April 30, 2009

Hill or mountain?

Apollo and I have been hitting a foothill near me about 3 or 4 times a week to try get in shape. I want to do a 14'er this summer. Because I hadn't really exercised during the winter, plus the asthma, I'm starting at very easy levels. This looks tame, no? Can you see the people ahead of me?
No? Here. I'll help. The couple along with a little dog is circled in red. Part of the trail - my lens isn't wide enough to capture it all - is in blue.
This takes me about 10 minutes to get to where the blue line stops in the photo. First time I did it, I had to stop 3 or 4 times to wheeze and catch my breath. I'm proud to say that, a couple days ago, I managed to get to that stopping point with only one break.

The trail is about 3.5 miles long, I think. Apollo and I are doing only about a mile round-trip right now, it takes about half an hour - for now. Baby steps. I think we've made pretty good progress, considering the asthma issue, in only two weeks.

Oh yeah, I think I saw a mountain cat's footprints last time we went there. It had just rained, and there was a set of animal prints that were did not resemble a dog's foot.


April 28, 2009

Dahlia flower nears the end


April 27, 2009

Hi-ho Silver Awwayyy!


April 26, 2009

Colorado Cactus

Who knew that Colorado has cactus? I didn't prior to moving here - I didn't think it was dry enough here for them. Yet there they were. Where Apollo and I were walking - on a foothill - we had to share narrow trails with bikers, and I was worried Apollo would blunder into one. He has NO experience with this kind of thorny problem.

Because the grass blended in with the cactus, I burned it - in photoshop, not literally - so that the cactus popped out more, visually. Easy, quick and effective means if your photo subject is blending with the background.


April 24, 2009

Friday Apollo

For Apollo's fans. Taken on the Green "Mountain" - it's not really a mountain. I attest this to the fact that I'm still alive and breathing after reaching 2nd-highest point.


April 23, 2009

Amarillo is weird

I think this is my new favorite picture. This was taken at the Tractor Ranch

Edited to add: The colors might seem funky, but that's deliberate. I liked the effects.

Yes, you're seeing that right. The tractors are sunk into the ground.

A monument for...Helium.

Oookay. There was even a museum devoted to the science of Helium.

The dust storm I wrote about.


Cadillac Ranch

Outside Amarillo.


April 22, 2009

For most of the trip, we drove along Highway 40 - formerly the well-known Route 66. It was a popular highway a few decades ago and was even in a song.

I want to say this photo is in NM, but the date stamp indicates it was taken somewhere in western Oklahoma or in Texas Panhandle - more likely the latter; the soil is redder there.

I read about how soil is black or yellow or red or orange in various parts of the country, but this was the first time I saw it with my own eyes.

Oh, and - The funky two-tone is due to my poor decision to photograph with my passenger window up. I don't know what the hell I was thinking. I will have to figure out how to fix it later.


April 21, 2009

My view

Ok, I lie. While I do have a view of the mountains, it's not very good - usually a distant blue blur behind a large town. But if I walk 50 feet, there's a better view of the foothills near me.


April 20, 2009

Volcano in New Mexico

On my journey, I passed through New Mexico. Enjoying the scenery and the rocky lands, I remember thinking at one point that "these rocks look awfully a lot like volcanic rocks." And along I went, merrily enjoying the scenic highway that looped around a large hill - or a small mountain.

Not long after that thought, I saw a small sign. Capulin Volcano National Monument.

I read up on this volcano tonight. This little beast last erupted 60,000 years ago. And apparently, there are at least 100 other volcanoes in northern NM and southern Colo.

A part of me wishes I had pursued geology or archeology. This is so fascinating!


Bird of Prey

I've no idea what bird this is. I'm not familar with Colorado's wildlife. This guy (gal?) was floating on a thermal, hanging around a particular rock formation at the Red Rock Park along with its mate.

This is not an awesome picture - my big "lens" don't have a huge range, so to give ya'all a bigger, more visible image (click on it), I cropped and lightened it - which eroded the picture quality. One of the downsides of using a digital camera.

If anyone wants to take a stab at figuring out what this bird is, please share.


April 19, 2009

Red Rocks Park

Apollo and I ventured out there to check out the snow in the mountains. We were not disappointed. It's only 10 minutes from me, so I'm sure we'll be heading that way quite often.


April 18, 2009

Wind farm in Texas

Looking back, it didn't seem like I took a lot of pictures. So when I uploaded them onto my computer, I was shocked to see 200 photos. Most are bad because I didn't take a lot of time setting up my camera, sometimes employing what I call Xtreme Photography. A few turned out pretty good.

I was quite fascinated by the wind farms in Texas.

I've always held a fascination for them, but with the recent spate of publicity, thanks to Boone T. Pickens, it'll be interesting to see how much more widespread they become.

Contrary to popular belief, they do not take much space, time and money in comparison to other power sources. In fact, you can install a small one in your own backyard! And you can wire it to your house and use it to offset your power costs.

One of my goals, here in Colorado, is to get involved with clean power organizations in some shape or form.


April 15, 2009

Meeting the neighbors

I'm slowly starting to meet my neighbors. A pair, across the hall, plays music constantly and seem like fun guys to hang out with. What really takes the cake, though, is the guy upstairs above me.

I'd seen him a couple times since I moved in, but didn't introduce myself until today. Let me just preface this by saying, this is one interesting man.

I ran outside to grab a desk that someone was tossing out, and a man in army uniform stops me. I didn't recognize him at first because I hadn't seen him in uniform before. He smiles, asks me if that *points* is my car, did I just move here. And I answer affirmative and introduce myself.

"I'm James..." and then he started chattering at me at 90 mph. About then, I notice his gorgeous hazel-green eyes. That was distracting too. I had to stop him and ask him to slow down a bit, explaining, "I'm deaf."

Next thing I catch, he's offering to pray for me. I'm not into that, but I'm not about to tell someone about my religious beliefs (or lack of), and tell him that's okay, that I appreciate it. "Now," he adds.


"Yes." And still talking very fast, I manage to figure figure out that he wants me to hold his hands out, and curious, I do so. First he put his hands a couple inches above mine, and starts murmuring - praying - then he reaches out with his hands near my ears. Then (I swear, I'm not making this up) he walks around me, still praying.

When he finishes, he asks, "Can you hear any better?"


"Well, give it 24 hours. You'll be able to hear better by tomorrow."

"OK, I'll let you know."


Back in business

Finally got internet set up, and from what I hear, just in time - we might get a snowstorm. !!!!

There are times when using photoshop is good, it improves a photo. And there're times when it doesn't help.

Original, unaltered picture of an old storefront in either Kentucky or Tenn. I can't remember now.

I ran the Pseudo-HDR (Don't worry, I'll post instructions later) action, and while the image is certainly crisper, I don't love it. It lost the sun-faded look.

What do ya'all think?


April 10, 2009

Found a place!

Originally planned on Colorado Springs, but my sister convinced me to look at Denver. I told her it must be close and easy to get to the mountains. So we looked around, and found an apartment in outskirts of Golden. Verrry cute town. And right near the highway that you'd take to get to skiing. And near tons of parks in the foothills where we can get used to hiking up here.

The apartment manager screwed up twice, so they're out. First they told me a certain apartment was available - turns out it wasn't. Then an alternative option that was due to be available April 15th...Oops, it's actually May 15. Hell if I'm waiting a month. Hell if I'm putting up with that shit.

So I looked around a bit more today after work, and settled on an apartment that's right on border of Golden and Lakewood. And right near an outlet mall. Ohhh boy I'm in trouble. I've already been approved and will sign the lease tomorrow. The application process out here is very fast and easy compared to my previous experience in VA and PA.

Hopefully can get Internet up and running asap. Then I will inundate ya'all with pictures.


April 7, 2009

Cellphone photos - First day

I forgot all of my photos on the dSLR are in RAW format - which means I need my computer to convert them to JPG. It'll be a few more days, probably. In the meanwhile, here's a few pictures that I took with my cellphone.

I actually didn't take many with the dSLR until the last day.

First day - ran into a rainstorm in western MD and W.Va. What you can't see is that there are 5 or 6 trucks surrounding me.

I was trying to capture the very low cloud cover.

Pretty clouds as the storm starts to break up.

Tadah! Bug splatter and all.


April 4, 2009

Day 4 - finally.

Today, I think because I knew it was the last one, seemed especially long even though it was a shorter drive...a bit over 5 hours. Thinking that itd be an easy drive, I deliberately started late. Both apollo and I needed the break.
I took a little uner a couple hours to explore amarillo, texas. I found the cadillac ranch, a helium time capsule, the combine ranch (similar to cadillac one), and a giant pair of legs. I also looked for the cowboy tree but couldn't find it, sadly. Quirky town. While driving around, I also found "cowboy church and arena of life" - I don't know if it really was a church but its parking lot was full.
All that morning, a fierce wind was blowing. On my way out of town, we passed by some farms that hadn't been watered and the wind kicked up so much dirt that noone on the highway could see. It was so thick I couldn't see the cars in front. I managed to pull over in what proved to be a safe spot (noone hit us!) and tried waiting it out to no avail. Out of curiosity, I got out of the car and yeah it was bad enough I literally couldn't see my hand in front of my face. Just this swirling stinging brown.
I wish I could say that the wind died down, and we drove off. It never did. So I took a chance and started driving. After a couple dozen yards, it started to ease a tiny bit - enough I could see the guidelines on the road.
Never never do I want to experience that again. Id take the worst rainstorm over that. It was claustrophobic and for a deaf person, the idea of being blind is a scary one.
The drive up to pueblo was a pretty nice one, but I wasn't able to enjoy the scenery much. The fierce wind continued all day. It was strong enough to buffer my car while driving, to rock it while parked. And gave apollo and I difficulty when we walked. Insane.
And when we finally got close to denver...whiteout snow conditions. Can't win, haha. If I were superstitious, id be worried.
We're here. I have some pictures ill upload later. Apollo is relieved to be out of the car. I think he enjoyed it, but the marathon sessions were a bit much for an unseasoned traveler. He's a bit hyper now from lack of exercise and being in a new environment.
That was my day. Picures to follow in a day or so.


April 3, 2009

Day 3

Im pooped. That was a nearly 12 hour stretch but we made good time. I anticipated it to be 14. Drove from a small town in arkansas acros oklahoma to northern texas. We covered over 600 miles today. Poor apollo, he was a champ. He got tired of lying down and rode standing up for most of the last 6 hours. He's currently conked out on the bed. I don't blame him...my flat, bony ass is tired too.
Ark. Was not what I expected...half farmland, half woods. Beautiful but reminded me of pa. Oklahoma, on the other hand, is a damn beautiful country. It wasn't flat at all, lots to see and enjoy. And texas definitely held its charm too. I found what looks like a mini grand canyon forming along the highway 40 (formerly the famous hwy 66). Give it a million years, it'll be just as majestic. Only in the last hour of drive did I get bored - then, it was reallly flat and full of farmlands.
Tomorrow, I have an easy drive, so apollo and I are going to see the sights here in amarillo, stretch our legs and then head up to denver.


April 2, 2009

Day 2

Today was a little longer drive...about 550 miles. Roughly 8 hours. I had planned on taking longer breaks, to explore areas along the way. But weather wasn't cooperative again, so I decided getting to motel was more important. Got here around 6 central time.
Next time I do this, ill try to have more time. Several times today, I saw sites that looked interesting like the mammoth caves. Or the bucksnort town. Yes theres actually a town named that. I wonder how it got that name.
Theres also diamond crater somewhere in, I think, arkansas.
We had some nasty storms today. I had to pull over twice because it was raining so hard I couldn't see the road, let alone the other cars. Also, at one point, a semitruck on the opposite side of the highway hit a puddle of water that somehow flew over about 25 or 30 feet wide grassy median and hit my car. I saw it coming so it wasn't a surprise. Hot damn, that was impressive!


April 1, 2009

P.S. Ignore the funky formatting.

I posted via email and it apparently needs me to write html coding for paragraphs, which I didn't realize.


Day 1

I had a late start because I had to see an audiologist and he could only see me at 1 pm. So I got on road roughly about two and managed to get to my hotel by 9:30. We covered almost 500 miles today. Not too shabby but it doesn't hold a candle to the marathon road trips my family took from PA to I'LL when I was a youngster. About 14 hours.

Apollo was for the first half great! He slept most of it, which was perfect because for most of PA and MD, it was foggy, drizzly and very hilly. Factor in an oodles of semi trucks and having no distractions was good.

Around 5 or so, he "woke up" - about the time I usually get home from work - and started asking for potty breaks and literally panted down my neck while I ignored him.

I had moments where I was a little bored, but honestly they were far and few in between. I was mostly focused on driving, and when I could relax, I thought about random things like...

Is there a story behind "cheat lake" and "fairchance road"? (seen on one big green sign in a town somewhere in md or w.va.) is it a gambling thing? Or an affair?

And I also wondered what would posess a big-box store, namely home depot, to build a store in a tiny one-street town. How can that be profitable?

Finally got to the motel here and I have to admit, im very surprised by the quality. My ceiling is, I think, 14 or 16 feet overhead. The bed was actually turned down and has a pretty cover. Definitely not what I remember from few years ago. And definitely not what I expected for a motel on the outskirts of a tiny little town in kentucky.

One last thought...wow, so many stars! Light pollution here isn't bad. It was dark when I arrived so I can't say what I think of KY just yet. More on that tomorrow.


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