President’s Day weekend didn’t quite come together as we had hoped, and we found ourselves ‘stuck’ in Denver on a day off. Last year (link) we hit a home run with a four day trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota. After some fits and starts, bit became apparent that no such road trips were in the cards this time around.
What to do, then?
My weekend long run was checked off the list (a solid 22.5 miler), and the family was anxious to get out of the house for the day. No dog-sitter meant that our travel radius needed to be small enough to keep us to a six hour time away.
We decided to go check out the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. That name is quite a mouthful, most people shorten it to RMA or ‘the Arsenal’. The place has an interesting background. (Link….) Chemical weapons were manufactured there decades ago.
It is within spitting distance of the city and serves as an oasis of sorts for all kinds of animals. I can’t help thinking this is how the whole area must have looked a couple of hundred years ago.
I had been there before, and was excited to show the rest of the family around. It served as the perfect destination for the time we had to work with. There is a very nice visitor’s center on-site, but it was closed for the holiday. Thankfully, the rest of the park was open.
Right off the bat we spotted a juvenile bald eagle hanging out in a prairie dog colony, along with a pretty rough looking coyote.
Next up was the bison enclosure. It is a very large area that you can drive through – as long as you stay in your car…
After seeing the bison it was time to get out for a walk and stretch the legs a bit. There are several miles of hiking trails in the area that lend themselves very well to combinations of longer or shorter duration hikes. It is very easy to find that Goldilocks just-right length.
We saw a few deer, but not much else in the way of wildlife on our walk. We did go over this cool floating walkway that served as an excellent backdrop for some portrait practice with my daughters. They are growing up so fast! It is nice to be able to capture a moment in time like this once in a while.
From there is was on to prairie dog town, where the little guys were actively doing the move we have nicknamed – “popcorn”. They will crouch low to the ground before bursting fully-extended towards the sky. Then repeating the process over and over again.
My daughter caught me in a typical pose when I am photographing animals. I like to get as low to the ground as possible. Often lying still for very long stretches. At first, the animals don’t like it, but eventually they get curious and peek out to see what’s up.
A bit later on, my family discovered this bizarre scene of a dead owl tangled in a tree. First time I have seen anything like that.
After driving a little further, we came upon a frozen lake with a lot of activity. Some hawks swirled far over our heads and took turns diving at each other. Several bald eagles (eight total) congregated on the opposite side of the lake. Someone mentioned they thought some coyotes had made a kill near that spot.
We headed for home after watching the eagles for a while, making it back to our place right at the six hour mark. It was a perfect little getaway.
Photo Credit: My Wife
Since I was working on a deadline when I posted the first round of photos from the USATF Cross Country National Championships I knew I could circle back at a later time and find a few more to post. After all, I covered almost 7 miles during the day and captured 2,300 images!
I think one word could sum up these competitors. Intensity. Look at the faces, and the eyes. Running at top speed for a long distance on soft and lumpy grass is no joke. It takes focus and immense physical reserves.
Hopefully some of these images tell that story.
Nuta Olaru takes an early lead and goes on to win the Masters Women 6K
Simon Gutierrez taking charge early in the Masters Men 8K
Elise Cranny finished first in the Junior Women 6K – with a 51 second lead. A huge gap at this level.
Bailey Roth working for his top ten finish in the Junior Men 8K
Amy Van Alstine breaks away in the Open Women 8K. I had so many great photos of her, it was hard to pick just one.
Joe Gray breaks from his normal mountain running routine and powers to 4th place on the high altitude flats of a golf course in Boulder, CO
This was just a preview, the remainder of the set can be seen here.
As the Grand Prize winner of the 2014 calendar contest, I was appproached a few months ago to fill a volunteer position in leading a group of photographers around the trails of Roxborough State Park. I immediately accepted and started making plans for how I could share this beautiful area with my fellow camera-geeks. The meetup would act as a fund-raiser for the Friends of Roxborough State Park, and all proceeds go to support the educational and interpretive mission of Roxborough State Park.
We settled on three dates for the first half of the year; February 22, April 5, and May 17. I was plenty nervous about the February date, but we lucked out and had a super morning.
I put a fair amount of time into a concept I thought would be fun to try. I created a tri-fold brochure with some of my shots on the outside, and a map on the inside. The map showed small images that I had taken on the trail we would be hiking as a group (Fountain Valley). I included the exact location for each photo, along with the date/time and camera settings. This gave us opportunities to discuss certain ones as we went, and also served as a little take-home item for the participants. They were also treated to a complimentary calendar by the park at the conclusion of our hike.
I’m normally a fairly shy and reserved person, so the task of playing host for 3+ hours with a large group of strangers was a bit daunting. I had to remind myself that I was there because of the recognition my photographs received. Own it. I also reminded myself that the group was there to enjoy the morning, see some cool things, and maybe learn a little bit. My job was to lead and inform, but also stay out of the way. That is a delicate balance at times.
Check out this beautiful flower shot from Russ. I was too busy yapping and didn’t notice it, luckily he was paying attention. I love how everything in the background is brown and dead, and the flower is springing forth out of the decay. Plus – it’s February!!!!
Photo Credit: Russell Colletta
What a nice group of folks to spend my Saturday with. It was great to break out of my shell for a bit and interact with them.
I consider the day a great success, and I hope the participants do as well. I’m looking forward to doing it again!
Here is a link to get more information or to sign up for the next one: