WANDERLUST

Musings on my Wanderings...

COLORado! Here I come!!!

October 18, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

October is my favorite month, not only as a photographer, but I really don't do well in the heat of summer.  I love, love the crispness of the air and the colors! This is usually the month we take our really long road trips and this year we decided to go to Colorado.  I had been there during the summer with my kids and grandkids and could see the potential that would be there when the leaves turned.

 

Unfortunately, the only way to get to Colorado from where we live in Northern California is to cross Nevada, which can be one of the loneliest and most boring parts of the trip.  Along Highway 50 there are few places to stop and a full tank of gas is a must.  There are stretches of that highway where we would not see a single car or building...and no cell service!  At one point we clocked 65 miles of this "nothingness!"  But Nevada does have it's own beauty.  The sand dunes here are really beautiful and often, near Fallon Naval Base, fighter jets will fly low during their training maneuvers. Any very often we would sight wild horses...

On a previous trip it even snowed as we crossed most of the state...

The very, very little town of Austin is a favored "potty stop"...

Because there is little to stop and see across Nevada and because we were anxious to get to Colorado, we girded our loins and made the 14 hour journey in one pass.  Our goal was to spend the first night in Green River, Utah, and then push on to Durango the next day.

After a quick sleep at the KOA in Green River, we headed for Grand Junction the next morning.  From there we headed south on Highway 141 through the scenic Uncompahgre National Forest and along the plateau.  Uncompahgre means "dirty water," or "red water," which probably refers to the often red dirt that washes down from the mountains.  The area is vast and so beautiful!  This here is along the Dolores River near Gateway.

After more than 100 miles we headed east on Highway 62 along the Dallas Divide toward Ridgway.

This place literally took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes with its beauty.  THIS is why I had come to Colorado in October!  The colors were absolutely amazing contrasted with the purple haze along the San Juan mountain range.

I could have stayed here for hours, but we were also anxious to get to Ouray and the Million Dollar Highway.  Ouray is considered to be the "Switzerland" of America.  This historical and very quaint little town is nestled in a small valley in the midst of towering mountain peaks.

The Million Dollar Highway, a stretch very narrow highway between Ouray and Silverton is varied in the terrain and exquisitely beautiful.  Here are a couple of the many abandoned silver mines along the highway.

Parts of the highway are so narrow and the drop off so steep that it was impossible to stop and take photos.  At one point the sides of the mountains rose straight up the cragged edge of the road, the other side of the road dangerously straight down!  

 

Molas Lake at sunset was a treat along the highway...

Silverton, a historic mining town, up the mountain from Durango had its own charm.  We had obviously missed the peak of the autumn season, but it was still very beautiful.  Of course, Silverton's claim to fame nowadays, is the Silverton/Durango steam train that travels between the two towns.

One of the big attractions in this area are the many "hot springs" along the highway...

We arrived in Durango just in time to enjoy the Annual Cowboy Days Parade!

We fell in love with the vibe and atmosphere in this wonderful town.  We could easily live here!

A late afternoon drive just north of town took us through gorgeous ranches...

We decided to forgo the train ride and instead wait under a trestle for the train to go by...

Loved this quaint little home all decked out for Halloween.  Could it have any more charm?

And this little outpost??

A quick day trip out of Durango took us to Mesa Verde National Park.  Most of the dwellings and tours were already closed for the season...

But the drive up to the mesa was SPECTACULAR!

On our way back to Durango we came across Nancy and Dave in the little "wink and you'll miss it" town of Mancos.  We couldn't help but stop and explore their eclectic array of folk art...

And these arrows along the highway...

After four days exploring around Durango we headed northeast toward Crested Butte...

From Pagosa Springs, we headed north on Highway 160 through Wolf Creek Pass...

Then on through Creede...

From here to Crested Butte it was just miles and miles of the most spectacular ranch land and mountain pass vistas!  

Crested Butte is a favorite.  It's quaint and we love the atmosphere of this remarkable little resort town.  During the winter it's apparently the coldest and snowiest part of Colorado.

An afternoon trip up Kebler Pass outside Crested Butte...

And my favorite image from the entire trip...

From Crested Butte, we headed over Monarch Pass and into Canyon City to visit our grandsons...

A zip-line ride over the Royal Gorge...

We took a day trip up to Bishop's Castle.  This eccentrically built "castle" was built in protest of the government.  You enter at your own risk and nothing is built to code.  It's really quite remarkable and nothing like it elsewhere in the world.  Find it in Ripley's Believe It or Not!

Jim Bishop, it's constructor...

On our way home we came upon views in Utah we missed when we came through in the dark...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Frozen Alaska and the Northern Lights

April 04, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Seeing the Northern Lights was a bucket list adventure I shared with my son, Joe.  He called me early in 2013 to tell me he was closely watching the weather and optimal opportunities to catch the lights.  "You need to be ready at a moment's notice, because when the weather is perfect, we're outta here!"

Sure enough, and true to his word, he called in early March and said we had a 4 or 5 day window of great weather and the chances of catching the Northern Lights was at its peak.  Within 48 hours we were both on planes meeting up in Seattle and then on to Anchorage.  This was my first time to Alaska and I can't imagine a more beautiful time of year.  The two of us had a fabulous time together and an adventure of a lifetime.  Joe created this amazing video of the images I took along with a very moving soundtrack...Thank you Joe!!  I love you for this!!!


Victorian Christmas

December 18, 2012  •  1 Comment

 

OK.  Okaaaay!  I confess!  I’m an absolute sucker for sappy, highly predictable, romantic Hallmark movies that make their way on to my usually cerebral TV screen every major holiday.  Yes, it’s true… and Christmastime is the worse!  Caught up in the season, I knowingly and willingly arm myself with a box of tissues and a cozy afghan to indulge in an evening of tear jerking holiday sappiness. 

 

It was on such an evening that I got caught up in the story of a quintessential small-town slice of Americana, straight off an old fashioned Christmas card.  So foreign it was from my big city life; but my Google-ing fingers soon discovered that this place really and truly existed!  Thrilled, I made reservations for my hubby and I to spend the weekend in this seemingly foreign and fascinating place. 

 

It did not disappoint, not one little bit! Built in the 1800’s at the beginning of the California Gold Rush, this was a town that clearly has embraced its Victorian heritage.  It is so dedicated to preserving every gingerbread detail to the point that I just knew Mr. Scrooge was sitting in that upstairs office and fully expected Tiny Tim to greet me around the corner. Yes, I know.  They lived in England, but you get the point.

 

Victorian Christmas

 

From the first moment we drove into town we were greeted with snowflakes!  Yes, real snow!  Just like on the Christmas card. (I know, you’re probably thinking…What’s the big deal?But I grew up in SoCal for Pete’s sake!) It melted as soon as it hit the ground, but those little flurries floating around my head and catching on my eyelashes brought out the little girl in me…and that little girl hung out all weekend! Several times I caught her giggling out loud with delight. We spent our time browsing through quaint little bookstores, antique shops, and mercantile establishments of all sorts… and people watching of the absolute BEST kind!

 

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At the top of the hill stands a beautiful little Victorian church, the very same one that Faith and her family attends in my movie narrative.  Gas lamps line the streets – real gas lamps that sputter in the darkness!  Because it’s Christmastime, white lights sparkle up and down the streets and in the reflections of the wet pavement.  Ribbon candy and Christmas trees and lights glitter in the shop windows. AGED Victorian Christmas-5

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This particular weekend is the real Nevada City “Victorian Christmas,” a celebration that happens over several Wednesdays and weekends during the month of December. 

 

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Early in the afternoon white tents begin to line the main street and vendors set out their wares: warm hats, cozy scarves, fragrant soaps, boxes and trinkets galore.

 

Town folk dressed in beautiful Victorian costumes soon begin to stroll the sidewalks. Musicians, some very young, positioned themselves in front of the shops.  Their melodies float in the air.  Street magicians entertain the growing crowd and horse-drawn carriages wait at the curb like New York taxis.  

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Mrs. Claus accompanies Santa, in all his Victorian glory, as they wander through the town greeting locals and visitors.  I even spy him casually entering a “ladies” shop in search of a gift for Mrs. Claus…

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Through the glare of a café window, I notice a group of women, dressed in rich Victorian velvets and feathered hats, sipping and chatting in a small alcove.

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It’s raining, but no one seems to care.  A few are carrying colorful umbrellas, but most don’t seem to mind the weather at all.   They simply warm themselves with a hot cup of spiced cider from one of the vendors, or pop into one of the cafés for a warm cup of chocolate.  Then it’s back outside to enjoy the toe-tapping merriment!

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A local we meet while dining at Lefty’s Grill suggests that our adventure wouldn’t be complete without a visit to see Eddie T. Elf.  This emissary of Santa lives just out of town in a pine shrouded neighborhood.  We wind our way up the narrow road that seems to get darker and more foreboding the further we go, but then, a magnificent glow of lights filters through the trees and excitement begins to mount.  We’re going to see Eddie!

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Eddie the Elf (Eddie T. Elf) lives on the property of a local resident who has decorated his yard to rival anything you see at Disneyland. Lights and ornaments sparkle in the trees and along the path to Eddie’s house.  And then we see it…a small miniature house where only a real elf could possibly live.  A little boy, not more than three, sits on a small stool in front of Eddie’s door having a perfectly legitimate conversation about what he should and shouldn’t get for Christmas.  It is all way too cute, charming, and more lovely adjectives than I could possibly write here. It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend.  One that we hope to repeat many more times in coming years.

 

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And, for the record, it’s now official…  I’m out of the closet as the world’s sappiest woman! God bless us one and all!!!


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