Visiting Colorado

Some, probably not many, might have noticed my absence from the blogosphere and the Internet in general. My sister visited for a week, and there was much travel, eating, Firefly watching, and refrigerator shopping (my current fridge is beyond repair and dying).

I’m jumping back into blogging with a huge post about the travels of this past week. Honest, unless you have the training, you might want to break up the reading this post into multiple sessions. Of course, in this twitterized world there is little chance more than one or two readers will even look at anything here past the first paragraph or photo. Cosi’ e’ la vita.

The main objective this past week was not photography, but to explore locations unfamiliar to my visiting sister; ergo, most of the photos were taken with my Samsung Note II. The big boys gear was only used on a couple of occasions. I will make use of the appropriate photos regardless of how they were taken.

This post starts a week ago yesterday when we headed out for a circle tour which included Guffey (prior posts about Guffey are HERE and HERE). You can read about the town here:  Guffey.

Sunday 07Sep2014 Guffey circle Route

Our first stop was the Adeline Hornbek Homestead. It’s a nice place to stop and stretch one’s legs. The link makes for interesting reading, but I’m sure most just want to see the photos (all of these are from the phone camera and modified with onOne Effects).




We’ve been there a few times, and only once was anyone on-site to give tours of the insides of the buildings. The actual park entrance is a mile or so down the road.

You can, however, walk around the buildings . . .




I do like the texture of weathered logs.


Not much has changed since the old days . . . today people still put their vehicles up on blocks.





Meanwhile, their main ride gets all the attention (and colorful paint, apparently).


The nearby root cellar is farther than most modern refrigerators, and the consequences of a teen leaving the door open were a bit more drastic, as in losing the winter stores.


Soon enough it was time to say goodbye and get back to snacking and driving.


Now, I don’t particularly like motorcycles ahead of me, especially when they make the effort to cut in front of me from a side road, and then proceed to ride 5-10 mph below the speed limit, and even slower as they go through any mild curve . . . there are a lot of curves on these roads.

It was even more aggravating having another motorcycle catch up and tail-gate me. The guy should have known I had a couple of inconsiderate idiots in front of me; inconsiderate idiots that sped up in places where I could have passed them, and slowed down in no-passing zones. If maledictions have any kind of efficacy, all three are now suffering from exploding hemorrhoids.

But, there is a place where the road straightened up . . . I went a bit – a considerable bit – over the speed limit to pass them (yes, like most rear orifices, they speeded up when I put on the turn signal to pass), but pass them I did, and my calm was somewhat restored, especially once I put the cruise on, and concentrated on my snacks and coffee.

Soon enough, we arrived in Guffey.



I don’t remember this truck from our last visit, and I almost broke open my camera bag, but opted to keep with my phone camera lest I also grabbed the tripod, multiple lenses, and went into my photo-taking trance.

And yes, those are bathtubs on the side of the truck.


This next vehicle was in slightly worst shape.




The nearby swing set looked interesting . . . good luck to be had by using it, I reckon.


More texture of old wood was to be had nearby.


Not sure if that had been a containment facility . . . the bars would seem to indicate as much, but there could be other explanations.

Some people might have read the posts where I talk of building a birdhouse . . . these birdhouses have a tad more character than the one I built.




I snapped a few more photos of the neat truck before venturing across the street to the macabre display of animal remnants.




OK, I think the following are mostly horse heads . . . maybe they were props from the movie Godfather.





Not sure about that last one . . . awfully big eyes on that one.

Macabre as it was, it reminded me of . . .


This next vehicle was also new (so to speak), and for rent, to boot!


The horse heads were displayed on the back of this truck . . .


The rest of the place looked like I remembered it . . .



I walked over to my favorite display . . .

20140907_122753_HDR_DIGI 20140907_122800_HDR_DIGI

. . . and noticed the yard was open, and I could get close to it.


I was sad to see the horse had lost the glasses it sported on my previous visit. Too bad.

An early lowrider . . .



Of course, I had to check out my favorite Guffey cars (sadly, without a zoom lens, and there is a “No Trespassing” sign on the fence) . . .


. . . and snap one last picture before heading out . . .


We got back in the car and headed out . . . but, we rounded a corner, and sitting there, in front of a bar, was this beauty . . .





It’s an uncomfortable and unsafe car, but it do look striking.

On the way back home we stopped at Third Street Apples, and were disappointed by the apples. The entire crop was composed of smallish apples; smaller than a tennis ball.

Other orchards we passed had similar apples. Apparently, the result of the double whammy of an early Fall freeze last year combined with a late Spring freeze this year. Oh well.


We got home, and much food was consumed . . . a small amount even by people not me.

Monday morning I dropped off the Tahoe to the dealer (thank you Chevrolet for making a product that reliably transfers funds from my account to the dealer’s account), and we headed up to Pikes Peak in the Toyota Highlander. A better vehicle choice because it’s a five speed, thus easier for controlling the speed of the descent from 14,110 feet. Also, it’s more reliable.

Monday 08Sep2014 Pikes Peak zoomed in

Here my sister is posing at the top of Pikes Peak . . . the weather was less than ideal with wind and flurries making the visit a tad uncomfortable.



On the way up we passed a some vintage cars making their way to the top (unlike the bikers, they were considerate, moving over to let us pass). One overheated 3/4 of the way up there, but they all eventually made it, and then posed for the tourists.



What’s that? You want to see them closer? Sure thing! Here you go . . .




We planned a drive to Grand Junction, but Tuesday’s weather was iffy, so we opted to wait until Wednesday for the overnight trip.

So, what to do on Tuesday? Well, it sounds like the perfect day to shop for refrigerators and then visit Garden of the Gods. I’ve done one post about the place (HERE), but it really deserves better coverage than I’ve offered it. I’ll remedy that someday. Meanwhile . . .



All the following photos will look a bit off . . . the phone does not handle the red color and bright skies all too well.

Because it was a weekday, because the weather was iffy, and because it’s after Labor Day, the parking lots had a few spots to park.  That gave us the chance to walk around . . .



There are more photos in the SmugMug Gallery HERE, but I’m adding enough here to ensure this post is not too short.

Notice the sign . . .


Lots of kids running around, and parents who were not too strict about letting them wander off the paved paths . . . I guess they didn’t like their kids too much, or were themselves illiterate.

Here’s some of the maps one can also find online.



Here’s one of the online maps . . .


We might have hiked a bit more had the clouds not looked so menacing.

20140909_144053_HDR_DIGI 20140909_144212_DIGI


For them who might not think of it, you can take vertical panoramas as well as horizontal ones.

About here a few drops started to fall . . .



We went back to the car and continued the driving tour around the park.


The above is probably the most photographed area in the park . . . after the balanced rock.


She is sheltered from the rain which was falling . . . luckily, it was a mere drizzle that pounded me driven by the 92.7 mph wind.

While there I took a panorama . . .


. . . and then we headed to the highest point in the park, snapping this next photo on the way.


Here’s my sister – in flip-flops – climbing some red rocks.


From there we went back home to prepare for our two-days trip . . .

10-11SEP2014 - Grand Junction Circle Route

I made the mistake of not looking at the route before leaving . . . I would have done it slightly different, but this was fine. Nice weather, nice scenery, nice company, and lots of food.

Here’s a few shots from the drive to Grand Junction (more in the SmugMug Gallery HERE).

Rest Area before the Tunnels
Rest Area before the Tunnels
Rest Area before the Tunnels
Rest Area before the Tunnels

This is the Eisenhower Tunnel . . .



And this is after the tunnel (I’m only showing a few of the shots I took one-handed as I was driving the car – and none of the videos; a video of driving the tunnel going the other way is HERE, near the end of the post) . . .

Apparently, snapping photos while passing a semi in an turn is something wives frown-upon. To be fair, they have a right to frown as I am less than diligent in keeping the car centered in our lane.
Apparently, snapping photos while passing a semi in an turn is something wives frown upon. To be fair, they have a right to frown as I am less than diligent in keeping the car centered in our lane.






Another tunnel . . .
Colorado River paced us for a while . . .
Colorado River paced us for a while . . .
. . . and yet another tunnel . . .
. . . and yet another tunnel . . .


. . . finally approaching Grand Junction . . .


We exited at the Palisade exit, on the hunt for a couple of wineries before hitting the Colorado National Monument.

10-11SEP2014 - Grand Junction Zoom

There are a number vineyards in Palisade, but we picked two at random.

First up, Canyon Winds Cellars. The first shot I took were some hanging grapes . . . and I messed it up. It is out of focus . . . but that makes it perfect for some artsy treatment.


OK, here’s some other shots from the winery.




Those are 180deg panoramic shots, hence the curved wall effect.

I’m not showing shots from inside the tasting room as it got too rowdy . . . but I can show you the views from the inside.




OK, so it wasn’t rowdy . . . the wines were good (we bought a few, and I tasted them at home), and the lady behind the bar was very knowledgeable. Still, not drinking, I went outside for a few more shots.





The next place was Carlson Vineyard Winery. There Melisa and Louise tried a Cherry Wine with chocolate on the rim of the glass. Apparently, it was to die for.

Here’s what the insides looks like:






Those last two shots were a surprise as I was browsing the displays, and these guys were between one of the displays and the cash register. They looked comfy.

From there we proceeded to the Colorado National Monument. We’d been there before, but it’s always a treat driving through it. Most of the photos are from my Nikon, and some are from the phone.


The first order of business was climbing up to the visitor center and have ourselves a picnic.

Colorado National Monument,

When we got there, we struggled to find an open spot . . .

20140910_141727_HDR-2_DIGI 20140910_141720_HDR-2_DIGI

 . . . but at least the views were great.

Colorado National Monument, Colorado National Monument, Colorado National Monument,

You can tell the Nikon photos . . . they seem bland by comparison.

That’s due in part to the processing I applied (different for the phone’s JPGs and the Nikon’s RAW image), in part due to the lighting, and in part because the phone does some processing before I ever get to the photos. Someday I will have a phone that shoots some version of RAW (I hope).

All that combined with WordPress’s propensity to dull down images, and that’s the result. Again, for the large Nikon Panoramas you’re better off looking at them in SmugMug. Just saying, is all.

We did stop at the visitor center, and shot some from there. This next is a panorama from the phone . . .


Here’s a single photo of the same scene taken with the Nikon and with my typical processing.

Colorado National Monument,

You will notice an improvement in the Nikon photo from the previous ones, even if still dimmer than the phone’s photo . . . some thin clouds left, and the lighting is improved.

I’ve often been reminded to include something to give perspective as to the size . . . do you see the “V” opening in the rocks? Here, let me zoom in . . .

Colorado National Monument,

See the railing and the two people? You can see them better in SmugMug, but visible here as well – click on the photo for a larger view. There! . . . something for scale. By the way, that’s where we are heading next.

Here’s another phone panorama . . .


Here the Nikon shot of that tree . . .

Colorado National Monument,

I’ll have one more comparison between the two, but most of the remaining Monument shots will be from the Nikon.

Here’s the path to the railing from the earlier shot . . .

Colorado National Monument,

Apparently, the previous day there had been an unusual rain, and some of the ground was still ‘shifty’, but not to the point that it was muddy.

The walk did offer some nice photo opportunities.

Colorado National Monument,

Really, panoramas should be viewed full size . . .

Anyway, here’s a string of shots from the walk.

I do like dead tree trunks, especially of these Junipers . . . they look so tortured.
I do like dead tree trunks, especially of these Junipers . . . they look so tortured.

Colorado National Monument,

Colorado National Monument,

Colorado National Monument,

The path is on a relatively narrow wedge of rock that comes to a point, and offers great views while doing so.

Colorado National Monument,

Colorado National Monument,

Colorado National Monument,

Here’s another panorama from the Nikon . . .

Colorado National Monument,

. . . compared to an over-processed photo from the phone.


. . . Nikon . . .

Colorado National Monument,

. . . over-processed phone photo . . .


To be sure, it’s not all the phone . . . some of the difference is due to me trying to bring out shadows and recover blown-out highlights, but still.

However, all is not lost; many photographers purposefully overprocess their regular photos . . . some people like one type, and others like the other. See? Everyone is happy.

Here’s a few more from the walk.

Colorado National Monument, Colorado National Monument,

Next up, the Coke Ovens, so named because of their shape . . .

Colorado National Monument,

Colorado National Monument,

Here’s the last panorama comparison . . .

Colorado National Monument,


Here’s falling rock . . .

Colorado National Monument, Colorado National Monument,

And here’s the canyon within the canyon . . .

Colorado National Monument, Colorado National Monument,

The last stop in the park was Cold Shiver Point a very picturesque place; a place where you can step to the edge of beautiful cliffs . . .  and sometimes step off.

Colorado National Monument,

See the ledge on the right on the photo above?

Colorado National Monument, Colorado National Monument,

Of course, if you’re not paying attention, you need not go to the edge . . .

Colorado National Monument,

The day ended with us driving to Montrose, our stopover for the night.

The next day we continued on US Route 50 to Gunnison, and over Monarch Pass.


Down to Salida we drove, and turned North on US 285 on our way to Independence Pass.


Independence Pass,

We’d been up there a few times, even once when it was not windy (HERE).


We went on a short walk to the overlook . . . 

Independence Pass,

She’s looking at a man just off-frame who was doing some sort of leg exercises.

Independence Pass,

Having lived here nearly 10 years can make one complacent about the place . . . it’s good once in a while to see it through other people’s eyes.

Here’s a few more from the pass.

Independence Pass,

Independence Pass,

Independence Pass,

Independence Pass,

With that, we headed back home. That evening we continued the Firefly marathon even as the weather outside was changing . . . 

The next morning, Friday, September 12, held a surprise for us . . . temperatures in the low 20’s (Fahrenheit) and . . . 




That’s right; the first snow of the 2014-2015 season. I’m sure this spider was surprised . . . 


Kind of looks christmassy, don’t it? 

Of course, we were inside, and enjoying a late breakfast/tea.


Yes, I know how lucky we are.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Tuning Fork
Tuning Fork

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