Wildflowers on Bald Mountain with Pikes Peak in the backgroundOut now days usually starts at the gym where I can clear my head and figure things out. Sure enough while I was working out it occurred to me that the middle of June might be a good time for a journey to Bald Mountain. There are a lot of pretty wildflowers up there including some that look like yellow daisies, some mountain bluebell and even the Colorado state flower, the columbine. And with Pikes Peak in the background it is always a winning combination. I usually just hike up  the rugged trail that leads there but I don’t think 14 year old Kitsu is up for a hike of that magnitude, 2000 feet in a little over two miles. But luckily, Rampart Range Road goes right past there, a bit rough but not too bad in my old Dodge pickup. The lighting was pretty good and I noticed that even at ISO 100 on the speed setting I was getting shutter speeds of over 1,000th. Decided I wanted some good depth of field for close up flowers so I switched to aperture priority and selected f11 for my lens opening.

So up we went, me and the doggies. Well it turns out I may be a week early on that shoot, but it is a pretty day and the yellow flowers are in full bloom so it was worth a stop and a mini photo shoot and at 10,000 feet we were still successful in avoiding the heat for awhile.

I was also thinking about Deckers Corner, a place on my bucket list to stop in and have a couple of beers. Always was envious of the bikes outside and wanted to stop in and chill for awhile but a nagging wife who didn’t like mountains, streams, relaxing or me doing anything that wasn’t on her honey do list made that a battle not worth fighting. I was thinking, some pictures of fly fishermen, a dip in the cool headwaters of the Platte River for the doggies and a cold beer on a beautiful day at a place on my Bucket List! Too much to turn down. So on our way down the mountain we drove through town to Highway 67 and turned towards Deckers.

Fly Fishing on the PlatteOn the way I noticed some great views of Devils Head which was worth stopping for and soon we arrived in Deckers. Turned left onto the dirt road and drove back along the river. Such a beautiful day there were quite a number of fishermen, men and women so I guess fisherpeople  must be the correct terminology. The lighting was good and I was satisfied with the exposures the camera was picking on Program Mode. Quarters were a bit tight in the river valley so I decided to use my 18-55 wide angle to drink it all in. Looks like I have some nice ones, so I believe that was a good choice!

We cooled off for a while and then it was over to the bar. Was a bit surprised that on such a beautiful summer day there was not really much of a crowd. No one on the beautiful front deck… with some difficulty I located the front door which looks like the door to an ice cream shop instead of the bar. Upon entry I was surprised to discover the reason for that, it is an ice cream shop now. There is still a bar though and they do serve beer so I thought, what the heck, at least I can check off a bucket list item. Sat down and waited, but the staff was not overly interested in customers so after about five wasted minutes I gave up and left. No wonder nobody goes there anymore! In any case, that idea is off my Bucket List.

A quick drive back to Woodland only to discover that the traffic and crowds are terrible this weekend… Decided to brave Walmart for some supplies and wait out the crowds in the air conditioning at home. And to work on the pictures and a blog post 🙂

 

 

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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Day One

My blog post, “the Interview” continues to dredge up some great memories, particularly our first day on the job at the test lab at Control Data in Arden Hills. Our crew in Denver had written software to expand the amount of memory accessible to the mainframes to the equivalent of 40mb in today’s terms. Which doubled the amount we could previously use and was a very big deal at the time since the new hardware was already available and our operating system could not yet use it.

Well the software was almost ready to test and my boss approached me, of course at happy hour one Friday night so I was sure to be in a good mood, to travel to Minnesota to run the tests. And she offered me my choice of analysts to make the trip with me on the two week journey. For some reason at the time I thought it sounded like fun so I consented and I told her I wanted my buddy Dan to assist me there. Well Dan had not actually worked on that project, but he was an expert with the operating system and I knew he would be a great asset… So I convinced him, “Come on, it’s only two weeks, we’ll run some tests, go to some Twins games, drink a few beers and we’ll be back home before we know it!”. Reluctantly he agreed and the details for the trip were finalized.

So it was June when we arrived in Arden Hills and checked into the Shorewood for our two week stay. Our first task was of course to go in during the day to check in and get badges and briefings, etc. Then it was off to some dinner, which is when I imagine we discovered the mother lode of free tacos at the hotel bar 🙂 Then it was off to work… Now in those days computers had no permanent memory. Everything that we did was stored on tapes and removable disks, but the removable packs weighed about 20 pounds each. Our first task was to go to the tape library to check out our tapes and disks that we would be using. LOL.. up until now I had forgotten about the trips to the tape library… we would return with probably a dozen tapes worn around our arms like a giant bracelet and a disk pack in each hand. We looked kind of like the Michelin Man carrying all that junk probably a quarter of a mile through the building 🙂

Finally we make it through to the test lab to begin the testing… We step into this giant open room and there are desks strewn everywhere, covered in spare computer parts, wires, terminals, tapes, write rings, manuals and boxes of junk and floor tile pullers. There were cables lying around all over the place, sometimes hooked up on one end to something, sometimes to nothing. And there were also mainframes everywhere, and banks of tape drives and more banks of disk drives the size of small washing machines. And the only instructions we had were that we had mainframe #xx for the night, don’t actually remember the number. And we just stood there looking around in stunned disbelief. To this day I remember my initial highly technical analysis of the situation… As we stood there surveying the mess, I just said “Sh*t!”.

After the initial shock wore off we started poking around and discovered a piece of paper taped to something that sort of looked like a map of the room. We quickly learned that everything had a number and you just had to figure out what numbers went together and you could assemble a functioning computer system. It wasn’t long before we were crawling around on the floor, and under floor with the best of them, hooking and unhooking cables and after a couple hours we had a mainframe, complete with tapes, disk drives and a printer and a Deadstart Panel. Now the Deadstart Panel is an adventure in itself, a panel with a series of up/down thumb switches that are actually the first 12 or 16 instructions that the computer executes, there was no such thing as a BIOS in those days! And it has it’s own map in a manual that you had to look at to set the switches so that the computer can find the channel that the boot disk is on, device numbers and things like that. Kind of feels like you are getting ready to take off in a 747 or something!

Finally we are ready, and we sit down at the mainframe console. The console for those mainframes was the size of a huge old console television and it came with it’s own cabinet on wheels. Right in the middle under the screen was a recessed red button, the deadstart button. It was recessed so you could not accidentally push it and boot the computer. So, Dan was at the console and I was flying co-pilot when the button was pushed. At first, nothing but a “blank tube”, that’s what we called it then when the screen was blank since it was actually a cathode ray tube (CRT) device, and Dan says, “nothing is happening”. I said, “don’t worry, it takes a long time to initialize all this memory”, lol all 40 megabytes of it 🙂 So we sat there for the usual amount of time, and then a bit longer… Still, the “blank tube”… Once again, after sitting there a few more seconds, I offered my highly technical analysis of the situation, “sh*t”. Well there was a way in those days to have the computer barf up it’s memory to the printer, and that’s what we had to do. Hundreds of pages of octal digits, and using the manuals we were somehow able to figure out what had gone wrong.

So as it turned out, we didn’t have this model of mainframe in Denver to test with and the memory addressing was different. A serious oversight 😦 Our algorithm and methodology were sound, but almost every line of code we had written over the previous year had to be changed to include a variable starting address for the memory. We had counted on it being zero. In that moment, our two week vacation in Minnesota turned into four months of 16 hour nights seven days a week 😦 By the time we were done, summer had changed to fall and all the leaves in Minnesota were off the trees and raked into piles on the ground. There were many setbacks and a lot more software had to be written, but we finally got the job done and we got to see a lot more Twins games than we had originally planned on, and had acquired a semi interesting story to tell to a future generation of “computer people” 🙂

Changing Seasons

So I put the COMPLETE stamp on summer by finishing my Intemann Trail article for the Examiner. It was quite an adventure that took pretty much all summer, starting with a two and a half hour “short cut” from Red Rock Canyon over to Manitou Springs in quest of my press pass for the Pikes Peak Ascent.

Goats

Mountain Goats on Mount Bierstadt

It was a great summer that included a bunch of things I have been meaning to do for years, the whitewater festivals, visiting the wolves in Guffy, the mountain goats on Mount Evans, climbing 14ers Bierstadt and Yale, climbing the Manitou Incline with my brother and meeting Robin and best of all meeting new friends in person that I had only known through Facebook prior to this summer.

The fall colors come early in the Colorado high country, in fact it still feels like summer in the lower elevations when it is time to go up for the fall pictures. Fall felt like it officially started yesterday with the running of the annual Pikes Peak Road Runners Fall Series I race in Bear Creek Park down in the Springs.

I have to say I am not looking forward to the short days and long hours of darkness but the summer has left me with a bounty of over six thousand pictures to work with over the cold months. I am also looking forward to working on some new projects, including the re-start of my portrait photography services and a new line of T-Shirts now available on my Fine Art website along with many other products that are available there.

So anyway, have a great autumn everyone, I am certainly planning to 🙂

Writer’s Block

I have heard of Writer’s Block… a situation where a writer cannot seem to write anymore for some unknown reason. I have had some Writer’s Block lately, but I know the reason. I know what I am supposed to write, I just don’t want to do it. So I guess if I’m going to get past here I’m going to have to write it. The last couple of trips to Denver have been very depressing. There is a particular intersection that Tricia and I encountered hundreds of times, usually on our way back from a day of errands or projects. Santa Fe is a main artery out of the city and parts further north and is where we would make the turn to the east for the home stretch on the highway. My last couple of trips to Denver brought me to that place and for some reason as I sat there waiting for the light I was overwhelmed by a tidal wave of memories. Memories of our twenty years together in that place. Memories of return trips from the antique malls up north, of holiday shopping in Littleton and of the Christmas store on Santa Fe. Memories of DJ gigs in that part of town, of trips to Southwest Plaza, Chatfield and Waterton Canyon. Memories of trips to the thrift stores to hunt for treasures in the piles of rubble dumped on the shelves. Romano’s was our favorite restaurant in the whole world, a little place just off of Littleton Blvd. and how I have missed it since we moved away. And of course there are good feelings of the financial security and good health we enjoyed while we were there. We had friends and co-workers, there were company parties, church functions and a sense of belonging. There were also calls from work, people with questions, problems to solve, and a feeling of being needed. I had other things I wanted to do this week while I was in the Denver, but the pain I felt sitting at that intersection was too unbearable. So I just headed straight down Santa Fe past C-470 where it becomes Highway 85 and a great way to miss all the traffic on the way back to Colorado Springs. I sped away as quickly as I could but the depression remained for days, same thing with this weeks road trip. So I was praying to have the depression lifted and for a way through the impenetrable wall of pain. As usual, the answer came from the Word of God. One word, Egypt, one of the earliest stories in the Old Testament. Of course it is the story of the Ten Commandments. The Hebrews were at first overjoyed as they left 400 years of hard bondage and slavery behind, but soon the heat and desolation of the desert had soured their mood toward the journey to an unknown place. Food and water were in short supply, the days of walking long and hard. They started to murmur, “At least we had food in Egypt.”. They said to Moses, “Have you led us into the desert to kill us?”. They had quickly forgotten the pain and merciless toil of life as a slave. And it occurred to me that five years away from there has dulled the memory of the hardship there. I had forgotten the torture it was to sit in a cubicle for eight, nine, ten and even more hours of mind numbing tedium. Forgotten were the one hour commutes morning and night in heavy traffic, driving to work in the dark in the morning and coming back in the dark at night. Forgotten were car accidents caused by too many trips and too many cars on the roads. And of course there were the ever present problems with the old house which we not so affectionately called the Money Pit after the Tom Hanks and Shelly Long movie. I had also forgotten the rage and hatred I fostered towards a nit picking homeowner’s association manned by busy bodies with nothing better to do than spend their days trying to find ways to torment people. Forgotten was the dismay when we discovered that the landing pattern for DIA was right over our house. Forgotten was the road past the lake that turned our street into a thoroughfare for delivery trucks on their way to other towns, turning our quiet little street into a roaring truck route where deer and dogs and cats were routinely run down by careless mentally challenged delivery drivers. I had forgotten the heartbreak we experienced when they cut down the forest where we loved to go snowshoeing in order to clear the way for the mansions they wanted to build. Forgotten were the anger I felt when the bosses would make the announcement that profits were too low for raises this time, and the next time and the next. It was then that I remembered how much we hated the place and how we had tried for so long to find a way out. Our hatred for the city is what drove us to try all the businesses, to find something that could sustain us somewhere else so that we would have the confidence to make the break. And we did finally make the break to our new start here in the mountains. Of course life in the mountains comes with it’s own set of hardships, but they are just problems to solve not the insidious spirit crushing stress of city life that has no beginning, end or identifiable solution. Sometimes we need to take a step back and recognize that God knows to take care of His own. He had been telling us for a long time to get out but instead of obeying immediately we tried to work every detail. When this is done or that is done, or this amount of money comes in, then we will go. Perhaps if we had gone sooner Tricia wouldn’t have gotten the cancer. In any case, the place is my Egypt and I am certain that the flood of memories I experience the next time I’m there will only serve to remind me that I don’t miss that life at all, and of how happy I am to be living in the mountains. There is a saying up here, “If you are lucky enough to live in the mountains, you are lucky enough.”. I agree and I hope that this writing helps anyone out there reading this who is missing their “Egypt”.

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 sterile  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’s  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.

Dreams

Today’s sorting through the chaos of the last few years was a journey through the dreams we had together. Tricia was always up for some new venture and we tried a lot of them! And as I was combing the cottage looking for things I would need I ran across remnants of all of them.

Tricia running her sound mixer

Tricia running her sound mixer

There was the wedding photography business in the early 90’s memorialized by boxes of prints, glossy previews and piles of negatives. I found office supplies, flyers and advertisements for the photo studio that we ran in Denver for awhile. There are CD’s, costumes and props from the mobile DJ service we tried in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I loved that business and will never forget some of the beautiful parties that we had the privilege of MCing. She was so beautiful all dressed up in character for the sock hops, the disco parties, and in her tuxes for the weddings. The house is filled with trinkets left behind from our attempts at the collectibles business. I can still remember her scurrying around the house packing sold items and running off with armloads of stuff to take to the post office. Don’t miss the days of dealing with the post office and once when they lost something Tricia furiously told the postmaster that she was going to sue the post office, to which he sanctimoniously informed her, “You can’t sue us… we’re the federal government!”.

We came to Woodland Park filled with hope when we found a commercial property for an antique store. I think she would have succeeded if the cancer had not begun to take it’s toll. But it didn’t work out and we turned our minds to retirement. She dreamed of parking our camper trailer by a stream and going fishing, something she had never done. She excitedly asked me, do you know how to fish? I had to laugh since my dad worked for Berkeley Fishing Company his whole life and I was probably fishing before I could walk 🙂 Her idea sounded fine to me and I hoped we would get the chance. Today as I was digging through the past I was saddened when I found my rod and reel stashed in a corner, knowing that she would never get the chance to try it out.

Fishing on Crystal Creek Reservoir

Fishing on Crystal Creek Reservoir

On the other hand, what would heaven be without some pristine streams filled with trout, or mountains and the smell of pine trees? I will see her again there and maybe she will be fishing, accompanied by wolves, bears and our beloved dogs and cats that have already made the journey. As for me, the dreams have not died and I will carry on. She would have wanted me to.