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.
I 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.