End of the Rainbow?

No pot of gold but it definitely looked like the rainbow’s end.

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I almost forgot about this event we witnessed on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park back in May.  This isn’t the best quality image since it was taken out a car window while moving, in the rain, with my cell phone.  Still, it came out OK and I just had to share.

Our approach to RMNP was a winding route through the mountains south of the park.  It was cloudy and rainy most of the way there but the skies brightened up every now and then which is ideal for rainbows.  As we came to one especially twisty part of the road I spotted a rainbow but it wasn’t high in the sky.  It looked like it was almost flat on the ground!

Fullscreen capture 7122016 82743 PM.bmpThis was in a spot called Peaceful Valley. Colorado Route 72 takes a big hairpin turn around the valley here and we could see the rainbow all the way around.  When we got around the side, we could see how this “ground rainbow” came to be.  Down into the valley you could see the full rainbow but where we had first seen it, only the top of the arch was peeking up out of the valley.

I have never seen anything like this before and may not be lucky enough to experience it again.  I am sure glad that we got to see it and at least could record the event even if it was just on my cell phone.

Daily Prompt: Journey

Peaceful Valley Rainbow
Boulder County, Colorado, USA

Samsung Galaxy S5

#rainbow #EndOfTheRainbow #OverTheRainbow #PeacefulValley #Colorado #RockyMountains #trees #mountains #aspentrees #valley

Wishing for a reprieve from Summer

Remembering the beauty and coolness of the mountains on a hot day

OK, I know it’s just the beginning of July but Hotlanta is living up to its name this year.  I needed to look back to our trip to Colorado to remind me of how much cooler it is in the mountains and maybe the memory would make me forget about the high 90’s that we will be living in around here.

This scene shows a beautiful stream flowing crisp and clean through the wilderness of the Rocky Mountain National Park.  I posted another view of this same area with people setting up to enjoy the day fly fishing.  I don’t think I would like to live in a place where summer doesn’t arrive until August and winter is coming in September but, it is nice to envision the pleasant coolness of a mountain stream on a hot summer day.

Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park, Colorado, USA

Nikon D7000
Nikkor 18-105mm
18mm – Aperture Priority at f/11 – 1/60 sec – ISO 100

#mountainstream #photography #landscape #rockymountainnationalpark #rockymountains #colorado #nationalpark #usnationalparks #nationalparkservicecentennial @nps @rmnp

What season is this?

Apparently the definition of season is a very relative thing.  Now, I have a very strict idea of what the seasons are supposed to be as follows:

  • WINTER – December, January, February
  • SPRING – March, April, May
  • SUMMER – June, July, August and
  • FALL – September, October, November

This image was made at Rocky Mountain National park in May.  It sure looks like winter to me.  I’m sure this is very ordinary weather in this part of the country in May but it was a bit of a shock to me.  Why is it that we are so surprised when all our rules are turned upside down when we go to a new place?

The reality is that each place has its own seasons.  When I look back on the places that I have lived, the seasons were certainly not the same.  In New Orleans, I always told people there were only 3 seasons: Hot, Wet and Hurricane.  In Milwaukee, they had four seasons but winter was half the year and spring and fall lasted about a week each.

I guess I need to get out more so I am not so stuck in one way of thinking.

What do you think?

Parking area to Bear Lake
Rocky Mountain National Park
Colorado, USA

Nikon D7000
Nikkor 18-105 lens
18mm  f/22  1/6 sec  ISO 100

It’s fun to stay at the YMCA (of the Rockies)

If you’re looking for a place to stay when visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, the YMCA of the Rockies is hard to beat.  The facility is located in Estes Park, just a short drive to RMNP, is not expensive and is very well maintained.  The YMCA property actually buts up against part of the National Park and there is one spot where you can actually hike directly from the Y into RMNP.

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This is an old-fashioned Summer Camp facility with a long history.  The building that houses the reservations desk is over 100 years old but, the lodgings are all modern and well-kept.  One note: there are no televisions in the rooms – plenty of natural attractions to keep you busy!  Many groups come here for conferences and nature related activities.  We saw several school groups, an a capella singing group that actually performed at dinner one night and a Christian writers conference while staying there.  May is actually pretty slow in this area but there were still a good number of people out and about during our visit.

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We loved the setting here.  The Rocky Mountains are around you everywhere. Elk and deer roam through the grounds as well as many other creatures I am sure.  (No bear visits while we were there but they do appear at times.)

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The only thing I might complain about (a little) is the food.  They have a big dining hall that is all you can eat cafeteria-style.  It’s very convenient (except when a huge group of kids appear and you have to wade through that line with them running around like wild banshee) and the food isn’t bad but, it’s on the expensive side and it is well, cafeteria food.  We found that going into Estes Park gave us many more choices at the same price.  Of course, if you are at the YMCA for a conference or group event, this may be the only choice.

I would definitely recommend this place and would come back gladly.

YMCA of the Rockies
Estes Park Center

2515 Tunnel Road
Estes Park, CO 80511

Trail Ridge Road – a must see!

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Our traveling gnome doesn’t mind the weather

So, we’re in Rocky Mountain National Park in May.  In Atlanta, we are long past the days of choking yellow pine pollen that highlight our Spring weather and are well on our way to Summer.  But in Colorado, it’s a different story!

 

Trail Ridge Road is a high mountain pass that runs 48 miles through Rocky Mountain National Park from its East side across to the West.  An amazing Highway to the Sky, the brochures tout this as the most scenic road there is.

Of course, that is when it is open…

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Traffic on the Trail Ridge Road

I knew that the road was closed due to snow but, we wanted to at least see part of it so my wife Joyce, and I drove up to Rainbow Curve which was as far as the road had been cleared.  I assume that this spot is named for what must be amazing vistas that can be seen here.  Apparently, no one told Mother Nature that it is supposed to be Spring and we drove through what looked like a blizzard as we made our way up the road.  Undoubtedly, things would clear up and we would see those great sights when we got to Rainbow Curve, right?

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View from Rainbow Curve (No, I didn’t Photoshop this!)

At the point where the road was closed, we found heavy winds with stinging snow and sleet blowing in our faces and near white-out conditions.  You could see well enough but, except for a few fleeting moments when the sun peeked through, there was no sign of that fabulous view of the Rocky Mountains.  I would have to wait till later in the day and at much lower elevation (Rainbow Curve is 10,829 feet) to see Horseshoe Park, where we shot the night sky later on.

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We got a lot of variety in weather on this trip.  In Rocky Mountain National Park there is always considerable variation when you go into the higher elevations but the “spring” weather here has surprising contrasts.  Don’t laugh but, I thought about renting snowshoes at a couple of points.  It is actually a nice time to be in the park since traffic is light but you need to be ready for the weather.  Think about bringing sunglasses and shorts but also protection from rain, snow and cold.  Yeah, just pack everything.

Colorado Ghost Town – Silver Plume

It’s not a big place and there are no flashing signs saying SEE SILVER PLUME.  So, you may ask why my wife and I would stop here in the middle of a National Parks trip.  The answer is it is part of our family history.

Calvin Ingrum
Calvin Ingrum (left) and  Jim Coughlin set a manual rock drilling record.  This photo hangs in the George Rowe Museum in Silver Plume.

My wife’s great-grandfather – Calvin Ingrum and his family moved here from Wisconsin around 1880 to get in on the Silver Rush.  He was a miner and for several years the constable of the town.

While visiting, we were able to see the home where he lived and visit the family gravesite.

 

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The Silver Plume Jail (1875-1915)

The silver was so abundant here that it bust out of the rock in feathery deposits giving the town it’s name – Silver Plume.   Just after the Civil War, this was a bustling silver mining camp but now with a population of about 200, it is little more than a Ghost Town.  Some of the original buildings still line the streets where you can walk around and soak in the history.

The town is about 50 miles west of Denver just off of I-70 in Clear Creek county. The slightly larger city of Georgetown a couple of miles east was closely associated and many of the wealthier families lived there away from the dusty mining camp. The two cities and the Georgetown Loop Historic Mining & Railroad Park are jointly designated as the Georgetown-Silver Plume Historic District.

Georgetown Loop RailroadSilver Plume Station
Georgetown Loop Railroad – Silver Plume Station

We were here in the off season and almost everything was closed up which made it even more so, a Ghost Town!  The tourist season is Memorial Day thru Labor Day which is in line with most things in this area (other than ski resorts) .  The weather was great when we stopped but our trip proved why the place doesn’t open up earlier.

We thought we were experiencing the seven plauges when we first arrived – snow, sleet, rain, dust, wind with skies sometimes as black as night and then as white as a sheet.  And that was just the first day.

Ah, May in the Rockies.  Always a surprise in store!

 

 

The history of shopping

It’s a fact of life that any place that attracts a lot of people must have some kind of town to offer all the important things like t-shirts, souvenirs and candy!   In the case of Rocky Mountain National Park, that town is Estes Park, Colorado.  The downtown area is filled with little shops and restaurants including a few old-timers like this one.

The vintage neon sign is what attracted me to this in the first place.  Interestingly, when you do a search for images of this place, the neon sign isn’t there.  I don’t know if they got this made and installed to look like it is old or if they found the old sign in storage somewhere and put it back up but it is pretty cool.

Caramel Crisp
108 E. Elkhorn Avenue
Estes Park, Colorado, USA

Nikon D7000
Nikkor 18-105 zoom
36 mm 1/250 sec at f/8  ISO 400
Processed with Adobe Lightroom and Nik – Color Effects Pro 4