A few of us went back to town for more shopping--mainly grabbing stuff we should have bought two days earlier--and to scout the menu at the restaurant we were going to that night. (It was fancy and great).
I brought the Sony F828 with me this time, as it was a clear sunny day that would be perfect for infrared-only black and white photography.
Finally, the big day!!
We had made a reservation with Good Times Adventures for a two hour tour, and luckily this day featured the very best weather of our entire vacation.
Cold as hell (10 below zero?) but sunny and clear with lots of fresh snow to make everything pretty.
I decided that their loaner boots were better than mine, but all the rest of my gear was fine. Turned out that the heated footwells on our machines made it a moot point.
Now for some contrast:
This is what the pair of us rode in March 2013 on our Lake Tahoe trip. Terrific fun, but...
For 2016 we each had our own one of these.
Won't bore you with the specs, but wow! And they were brand new.
Also, because this was Colorado and not California, the throttle didn't have a difficult to operate weasel-lawyer "safety" device that sucked all the fun out of it and sapped your concentration. California sucks, by the way.
One early favorite part of this tour was that after a familiarization cruise through the woods, we got to a big open field with what can only be described as an oval track. Some of the others didn't quite get it, but me and Lisa sure did. I wound that sucker up and flew, passing on the inside and outside a few times and grinning ear to eel. Pretty sure that had the track been bigger I could have hit 60mph or more.
What a rush!
Time for a quick selfie.
Then it was time to get into the meat of the tour--onward and upward to the Continental Divide!
Single file up, sometimes on impossibly narrow trails through the pines, and God was it beautiful!
The sections on roads or across fields were also fun, because you could gawk without getting croaked.
(BTW, our guide was Ivan from Argentina, and he knows almost as much about Ginobili as we do, being their national hero and all).
Up, up, up we went, until the trail spit us out into another world, at around 12,500 feet above sea level .
This is Mt. Guyot, and the slope to the left drains springtime snowmelt waters to the west, while a few meters to the right etc etc. (When I peed behind a tree, I made sure to be on OUR side. California got enough of my whiz on the Tahoe trip).
To me, the divide was more moving than some invisible thing like a border or the equator. After climbing a mountain range, it's very stirring to see and know that everything really does change. Much like the Mississippi River which I've crossed MANY times, or reaching another continent separated by an ocean.
It was a big event in my life--thinking about how it must have felt to all the pioneers hundreds of years ago.
We got to spend a decent amount of time up there--enough for my aforementioned whiz, where I sank into the snow up to my junk and had a vision of needing help to get out--and for pictures and videos.
Remembering photo tips from many years ago, I was glad I had set my phone's camera to +1.5 EV overexposure, because this is almost exactly how I remember it looked up there.
Our trip down was every bit as much fun as the way up.
The scenery was beautiful and my heart was soaring.
One of the very best days of my entire life.
We finally made it into Breck on the 2nd full day there. Mostly shopping and feasting our eyes on what a lovely little town it is. I shot a bunch of selfies alone and in groups using my selfie stick, and while they are all incredible works of art, that's not what I planned on posting here.
During a short period of blue skies, while waiting for my girls to exit a T-shirt shop, I used my phone to grab this view between two buildings:
Again, we waited for the gondolas to stop charging $$$ and took a ride up the mountain.
Right into hell.
Something like 9000 kids were up there skiing and 'boarding, and it was freaking cold.
Apparently I chose an inferior quad of socks, because before long my toes lost all feeling.
The weather was crappier than at any other time during the whole trip, so no photos were taken.
We ended up in a bar eating and drinking, then headed back down.
A couple of people wanted to ski in Vail, and the rest of us were more than happy to hang out at the bottom of the mountain drinking and eating on the patio at Garfunkel's.
After many hours I got bored (the only sober one) and took Sylvia on a walk down a trail that looked promising. Brought the Sony F828, for the first real photo expedition since arriving in Colorado.
A few laced gummi bears also marked the first time I've tried to do any "serious" photography with a buzz on.
The bridge was actually well-traveled by every skier who came down the trails and wanted to take the gondola back up.
The fenced field photo is a personal favorite, but won't rate printing because of all the footprints in the snow.
Imagine it with a clean pristine coating of smooth new snow.
At 3:30pm they stop charging too much $$ for the gondola, so we finally went up to the top.
Unlike down in town, it was biting freaking cold with a windchill factor of holy crap.
I was able to tolerate photography for less than 10 minutes, then went inside the lodge to warm up before riding back down.
Skiers must be hardcore to put up with open chair lifts at altitude.
After a few hours dicking around in bars, shops, etc, it was time to cross the mountains on an hour+ drive back to home base in Breckenridge.
As the only sober member of our party--with bonus points for years of experience driving in upstate NY during winter--I was soon tapped to take over.
Within minutes it started to snow heavily with serious winds. Conditions went from "dark" to "OMG 30mph is way too fast". Got some brownie points for keeping my cool in a bad situation, and also for putting up with the panic of seriously baked passengers with grace. Our rented 2016 Lincoln Navigator with 4-wheel drive was the right tool for the job, and I fell in love with it.
Used most of our "Squirty-Juice", AKA windshield washer fluid.
The convenient stores in CO have that stuff right out front on pallets, because it's as critical as gasoline for getting around.
Went shopping for groceries, back to the rental house, and got myself rather well fucked up.
Vacation fun in the Rocky Mountains!
Flew direct SA to Denver, with only one bit of drama after we landed involving a co-conspirator.
It was snowing at sunrise when we went to get our rental SUVs (4-wheel drive was mandatory to get to our rental house) and continued off and on for the rest of the day. After a hearty breakfast, we went shopping for legal intoxicants and food.
Over some mountains to Breckenridge took an hour+, then we settled-in to a beautiful 3-story house with all the amenities.
This is a look at the home next door from the kitchen table, which I claimed as my personal "office".
It gives you an idea of how we were living.
The view from our rear deck. The town of Breckenridge is at the bottom less than a mile to the left.
The snow came up to our bedroom windows on the sunken bottom floor.
This was only my second time in Colorado--the first being in 1987 when my late brother Ken and I went to fly large and dangerous "model" rockets on a high plateau near Hartsell. We became a bit famous on that trip in large part because the hobby was still small and new and we brought high standards of theory, design, construction and finishing to our rockets. It didn't hurt that Ken was a biker and I was a rocker, and we looked it and partied as hard as expected.
This time the altitude didn't affect me much, possibly because I stay better hydrated these days and also because I spent the first day going up and down stairs as often as possible to speed acclimation.
It has been a few years since I featured the Riverwalk on our card photo, so it felt right to go back there for something new.
Last year, clued in by some nice shots from a member of my camera club, I got some pics that almost made the cut. This is a fairly new section of the San Antonio Riverwalk behind the old and re-purposed Pearl Beer brewery.
On a "scouting mission" I pulled out the camera and tripod anyway, and shot some tests in the area.
One view was better than last year's stuff so we went back 4 days later.
There was a construction crane in the frame, and on our return it was pivoted into a horrible position--so we were out of luck on what I originally wanted.
Trying to stay positive we walked around a bit, hoping that inspiration or good luck would strike.
On our way back to the car, I re-saw a scene that I liked from the previous visit, but had immediately written off as impossible. But it looked SO good, I let my heart overrule my brain.
You can only get this photo from a stairway landing that doesn't have enough room for my tripod.
And there is foliage encroaching from the top and left sides.
Plus a bright light on the right/top just out of frame.
Move the camera more than 2" in any direction, and it all falls apart.
A real prick of a shot, especially at the long exposure times needed.
Anyone walking across the attached steel footbridge will vibrate the crap out of it, leading to a blurry mess.
I had my tripod's legs folded down straight, and then held it in the corner of the guardrail.
We knew we had it as soon as I asked Sylvia to climb back up the stairs and just look at the scene from the landing. After 3 exposures we went to Mama Margie's for dinner.
Watching my new ted2 DVD. Hilarious!
Shot with my phone using the new selfie stick.
Yes, it sounds crazy for a "serious" photographer to even consider such a thing, but I foresee many situations where it'll be exactly what I need. Sometimes "toys" are just what you need, both for fun and a re-thinking of the way things can be done.
My wish for 2016's Christmas card photo is that I get it in the next couple of weeks, to take some of the pressure off.
Happy New Year.
Thanks for visiting.