Manitou Springs

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Rain last night persisting into the morning informed our decision to drive into Estes Park for breakfast rather than trying to cook at our camp site in the drizzle.  When we returned to the RMNP we encountered a small herd of grazing elk. The light was very nice and I focused on the largest and smallest of the group.

We exited the park by way of the Trail Ridge Road which offered great overlooks until our increasing altitude took us into the dense clouds.

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As we descended on the other side of the mountains, we paused for a short hike to Lake Irene. The unplanned stop was motivated by the lakes’s name, the same as one of Jeanine’s close friends.

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The main reason we are in Colorado is to visit with Nicolai who is studying at the Catamount Center for Environmental Science & Education located in Woodland Park.  We elected to stay in Manitou Springs, half way between the Colorado College campus and the Catamount Center to facilitate visits to both. Nicolai drove down to join us for dinner after his last class of the day. It was wonderful to see him and to learn about his program of study.  It was clear to us that he is thriving in this environment and is passionate about the work.  Little more that a parent could wish for.

 

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Rocky Mountain National Park

I spent the day with the person I love, in a place that I love, doing what I love. Not a bad way to celebrate your 58th birthday.

I was up early to position for sunrise at Sprague Lake which also offered a nice golden light view of a rocky Mountain peak. I moved on to Bear Lake where the water was still smooth enough for a nice reflection of the background.

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After days and days of driving, the 3 hour round trip to the Denver airport to collect Jeanine seemed like a jog around the block.  We returned to the park where we enjoyed watching the elks and a nice hike to Nymph Lake and Dream Lake. The bull elk in the foreground tried desperately to seduce the harem on the other side of the meadow with his majestic bugling.  Hoping to see a confrontation with the other bull elk in the photo we were rooting for him.  Alas, his earnest efforts were unsuccessful.  Click on any of the photos for more detailed views.

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At home, I am incapable of cooking anything more sophisticated than eggs (although I do this well).  While camping, however, steak tip fajitas with sautéed mushrooms and peppers, served with guacamole and salsa are not a problem.  I figure that cooking all our campground meals will serve as a further inducement for Jeanine to join me on these adventures.

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Chimney Rock

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Driving across time zones is something I am not accustomed to.  I woke up early to arrive at Chimney Rock in time for sunrise only to discover I was an hour early (argh).  The 300 foot tall geological feature served as a landmark along the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the Mormon Trail, which ran along the north side of the rock.

One of only 5 states I have not visited yet, Nebraska’s farms and ranches utilize 45.3 million acres – 92% of the state’s total land area.  Where some see monotony, I see a beautiful natural tapestry.

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It was necessary to interrupt my travels to visit a dentist while passing through Loveland, Colorado. Last night, I managed to pop out one of my gold crowns while flossing.  Fortunately, I only lost an hour to the entire process of locating a dentist and having the repair made.

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My final destination for the day was the Rocky Mountain National Park where my first order of business was locating a tent site in the Moraine Park campground.  I nabbed one of only two remaining sites which was situated on a bluff overlooking an elk laden meadow below.

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Once situated I set out to see the park for the remainder of a perfect fall afternoon.

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Spotting this cute juvenile marmot was the highlight of my day.  It made me wish that Maya and Jeanine were here to see it with me.  The boys would have only started looking for rocks.

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North Platte, NE

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Other than a loose plan to visit a number of national parks, I do not have a fixed itinerary for this road trip. The Australians go on “walkabout” which has come to signify “temporal mobility.”  I think what I am up to could aptly be described as a “driveabout.”  Today I covered 751 miles, arriving at a campground in North Platte, Nebraska well after sunset.  I captured this grasshopper somewhere along the way when I stopped to stretch my legs.

Montezuma NWR

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The first stop on my road trip was at a campground near the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge near Seneca Falls, NY.  Jeanine and I stayed at the same location several weeks ago and it was nice to find a familiar location given my late night arrival. I was treated to a spectacular sunrise and an abundance of birdlife. Despite the need to cover ground, I stayed for several hours before hitting the road. I drove 765 miles in about 12 hours and spent the night in Altamont, Illinois.  I would have stopped sooner, but I was listening to the Presidenatial Debate and did not want to stop until it had finished.

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Ride For Food

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The Ride for Food, organized by Three Squares, is a bicycle ride fundraiser to help local organizations seeking to eliminate food insecurity. Jeanine completed the 25 mile course and personally raised over $3,000.  In aggregate Open Table participants raised $23,000 for the organization, more than double from last year.

Immediately after my soccer match this morning I set off on a road trip of indeterminate duration and with an open itinerary.   I do plan to meet up with Jeanine and Nicolai in Colorado next weekend but other than that nothing else is pinned down and I will go where my cameras take me.  Stay tuned as  I hope to post blog updates from the road.

Kicks for Cancer

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Kicks for Cancer was started 10 years ago to raise money for cancer research in honor of Lois Wells, the mother of several former CCHS soccer players and current assistant coach Steve Wells.  For the first three years, the event only included one game. Beginning in 2010, the event grew into two matches. A year later, there were six matches and today it includes 16 teams. The event has raised close to $300,000 since its inception. Players wear special jerseys which include the name of a loved one affected by cancer.  I find it more poignant to photograph for those names rather than player’s faces as is my normal practice.  Pictures from the entire match can be found here.

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Figs & Lemons

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Jeanine is preparing to publish her memoir cookbook and I have been enlisted to help with photography.  Today’s assignment was for a story called Figs & Lemons. Still life photography is not my strong suit so I took over a hundred variations of this theme so that Jeanine and her book designer will have many options to choose from.

New Mac

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Determined to never again lose photos while traveling, I purchased a 13″ MacBook Air today.  This will allow me to download photos each day while traveling and potentially post blog entries from the road (internet connectivity permitting).  This was prompted by my decision yesterday to embark on a 2-3 week roadtrip to Colorado starting this weekend.  Jeanine will fly to Denver joining me there for a long weekend that we will spend in the mountains with Nicolai.

The Pollinators

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One plant, four different pollinators. It is fascinating to me how different these insects are and that they should all be so interested in the same sedum plants growing in our garden. With a little patience I was able to sneak up on each one for a nice portrait. They seemed quite intoxicated by the pollen allowing me to place the end of my lens two or three inches from them.

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Senior Portrait

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After considering feedback from friends and family, Maya has selected the image above for her high school yearbook senior photo.  In our one hour session we created at least four pictures that were good candidates.  I am glad she chose this one as it was my personal favorite.  I believe it captures her natural beauty and the warmth of her personality while showing off her beautiful hair. Can this really be my little girl all grown up?

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Posterior Vitreous Detachment

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Last Friday I noticed the sudden appearance of a very large number of floaters in my left eye as well as a slight decrease in  the overall brightness of my vision in that eye. In retrospect, I should have had it looked at right away.  Fortunately, after a thorough examination today, the problem has been diagnosed as a posterior vitreous detachment.  This condition is a not uncommon in near sighted adults over the age of 50.  It is very distracting but does not threaten my vision.  Despite spousal concerns to the contrary this condition was not caused by playing soccer and I have been cleared to return to the pitch in 2 weeks provided I do not experience any further changes in my vision. A symptomatic PVD carries a 10% risk of retinal tear which was not observed during my examination.  There is no therapy for PVD and the floaters usually become less noticeable over time.  Aging sucks!

Harvest Celebration

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Gaining Ground, a non-profit organic farm in Concord, Massachusetts, grows vegetables and fruit with the help of hundreds of community volunteers and donates all of this fresh food to area meal programs and food pantries including OpenTable. This afternoon they held their annual Harvest Celegration which we attended together with my mom, sister and nephew.  It was a target rich photographic environment and I wasted little time touring the grounds and capturing images.

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Jeanine and I joined SideStix founders Sarah and Kerith for dinner this evening at the Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar in downtown Boston.  It was an interesting departure from the restaurants we usually frequent although not one I would chose to visit again.  That said, the company was fantastic and it turned out to be an extremely enjoyable evening.

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deCordova Museum

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Established in 1950, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum is the largest park of its kind in New England encompassing 30 acres. Providing a constantly changing landscape of large-scale, outdoor, modern and contemporary sculpture and site-specific installations, the sculpture park hosts more than 60 works, the majority of which are on loan to the museum. Inside, the museum features a slate of rotating exhibitions and interpretive programming.  My mother, Jeanine, Maya and I enjoyed a nice visit this morning.

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Later in the afternoon I photographed Maya for her senior portrait.  It was great fun and I am very pleased with the outcome. I believe Maya is as well. I will wait till Maya finalizes her choice before posting the image.

Joined by my mother, sister Alissa, nephew John and Maya’s very tall boyfriend, Chris, I was treated to an early birthday dinner on the deck this evening where the hint of autumn was in the air.

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Water Conservation

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Eastern Massachusetts is suffering from a severe drought this summer.  Residents of Concord are currently prohibited from washing cars or watering lawns. To help in the conservation efforts, I decided to tackle a long overdue home maintenance project today.  Three of the four toilets in our house have slow toilet tank leaks (a small trickle of water constantly flowing down the sewer pipe).  Over time I am sure it adds up to significant amount of waste and it also causes the tank valve to cycle throughout the day and night which is very annoying.  It took about 90 minutes to remove, completely rebuild and replace each of the toilet tanks. Not the most pleasant task in the world but well worth the effort.

Eunice Remembered

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Jeanine asked me to post a photo in remembrance of her mother, Eunice, who was born on this day in 1928.  She died at the age of 75 in 2003 having lived a life of service to her community and family. Initially, I do not believe she cared for me that much.  I drank orange juice from a water goblet, was living with her daughter before we got married and drove a go-fast Porsche (probably mostly that middle thing).  In the end, I feel I had mostly won her over.  I think she admired my approach to parenting and recognized that Jeanine was happy and well provided for.  I never did learn to drink OJ from a juice glass, if not for which, I would have gained unconditional approval.