A Little Piece of Heaven on Earth

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For our second anniversary we re-visited a favorite location in the Vedauwoo Recreation Area near where we live in Wyoming. My husband found this beautiful “crow’s nest” on top of a rocky hill and knew of it before he took me up there to camp one night. It is truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve been yet in my life and it’s our favorite spot to be.

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The camp site is like a bowl, surrounded by boulders and rock formations on all sides. At night, the wind can absolutely howl at this height. But we were there to watch the sun set and it was perfect, with just a slight movement of air (not even a wind) now and then. Sunset and sunrise here are magical hours.

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Everywhere you look, it’s a scene to be photographed. It’s important though, to put the camera down now and then and just take it in as God intended. On hiking up to the top this day, I took all the photos I wanted and then did just that. Put my camera away and sat with my husband taking in the views and roasting marshmallows.

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I find the trees and dead wood make their own composition just as strikingly as the far away views of mountains and plains. There is something interesting to see at every turn.

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My husband is a tireless worker and is always busy. His happy place is being outdoors and I love to see him relax when we venture here. It’s different when you’re somewhere that has quiet like this place. Even I feel it when I arrive. You are compelled to not talk so much, to sense everything around you differently and you just are different. It’s the re-set that happens when you’re in nature. It’s how we should be, but how we forget to be.

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On the way up the trail to get to the crow’s nest, we stumbled right into this pair of bull moose. They were happy to be left alone and continue to munch around the underbrush. (They seemed to realize we didn’t pose any threat but they kept a wary eye on us and never got too close).

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Once we had made it up to the crow’s nest, we caught sight of them again; this time much farther away but still on the move on a neighboring hilltop.

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There is abundant birding up here as well. We just had to sit still and watch around us and birds were everywhere, flitting this way and that, making final runs for food and what not before the sun set.

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This one seemed to set a reverie of evening light and stillness as it perched calmly in this tree. It was as if it knew the day was ending and it wanted to take it all in before retiring.

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It’s our little piece of heaven on earth. No better way to spend a special day 🙂

Coldscape

2016-11-19 Egbert SnowA cold November day this past winter to be target shooting in Wyoming.

It was windy. And not the simply gusty kind of windy; no this was the kind where my cold-weather coat was on, hood was up, gloves on, wool base layers on and my eyes still teared and ran from the whipping cold air with sunglasses having zero effect in shielding them. It was a definite no-go. But I still snapped a few quick shots because even though it made for a miserable short time, our favorite shooting spot was ever beautiful in the strong and unforgiving way that Mother Nature is. Have to respect that.

5 Minutes of Heaven

IMG_4495Sometimes I find myself turning my camera to record something that may not have the components of the perfect picture, but is an effort to keep something to remember about a moment.

In this instance, I’d pulled off on a random exit between Wyoming and Colorado, driving unknown dirt roads, following the sunset with my vehicle just hoping for a good photo. Unfortunately, no matter where I went, power lines remained in frame. Resigned that this just wasn’t the night for an epic sunset shot, I leaned back against my Highlander and took in the beauty of the moment as the light faded.

But I forgot about the power lines when instead I studied off to the side, the soft hues the approaching rain took on while it seemingly floated below the clouds. The shades of the sunset against the mountains varied from smokey blue to shimmering gold. The fields and farms took on warm, earthy tones and somehow the green of the crops and trees melded seamlessly into it all. It was a modern-day shire: Quiet, comforting and glorious all rolled into a brief, 5 minute moment. I could have stayed in that moment all night.

It was almost as if the universe said, “Sorry about not getting your photo, here’s a perfect moment of tranquility and earthly beauty you’ll remember for years to come instead.” And I did not feel one bit slighted.

Rocky Mountain Getaway – Day 3

2017-06-17 Independence Pass 01Departing the hotel in Snowmass, we took an indirect path back so that we could hit a few sights along the way. One of these was to drive Independence Pass, which ultimately tops out at over 12,000ft. Fair warning – the speed limit nearly the entire way is between 25-35mph for good reason. This drive is not for the faint of heart.

2017-06-17 Independence Pass 02The views are breathtaking. This is truly God’s Country here; totally protected and preserved and just amazing. The contrasting peaks, summer snow, warm sunshine and shallow creeks and rivers seemed right out of a magazine. The roads are very narrow and you will be turning your wheel to take hairpin after hairpin but with a little backbone, it’s absolutely worth it. Pull over as many times as you like to take photos and thank the universe someone had the good sense years ago to set this land aside to be what it is today.

2017-06-17 Twin Lakes 01 Once we exited Independence Pass, we briefly stopped by a place called Twin Lakes as we started back east. Due to time constraints and needing to get home, we couldn’t explore here but it was a great view here from the side of the road at least.

2017-06-17 Dillon Reservoir 01While this is another similar lake view, this is actually Dillon Reservoir by Frisco also in Colorado. Another location I’d noticed on the map but had never seen in person before. It was just a few miles off the main highway to get to this spot. This wasn’t the spot I wanted to shoot from though. An impromptu wedding had taken over the overlook where we hiked to. It was an elderly couple tying the knot with maybe 10 family members present and was just about the sweetest moment I’ve seen and worth pausing a respectable distance away to witness their vows and silently wish them well before I left.

Somehow that moment seemed the perfect way to end our trip as we motored on back towards Denver then Fort Collins.

Rocky Mountain Getaway – Day 2

2017-06-16 Maroon Bells 01Early morning (4 a.m. wake-up call) had wheels on the road by 4:30 a.m. driving towards the Maroon Bells 45 minutes away from where we were staying in Snowmass Village. This was the very first look of the Bells entering into the gatehouse area to the park (there is a fee to drive in and park). This is just after 5 a.m., stopped in the middle of the road with my headlights on without a soul around.

2017-06-16 Maroon Bells 02The shot of the morning sun bathing the Bells and the lakeside valley below is “the” essential picture to get. And one can usually find a good handful of serious photographer always setting up and getting this shot any given morning.

2017-06-16 Maroon Bells 03Being the animal lover that I am, I was fascinated by the photo of geese floating about in the reflection of the peaks as we waited for the sun. Needless to say, the geese have it good in this particular lake.

2017-06-16 Maroon Bells 04Seeing the moon still hanging over one side of the lake, high above, was an interesting contrast with the sun rising quickly behind me.

2017-06-16 Maroon Bells 05I’m still learning the finer art of light control and struggled a bit to keep focus on the peaks but still avoid washing out the Bells themselves with the bright sun and snow reflection. This shot ironically was the best one of the bunch for this vantage point and it was taken with my iPhone.

2017-06-16 Maroon Bells 06I was enthralled by the lake itself. It was perfectly clear and the reflection of the trees on the mountains beside it was serene. My next trip back here (hopefully in the fall or winter) would definitely include more focus on these views.

2017-06-16 Maroon Bells 07On leaving the park, I turned around to take one last look, and even though it’s not the usual composition, it’s my favorite shot of the Bells.

2017-06-16 Glenwood Springs 02After a hearty breakfast in Aspen and a nearly 3 hour rest while the hottest part of the day passed, the next stop was back to Glenwood Springs.

A quick trip to Linwood Cemetery include a chance to see the final resting places of Doc Holliday and Kid Curry.

2017-06-16 Kings Row Cavern 01The end of the evening held a 45 minute trip through the Kings Row Caverns at the Glenwood Adventure Park. A 10 minute gondola ride took us up to the park which sites on the top of  a hill.

2017-06-16 Kings Row Cavern 02The caverns (there were 2 tours that can be chosen from or taken one after another) were really interesting. Just long enough to make it worth your tickets but not so long that you get anxious for being underground.

2017-06-16 Kings Row Cavern 03The varying shades of rock and sediment were endless. I was torn between simply listening to the tour guide and looking with my own eyes and remembering to take pictures. Truly fascinating and was so much more than just these three photos convey.

2017-06-16 Glenwood Springs Hwy 82 01It was a very, very long day with other stops and driving between locations, but worth it. I snagged this shot when we pulled to the side of the road to photograph a particular mountain in the other direction, but I found the valley so peaceful and with so much detail, I couldn’t help but focus in that direction.