It’s Not Just Red Rocks

While the Garden of the Gods exists primarily for the red rock formations that it features, there are other things that the visitor might visit the area for … such as flowers in the summer, the vast array of wildlife, and the outdoor activities that one might partake in, while in the midst of the beauty that surrounds and defines the park.

Wildflowers are something that I have always been fascinated with, though I rarely shoot.  Of course, as I was waiting for Tom to get ready for his mountain bike ride (remember this was Tom’s mountain bike adventure trip), I had to indulge.DSC_5754 DSC_5756 After shooting several of the wildflower collections, I heard Tom talking.  I found that he had made a new friend … a beautiful magpie that apparently wasn’t buying anything of what Tom was offering.  LOLDSC_5680 Off Tom went on his mountain bike ride, so I hiked around looking for more photo ops.  Didn’t take long before I saw this couple going by on their horses right next to me.  Hey, I want to do that!DSC_5681 Such a beautiful place to go for a morning ride, wouldn’t you agree?DSC_5707 Of course, the clouds were so cooperative this morning and fit in nicely in my landscape compositions.DSC_5716 DSC_5725 Of course, I had to shoot my favorite flower … the columbine … so very beautiful.DSC_5753 DSC_5756-2 OK, so it wasn’t just flowers.  There were great opportunities to shoot some wildlife as well.DSC_5739 We had the sweetest interaction with this bunny rabbit too.  It was feeding on the vegetation off the trails, but stopped and ran up the improvised trail.  Right in front of us it stopped, stared at us, then ….DSC_5657

….. immediately drop down onto its belly as it continued to stare at us.  We laughed so hard, as I had never seen a bunny do anything like that.  Usually, they run away as quickly as they can.

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Next Up:  One word … BOURBON!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

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Sunrise … Sunset … At “The Garden”

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Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs is always a favorite destination of ours when we visit Colorado.  There’s something beautiful about how the light plays on the red rock formations, especially when surrounded also by the green vegetation.

So, come with us as we explore the area … starting of course with an early morning sunrise.  Rather than viewing the sunrise from the park itself, we choose a higher elevation, so that we can look down upon the magic as it happens.  🙂  Looking down at Gray Rock, South Gateway Rock, and North Gateway Rock, as the sun lights them up.

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The same for the Glen Eyrie formations to the north.DSC_5517 Always a favorite is the Kissing Camel formation within North Gateway Rock.  See it?  It’s on the top, about 1/3 of the way from the left.  🙂DSC_5520

As the sun begins to rise, as you can see we’re in an overlook parking area, but there is a community of homes hehind us.  How wonderful would it be to be able to peer over your fence and witness this sunrise every day!DSC_5556 DSC_5574

The best way to see the park is VERY EARLY in the morning.  You can almost have it to yourself … before the herds of tourists arrive and climb all over Balanced Rock here doing silly stuff like Tom is illustrating here.  LOL.  OK, it was difficult to get Tom to pose like this for me, not to mention to hold up that big old boulder, so don’t tell him that I put this shot in this post …  😉

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The park was donated to the city of Colorado Springs with the condition that it always remain free of charge for all to enjoy.  DSC_5596 One of our favorite views in the park is this one, which frames perfectly the image of Pikes Peak in the distance … yes, the same 14,000+ feet mountain from my most recent post.  Of course, it’s still a distance away.DSC_5605 They call this formation the Siamese Twins, which is obviously how it got its name, and you can see that window I used for framing.  Again, if you don’t get there early, you will never get an image without lots of people in it.DSC_5607

This place is full of textures to highlight in an image … the rough surface of the rocks, the trees, the puffy white clouds … so beautiful!DSC_5610

Midday is difficult to shoot the area, so we left but returned later in the day.  This image is of the Garden area and it’s a favorite of mine.  I just love the colors and the way that the light casts shadows on the landscape.

DSC_5351 We decided to hike around a bit and found it to be a bit crowded, but as you can see, you could easily find areas where you could compose and find that you’re alone in that process.

DSC_5388 I always find paths and stairs to be so inviting … makes you wonder where it goes … what’s around the corner.DSC_5397DSC_5398 Though the area is famous for the red rock formations, there are also several white rocks which intrigue the visitor as well and the light dances and shines nicely upon them.DSC_5417 Probably my favorite image from this years visit is the one below.   I mean, look at those clouds in the backdrop of the rising red rock formation.  This perspective, believe it or not, was courtesy of several visitors who were in the area, so I got low to block them from my shot.  Love the way it turned out.  DSC_5437 Being that it was summer, the wildflowers were out as well.DSC_5445 Though we wanted to stay for full on sunset, an intense storm decided it would come join the party, so we left and went back into town.  Good thing too, as it was a big one.DSC_5480

Next up:  More from Colorado Springs and the Garden of the Gods

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Wanna Get High In Colorado?

From the Mt. Evans area of Colorado, we proceeded to Colorado Springs, which is a favorite of mine.  We visit there at least every few years.  This time, the guys (all firefighters) wanted to be sure to visit the International Association of Fire Fighters Fallen Firefighters Memorial.  It provides tribute to those firefighters and emergency medical personnel who have been killed in the line of duty and provides assistance to their families.  When we arrived, we were surprised to see that the Memorial was being re-done, but they were gracious enough to let us visit and pay our respects anyway.

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It was quite a moving experience for Tom and his friend Todd.  The granite walls will be engraved with the names of those who have fallen.  It should be quite beautiful when they got it finished, as it was already touching even in transition.

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Once we left the area, it was such a wonderful day that we decided to take a “Sunday drive”.  Actually, the guys wanted to take a nice bike ride in the mountains, so Rachel and I decided to drive “SAG” for them.

Who knows where we are going?  Hmm, what’s this?  A warning about a potential “Big Foot” sighting?

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Of course, it’s all in jest.  For anyone that guessed already, yep we’re driving up Pike’s Peak, just 15 miles outside of Colorado Springs.  Initiating at an elevation of 7,400 feet, it summits at a height of 14,115 feet, making it the tallest summit of the southern front range of the Rocky Mountains.  Now a fully paved road, I remember driving up there with my mom and my daughter, when she was just about 3 or 4 years old.  Of course, back then the road to the top wasn’t paved and I remember “white-knuckling” it all of the way to the top.

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Nowadays, it’s not so bad, except for an occasional tight turn with no guardrails and steep drop-offs.  To get to the top, one can drive, bike, hike, or take the cog railroad up.

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The air at the top was quite thin and chilly, snow was on the ground, and everyone was laboring a bit getting from one area to the other.  I kept thinking about Tom just a few days earlier, riding his bike up to Mt. Evans for me … in pursuit of those mountain goats … when the road was closed for repairs.  LOL

As you can see, storms were brewing off in the distance.  OK, so as we were driving up, we actually hit rain, sleet, and corn snow!  What?  This is July!
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The guys drove up, with the intent of riding their bikes down, and no snow or inclement weather was going to keep them from doing that!  Now that the skies began to open up a bit, they decided that they had better descend and quickly, before the next storm blew in.

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The views all of the way down were gorgeous.  I was driving so it was a bit difficult to partake in the photography …

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…. but wait … what do we have here?  Marmots!  I’m pulling over to shoot them.  🙂

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I’ve never seen little ones playing like that!  They looked like sumo wrestlers as they stood up and held on to one other, as they tried to push each other around.  Of course, these guys were young and just being restless.  The parents were nearby just watching them from the rocky cliffs.  So cute and immensely entertaining!

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The guys made it down safely, as did we.

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If you’ve never experienced Pike’s Peak before, make it a point to do so if you’re ever in the Colorado Springs area.  One word of advice though … go early!  The traffic going down gets progressively worse as the day gets later.  Oh, and no matter what time of the year it is … dress warm!

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Thanks to Rick Louie for leaving his hat behind in our truck a few days earlier…. sure came in handy at the top.  😉

Next up on the Blog:  From sunrise to sunset at Garden of the Gods.  Stay tuned!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

The Cadet Chapel

I’ve visited Colorado Springs several times in the past, but this year when Tom & I visited, we decided to make the best of the mid-day lighting by visiting probably one of the most iconic sights in Colorado Springs … the Cadet Chapel at the US Air Force Academy.

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The Cadet Chapel hosts between 500,000 and 1,000,000 visitors annually.  I’m sure glad that we put it on our “to see” list for 2014.  The building is fascinating, constructed of aluminum, glass & steel, it stands 150′ high and possesses 17 spires (no specific reason for 17).

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It cost $3.5 million dollars to construct, which began in 1959 and was completed in 1962. In 1959, air force military bases across the world gave an offering for funding its completion.

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There are several chapels within the building, the biggest being the Protestant chapel.

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It seats 1,200 attendees in pews made of walnut and mahogany.  Each pew end is capped with an ornament that is said to resemble a World War 1 airplane propeller.  The pew backs are capped by an aluminum strip which resembles the leading edge of a fighter aircraft wing.

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Underneath the Protestant chapel lies 3 additional chapels – Catholic, Jewish, and Buddhist.  In addition, there are 2 non-denominational rooms present.

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In 2004, the Cadet Chapel was designated a US Historic Landmark.  It was quite fascinating to see … can’t believe that it took me so long.  It truly left an impression on both of us.

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