Category Archives: landscapes

Day Trip to Rifle, Colorado

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.

—Confucius

I try to remember to see it. Last weekend, my daughter, her daughters, my friend, and I went to Rifle Gap, Rifle Falls, and Harvey Gap. From there, we drove through a beautiful sheep and cattle (and spring-and-wet-green) valley behind the Hogbacks, then we went through Newcastle and went back home to Rifle. We had a lot of fun, and I found it was beautiful there. I’ve lived in Western Colorado for 38 years, and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen those places. Below are pictures I took of our trip. I told the grand kids that when I went up there again, I’d take them with me. I expect that will be a blast.

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Make a Wish

Today, I drove the south rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Upon entering the National Park, I could go straight, to see the overlooks and the Visitor Center, or head the other direction which went to the bottom of the gorge. The ranger warned me that although the roads are good, the grade is 16% and so quite steep. The payoff was great though.

On the way down, the colors were gorgeous and vibrant.

20141011-IMG_2426

Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado.

 

The river is running clean, the fish were jumping, and the light was getting long. It was fairly quiet there, too. There weren’t a lot of people.

Gunnison River. Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado.

Gunnison River. Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado.

 

I love these things. They’re not too special, but I got a good shot.

Make a Wish

Make a Wish

 

I went further up the road and was able to take a shot looking the other direction.

Gunnison River. Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado.

Gunnison River. Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado.

 

More little plants and a bug behind.

This was just interesting.

This was just interesting.

 

This bug was so pretty, but by the time I saw him and got focused on him, he turned shy and then flew away.

Shy bug.

Shy bug.

 

The bug was not the only shy critter I focused on today. This deer was not too happy about my stopping and was getting ready to run.

Deer. Black Canyon of the Gunnision, Colorado.

Deer. Black Canyon of the Gunnision, Colorado.

 

I had a really nice day. I took more pictures on the top, then got some sunset and sundog shots outside of Montrose.

What a pretty place to live.

Sunset over Grand Mesa

This is why I love living in Western Colorado. This never looks the same.

Sunset over Grand Mesa

I Love My View

It would be nice if I had a better lens for such shots, but this turned out pretty nice. I love my view. This is sunrise in the summer. I want it to be summer again, soon. I am tired of the cold already. Aren’t these clouds pretty?

Clouds

Clouds

I’m done with school for the semester and I think I did well. I’m glad to be done for a few weeks. I worked hard, learned much, and enjoyed myself immensely. I’ve had so much fun learning and I met several women that I hope will continue to be part of my life for a long time to come. They have made such a positive impact on my life. They’re smart, full of life, and they inspire me to be better.

I’m looking forward to the next semester and what lies ahead.

Thanksgiving Day, 2013

I’ve read that on this Thanksgiving, we ought to be thankful for our many blessings. This, of course, is true. Our blessings are many, and today we should be thankful.

Harder to remember is that those same blessings exist every day of the year.

I don’t plan to post each day, those things I’m thankful for, although that is an excellent exercise. It does keep gratitude in mind when a busy and stressful day tends to beat it down. But this day I will spend considering my many blessings and how I will work to keep them foremost in my heart and mind all year.

A few things for which I’m thankful—

  • Family that I love, without whom I really would be nothing.
  • Friends who are my life’s family. They keep me centered, entertained, included, and loved. And I love them.
  • My pups who make me laugh, cry, fall, cuss, and be responsible when I might otherwise not be. I love them so much.
  • Education that has awakened my mind to its strength and piqued my imagination to possibilities still available.
  • A job that I love that allows me to be creative and continue to learn.
  • Interests that keep me entertained and creative.
  • Humor and lots of belly laughs!
  • Health that allows me to enjoy and be thankful for ALL my blessings.

What things are you thankful for today? Every day?

Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Thankful for Beauty in My Life

Thankful for Beauty in My Life

First Snow

Since going on that Monument hike, I’ve wanted more opportunities to play with what I learned about night photography. Last night, the opportunity finally presented itself when I wasn’t busy with something else.

Here’s one of the first pictures I took. There’s lots of light in the neighborhood but I still needed to leave that shutter open for a while. Most of my shots were from three to six minutes. Three minutes was the least amount of time I needed to produce something usable; six worked best.

Snowy Night, November 22, 2013

Snowy Night, November 22, 2013

I love how the lights turn into stars. I also enjoyed how light played on the snow and fence below. It’s also cool how soft light shines out of the house on the far right. Except for the light on the snow by the fence, the rest I didn’t see until I brought the picture into Lightroom.

Snowy Night, November 22, 2013

Snowy Night, November 22, 2013

When I crawled out at 4am, it was still snowing. There were fewer lights then, but it was already brighter than the night before. In this picture, a streak of light running up the road, is barely visible. It extends from the white garage on the left to just past the house on the right with the star light—and it cuts through the car in the driveway. During the time the shutter was open, a snow plow drove up the road and through the shot. In this long exposure, the light on the vehicle was captured as it went past, but the snow plow doesn’t show up. What fun is that?!

Still Morning, November 23, 2013

Still Morning, November 23, 2013

At about 5am, I grabbed the camera and wandered out in UGG boots and bathrobe to take a picture of the road in front that winds up the hill. Again, the lights look like stars on sticks and I love that look. It’s clear from the ruts in the snow, traffic wasn’t much slowed last night by the weather and the paper hadn’t yet arrived this morning. It also became clear that I need to get something to protect my lenses while I’m standing in active weather.

Still Morning, November 23, 2013

Still Morning, November 23, 2013

This was fun. I enjoyed the opportunity for a creative way to end yesterday and begin today. I’m not fond of being cold, but I do love changing seasons and weather. I especially love waking up to the first big snow of the season.

This is a such beautiful place to call home.

On the Right Track

I think that’s where I am.

Over the past few years between tutorials, practice, and a large library of photos, I have learned how to process them so they look pretty good. Not being a technically astute photographer, I rely heavily on post processing. For digital photography, some post processing is a given; most pictures need help with sharpening, as digital is not as sharp as film.

I also have issues with my photos not properly translating the beauty of my surroundings. They seem flat and colorless compared to what my eyes see and my mind remembers. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of picture-taking that I never give another thought. I have pictures of hikes with friends that I never posted anywhere—never even looked at again, because of the dullness of pictures that should have been stunning given my surroundings. With the practice I’ve gotten with software, I’m going back to my library of photos and adjusting them to bring out those bright colors, sharpen them, and give them the depth they were missing.

And, I am having a great time.

In March 2012, a friend and I walked (by and ON) the tracks near the Spanish Trail/Gunnison River Bluffs Trails. It was a gorgeous spring day; chilly, sunny, and warming as the day progressed. I had never been down those tracks before, so the view of my surroundings was much different. I saw things I’d hadn’t seen before; either for water or railroads. I have no idea what this thing is, but I thought it was so beautiful in lightness and darkness, against the blue sky, and rusted the way it is.

I Have No Idea . . . But Sure Like It!

I Have No Idea . . . But Sure Like It!

We were closer to the river than I ever got on my many treks on the Gunnison River Bluffs Trails, above. I love that beautiful “grass” in the foreground of this picture. The water was the clean, cool green of spring before runoff starts and muddies the rivers in the valleys of  Colorado.

Gunnison River, March 2012

Gunnison River, March 2012

I did see geese and ducks on the winter-clean river. Of course, I couldn’t get close enough to these geese to get a good picture, but it was really fun being as close as I was. On this hike, I decided to take my old camera which has no lens to get close-up shots.

Geese on the Gunnison, March 2012

Geese on the Gunnison, March 2012

Looking back along the tracks, I wanted to capture the perspective of tracks fading away in the distance. The backdrop is the Grand Mesa in its winter attire; blue and white and purple and majestic in the distance.

Perspective

Perspective

I was pretty nervous about the real possibility that a coal train was going to soon need that same span of track I was wandering. With my headphones in, but music MUCH lower than usual, and all other senses on alert, I kept a watchful eye for good places to exit the tracks if I needed to.

Heading west we approached an area where there’s little room for anything but tracks and trains. Luckily, just before we got there, a coal train finally appeared. At first I could sense the train approaching. I couldn’t hear it. Really, as big as they are, unless they’re very close, and blowing their horns, they’re pretty stealthy. A low rumble and a few metal-on-metal clanks are all the warning you might get wandering around down there. That was a surprise. I had to move off the tracks and, I hoped, well away from that train, but I was actually still pretty close and very concerned the train not jump the tracks.

This wasn’t a fear of the unknown. Several times in the 15 years I’ve lived in this house, a coal train has derailed at a turn in the tracks below me — where I can see it. So, I know it happens. And I know pieces and parts fly all over and it takes weeks to clean up.

Anyway, I was definitely in a spot where debris could land — if debris was going to fly about. Even so, I thought this was a great angle for a picture. After I took this picture, I scrambled to higher ground. I was apparently a little afraid. It wasn’t as easy to get down from my new perch as it was to get there.

Looking Up

Looking Up

After the train passed, we headed on west and eventually got to a more open area where I could take a picture of the track, starting to wind further down the canyon. I love this view.

Looking West

Looking West

We eventually got back to the trail above the river, where I was familiar with my surroundings. Hiking up that hill is where I saw evidence of spring; a cactus sporting new growth, basking in the sunshine of a south-facing hillside.

New Growth

New Growth

After a few years of dealing with some big changes in my life, I think I’m moving on. My health has been good, despite my best efforts to derail it. For the last six months, I enjoyed a big break from the angst and anxiety of me. School has allowed me to become mentally alert again in a way I hadn’t been for awhile—and it’s the reason I have some new and interesting friends. Like this cactus in the Spring of 2012, I am also showing new growth. And like this cactus, it’s been no easy thing to thrive in my environment, the way I’ve set it up. But, I think I’ve been on the right track, even if sometimes it feels more like I’ve gotten derailed. Things are looking up.

No Fall Drive This Year

I just can’t believe I didn’t capture fall pictures this year! Between the weather and work, I was unable to head out to the hills. I can’t remember a year recently that I didn’t get out at least a bit. Perhaps there’s still some fall color up Unaweep Canyon, and maybe I’ll be able to get away this weekend. The oak brush in the canyon is gorgeous this time of year—if I’m not too late.

So, in lieu of new photos, I’m posting pictures from my drive over Owl Creek Pass, Fall 2012.

With cooler weather, interesting storms pushing through the valley, and the explosion of quaky color in the mountains, this is my favorite time of year.

Owl Creek Pass

Owl Creek Pass

Owl Creek Pass

Owl Creek Pass

Owl Creek Pass

Owl Creek Pass

Owl Creek Pass

Owl Creek Pass

Owl Creek Pass

Owl Creek Pass

Owl Creek Pass

Owl Creek Pass

Owl Creek Pass

Owl Creek Pass

Moon Behind Mt. Garfield

I’ll bet you’ve never seen this before! It’s a composite of two photos and I just had some fun with it.

Moon Behind Mt. Garfield

Moon Behind Mt. Garfield

First Snow on Grand Mesa

I was asked to post this picture here. It’s a picture of  Grand Mesa under its first blanket of snow. To capture this, I used an iPhone 4s. Ordinarily the phone captures pretty good pictures, but when I use the (digital) zoom, things go south in a hurry. This photo is very noisy.

I tried to reduce the noise in Lightroom, but to do so completely, I get a painterly effect. While that effect is actually nice, it was not the picture I was asked to post.

This was one of our first touches of winter this year, and now the sun is rising on the other side of this mountain. Soon it will be cold here, and the Mesa will be blue and purple and white, much like what you see here.

First Snow

First Snow

 

San Diego, JobSearch, and Learning

Purple Flowers

Photo by Donna J Morton

I went on vacation last week and had a wonderful time with my girlfriend and her family in San Diego. It wasn’t as warm as I thought it might be, but warmer than here. My friends are a complete joy to be with; no pressure to DO anything. Consequently, I did nothing but enjoy too much wine, too many dark chocolate Milky Way bars, and just way too much good food. What I didn’t enjoy too much of was sunshine in my face and the warmth of it on my skin. I also didn’t enjoy too much relaxation. I don’t think I could ever get too much of that stuff. I love how rested and emotionally lighter I feel when I return from a visit with them. However, I heard from them this afternoon, and it was 76 degrees on a sunny deck at their house.

Looks like I picked the wrong time to quit San Diego.

I took very few pictures this time. I did nothing more than vegetate. I think maybe that’s exactly what I needed, as completely useless as it felt. I remembered yesterday afternoon I had not even gone to the beach to look around. My friend says when she went back to work Thursday, she saw the whales running. To see those would have been cool. But, in our ignorance of what was going on within sight of her office, we were just content to sit in the sun and enjoy each other’s company. The most difficult decisions we had to make (I think) was what to order in for dinner.

I came home a bit more optimistic and quite rested, despite having to RUN through the airport at Salt Lake City to make the flight to Grand Junction. The plane I was to board at San Diego was close to an hour late. I’d about resigned myself to waiting in SLC for seven hours to get home. I had noticed, on the way through the week before, that the SLC airport has free WiFi. So, while I wouldn’t have liked to sit for that amount of time, I could have and it would have been just fine; some forced relaxation. Between headphones, a computer, and an iPhone, and an unrefrigerated chicken sandwich I’d been carrying since 8 am, I’d have been completely entertained and rather an island of “me” in a busy airport. It isn’t as though I’d have had a choice, but WiFi made acceptance of probabilities a lot easier.

Since I’ve been back, I’ve filled out more job applications that took quite a long time to complete. That whole process, as well as the amount of time it takes me to get through it, makes me wonder about that “learn fast” and “find solutions, not problems” thing that I keep thinking I’m all about. Maybe; maybe not! (I’m decisive, too!)

I did figure out how to use a non-interactive PDF in InDesign so any prospective employer wouldn’t be introduced to my handwriting too early in the process. I thought that was pretty clever. But to burst my bubble, my girlfriend asked why I hadn’t simply used the available Word file; it was, in fact, designed just for that. I had no explanation, but I (creatively, I think) came up with a couple of excuses. I had downloaded it. I had even tried that handy “typing” feature while it was open. 🙂 I believe I simply forgot about it as an option once I’d zeroed in on the InDesign possibilities for typing in lots of “pertinent” information.

This is going to get interesting if I don’t get the process streamlined a bit. After three or four weeks it may be too late in the game to say, “I’m just so new to this!” I should have it figured out.

Even going the long way around, I got the job done. I also suspect my workaround will be helpful in the future. One interactive PDF I used a couple of weeks before was apparently designed by an individual who didn’t think all my information was as pertinent as I thought. Now I can give it to ’em whether they want it or not. See? Solutions!

About the picture: Because I took few pictures in San Diego this time, I thought I’d post a photograph I took last year. I took a few nice ones last year, and this one was particularly nice, in my opinion. This photo came directly from the camera. I did no editing at all—not even the removal of the little petal-ends on the left side of the picture. It’s even the full-size image.

Another thing I’m trying out is using a link to my album on Flicker.com. So, this photo links to my Flickr account. That works pretty well once I learned how to do it. And that brings me to the really excellent tutorial I’m viewing at lynda.com. The name of the tutorial is WordPress 3 Essential Training. (I also learned how to link text to a website in my blog.) It’s a beginner course. I’m not even a third of the way through it, and I’ve made a lot of discoveries and will begin to implement what I’ve learned. How to include a photo in my blog that links to an outside source is one of those things.

How’s your 2011 so far?

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