When we lived in Illinois our tradition for Memorial Day was to invite family and a few friends over for a good old fashion cookout. My wife would make bake beans and potato salad and a couple of desserts and I would would have a beer or two while barbecuing anything from hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken to prime rib. It was fun and looking back I have great memories of those times. Then we moved out west and for whatever reason that tradition faded away. Heck, while we are living at this condo we don’t even have a grill.
So last Monday we were sitting in the condo trying to figure out what to do for the rest of the afternoon. On some of my previous photo outing I had noticed that some wildflowers were beginning to bloom along the roadside. I commented I thought it would be fun to test out my new D800 in macro mode and to photograph some wildflowers.
The wife agreed. We filled up a couple of water bottles, I grabbed my camera bag, we hopped in the car and started driving west. Once outside of Fort Collins we started looking for wildflowers, There were none in sight. We continued to head west and drove past the little unincorporated town of Masonville. It was a pretty drive but still no wildflowers.
Then we noticed this little dirt road with a sign that said such and such pass. Actually the sign didn’t say such and such. I just can’t remember the name of the pass. Naturally, being a nature photographer I thought it would be interesting to check out that little dirt road. The wife was game so off we went down the road.
We took lefts and we took rights and with each turn the scenery that unfolded around us was amazingly beautiful. We saw deer, groves of Aspens, babbling brooks, clear streams, cascades, interesting rock formations and forest of Ponderosa Pine Trees. When we would come to a clearing the views of the mountains were awe inspiring. Yet after an hour and a half we had not spotted one decent wildflower to photograph.
It was at this time that we took a turn around a bend and noticed that we were about two feet from the edge of the road with no guide rail and the drop off from the road was about two hundred yards. My wife decided it was time for me to drive. I had been so fixated on finding wildflowers that I had paid little attention to the fact that there weren’t any more cars passing us or going by us and most importantly neither of us had paid any attention to the fuel gauge. We had started out with a full tank of gas and now it was below half a tank.
So being the mature person that I am I decided it was time to head back home. I went to turn on the GPS and discovered we had left it in the Condo. We checked our cell phones, of course, no signal. Being able to reason, it occurred to me that we probably did not have enough gas to try and retrace our driving pattern. Also I noticed that the temperature was dropping. Thank God I always keep a blanket in the back of the car.
So what did I do in this situation. I did what every nature photographer would do in such a situation. I parked the car, got my equipment out and started taking photographs. Yep, the two Aspen photos that accompanying this post were taken at that time.
In the color photograph at the right you will notice on a Aspen Tree it was announced that Mike loves Leeah. I usually hate when some one desecrates nature. At that moment seeing the vandalism made me realize that though it seemed I was out in the middle of nowhere in reality people visit this area all the time. I was just new to the area. While lost we were not really in any danger of not ever being found or for that matter, while it might be a hassle we would eventually find our way back home.
So to wrap this up we made the choice of continuing forward. Logic said that while we were driving on a dirt road it was also a pass that had to lead to a destination. And that it did. We started a to drive downhill which meant we were hardly using any gas and about half an hour later we came across a road sign with an arrow that pointed to Poudre Canyon. It was only fourteen miles away. Just about the whole drive back to Fort Collins was downhill and we hardly used any gas.
During that whole drive we never did come across any wildflowers but we did discover some great photographic locations and some fantastic campsites. I imagine over the course of the next few years I will spend a lot of time exploring this wonderful area of Colorado.
Getting out and about and exploring the back roads of any state is fun. Sometime you should give it a try. But don’t just drive around. Get out and walk. Explore what is around you. You will discover the simplest things such as an Aspen Tree can be an exhilarating experience. Just be sure to understand a two hour outing to photograph wildflowers can easily turn into a six hour adventure. I think the wife and I now have a new tradition for Memorial Day. CLG