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Estes Park

Tis the privilege of friendship to talk nonsense, and to have her nonsense respected.

― Charles Lamb

Girl time in Estes! I’m still unclear as to why Estes Park is such a popular vacation destination. There’s not anything to do or eat there for a girl that can’t eat candy but still I had the loveliest of times there this past Saturday doing nothing in particular with my most beautiful lady bird, my spiritual sister and best friend. The air tasted of marshmallow, sweet and chewy in our mouths as we walked through town past countless taffy pullers, candy and ice cream shoppes. Rumor has it that its worth driving all the way to Estes for an ice cream cone at the little place on the corner and yet someone had the audacity to put a dairy queen/orange julius up there! That’s the thing about Estes, it tries really hard to be a destination, it really does, but it just doesn’t have it. The foods expensive but nothing special, you can’t find anything allergen free to save your life. I don’t know, maybe going to Steamboat my whole life has spoiled me into thinking all world renowned vacation spots are created equal and it simply isn’t the case. But still with a camera and a good friend by your side a day in Estes can still have a bit of magic sparkle, the marshmallow air really helps that too.

So there was this wicked mural across the back of a bunch of buildings all about the guy that made Estes Park into the town it is today. This nice local guy told me all about it including the fact that the artist commissioned to do the work finally finished it like seven years after she said when would, the town was outraged because she was paid in full and then never delivered. I thought that if it was really that big of a deal maybe they wouldn’t pile a whole bunch of junk in front of it but I am the minority. But that’s Estes for you, a good thought lacking a thorough delivery.

Mural jewelry case window square lights bench shelter reflection stones blue flat dark elkI am really proud of these elk, they didn’t gore anyone while I was there! Not a one, not even the guy that stood right in the front ones face taking pictures. Seriously people, these a huge, powerful, and very wild animals that you should under no circumstances approach, if you need a picture get a zoom lens. Treat them like you would a gator, a fuzzy and majestic gator that hangs out by the road munching on flowers and grasses but a gator none the less. Keep your distance and don’t get all up in their grill bro.

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On the Way to Steamboat

Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.

Matsuo Basho

My mother’s family homesteaded Steamboat Springs, CO back in 1902 with two covered wagons and a team of oxen. To make it over the pass they had to hitch up all of the oxen to one wagon, pull it over, and return for the other wagon. They waited in Denver until the snow broke and took most of the summer to get there. When I was a kid I thought that driving for four hours to get there was a long time, now I think it is too fast. Routt and Grand counties are beautiful country and I am convinced that nothing faster than a horse can do it justice, it is so annoying to pull off the road every 5 minutes to see something. I wonder how our modern ease of travel has affected both our sense of adventure and our appreciation for the journey.

Pictures from the areas around Kremmling, Steamboat Springs, and Walden.

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Catamount


Heavenly Bodies

One might think the atmosphere was made transparent with this design, to give man, in the heavenly bodies, the perpetual presence of the sublime. Seen in the streets of cities, how great they are! If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.

The stars awaken a certain reverence, because though always present, they are inaccessible; but all natural objects make a kindred impression, when the mind is open to their influence. Nature never wears a mean appearance. Neither does the wisest man extort her secret, and lose his curiosity by finding out all her perfection.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature


RMNP Mountains

Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature’s sources never fail.

John Muir

Okay, so I know that national parks are important, it be awesome if the whole world were a national park and everyone went in with the idea that they don’t own anything so if they want to camp there they had better keep it nice or bears will eat them. I know that there are cool things in national parks, like glaciers. What I have always failed to understand as a young person living in the Rocky Mountains is why I or anyone I know personally would go to Rocky Mountain National Park. You have to drive a long way AND you have to give them twenty whole dollars.You can see the same thing for free in like ten minutes here and to be completely honest I don’t know for sure exactly how it works. Like in the city if you go to a park once you get there you’re there, you park, you get out, you play a bit, you go home. If you stay there after dark the cops will think you’re up to  no good and you might hurt yourself jumping off the swings because you can’t see the ground. So what about national parks? You just keep driving and that is the fun or something? Can you just walk on it, like if there’s not a parking lot followed by a marked trail, are you just allowed to touch everything? What about when night comes, you just sleep there on the road or something? What if you want to go there at night, are there people in the little give-me-your-money booth thingy’s in the middle of the night? Are there park hours? See, it’s just really too confusing for the average careful person to figure out.

So, the other year around when I got my camera a groupon deal came out for a photography tour of Rocky Mountain National Park and I bought it. I was thinking it would be super cool and maybe I’d learn a lot from a real photographer and everything! But its one of those things where when you’re about to actually go do it you realize its not really that exciting and you’re not the type of person to remember things to ask or learn anything useful from other people. But it was nice and not overly exciting, just as a prefer all of my activities that I do alone because really, who likes to be really excited all by themselves? And since I know nothing about the park it was great to go with someone who does. My guide was the lovely Aaron Cathcart of Cathcart Photography, experienced and knowledgeable as well as personable. It was fun! You should do it.

A day or two before the tour a fire started so I took some pictures of the smoke. These are some shots from my whole time I spent in RMNP and nearby Estes Park, CO.


On Sharing Words and My Love of James Joyce

How does one endure after they read emotions? Words that cease to be themselves- just compilations of letters, simple syntax, marks on paper trying to show what could never otherwise be shown in a physical way- cease to be words and become bearers of a higher plane, of indescribable feelings, illogical inward thoughts that are not thought but intuitively understood only as they flow from within the kidneys of the thinker, words that make your organs as light and delicate kindling and you catch your breathe in attempt to stifle the blaze climbing in your rib cage like the mountains of High Park? You have a choice. Should you open you mouth, allowing the words to spill out from you like cinders to ignite the others, or, alternatively, burn out quietly and unappreciated? Or do you hold them dearly inside to burn in your secret heart forever? This is the challenge that James Joyce continuously presents me with, as well as facing within my own consciousness as an author.

Ever since elementary school I’ve had an interest in reading Ulysses tumbling around in the back of my mind although I never made an effort to even see if the book was at the library. I’d never heard of James Joyce, but rather, my interest was peaked when we would sing the song Camp Granada, you know the one- “Hello muddah, hello faddah/ Here I am at Camp Granada/ Camp is very entertaining/And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining…” yeah.. so there’s a line in there toward the middle “And the head coach wants no sissies so he reads to us from something called Ulysses.” Being not a sissy myself, I figured I should probably give it go sometime.

Sometime.

My freshman year I took this literature class with Blair Oliver. It was like modern literature or something, I think it was from the 1800s on. We read English romantic verse, Madam Bovary, Mrs. Dalloway, One Hundred Years of Solitude, something else I didn’t bother reading… AND we read Dubliners. If you don’t know who Blair Oliver is that is highly unfortunate. He talks and you know that he is telling what he believes is the truth, not teaching a curriculum, teaching what he has decided is important based on the impact it has made on his own person. The excitement and passion that emanates from him arrest you, you can’t move, you can’t even take notes because you don’t want to take your eyes off of him for a second. He draws all of your attention. To hear how this beautiful man with his dark curling hair and high Irish cheekbones first discovers Gabriel Garcia Marquez on an airplane, how he traveled to Dublin to arm wrestle at Mulligan’s just like Farrington in “Counterparts”, and how he believe words should be used to strike a cord and ignite emotion, going as far as to give people the exact wrong card for a given situation is unbelievably inspiring. It’s like a glowing, tangerine sun rising in your soul. He’s since publish a compilation of short stories into a book called Last Call, it’s as good as I had hoped coming from someone like him, it carries that same sense of importance that he showed us of the classics, and like the classics I don’t feel like I understand the full scope of it. I mean I understand the story, but there is more there, underneath, that I believe connects to the readers own emotions, memories, and experiences in a profound way, and yet I lack these things because of being a female I think. It’s still wonderful and I encourage anyone, but especially men, to read it.

But anyway, back to Dubliners. This is where I got introduced to James Joyce and came to believe that he must be the greatest author of all time. He was obsessed with words. Language is so inadequate to portray anything more than simple ideas but Joyce was committed to using it to the fullest extent, always choosing the exact right word and the exact right combination to express every facet of the meaning he wanted to present. Not just every idea but every individual word has layers of meaning and alludes to other facets of a broad, all encompassing idea that moves far beyond just what is happening in the actual story. In fact looking at the stories themselves, the plot and what not, they are actually quite dull, nothing really happens or maybe something happens be there is no resolution, no explanation. But digging deeper you see that the story is about something else entirely, something inside a person or a philosophical theme that has ran through human kind through all history, emotion, thought pattern, human nature, religion, morals, imperfection, character. He means every word he writes. A man dedicated to expressing everything we experience in life in a tangible way, not just a story for entertainment value. So, although I wasn’t exactly mad for Dubliners, a love for James Joyce and a deep appreciation of his purpose has lead me to hold him steadily in my heart for years to come. I bought Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and, as I was already in the middle of another book, simply flipped through it quickly before adding it to my growing ‘wait-list’ pile, but not before being completely taken in by descriptions of girls on beaches and yellow boots running. I had to force myself to put it down before I began reading from the middle to the end and disregarding the beginning. I still have yet to read it.

When I read that my favorite bookstore was going out of business I ran over there in hurry, eager to see it one last time and also use up my whopping $90 in credit I had accumulated. Although I bought more books that I could carry the shining moment of the day was when I found a copy of Ulysses! My very own copy for what ended up being only $3.75! My heart leaped a little when I saw it and I had to look twice but yes there it was, the book I have been waiting for my whole life just sitting there on the shelf so I snatched it up with snatching hands faster than my great grandmothers, looking around wildly for any wily predators that may have the audacity to take it from top of the pile perched precariously in my arms. MINE. Also, I grabbed another copy of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, you know, just to be on the safe side, and Finnegan’s Wake, which upon further inspection kind of scares the crap out of me.

And, again, I still have yet to read any of them.

But the other day while I was pursuing the vast wasteland of Facebook where language and thought goes to die I was suddenly bamboozled by the brilliance of James Joyce in butterfly form, an except from Ulysses that someone had formed into a lovely interpretive poster, and thus we get back to my original question. I mean, you can’t just hit the share button can you? That’s not good enough for those words. I can’t send it to someone in particular because it wouldn’t fit the situation. I can’t show it to my sister over my shoulder because she doesn’t love Joyce like I do, she doesn’t even know him. So what? I just keep it to myself, all the while realizing that this thing, this beautiful, profound, diamond of a thing is just floating around the internet for all to see? And it’s the same with my own writing. I feel like when I write something it is pure, it’s intentions are no more than to simply record my thoughts. Letting other people see is like a defilement, like its no longer clean and virginal. Now it’s intention is to impress, to teach another person what I see, to explain. If I write a story I cannot let someone else read it until it is all finished because then my focus goes from writing down the story like it happens to writing something that other people will like. And yet I wish to share my writing with people. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his essay Nature from his second series that at once summarizes my feelings and exposes my fears-

The pages thus written are to him burning and fragrant; he reads them on his knees by midnight and by the morning star; he wets them with his tears; they are sacred; too good for the world, and hardly yet to be shown to the dearest friend. This is the man-child that is born to the soul, and her life still circulates in the babe. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut. After some time elapses, he begins to wish to admit to his friend to this hallowed expiration, and with hesitation, yet with firmness, exposes the pages to his eye. Will they not burn his eyes? The friend coldly turns them over, and passes from the writing to conversation, with easy transition, which strikes the other party with astonishment and vexation.

Your writing is like a child born of your soul, so young and tender, closer to you than your own heart, a piece of your own body. Great care must be taken in choosing to let someone read it, they must be worthy of holding such a precious thing, able to understand and appreciate, loving enough to caress gently its baby skin lest they inadvertently hurt you, hurt your insides. And yet we must be humble enough to face the truth, to our own selves these words are burning and fragrant, “for no man can write anything who does not think that what he writes is for the time the history of the world”, and yet we can’t all be writing the deepest, most strikingly important words of all time. To other these may be nothing more than an interesting anecdote, and friendly favor to pass the time; but still, how vexing this would be.

So what is one to do when possessing the great beauty and power of words well chosen, whether they are ours or someone else’s? To share with another person would be such an experience, imagine having such emotions and feeling, such greatness holding you together like golden thread stitched between your hearts. And yet we cannot disgrace the words by spreading them around like mayonnaise, so white and mundane. To see it go unappreciated, under appreciated, or misunderstood would be such a pain to the soul. Should we risk such injury?


Sunset at the Bellevue Dome

When I bought my farm, I did not know what a bargain I had in the bluebirds, daffodils and thrushes; as little did I know what sublime mornings and sunsets I was buying.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

They took down their road blocks and let us back in today. We had heard that they had slurried all the houses so they were all still standing even though the fire had burned through to the other side of the street, this turned out not to be true, there was no evidence of anything burnt on our side of the road, much less the other side which is further away from the fire. Didn’t see any slurry either.

Everything was lush and green against the soft, smoky haze, so peaceful, so at ease you wouldn’t guess it had just been threatened so vehemently. Deep green corn shoots quietly growing in perfect rows, spotted cattle quietly grazing against the golden backdrop of the Bellevue dome, little houses, perhaps still empty, waiting quietly on small, sage hills, the soft sun setting behind smoke and silver lining.

Our dear friends on the other side of the dome let us climb up to survey the area and watch the sunset. From that lofty vantage point we could truly appreciate the splendor of the valley and be filled with gratitude for its preservation.

For those of you out there dying to know about Morning Fresh Dairy, that is it on the right hand side, if you can’t tell that dirt patch is filled with cows. Nothing is burnt, everything looks fine. I don’t know if they got evacuated but I would think that they did since everyone else on the road did…

Some people are being let back in while others have received pre evacuation notices so this is far from over. As of right now the fire is at 46,820 acres and only 10 percent contained with extreme growth potential. There is about 1,263 people working on this, including the national guard. Rumor has it that there isn’t anything we can do except try to keep it from spreading while waiting for it to burn itself out, this could take months.


High Park Fire

A crimson sun shines though choking brown plumes like the strength of the 250 emergency personnel below it. The western wind, strong and unyielding, drags the heavy smoke up the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, through Wyoming, Nebraska, and into South Dakota while pushing the fire from the steep canyon walls toward the grassy pastures of Bellevue. What was just yesterday a small fire in the mountains, 200 acres lit from the lightning of the rain storm that so many had prayed for, has grown to 20,000 acres devouring homes and outbuildings, burning the dairy behind us and lapping at our western border. Police Cruisers lights dance behind the quiet haze against a backdrop of gray and rust saving people from seeing their property suffocating and singed. For so many there is no going home tonight, for some there will be no going home.

My junior high school has always served as the evacuation center for fires like this, except there hasn’t ever been a fire like this before. The air is too thick to inhale and the evacuees as being relocated another 20 miles away in Loveland, CO to be with their animals. Experienced fire fighters call the growth of this fire ‘incredible,’ most fires rest at night with the cooler temperatures but satellite data indicate that this fire doubled in sized and ran 6 miles.

This first set of picture were taken at Terry Lake north of Fort Collins as Highway 287 curves west toward the mountains.

These next two were taken on Bingham Hill, looking north west into the affected areas that are cut off by police blockade. As you can see the fire has come out of the mountains and is moving across the foothills.

This last set was taken north east of the fire in the range-lands of north taft hill road, north of the now closed highway 287. This is the same area that I shot the pictures from my first post, looks a lot different now!

If you have sharp eyes you can see a firefighting helicopter heading into the fire in this last photograph. As of yet we have eight 20-person crews and other firefighters on scene . Air resources on scene include: 5 Single Engine Air Tankers (SEAT); 2 Type 1 Helitankers; 2 Type 3 Helicopters; 3 Heavy Air Tankers; Air Attack; and Lead Plane. Approximately 15 engines are on scene. A Type 1 Management Team has been ordered and are expected to take over management Monday morning. Additional ground, air, and engines have been ordered.


RMNP Waters

There is no water in oxygen, no water in hydrogen: it comes bubbling fresh from the imagination of the living God, rushing from under the great white throne of the glacier. The very thought of it makes one gasp with an elemental joy no metaphysician can analyse. The water itself, that dances, and sings, and slakes the wonderful thirst–symbol and picture of that draught for which the woman of Samaria made her prayer to Jesus–this lovely thing itself, whose very wetness is a delight to every inch of the human body in its embrace–this live thing which, if I might, I would have running through my room, yea, babbling along my table–this water is its own self its own truth, and is therein a truth of God.
― George MacDonald


RMNP Trees and Flowers

I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees.  The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets.  It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day.  It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful.  Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me – I am happy.  -Hamlin Garland, McClure’s, February 1899

We went hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park to see a waterfall, it started snowing before we ever got there but we got lots of good pictures anyway. Here are four of my eight favorite.

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Lily Lake at Night

The lakes are something which you are unprepared for; they lie up so high, exposed to the light, and the forest is diminished to a fine fringe on their edges, with here and there a blue mountain, like amethyst jewels set around some jewel of the first water, – so anterior, so superior, to all the changes that are to take place on their shores, even now civil and refined, and fair as they can ever be.  -Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau, I decided, is my friend because he was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s friend and that guy is my bestie so a friend of a friend is my friend too. Emerson wrote that the sky is the eyes daily bread and truly, everyday when I look outside I remember this because there is something amazing up there every time. The night sky is especially dear to me. Psalm 19:1 says “The heaven are declaring the glory of God; and the work of his hands the expanse is telling.” I think it is amazing that no matter where you live or how much money you have or how smart you are you can look at the night sky with appreciation; even if you have nothing, the sky is there for you every day. It is so big, and yet not empty. It is full of activity and energy that makes you realize that what you are dealing with is insignificant, yet you are not. When you take the time to look around you can easily see that our universe was designed as a perfect place for humans, there are so many things built in to help us deal with and enrich our lives like the sky for calmness, helping us to see the bigger picture and giving us a glimpse of unimaginable glory, or lakes for clear thinking and introspection.

A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature.  It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.  -Henry David Thoreau

My goal is to take more time to fully appreciate the area that I live. Since I see it everyday it can be passed over and taken for granted a little bit and I don’t want to be like that. This is explained more thoroughly in the ‘about’ section if you haven’t read that and are at all interested.

My friend Nikita Van Putten had the great idea of driving up to a lake in Rocky Mountain National Park to photograph the super moon last saturday. I never really figured out how to get a good picture of the moon so don’t get your hopes up. I did however take these of Lily Lake. It was really cold and windy, but also amazing. We were the only ones out there (perhaps because we weren’t supposed to be?) in the very dark. This was my first time doing long exposures and night photography. The first picture is my favorite of the night, and also the very first one I took.ImageImageImage