It’s been rough on the ‘Sky Drama’ front as my tornado-drought approaches 2.5 years, likely knocking on the 3 year anniversary if things don’t go well in the early spring of 2015. April 14th, 2012… that was the last time I saw the sky make contact with the ground. Colin Davis and I decided to take a break from our whining and started planning a fail-proof trip to the Rockies for Fall 2014. I think somewhere around June we decided on the last weekend in September. My overall plan is to share the trip in segments based on each location or photo op that we settled on. Each day was a general routine of waking at 6:00 AM, shooting the sunrise at a pre-determined location, and then once that favorable morning light settled we’d grab a bite somewhere in Estes Park before roaming the mountains until that magic hour around sunset approached and we’d settle in on a pre-determined location to finish the day. This led to 500-600 photos per day on average being taken at random locations for a variety of different reasons. It’ll be easiest to go back through the thousand plus photos and keep the story telling simple, doing each shoot its fair justice than dumping them into a single album and sharing all at once. I guess I could keep typing away at this intro paragraph until I wear myself out…
Anyway. I haven’t had the time to sit down and go through each different sitting, but I did want to give the trip a little bit of love so I’m going to just broad brush the entire trip with a little chatter and a few photos that I did process during and immediately following the trip.
We planned the trip over a weekend, spilling into Tuesday of the following week. I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some essentials (coffee, granola bars to eat while watching the elk from a mountain, more coffee) and hit the road around 10:00 PM on Friday night. With a bout of accident related traffic, I pulled in to Colin’s place in Canton, IL around Midnight. A quick transfer of bags into his trunk and we were on the road. Originally we talked about flying out to Colorado, but with the minimal storm chasing we had done in 2014 and lack of Great Plains “road time” we had under our belt for the year I said “this is what we do, let’s drive across the plains and do it right”. It was around 1:00 AM with a 14 hour drive ahead across Iowa and Nebraska ahead of us that we realized we should have flown.
Alternating driving/passenger seat snoozing through some lightning filled thunderstorms in Iowa, we were soon halfway through Nebraska and Saturday morning college football games were finally on the radio to get us through the rest of the journey. We rolled into Colorado shortly after lunch time, and were in Estes Park around 4:00 PM.
We got settled in, grabbed some local tacos, and set out to shoot the first sunset of the trip. The rest of the weekend was a lather, rinse, repeat of sunrise, drive around the mountains, sunset.
Here’s a big dump of photos from random spots throughout the four day trip.
Posing with the sunrise on the final morning of the trip. Winds were howling off the mountains – note the horizontal vortex.
Dinner with an elk.
I was the only one on the peak of this mountain for the longest time, before another lady traipsed up there and asked if I wanted my picture taken up there. Feeling very at home (and very cold) inside the clouds.
Does it get any better than a peaceful morning shooting the sunrise in Rocky Mountain National Lake?
Colin shooting a bull elk that was making all kinds of noise on the first morning of the trip.
Seriously though? Heading out to shoot the first sunset on the day of arrival.
Driving out to find a location to shoot the sunset on day one.
Making do with a cool rainy afternoon in the mountains.
The most absurd rainbow I have ever seen. So many photos of this to come. Rain rain rain all day and then this.
More rain… but rain in Colorado is the best rain of all.
Remembering why night time astro-photography has always been my favorite. And what better place to do that on the tundra atop Trail Ridge Road? Easily one of my Top Five favorite moments in life in 2014.