Lemonade Never Tasted So Good

In October, we really don’t as a rule worry too much about tropical storms or hurricanes in Florida.  Sure, it’s still technically hurricane season until the end of November, but our peak is usually July, August, and September … at least according to this “almost native Floridian”‘s recollection.  So, when we realized that a potential Cat.4-5 hurricane by the name of Matthew was lurking around Florida a few days earlier, we became concerned.  We were thankful that south Florida was pretty much spared from the wrath of the storm, so when our flight allowed us to check in, we thought we were in the clear.  WRONG … by the time we checked in online to the time we checked into our hotel, a few short hours from Denver, we received the text message … FLIGHT CANCELLED.  Yep, lemons thrown our way.

I felt especially terrible because my daughter and her husband had just left for backpacking in Europe and we were charged with taking care of our grandchildren … doggy ones.  🙂  Luckily, we were in the midst also of sights like these …dsc_7985dsc_7997So with those lemons, we decided to make the proverbial “lemonade”.  We altered our plans (after all, a friend of theirs was battening down the hatches until we got home and all flights into Florida were cancelled) and chose to not sweat it out and swing by Rocky Mountain NP with our newly gained freedom.  OK, truth be told, it probably did involve some “sweating it out”, but you get the gist, right?

I hadn’t been to Estes Park in probably 2 years and this was pretty crowded for me.img_2151After we left the hustle and bustle of town and got into the park itself, it was much better.  Right off the bat, we came across a gang of wild turkey.  I believe that there were mature and juveniles within the group.dsc_8005Of course, everyone knows that October in RMNP is synonymous with the elk rut, so my hopes were high.  Can you imagine how excited I was when I came across this handsome bull down by the lakeside … keeping a keen eye on his harem.dsc_8218It was really cool to get images of him standing almost chest deep in the water.  Of course, when he bugled from there as well, it was well over the top for me.  NOTHING compares to the sound of a bull elk’s bugle!dsc_8342He really was quite the handsome lad and quite cooperative with his poses.  I have a feeling that he’s used to the camera lens.  🙂dsc_8404Of course, during the rut, the bull elk have more on their minds than eating, but that didn’t stop the ladies from getting their fill on the nearby vegetation.dsc_8432A very tender moment to me was when he went nose to nose with one of his gals.  I wondered if she was his favorite … only just kidding.  LOLdsc_8556Instead of eating the vegetation, he would use the bushes to scratch himself.dsc_8593The girls in his harem were about 15, which I thought was a pretty good size.  While most of the rut was over, the mating had yet to begin.dsc_8715Yep, this bull sure knew how to work the camera.  Never have I gotten them in the water during rut like that.  I was thrilled.dsc_8795Sunsets are always a thrill and this place didn’t disappoint.  I just loved how the colors were so mixed, yet oh so beautiful._dsc1775Out at dinner one night, I happened to notice this sign … it warmed my heart to know that some people and places do everything in their ability to protect the bears from being labelled as a “problem bear” secondary to actually “problem people” who don’t exercise common sense.  (I’ll now exit my soapbox)img_2159This time of the year, the mule deer were also out in force and sporting nice racks too.  Such sweet, sweet faces.dsc_9030dsc_9331These guys were out for a little bit of jostling around as well.dsc_9191Now this bull elk, shown from afar so that you can actually see how many gals he had in his harem … 24 in all!!!  Crazy to imagine how busy he was going to be in the near future.  LOL.  We even saw one of them actually try to mate him!  Guess she was getting close to being ready.  😉_dsc1818So in the end, we got home a night later, got to go the Rocky Mountain NP, arrived to Jacksonville to pick up the grand doggies, and safely drove home.  Yep, lemonade never tasted so good!_dsc1813Next Up:  How about some birding?

© 2017  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Backcountry Exploring … 4-Wheel Style

When staying in Grand Junction, there are many places that are within a relatively short drive.  I guess it’s all a point of perspective.  So, wanting to see more of the immediate area as we began to make our way home, we decided to drive over to Ouray, which was about a 2-hr drive (or a bit less or more depending on your stops).  It was an absolutely fabulous day and I was finding it hard not to have Tom stop at almost every turn … thankfully he’s used to it.  ;-o_dsc1502The area was so vast and ever-changing, though one thing remained the same … it was beautiful!_dsc1519I just loved the way that there was a lovely layer of snow down on the landscape in areas still that weren’t exposed to the sunlight.  I remember wishing that this was my final destination … the lake, the beauty, the serenity … all to ourselves._dsc1523But alas, there was much more to come and the colors were out, though depending on the elevation, the storm that had just blown through stripped many of the leaves in areas._dsc1577-hdrAlong the road, I remember coming to this corner and I couldn’t take it any longer.  STOP THE CAR order was issued and off I went trying to attempt to capture a fraction of the magnificent scenery that I saw before me.  When I saw that puddle, I knew that I found what I was looking for.  Yes, Colorado at that moment, felt like heaven on earth._dsc1604We had a wonderful dinner and then got some sleep because the next day was going to be filled with adventure and new places to see and photograph.

The next morning we met for breakfast to start our day off right, then we jumped into Rick Louie’s vehicle for a day of 4-wheeling the backcountry road of southwestern Colorado. img_2125-1Just past the town of Telluride, which itself was spectacular, we drove up this pretty steep section to Bridal Veil Falls, which was beautifully dusted with snow and some ice as well._dsc7886I could hardly believe that this was the first week of October still!  To say I was loving the cold weather reprieve from the heat and humidity of home was an understatement.img_2122-1Of course, when we came upon accessible stands of aspen, I just had to run over and center myself in the midst of them and get that classic “look up” shot.  Nothing makes me feel more small, yet so connected to my surroundings as that feeling of looking up and that sun starburst sealed the deal._dsc7922It was all so adventurous as we made our way over into Ridgeway._dsc7941Nothing compares to the views off of Million Dollar Highway …_dsc7950… especially when seen through the entrance of the Last Dollar Ranch._dsc1731Yes, there are some pretty impressive homesteads out there … and the views are even more impressive._dsc1637_dsc1712Now for me, all of this landscape shooting was so much appreciated, but I still got a bit excited when I finally saw my first glimpse of some wildlife … this lone ram out in the middle of the flat landscape.  I so appreciated seeing this guy as he grazed on the grasses.  But all fun days had to come to an end and off we drove on our way back towards to Denver for our flight home … or so we thought.dsc_7937I want to thank Rick so much for taking us around his home state of Colorado in the most adventurous way possible.  If you ever want to do some 4-wheeling in the backcountry roads, we highly recommend him.  Check out his website at http://www.ricklouiephotography.com._dsc1644Next Up:  A change of plans on behalf of … Matthew.

© 2017  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Grand Junction Hospitality

When in Colorado, Grand Junction specifically, one of the first places I want to go is to visit the Colorado National Monument.  A unit within the National Park Service, the “Monument” consists of sharp canyons of sandstone and various types of rock formations high on the desert land of the Colorado Plateau.  Tom loves it for the exceptional cycling that it offers … I love it for its amazing photographic value and it being a place to get away from the city of Grand Junction which resides at its base.

Usually, we start off with a sunrise from the top, though on this day it was lacking cloud formations which always enhance a sunrise.  Still it’s a great way to spend a morning, as seen from this view of Independence Rock._dsc1334-hdr_dsc1298Similar to that which can be said of the lighting on the Palouse farmland of eastern Washington state, the scenery is fascinating from every viewpoint and angle and the views are ever-changing with the light and shadows._dsc1370-hdrThe breadth of the views are amazing … as seen from this vista overlooking Monument Canyon and looking a bit north._dsc1427_dsc1449It’s not all about landscapes though.  There is a considerable amount of wildlife to be found up there, but I’ll save that for another post.  After enjoying the sunrise and a delicious brunch, we decided to head to Vega Lake, a Colorado State Park in the town of Collbran._dsc1453There, we made our way to Vega Lake, which is a high mountain lake surrounded by lush meadows, which were colored beautifully for the fall.  Sitting at an elevation of ~8,000 feet, it was so incredibly beautiful.  We walked the beaches for quite a bit and then I saw it … lots of flat rocks laying on the sandy beach, just waiting for someone to come play.  See, every year Tom and I make a cairn on our wedding anniversary, which is at the end of August and usually celebrated in Alaska, but in 2016 we were unable to get away, therefore we never got to celebrate sufficiently.  So it was like 2 lightbulbs that went off simultaneously … let’s build one here … and so we did.  A 19 + 1 for good luck rock cairn signifying one rock for each year we’ve been together and then one more to seal the deal for the next.  ❤_dsc1483While there we saw deer and the fattest red fox I think I’ve ever seen, but he wouldn’t stick around for images … guess he didn’t want to be famous.  😉

It was such a fabulous day so far, but no day would be complete without a return to the “Monument” for afternoon light and ultimately the sunset.img_2553

Tom and I took our also obligatory shot of us and our feet overlooking the scene.  Having a fear of heights, you can’t tell but I’m grabbing on to his pants for dear life!fullsizerenderSunset finally arrived … it was fabulous, though it also lacked the clouds.  I guess I have to bring them with me next time.  LOLimg_2590Then it was on for some fabulous – yummy, yummy, sushi and some wine/beer.  Such a wonderful day, beautiful sights, fun celebrations, and most of all, the best of company.  It doesn’t get any better than that!img_2023Next Up:  A bit of touring … and 4-wheeling  🙂

© 2017  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com