Alpenglow on the Sangre de Cristo Range

Alpenglow, the amazing solar effect that causes a pink glow in the atmosphere opposite the rising sun is how the Sangre de Cristo Range of Colorado acquired it’s name.  The Spanish explorer Antonio Valverde y Cosio was impressed by the reddish snow capped peaks at sunrise and named the range after “the Blood of Christ”.

Alpenglow on the Sangre de Cristo

I too am impressed by the beautiful effect on that magnificent mountain range and had planned to arise early enough on one of my days off to make it to the overlook for a photo session. This is the best time of year to see the effect, the sunrise in the east is at a perfect angle for the effect to fall from the sky on the rugged range.  I think it apropos that my opening would fall on Easter weekend, when the Blood of the Jewish carpenter was poured out to save souls in eternity for all who would believe and call upon His Name.

I have been watching the sky every morning for a few weeks, judging the sunrise and looking for the time of morning with the greatest effect. That time turns out to be between 6 and 6:30 at this time of year, so it was coffee and  blueberry muffins at 4:30 this morning to give me enough time to come out of my morning coma before hitting the trail. Big Dog and I pulled into the overlook right at 6:00, just as itt was just starting to get light and the band of red spread across the sky high above the mountains. It would be another 15 minutes or so before the light would settle down upon the beautiful snow capped range.

Alpenglow on the Sangre de Cristo

When it finally did I was ready, ISO 100, camera set to Av mode and aperture at f5.6. I wasn’t too concerned about having a lot of depth of field, pretty much everything in my photograph was going to be at infinity. I was parked at a perfect angle so I just steadied the camera on the door of my truck rather than get out and mess with a tripod. In retrospect, after looking at some of my resulting shutter speeds, I probably should have. I have a lot of 1/30 and 1/15 of a second captures and with a long lens it would have been wise to have had extra steady support. Oh well, the pictures look nice anyway 🙂 The first one I think is the best example of this wonderful solar effect that I have ever achieved!

These pictures, the spectacular snow capped mountain picture with the polarizer that I was testing with yesterday and some of my recent bighorn sheep pictures are available on my website as wall art printed on glossy metal and acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional framing and matting! Tons of cool gift, household and tech items are also available with a picture, including t-shirts, battery chargers, gift cards, yoga mats, shower curtains, beach towels and much much more!

 

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The Wall

 

No not the border wall… a different wall. I expected worse this morning after a night of snow and the sound of the wind thundering across the high plains of the southern Rockies. Nevertheless, the alarm was set for 05:30 and it was going to stay that way. The coffee pot was ready to brew, the camera ready to go and the hike set.

Sangre de Cristo Alpenglow

Sangre de Cristo Alpenglow

Sipping my morning coffee and getting the weather stats I discovered that the wind was still strong enough to bring the windchill down to -1 and it looked like all I was going to be able to see was fog. However a few minutes later when it began to lighten a bit I noticed that I could just barely make out the snow capped peaks of the Sangre de Cristo. Big Dog was ready to go so I bundled up and headed out the door.  As we headed down the trail I noticed that the alpenglow sunrise was already taking effect in the sky and I was dismayed to realize that I hadn’t accounted for the sun rising about 15 minutes earlier than the last time I tried this! So we had to run a couple of miles to make up for the miscalculation and still nearly missed the show. On the way I snapped a couple of sub par compositions just in case I managed to miss the entire thing from the top of the ridge 😦

Deer on the Mountain

Pair of mule deer on the mountain

Fortunately we arrived on the mountainside in time to witness a pretty cool sunrise. The Sangre were a beautiful red wine color, the color that Spanish explorer Antonio Valverde y Cosio must have seen when he named this range the “Blood of Christ” mountains. After making sure I captured the scene to the west I noticed that the rising sun in the east and pink glow on the morning clouds made a beautiful backdrop for some aspen trees and a rustic country fence. I was really cold and wanting to get back home, but we had to stop and explore that subject for a while. After we froze our butts long enough the show was over and we turned around to head home. As we strode through the frozen landscape I noticed a couple of spots on the mountainside across the valley that looked new. Upon closer inspection I determined that they were actually a small herd of deer and although I could not get very close they did turn the usually boring mountainside into a worthy composition 🙂

As we made the return trip I was still reveling in the magnificence of the Sangre de Cristo sunrise. The Sangre de Cristo range is called a fault block mountain range, a rugged wall of mountains rising directly up from the plains much like the Tetons in Wyoming and the Sierra Nevada in California. As a result of their formation by rising  or falling cracks in the earth’s crust there are no foothills, just an imposing massive impenetrable wall of mountains.

When standing in the presence of such beauty it is impossible for a spiritual minded person to neglect the Creator of such majesty. While considering the towering wall formed by the “Blood of Christ” mountains I began to ponder another wall created by the Blood of Christ, the wall between the carnal and the spiritual.

Lately many in the media and social media feel themselves to be eminently qualified to comment on and gleefully insult concepts they know nothing about. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” That they know nothing about what they are saying is not their fault. They cannot comprehend the other side of the “wall” because they have never seen the other side and knowledge of it has been closed to them. Fortunately there has been provided one and only one door for mankind to pass through and obtain access to the other side of that wall.

 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” The Sangre de Cristo is the narrow gate that few will discover. Only those who have accepted that truth will experience the other side of the great divide separating the spiritual from the carnal. Until then those who have not passed through remain unqualified to comment on Christianity, the scriptures and the faith of the believers that they so despise. In fact they are not even qualified to read the scriptures… they can try but they will read in vain, without understanding. My hope is that the blind leaders of the blind will honestly seek answers to the questions they so glibly and hatefully attempt to answer, and open the door to the Savior who stands ready to open the narrow gate to all who truly want to enter,Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

 

Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving, ​This day in November of the year 1621, when the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered at Plymouth to give thanks to the Almighty for their survival and a bountiful harvest.

This Thanksgiving I too give thanks for my survival, the culmination of a decade of hardship, loss, sickness and death. I Watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles for the first time in years, a long tradition abandoned after Tricia’s passing. To be honest I wasn’t sure I would ever want to celebrate the holiday again and I am stunned at the developments of this year. 

The year began with an injury severe enough to prevent me from my usual duties unloading trucks at Walmart, another winter of wretched survival and the terrible isolation of life in a 1971 camper trailer.

This Thanksgiving finds me in a new home in a new town with a new career, surrounded by friends and family and a turkey baking in the oven. I know none of this would be possible without a miracle crafted in Heaven by the Almighty Himself and there are no words to describe how grateful I am.

I am well aware however, that there are many still living in quiet desperation who will not be celebrating in comfort this year and it is my fervent prayer that the Lord will sustain them through the hard times as he did me.

 “I will give you beauty for ashes and turn your morning into dancing.”

It is Finished

This year as Christians celebrate Easter, Jews are celebrating Passover. One of my friends posted the words “It is finished.”, a phrase that reminded me that the two holidays were never meant to be celebrated separately. As Christians celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus, Jews this year are celebrating and remembering their deliverance from Egypt during the time of Moses, documented in the book of Genesis and subject of the great cinema adventure with Charlton Heston.

4,000 years ago the Hebrews were saved from the death that killed all the first born of the Egyptians by the blood of a lamb painted on their door posts. So it is for Christians today, saved from spiritual death and Hell by the “Blood of the Lamb”. In the time of Moses no one person was more worthy of salvation that night than another. If the lambs blood was on the door posts, the occupants were spared. That would have also included Egyptians with the foresight to hide inside with the Hebrews.

That Passover 4,000 years ago pointed ahead to what we celebrate now as Easter and the parallels are astonishing and the subject of many deep studies which are easily found online with a google search of the words “It is finished”. I will focus only on that one phrase, “It is finished.”, the final words spoken by Jesus in human form on this earth.

According to the New Testament, Jesus and the Apostles were clearly celebrating Passover when Jesus was killed on the Cross. Each and every event documented in scripture leading to the Cross is significant and was provided as a reminder of just exactly what was going on at the time… The long awaited Messiah was being sacrificed. For example, Kind David foresaw the day in Psalm 22 “For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.”

2,000 years after these words were written by King David they came true as Jesus hung on the Cross with nails in His feet and hands while the Romans bargained for his clothes. At the same time Jesus was hanging on the cross, a lamb was being prepared by the high priest in the Hebrew temple for the Passover sacrifice. Finally the lamb was killed and the High Priest uttered the words, “It is finished.”. At that moment on the Cross, Jesus uttered His last words, “It is finished.”, and the final sacrifice was made. The Blood of the Lamb is now available to everyone who will accept it, no one more worthy to receive it than another, no religion with any greater claim to it than another.

This Easter, I urge all who read this and pray for those who don’t to accept the gift that was given to us 2,000 years ago on the Cross. I also pray for reconciliation between the religions for the event that was meant to unite, not divide. And I pray as well for people who are victims of false religions, false messiahs and those pursuing empty aspirations that lead nowhere, to accept the gift that we celebrate on Easter Sunday and for the dedication of lives to the only cause that can provide “Living Water” that can sustain life in this lifetime and the next.

Finality

I wasn’t going to write again on Tricia’s passing, but the events of the day have again turned my thoughts to the grieving process. As I awoke this morning, before I had completely come to full consciousness, I looked over to see if I was going to be able to start moving around without awakening her. Of course I quickly realized she wasn’t there.

Part of my day’s activities involved sorting through possessions in preparation for moving out by the end of the month. At one time I came upon a box of antique quilts that she was particularly fond of and quite indignant with me for misplacing when I moved it here. Funny it was within three feet of her the entire time she was here, I just didn’t remember that I had put it there. So of course I got excited and my immediate reaction was, I can’t wait to tell her I found the quilts! And there were a couple more incidents like that where I came across or had a thought or got a call from someone and my immediate thought was, I can’t wait to tell her.

Some friends had me over for dinner this afternoon and when I returned I discovered packages delivered by UPS on the doorstep. It only took me a fraction of a second to ascertain what the packages were. A couple of weeks ago she spent at least an hour on Amazon, combing the listings for some of our favorite movies. In her wheelchair bound state, watching movies was about the only shared activity we had left that we could enjoy together, and movie time was our favorite time of day. It was with great sadness that I opened the packages to find a couple of our favorite John Candy movies, some wildlife documentaries, a season of the old TV show Rawhide that she loved, and a book she had been trying to find for a long time, the “Cancer Battle Plan”. The packages unfortunately arrived well past their projected delivery dates and ultimately, too late.

That’s when the terrible finality of what has happened really began to sink in. She wasn’t ready to die, she wanted to go on fighting, to glean every bit of life from her time of earth that she was able to experience. But there are things left undone, unseen and unheard. In this mortal life I will never again be able to tell her of the little victories like finding the quilts again. I will never see her in the morning, and we will never have movie nights again. Fortunately final in this mortal world is not final. I know her salvation is secure as we experienced it together on our knees at the altar. The bible says life is but a vapor, but I intend to live the remainder of my years on earth to the fullest and I know that time flies and I will see her again in the next life. So final isn’t that final after all.