Sometimes 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.
Departing 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.
The 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.
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.
While 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.
A final transfer of prior travel photos from one location on the blog to here. I visited the coast of Maine in 2011 for a gray and overcast weekend. There was truly so much more to see but the visit was more to visit friends at the time. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to return and see more.
Another travel photo gallery I’ve needed to relocate from a prior page here on the blog so I’m posting it here to avoid losing it. I ventured to Hawaii, specifically the island of Oahu in 2010. Return trip? Yes please!
A photo gallery of a prior trip to Puerto Rico that I’m posting here to retain as part of the blog that was previously posted to another page, but as that page is now being restructured, I need to file these elsewhere to keep the photos.
Wandering on wheels around Horsetooth Reservoir
Memorial Day morning found me awake way too early and not having a single plan for the day. I pointed my SUV west and started driving just to see where the streets would take me. I noticed a single road on my vehicle’s mapping screen that seemed to run into the mountains, so I aimed for it. I realized I was headed towards Horsetooth Reservoir.
Eagerly, my Toyota Highlander began to climb. The drive was slow due to a holiday runner’s race. And after touring around a bit, the lakeside vistas opened up and all that is Horsetooth was evident.
I drove around the lake, on into the mountains behind the reservoir and back again. Totally worth the decision to see where my wheels would take me on a whim.
Now to buy a kayak.
Breathing in the peaceful solitude of The Garden of the Gods.
The other weekend marked a local road trip excursion running south to Colorado Springs, CO to The Garden of the Gods.
On entering The Garden of the Gods, a giant plaque came into view on following the sidewalks into the midst of the open space, reminding everyone that this beautiful place was a gift – and that added a layer of appreciation to the entire visit. Truly, some family could have kept this to themselves – but generously gave it to the city for all to get to enjoy.
The Garden of the Gods is otherworldly. It’s calm, and buffered; almost an enormous waiting room to be still, away from the world, just beyond the hills. The high walls and cliffs jutting up to form barriers between the hustle and bustle of Colorado Springs below.
Like many of the public parks and spaces in Colorado, it’s very well-kept and a clean space to enjoy. Paved sidewalks in all directions are plenty; you could spend hours just following them all.
While walking around I noticed that hawks and pigeons quietly held sentry on the ledges above. There was stillness here. Other than the squeal of an excited child or brief laughter, the Garden is quiet. You really don’t want to leave.
Craggy and contrasting peaks rise in all directions.
The landscape is otherworldly.
It’s all fun and games until someone turns on a drone and ruins the peaceful quiet. I’m sure they got great photos, but at the cost of the peace of everyone else there (and the wildlife).
Exploring the banks of the Poudre River on a winter morning.
A little pre-holiday adventuring off Highway 14 on Poudre Canyon Road running towards Roosevelt National Forest, just outside of Fort Collins.
Where it was still shaded from the mid-morning sun, the water was frozen over several inches thick. I was thankful for my wool blend base layers. It was still and silent, as if the river was asleep under an icy blanket.
Where it was sunny, everything seemed normal. I wasn’t struggling so much with aperture settings. And I could feel my fingers on my camera.
It was beautiful country and had countless side-road areas I’d never driven out to before. Off Highway 14, there were several pull-offs that enable you to walk down to the river and enjoy the scenery.
The ice fascinated me more than the views actually. It was quite thick in places, so much so that you could walk out onto the water.
I was taken by river rocks; their coloration and texture paired with the currents frozen around them fascinated me.
While the intent was to actually head out on a hike, one can have just as good of a time wandering the pull-offs that dotted the road and never actually taking a trail.
Just goes to show it’s worth it to leave a little room for changes in plans sometimes.
It’s a crying shame to move to one of the most beautiful places in the United States and not immediately spend every available opportunity venturing out to explore. Thus I found myself, several months after setting up shop here in Colorado, not having yet driven into the mountains to do any sight-seeing.
So I opened up Google maps, looked at surrounding towns within easy driving distance, and settled on Nederland, Colorado.
After a roughly 45 minute drive northwest through the foothills and up into the mountains via more than a few gut-twisting turns and twists, I rolled into town.
It was far too brisk a day to comfortably get out and walk the downtown area (or anywhere outside the warm confines of my SUV), so the photography was mainly kept to the views of Barker Reservoir.
It took a bit of time to be able to navigate to the top of the mountain roads open to public traffic in order to find an clear view from which to snap a picture or two.
A bit further down near the reservoir itself, it was obvious that despite the bright sunshine and blue skies, the strong winds and chilly temperatures had kept the waters frozen over.
It really doesn’t do the view here justice, but I attempted to capture a panoramic shot with my iPhone from atop the small cliff above the water’s edge.
I look forward to driving back soon to this beautiful place. The start of many new adventures to come!