On the Move

March 12, 2011 Wheat Ridge, CO to Council Bluffs, IA

We drove hundreds of miles on the I-80, a brutal highway that left me craving a kidney belt and face bra (any Ally McBeal fans out there?).

All of Nebraska basically looked like this, but without the gateway:

The rest of the state has more scenic landscapes of course, but at this time of year the I-80 is flanked by flat, brown, stubbly fields and not much else.

March 13, 2011

Council Bluffs, IA to Tinley Park, IL

Iowa offered more scenery: hills, tiered fields, a few more trees and these:

Who doesn't want to visit a place with the name What Cheer? :)

I'm an old barn fanatic and Iowa has many barnyard relics.

Tomorrow, March 16th, we cross into Canada via Sarnia, ON and stop in London, ON for a few days.

-P

Roadside Attractions

March 11, 2011 Cedar City, UT to Wheat Ridge, CO

Devil's Canyon, UT (next 3 photos):

Colorado. A herd of farmed elk:

Ski runs still open.

-P

Durango to Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway

train-090522-_WLW0416 The narrow gauge railway is on of the most famous steam train routes in the world. The train runs on six tons of coal. The rail road buys carbon offset credits to equal their usage of coal.

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Pamela booked us in a lovely coach at the end of the train that gave us a wonderful window view and the ability to photograph from the rear platform.

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The train winds through the mountains following the river.

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The train arrives in Silverton just before lunch.

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The main street is a collection of small tourist shops brightly colored.

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Last winter they received twenty feet of snow, four feet on Christmas day. This kind of seclusion leads to antiques old and new.

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Last Dandelion

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The shops included many things of interest for young and old.

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A local weaver designed a unique warping loom.

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A painted wall looks woven in color.

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Pamela looked for a hat, without success.

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In one of the local shop the proprietor created the perfect "room of her own."

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We changed cars on the way back and had wonderful views in all directions.

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We both love trains and wish more were available. Do not miss this in your travels. -L

Ouray, Colorado

ouray-090518-0017 The small town of Ouray (population 900) is surrounding on all sides by mountains. This village nestled in the narrow valley is one of Lloyd's favorite places. The mountains surrounding town are covered with world class off road trails. We spent our day in town. Some of the Victorian building reminded us of home in Lunenburg, NS.

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The blud sky seemed to explode with clouds.

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The recently renovated Hotel Beaumont houses a lovely bistro and bookstore.

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Before dinner we hiked to Cascade Falls.

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The landscape on the drive to Ouray is a mix of mountains and meadows.

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If you are ever traveling in southwest Colorado do not miss Ouray. -L

Field Testing a Leica M8

My first real camera was a Leica M3 given to me by my father, after my interest in photography was sparked. Leica M3 w/ 50mm Elmar f2.8

This week I will be field testing a Leica M8 to replace my Nikon D90. I like the smaller size and finer construction. David Farkas of Dale Photo & Digital is graciously loaning me an M8 with three lens, 18mm, 35mm, 90mm. They are America's Premier Leica Dealer.

Leica M8 with 18mm Super-Elmar-M and Viewfinder

David is a Leica expert and writes the informative David Farkas Photography blog. He has answered all my questions and helped me select the right lens kit to field test. I will be using the camera over the next week to photograph Mesa Verde National Park and sights around Durango, CO. I will post photos and comments during the week. -L

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park

May 15, 2009 Cliff Palace

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The Puebloens entered and exited rooms via tiny doorways. The people were tiny. Males averaged 5'3"-5'4" while the women averaged 5'-5'1". The average age of death was 34.

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Sandstone, wood beams called vigas (for ceilings), and mortar made up the primary building materials. They shaped the stones, piled them and cemented them with a mix of soil, water and ash. A plaster was then smoothed over the walls. Some paintings and even handprints are still visible on interior walls. Also, blackened roofs indicate rooms that had fireplaces. Note the one rounded tower, the only rounded building thought to possibly have served as a lookout against enemies who descended on the population to steal the little water they had from the spring below.

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Rock chinking in the cementing clay fortifies the walls.

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We were beyond impressed by the immense and immaculate structures that these ancient people built, structures that have hardly changed in 700-800 years.

-P

Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings

May 15, 2009 Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Only three of many cliff dwelling sites are open to public. We started with a tour at Balcony House, noted for a challenging route that includes walking down 130 steep stairs, climbing a 32 foot ladder, squeezing through an 18 inch-wide twelve-foot tunnel on hands and knees, climbing two more ladders and then climbing steps carved into the face of the cliff. Exciting stuff!

We met up with Ranger Rebecca and were on our way...

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The view from Balcony House:

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The view of Balcony House across the canyon:

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Our second tour led us to Spruce Tree House which was constructed between AD 1200 and 1276 and contains about 114 rooms.

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The Anasazi people (Anasazi means "ancient people", but it is a Navajo word that can be translated as "enemy ancestors"), now called Ancestral Puebloen, lived in the Spruce Tree House (which should have been called Fir Tree House) near a spring and lush vegetation.

Lloyd climbed down into a kiva at this site - one of those holes in the ground. A kiva is an underground chamber used by male Pueblo Indians for religious rites.

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The circular cavity below is a kiva without a roof. The kiva is still a sacred structure to the Pueblo people. Below you can see the pilasters that supported the roof beams, the banquette (bench-like form), and the ventilator shaft. You cannot see a firepit in the middle of the floor, nor the deflector between the firepit and venting shaft that helped circulate fresh air and, the feature that really struck us, the Sipapu. Sipapu (a Hopi word) is a small hole in the floor that represents the opening through which man emerged onto the face of the earth and a spirit portal.

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Kivas are still used by Pueblo people today.

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The Spruce Tree House is the third largest dwelling in the park at about 216 feet wide and 89 feet deep, all built within a natural cave. The most impressive of the dwellings to come...

-P

Horse Gulch Trail System

Ridge Line Hike Overlooking Durango We were told to drive to the end of 3rd Street and park then hike up the valley and take the trail to the left.

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We ascended over a rocky path to a ridge line overlooking Durango and the mountains beyond.

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The breeze cooled us as we hiked along the ridge sharing the trail with numerous mountain bikers.

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We stopped for a short break to eat some trail mix and enjoy the views.

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Tomorrow the Leica arrives and we will not have to keep swapping off the Pentax point and shoot camera. -L

Durango Friends of the Arts

durango-090514-0058 While biking along the Animas River Trail we show a collection of easels with plein air oil paintings. So we had to stop. It was a meeting of the Durango Friends of the Arts and we were invited to stay for the Plein Air presentation.

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Jane Mercer and her mentor Karl Brenner gave a short presentation of plein air painting after the regular meeting.

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Jane kindly showed me her workshop notebook where she includes photographs, notes, and palette examples with mixing notes.

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This was a great idea I will have to incorporate into my next workshop, thank you Jane; -L