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Cade's Cove

Cade's Cove

Cade's Cove is the most visited area of the Smokies and has been preserved to look much the way it did in the 1800's when it was home to a small mountain community whose settlers came mostly from Virginia, North Carolina and upper east Tennessee. Cades Cove has original pioneer homesteads, barns, businesses, pasture and farmland and an abundance of wildlife including deer, fox, coyotes, and black bears.

Colorado Fall 2014

Colorado Fall 2014

Here's what four old guys saw and photographed in Aspen, Marble, Crested Butte, and the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

This was kind of a magical trip - magical in the sense that some wonderful winter weather presented itself in both Crested Butte and the San Juan Mountains, magical in the sense that the four of us got to photograph Crystal Mill before the "unpleasantness" that took place when the landowner decided to put up a fence, post the property and guard it with a gun (apparently warning shots were fired while another group was there a day or two after we photographed the mill), and magical that four guys could have so much fun, enjoy photography so much, have no disagreements and leave wanting to come back again.

Although not "magical", another element of the trip was the new camera I had just purchased. This was the first road trip for the camera and that was without much time with the manual.

Against that backdrop, I'll try to convey a sense of our journey as it started out in Glenwood Springs with me picking up my friends from Iowa and Illinois and heading to Aspen, Marble, Crested Butte, and Ouray with all the fun photo shoot stops along the way.

This was a "strange" year for the aspen and attendant colors. During what is, historically, the peak or near peak time for the leaves to make that magical transformation from green to yellow, orange and red, whole areas that should have been yellow were still green while only a few miles away, a good portion of the leaves had already dropped from the trees. Locations like Kebler Pass west of Crested Butte that are normally totally dependable showed up with a green forest on the west side of the pass while the trees on the east were near peak color. And, the San Juans which should have been peaking while we were there were mostly green and a week or even two from peaking. But, we did find beautiful color and made the most of it.

Along the way, we met some friends who belong to the same group that I do (Rocky Mountain Nature Photographers) and that was a treat. And, a long-time friend from Durango drove over to Ouray to have dinner with us one evening - an even more special treat.

On balance, I can easily say I had more fun on this trip than any I've been on in years - strange Fall colors not withstanding.

Sequoia, Kings Canyon & Yosemite National Parks - February 2013

Sequoia, Kings Canyon & Yosemite National Parks - February 2013

These three national parks, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite are the last three major national parks in the western US that I had not visited before this trip. There are others I have visited but not photographically such as Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes and Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado as well as Glacier/Waterton in Montana and Canada. But, this visit completes the tour in the lower 48.

Our visit to Sequoia and Kings Canyon was better than expected because of the snow depth and the new snow while we were there. And, to stand next to one of the giant sequoias that is nearly 2,000 years old is very humbling.

Yosemite didn't disappoint either. Although it didn't snow while we were there, enough remained from January storms to accent the natural beauty of the park. I can say that there is no way I would ever go there in the summer or fall with the attendant crowds; it was pretty busy in the winter. Yosemite offers natural wonders so abundant and so unique as to bolster its stature among our national parks - El Capitan, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, the Merced River and more. It's a park of superlatives!

Colorado - Utah Fall 2012

Colorado - Utah Fall 2012

My annual fall pilgrammage to Colorado took on a couple of new dimensions for 2012; first, instead of this being my usual "solo" trip, I acted as "location consultant" for the Colorado portion of LightChase Photography Tour Company's "Colorado-Utah Fall 2012" tour and secondly, a "Whitman's Sampler" (LightChase president's description) of Utah national parks was added to the tour.

At the last minute, because of earlier than normal leaf color changes in the aspen forests of Colorado, we completely changed the itinerary to start in Colorado and end in Utah rather than starting in Utah and Colorado. And, it was an excellent decision and we enjoyed outstanding aspen color throughout the tour.

Colorado tour location highpoints included: Aspen, Marble, Kebler Pass, Crested Butte, Ohio Pass, Cimarron Valley, True Grit (Kate's) Meadow, Red Mountain Pass area, various Ouray County roads and the Mt. Wilson overlook near Telluride.

Our Utah itineray included Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks as well as Dixie National Forest . My favorite - Canyonlands. The view from the "Green River Overlook" is "other-worldly" and let me imagine I was on the surface of Mars.

Enjoy the journey.

Crested Butte Wildflower Festival - July 2011

Crested Butte Wildflower Festival - July 2011

This image I submitted to the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival contest was the winner for 2011 and was featured on the official poster for the Festival.

The photo was taken off Kebler Pass Road west of Crested Butte near an area known as "Horse Park". Technical information for photo fans: exposure 1/6 sec @f22, ISO 200, focal length 17mm. The camera is a Nikon D200 and the lens is an f2.8 17-55mm Nikon lens. The image was shot as a fine jpg/NEF file and the white balance was set for shade. Thanks to Darren Kilgore and Brent Doerzman for some excellent location advice and to Mark Rasmussen for teaching me how to shoot "sun stars", use graduated neutral density filters and much more.

Crested Butte is known as "The Wildflower Capital of Colorado" and my many visits there in the summer would certainly support such an assertion. The Festival was held from July 11 - 17, 2011 and is the largest of its kind in the West and perhaps in the entire country.

I thoroughly enjoyed being in Crested Butte for the Festival and the hospitality extended to me, my family and friends by all associated with the Wildflower Festival was warm and warmly received - I'll be there helping visitors find that special place where the wildflowers grow at next year's Festival and the ones after that.

Silver Creek Cascades
Utah Sunrise +
Moon Over Dixie
Aspen & Ferns

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