Saturday, May 28, 2016

Courthouse and Jail Rocks - Ghosts of the Great Plains

Courthouse and Jail Rocks

On a wintry morning in western Nebraska, I wandered around Courthouse and Jail Rocks, photographing the countryside in bad weather. The megaliths were like ghosts of the Great Plains as they were barely visible during an extreme whiteout.

It was no easy task trudging through a foot of deep snow but any type of moisture is a blessing for the parched prairie. The blizzard could only be truthfully documented in black and white because there wasn’t even the slightest hint of color.

During a cautious approach across the bleak landscape, the formation was a gray apparition that flickered in and out of view. Just as resilient as the first settlers, a solitary tree was somehow still standing fast in the face of fierce, northerly winds.

The return to the roadside was a gloomy venture provoked by bitter cold. Along the way, a cheerful robin singing in the tangled brush was a surprising ray of hope that brightened the dreary day - spring may actually be closer than it appears.

I wandered around the rocks

The Courthouse

Jailhouse Rock

The countryside in bad weather

Ghosts of the Great Plains

Moisture is a blessing

A bleak landscape

A gray apparition

A solitary tree

A cheerful robin

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Beaver Brook - An Extraordinary Snowscape

An extraordinary snowscape

The morning after our latest blizzard, I wanted to photograph open water set against the extraordinary snowscape. I trudged down into Beaver Brook and discovered a wilderness that had been reduced to nothing but white space.

The stoic pine trees were smothered with heavy snow, resembling an eternal landscape frozen in time. The vista was incomplete as an oppressive, gray fog had lurched into the valley and erased the big peaks from view.

The placid lake was encrusted with a thin layer of textured slush while the rocky shoreline was smoothed over by two feet of fresh snow. After receiving so much precipitation this season, the mountain environment has become a wetlands.

The swollen reservoir had flooded into the forest’s edge, creating an arctic swamp of tangled trees and small islands. The frigid water was perfectly tranquil as it reflected the unusual scenery with stunning precision.

The place was saturated with peace and solitude as glittering snowflakes continued to gently fall. The only disruption came from a stubborn woodpecker who tapped furiously into the loose bark of a lodgepole pine.

The summer birds are here, waiting anxiously for better weather. Usually by this date, the snow line has receded back to the summits but with this year’s cooler temps, we’ve been mired in a persistent winter since last October.

Open water and deep snow

The wilderness was a white space

The trees were smothered with heavy snow

Frozen in time

Gray fog lurched into the valley

The lake was encrusted with a layer of slush

Flooded into the forest's edge

An arctic swamp

The reflections were stunning

Mired in winter

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Houston - A Treacherous Travel Experience

Houston during a monsoon

Mid-April, we flew to the nation’s fourth largest city for a hoops tournament and survived a truly treacherous travel experience. We departed Denver during a blizzard and landed in Houston during a monsoon.

H-town is a polished metropolis distinguished by sweltering heat, high humidity, heavy rain and unexpected u-turns. Punctuated by a profusion of palm trees, the spring greenery seemed especially exotic.

A network of elevated highways weaves its way through the glittering domain of glass and steel. While I don’t have anything against the urbane and sophisticated, I just feel more at home in the high country.

The basketball jamboree was a dream come true for my son who played against some of the best players in the nation. Getting out of town on Monday was a nightmare as bad weather forced the cancellation of our pre-dawn flight.

We frantically scrambled to find a way back and after a long day filled with worry, we luckily managed to board a plane bound for the West. After spending a few soggy days down on the bayou, it’s good to be home.

Spring greenery

A glittering metropolis of glass and steel

The basketball was a dream come true

Our departure was a nightmare

After a few days on the bayou

It's good to be home

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Reflections on the A to Z Challenge

Reflections

April was even more difficult than I could imagine as it was marked by snow, the A to Z Challenge, limited artwork and a travel adventure in Houston, Texas. I wasn’t able to get much drawing done but my hand is still sore from all of the writing.

My theme was travel photography so most of the posts were about places we’ve already been but I had to use GPS to find Xenia’s location. X always seems to present problems as we made a special trip in order to truthfully document the abandoned townsite.

Posting every day is difficult enough but keeping up with the commenting is a struggle so that’s something I’m still trying to finish. All in all, it was another great experience because I met lots of creative people and discovered some inspiring blogs.

Formatted below is a list of my favorite sites from the last month. If you get the chance, please check them out:

Courtney Turner
Maui Jungalow Giving real information for people who live on Maui or people who are curious about what life on Maui is really like.

Barbara Radisavljevic
Paso Robles in Photos Daily photos of the Paso Robles / Templeton area of the California Central Coast.

David Kravetz
Less Beaten Paths Enjoying the ride on the back roads of America.

Tawnya Rivers
Authentically Living Authentic Inspiration.

Allyse
The Frog Lady Engineer by Day; Frogger by night!

Rhonda Albom
Albom Adventures Living in New Zealand and traveling the world, expat Rhonda Albom takes you on a vicarious adventure through travel photography, stories, tips and humor.

More about Houston next week…

April was difficult

Marked by snow

The theme was travel photography

Xenia, Colorado

Another great experience

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, Utah

Sculpted out of the Colorado Plateau, Zion National Park is a dragon’s lair of rock towers, caves and hanging gardens. The narrow slot-canyon gradually widens to where the Virgin River escapes into the Utah desert near St. George.

Looming above an emerald forest of twisted trees, orange sheer-cliffs create an intimidating profile set against the summer sky. Overhead, the morning fog has burned away and wispy clouds are arranged in a pattern of complicated design.

The place is a hiker’s paradise so if the astonishing beauty doesn’t take your breath away, then climbing up to the rim certainly will. Though Zion is difficult to describe with words, luckily, the unique landscape is photogenic from every angle.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Yankee Boy Basin, Colorado

Yankee Boy Basin, Colorado

Famous for its turquoise lakes and sparkling waterfalls, Yankee Boy Basin is an alpine garden bursting with brilliant wildflowers. Up out of Ouray, Colorado, the spectacular valley is settled in the shadow of an ancient volcano.

The green passageway is enclosed by a castle of sculpted peaks with peculiar names like Teakettle, Cirque, Kismet, Gilpin, Stony and Potosi. The undisputed ruler of this extraordinary kingdom is a rigid monarch called Mount Sneffels.

In this mountain paradise, an exuberant creek is a ribbon of white water that cascades through fields of blue columbine. Unfortunately, an afternoon thunderstorm awakens the dreamy traveler and forces a retreat back to the land of reality.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Xenia, Colorado

Xenia, Colorado

Xenia was established in 1883 as a construction campsite on the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad about seven miles west of Akron, Colorado. It never had a post office or a school.

You can use GPS to find the location but when you get here, everything’s gone. All I found was a broken-down fence and its futile attempt to contain a vast expanse of idyllic prairie.

Lit by a low sun, spring clouds drift overhead as a western meadowlark sings his heartfelt song. I can only imagine what it was like 100 years ago but if I were passing through back then, I believe I’d like to stay for a while.