Thoughts on Colorado, 2008 – April 23, 2022 (113/365)

I thought I’d write about my experiences in Colorado yet again. The photos have been arranged in a nice layout, and all that’s left is to fill in the text boxes before producing a PDF preview, and when I’m happy with that I’m sending the book out to be printed. 

Let’s start from the start of the trip. I was already pretty happy after what we already went through in California. I mean, our 2005 trip was wonderful, but this year we were coming back and I had a Nikon D40 with me this time, accompanied by a narcissistic urge to prove my worth in the field of photography. 

I took some awesome shots from the plane, and I remember thinking it’s nice to be above the clouds for once. When we got to California, the shooting continued. I shot whatever I could – Aaron, Hazel, the family… I even went around and got hassled by the subdivision guard because he thought my shooting was a security threat. I took pictures of Paul, the dude in a wheelchair asking for a quarter, near the Filipino restaurant in National City. Long exposure shots, panoramas for ‘globe’ composites, man… I was in a state of exploration, now that I think about it, and looking back at my shots, it was clear that I was learning. 

Of course I couldn’t resist mentioning the other side to my motivation – see, before I left for the States I sent a message to Chelmi. It was the ‘Hail Mary’ message Pastor Poppo advised me to send out, to which he added, ‘If she replies then good, if she doesn’t reply then good also’. I arrived only to see that she responded. So we started talking again. 

I think it’s just fair for me to share what I remember regarding my state of mind leading to my time in Colorado. Man, I was really having fun. I remember flying out from San Diego to Colorado, playing with the Palm TX I had while listening to jazz on the domestic flight, laughing at how the airline (I forget which one exactly) printed it on their pack of peanuts that we were saving lots of money travelling with them. I shot a lot from the window while listening to artists I only knew at the time Esperanza Spaulding and  Paolo Rustichelli; His composition ‘My Geisha’ still gets me. 

I say all this only to express how I was already on a high, and I wasn’t expecting anything else… but as I’ve learned, any time I have with my brother Kip is bound to be a great time. 

Something stirred as we drove off that last weekend of August 2008. When I was seeing nature as it is in the United States of America, up close and personal versus merely watching it on TV, that was already enough to get me going. This was what I believe was something in my mind while we were going around Red Rocks Amphitheater. Now that I think about it I should look for the penny we pressed as a souvenir. 

On the way to our next destination I remember seeing more forests and hills, and I think I wished Kip would slow down or stop so I could take more pictures. As we were apparently driving up a mountain, I remember Kip had a praise and worship CD playing. Just like I wouldn’t be forgetting ‘My Geisha’ in a hurry, so I won’t be forgetting Twila Harris and her song, ‘God Is In Control’. 

As we ascended I was just amazed. I wasn’t thinking about it at the time but my expectations were being blown away. We passed Echo Lake, and I took some shots, again from a moving car. I don’t know if it was Kip who offered to stop or if I asked him to eventually as we ascended even further.

We eventually stopped at a location which I found out was called Summit Lake, and I remember running, camera and tripod in hand; I shot some dramatic pictures of the lake and the mountain just behind it, before relocating to shoot a panorama of the entire mountain. To this day I can’t really say if that was Mount Evans, but it still looked like a pretty good take. 

Oftentimes the best shots I ever took were of sights that were already breathtaking to begin with – you only practice technique and composition to do them justice. 

I was glad Kip’s roommate also did some photography, and I was able to borrow his 55-200mm lens. It came in handy as we continued to make the ascent (yes, there was a long way to go), as we were fortunate to see deer and mountain goats. If I didn’t have the lens I wouldn’t have good close ups of the fauna. I remember Kip saying that we weren’t allowed to feed the animals – which was funny because moments after we saw some enforcers talking to some other travellers because they were caught doing exactly that. 

We were able to see some nice perspectives of the mountains in the distance, only before things got really cloudy. Oh, I forgot to mention, there was already snow in the area, even as I was shooting in Summit Lake, so I was already so excited to have seen snow for the first time… but it was just about to get even better. Snow actually began to fall as we made our way to the highest point of the road, where Kip intended to bring us. 

Mom and Dad were walking around and I remember Kip and I taking turns of taking pictures (no selfies or good camera phones back then, Kip had Dad’s point and shoot) sitting on a rock among other rocks and snow looking down towards the lower mountains. I think I remember holding out my gloves and actually seeing snowflakes fresh from the clouds (or that could have been another time). 

Then it started to snow even harder, and I got even more excited. Mom was dancing(!) as the snow fell down, and good old Dad didn’t think much of it, and was just really feeling colder than excited… at this time I was feeling pretty high and exhilarated, more or less maxed out, so much so that I actually gathered everyone into the car and we all prayed in the height of my excitement. I remember we were speaking blessings to the country… something I drew from the overnight prayer meetings I was attending earlier that year. 

The snow calmed down, I was able to make my very first snowball, Kip made a snow angel (he was wearing shorts, mind you), and Mom and Dad had pictures taken as well. I don’t think I was hopped on caffeine or anything – this was a natural high. 

It didn’t end there. I mean, I didn’t drop so quickly off of that high. My mind descended just as smoothly as Kip drove back down… and I took some good shots of rain in the distance over rolling hills, of trees that were probably much older than Kip and I, right before we made a stop at an area near Echo Lake. I had what would be a really good mug of hot chocolate (could very likely have been instant, but I didn’t realize I was hungry at the time), then I set off to take more pictures… only to find out that right outside of the lodge, there was a beautiful rainbow. I quickly took a landscape of that, thinking that even as we descended, there’s just so much more to enjoy. 

If at the highest point there was sleet and snow, it was solid rain now that the sun was out, hence the rainbow. We took some photos in Echo Lake up close… and really, if I was to try to remember what was on my mind at this point, I would probably be thinking, when God takes you by surprise, He leaves you in such awe that all that’s left to do is to enjoy. No words, nothing out of ourselves at that initial moment. Just take it all in, one overwhelming shot at a time. I was going from glory to glory at such a rapid rate that my entire being barely kept up; my being in autopilot, with camera in hand, just shooting.

I took a nice panorama of Echo Lake as the sun began to set. We stopped over one last time as orange turned to blue, to shoot a stream. 

And that was that. August 24 was in the bag.  This set the bar so much higher for me regarding experiences. It opened my mind to believing just how awesome God is as Creator; to take in so much of nature in such a small amount of time, in rapid succession.. it was as if God was saying, ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet’. 

In handling these shots it also taught me not to hold on to them as the ultimate experience. Obviously there were a lot of other shots I really liked and enjoyed shooting, from being there to sharing them on line… but I’d like to think that I wouldn’t have gone to any other sceneries and enjoyed them without letting go of the fact that there will always be something unique about each and every shot. 

Technically, this is true. A sunset in the one location at 5:45PM on a Thursday will ALWAYS be different from a sunset in the same location at 5:45PM on a Friday. It make take skill and practice to point out the differences… but it’s that unwavering sense of awe that causes us to keep striving to see it. 

That’s what I got from Mount Evans. That’s what I got from the Summit. Awe. 

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