This will be my last scheduled “Hunker Down” blog entry. Here we are some seven and a half months into the pandemic and there’s no light at the end of this tunnel. Perhaps a vaccine for COVID-19 will be available within the next six months, but I’m not holding my breath.
My family has done well. None of my family that I’m aware of has been infected by the virus. One of my friends and his son did contract the virus a month or so back and both made it through okay. We’ve been lucky, but a lot of that luck has been a result of our diligence to not contracting or spreading the virus. In our house, we still follow the rules we created at the onset back in March. It’s been difficult but one does what one has to do to get through hard times.
We’ve been preoccupied with thought and action regarding our home in Red Feather Lakes that was and is still threatened by the largest wildfire in Colorado history. Other family members have been forced out of their homes as well, and luckily nobody has lost their home yet or even worse, suffered any casualty.
This winter is looking to be a dark season for everyone. The election is a little over a week from now and the political nonsense has grown into something evil. The bottom line is that I’m backing up, taking stock of our lives here and concentrating on the things that matter the most. I’m tired of dealing with and reading about all the idiots, so I’m leaving them to their fate and with no concerns.
It’s difficult to keep writing this blog as life has been like the movie Groundhog Day, with every day, more or less, being a repeat of the day before and the day before that and so on. There’s really nothing to write about and my inspiration has left me. There’s nothing left to say.
We’ve done our best and will continue to do so.
My best wishes to all my friends and followers for the future. Maybe we can rid ourselves of the criminals running our country in the upcoming election. I’m skeptical.
I’ve been picking up the camera more frequently lately. Since I cancelled my plans to do Autumn foliage this year, I’ve made up for it by shooting wildlife and landscape scenes that are a little closer to the house. Not bad, I’ve added to the portfolio and it is certainly good therapy to get out and use the photographic gear.
I also received my new (used) Sigma 50mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro lens today. I’ve been watching eBay for the past year waiting for one of these rare lenses to come up for sale and finally it did. I now have a matching pair of Sigma Macro lenses, the 50mm and the 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro, both of which are outstanding lenses that I’ve owned before in the Canon mount. Sigma has long since discontinued these lenses and nothing they’ve released as replacements over the past 10 years comes close to the optical quality these two lenses offer.
There’s a third Sigma Macro lens I’m still watching for, the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro that will complete the trifecta.
Good news on the wildfire front, for us at least. The evacuations in Red Feathers have been lifted and we made a run up earlier this week to get a few things before Winter closed in. The Cameron Peak Fire, though still burning out of control, seems to have skirted the village and saved us at least.
Life otherwise has been pretty much the same here, just hunkering down and trying to fly below the radar.
Happy Thought Inventory
Our home in Red Feathers is still standing and I have a new lens to play with.
Today’s photo is from a concert Trudy and I went to on LaVeta Pass a few years back. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and several other acts. We all rode the vintage train to the venue, along with the band. We got to sit with these guys and talk to them one on one during the trip. A very good day it was. A happy memory it is.
The virus is spreading at about twice it’s previous rate, up to about 800 or so infections per day here in Colorado. That means people are letting their guard down and slacking off. Stupid is as stupid does.
Another week of hunkering down. Not much happening here in Denver other than the constant bombardment of political crap and reruns on television. The national election is in a few weeks and I’ve long since made up my mind as to how I’m voting. I try to avoid political discussions with my friends and acquaintances, what’s the point? I’m sure they’ve made up their minds too and it isn’t my job to convince anyone of the correctness of their decisions. I guess that’s what elections are about, everyone getting their two cents in. For the record, I’m an Independent voter and I’m not voting for any Republican on any ticket. I doubt I’ll ever vote for another Republican, ever, for the remainder of my life. If you’re wondering why, you’re probably a Republican. Enough said about that.
The photography is still on hold, more or less. It’s hard to find motivation to make road trips during the pandemic. We don’t go out much, except to buy groceries and necessary supplies to continue hunkering while the world goes mad. I’ll wait it out, sooner or later, things will change.
On the subject of photography, I’ve closed my stock photography account with ShutterStock. A few months ago they changed their payment structure for contributors, reducing the amount paid for any particular download to a paltry 10 cents per image in most instances. It’s a shareholder thing, their stock performance has been lackluster and the people who’ve invested in their company are wanting more money so they’ve decided to take it out of our pockets. Apparently, I’m not the only contributor to feel fleeced as the general feeling amongst us contributors is that ShutterStock has screwed a lot of people who rely on their stock photography to supplement their income. My official top stock sales site is now Adobe Stock. Adobe has been very good to me and other contributors, maintaining a solid payment for downloads and providing top contributors with free subscriptions to Adobe Creative Cloud (Lightroom and Photoshop.) Right now, I’d say ShutterStock is an “avoid” for buying stock photography. They’ve turned to sweat-shop tactics to bolster their profits. The sad truth is the only loyalty a company has is to the share-holders. Since they have no loyalty to the people who actually do the work that keeps them in business, I’m out. I’ll make up the minor loss of income by doing something different.
In a few weeks, I’ll be scaling up the photography efforts though. Even though I’ve skipped the Autumn foliage trip this year, the cycle of subjects is always changing and I’ll be putting more effort into bighorn sheep, and other Winter subjects. The big bummer so far has been that I’ve not had much of a chance to use a new lens I bought specifically for landscape work.
I just received my Senior lifetime National Parks Pass. Wow wee. I tried going to the National Parks Office in Conifer back in August to get one, but their office was closed. Too bad they didn’t indicate that fact on their website, I could have saved four gallons of gasoline and 2 hours of driving, so I applied for one online instead. It only too six weeks to receive. Like everything else with the Federal Government these days, serving the public seems to be low on the priority list of the Trump administration. No problems now though. I’ll never have to buy another annual parks pass. Getting old has benefits from time to time.
I’m still waiting for our vehicle registration from Jefferson County DMV. Apparently the pandemic has put a big crimp in the pipeline for issuing new vehicle registrations. Our first temporary tag expired in September and we have a second temporary tag on the Lexus. I’ve heard that if they fail to send you your registration a second time, they have to give it to you for free. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but we’re good until mid November, what ever the case may be. My expectations are low.
Happy Thought Inventory
Hard to find any happiness in the world these days. People screaming everywhere about this or that. Politics dominating our lives like never before. Crazy people in charge and accountability at a minimum. I guess I’m happy that our family is doing well and staying healthy. I’ll cast my votes in November and continue avoiding people I don’t want to be around, particularly those who believe that they would be better off if my family was sick or dead. The rest is out of my control.
I have to say that the few times I’ve been out in public, there seems to be an improved willingness by most folks to wear masks and at least give a minimal effort to maintaining public health. For those who don’t give a shit, I say to you, I don’t give a shit about you either. I have no problems avoiding you and your business if you aren’t on board with doing what needs to be done and I really don’t care if you want to get sick and die. My mindset has been solid and constant and it isn’t going to change. I’m not going to be a good consumer if it involves a serious risk of getting sick. I do enjoy the videos of the numb-skulls having fits in public, screaming about their rights and doing things that don’t improve the situation. To me, those people are dumb-shits and I don’t associate with them.
We’ve been preoccupied with the Cameron Peak fire this week, as it moved within 2 miles of the cabin in Red Feather Lakes. Keeping our fingers crossed that it may skirt on by us without destroying the village. So far, so good, but the smoke is bad up there and we have the addition of the Mullen fire that started in Wyoming to the Northwest and is moving in our direction. Nasty business. Looking forward to some snow to put an end to this disaster. None in the forecast.
During a different year, I’d be on my annual Autumn photography trip but the pandemic and wildfire smoke have put a squash on that idea. I did manage to get out for a little wildlife photography this morning at Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR. Arrived at sunrise and the deer were plentiful, though not in great photographic locations, and there weren’t a lot of bucks running around. I managed a few clicks though.
Happy Thought Inventory
Loving the cooler weather but we could use some moisture to go along with it. The drought is still upon us, but at least it isn’t 90+ degrees every day.
I’m also looking forward to getting out for some Bighorn Sheep photography. They normally start their rut in mid-October, so maybe a run into the mountains this week will be happening. What ever the case, it’s nice to pack the camera bag and take a few photos.
Slacker is as slacker does. I hear the President has contracted COVID-19. Two words come to mind. Empathy and sympathy. I have empathy for the man and the people around them. I have little sympathy though. The way he has flaunted and ignored the existence of the pandemic, it doesn’t really concern me that he now has a deadly virus. Stupid is as stupid does.
The big deal this week was having to watch the progression of the Cameron Peak Wildfire as it moved ever closer to Red Feather Lakes. This morning’s fire map shows the fire about 2 miles away from the village and burning in a north-easterly direction. Kinda straight at the village. We evacuated a couple of weeks ago, along with our neighbors who are now staying with us here in the Denver area. While personally safe, we are fairly stressed out about the what will be there when this is over. All we can do is pray.
Trudy and I did a day trip to Buena Vista, Colorado to get a good look at the Autumn foliage in the mountains. The trees are looking quite sick in the mountains and smoke from the wildfires is so pervasive as to make it even more ugly, so I’ve decided to skip making a trip for foliage photography this year. Just too much ugly and too many logistic problems with the pandemic in full swing to deal with trying to get Autumn foliage photographs. I’ll poke around the foothills near Denver as color develops, perhaps I’ll find something interesting. I’m considering a lost year for that business.
Happy Thought Inventory
Everyone is safe and healthy. For now, that’s about as good as it’s going to be.
It is “Scenic Saturday” so here’s a photo from Buck Gulch, Colorado.
Slacker is as slacker does. The Covid-19 case rate is still going up in Colorado. Why? Because there are too many slackers out there.
Back to our normal groove here in Denver. Summer is winding down. I’m scheming my schemes for Autumn photography. Still not totally sure of where I’ll be going as the freak late summer weather has thrown a wrench into the mountain color change. I’m kinda leaning towards SW Colorado and the San Juan Mountains again this year. Realistically speaking, I’ve sold more photos from the San Juans and it’s looking like the trees are behaving almost normally in that part of the state. Still a couple of weeks out, I’ll know more soon.
Our neighbors from Red Feathers have returned home after spending some time with us while Randy got his all clear from his neck surgery. Poor fellow, he’s been in a neck brace for the better part of the last year. I’m glad we could be a port in the storm for them. Hope the fire doesn’t chase them out of their home.
Been avoiding television and Internet news and will continue doing so until after the election. It’s not really news, it’s just yammering about how much the Red and Blue people hate one another. Someday, maybe, all these nit-wits will figure out it’s better to work together than it is to piss on one another. Too much lead in the water?
I’m a day behind on getting my weekly Covid-19 blog update. No big deal. It would have been the same entry if I had done it yesterday.
Happy Thought Inventory
I’m quite chuffed at the fact my daughter and son-in-law are now neighbors in Red Feather Lakes. They purchased a nice lake front cabin last week, just down the road from our place. The fire situation has been nerve wracking but they are now villagers and I expect there will be a lot of new memories to be had and I’ll get to spend more time with them in the place I love. Congratulations Nick and Shawn!
Slacker is as slacker does. The Covid-19 case rate is going up in Colorado. Why? Because there are too many slackers out there.
We are back to our normal hunkering down here in Denver. Catching up on recorded television shows, lounging on the porch, watching the bunny rabbits and squirrels preparing for Winter.
One of our 70’s vintage Bose 501 speakers has finally pooped out, giving us a distinct rattle at low frequency when watching movies on the home theatre system. Bummer. We ordered a Harman/Kardon soundbar from Crutchfield, which arrived dead out of the box. Well, not completely dead. It powered up but wouldn’t connect to anything and wouldn’t pass any type of signal to the television nor connect to any device. The lights came on though. We sent it back for a refund and abandoned the idea of using a soundbar. We ended up scavenging a set of Pioneer speakers from the cabin and while not quite as spiffy as the old Bose speakers, they sound quite good. It was a good opportunity to clean up the television area as the dust and wire nest behind the receiver was getting a little squirrely anyway. Bob’s your uncle.
Still waiting on our Lexus vehicle registration from the County. The temp plates expire soon and the pandemic has created a serious backlog at the DMV, so off we go on Monday to get another temporary registration. Normally, we’d have received the registration within a couple of weeks of buying the car. Things aren’t normal these days.
Our neighbors from Red Feather Lakes are staying with us for a while as the Cameron Peak wildfire continues burning about 7 miles from the village. There doesn’t seem to be a direct and immanent threat to our homes, but we’re avoiding the area for the most part. If the wind shifts, it could be pretty difficult to breath there. It’s hard to plan any leisure activity at the cabin right now, but a sudden change of weather has dropped quite a bit of snow and cooler temps on the fire, so one never knows. We normally shut the cabin down for the Winter by mid-October. Maybe we’ll squeeze one more trip in.
Happy Thought Inventory
I’m still chomping at the bit to get out for this years Autumn photography. I keep wavering on where my photography location will be this year. The pandemic has put a serious crimp on my options. The sudden blast of Winter weather this past week may well destroy the normal color transition in the mountains, so I’m keeping a close eye on things and will probably decide where I’ll be working at the last minute. The good news is my wife is going to ride with me to the Collegiate Range next week for a scouting trip. A good way to get out of the house for the day and a nice opportunity to enjoy a road trip in the new car. That Lexus is a pleasure to ride in.
I haven’t been out much this past week so there haven’t been many interactions with the general public.
The past week has provided an interesting combination of boredom busting activity.
I’ve been steadily working on the redesign of my websites and progress has been made. Website visitor traffic has also picked up now that the search engines are beginning to index my site. So far, so good.
We continue to monitor the status of the Cameron Peak wildfire in the Rawah Wilderness of Northern Colorado. The fire hasn’t approached Red Feather Lakes much but the smoke has made its presence known and air quality in the village his a hit and miss prospect. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the change in weather will improve the ability of the firefighters to get this fire under control.
This past Thursday, our Xfinity cable and internet service went out. I went through the normal service call routine and after chasing our tails for several hours on the phone with someone in India, we began exploring our backup options. Both Trudy and I have iPhones that will act as an internet hot-spot, so we attached a Roku to the television and streamed television to the living room through the iPhone hot spots. It worked out quite well actually. On Friday afternoon, a Comcast service tech showed up at our door and began troubleshooting the problem in our back yard, where the neighborhood cable distribution box resides. Internet, TV and phone service is now back up and running but the outage concerned us to the point that we’re considering switching to a new service when our contract expires. It’s obvious that we can do everything we need to do without having to rely on the inept customer service at Comcast/Xfinity. It was our turn in the barrel. We do our best until we find something better.
Happy Thought Inventory
The internet is up. Mom can watch her television shows and make her phone calls. Trudy is heading to Red Feathers for a few days. Life is back on track and the hunkering down continues.
I’m still plotting what I’m doing for Autumn photography. I need to come up with a solid plan sooner rather than later as the last week of September and first week of October are prime-time for Autumn color. I’ll come up with a plan.
Still improving out there in Zombie Land. Seems that many of the covidiots who refused to wear a mask in public have had a change of heart or been hit with the reality that their errant mindset isn’t going to really help them get through the pandemic.
No first responder activity to report.
Still alive and well here in Denver.
And, Happy Scenic Saturday. Today’s photo is a previously unpublished image from Kebler Pass, Colorado. A memorable week in 2014 that feels like it was yesterday. It is also the first time I’ve ever displayed this photograph to the public.
If you haven’t noticed, I’ve reduced the frequency of these updates to once a week. Hunkering down during a pandemic seems to produce a “same shit, different day” syndrome, which I’ll spare you from.
Not much going on with actual photography lately. Moose photography has been halted due to the Cameron Peak Wildfire in Northern Colorado. This fire is burning about 13 miles from my home in Red Feather Lakes and has burned close to 23,000 acres and counting at zero percent containment at the moment. I don’t believe it’s going to threaten the village with burning, but the smoke from the fire makes for some very nasty air quality up there, and even here in Denver, from time to time. No property reported destroyed and no lives lost, but a few of the firefighters have contracted the virus. The other bummer is this fire destroying a large portion of what I call “Mooseville”, as it’s basically burning in a major moose habitat. Based on my knowledge of the area, this fire is going to grow much larger than it currently is.
As a result of halting photography, I’ve decided to rebuild my websites, Gray Photography and Image Colorado. A fresh slate, with better integration between the sites. Time to clean things up and come up with a new approach. Still working on that, but it’s going well and I have lots of new ideas you’ll see appearing on both websites in the future.
My brain cells are sorting out what I may be doing for Autumn photography this year. I do want to get back out there but I haven’t decided where I’m going yet.
Happy Thought Inventory
I have my Ford Explorer back from the shop with a brand new transmission. It’s all clean and spiffy, sitting in the garage, just waiting for me to take it back out on the road.
Picked up a fresh batch of weed yesterday, so the mellow hunkering with an aura of laidbackness can continue.
We can now return to our regularly scheduled programming on Television. The political conventions have came and gone. I spent exactly ZERO time watching them or even reading about them. One can’t avoid the headlines, but I don’t really give a hoot about any of the political posturing, lies and bullshit buzz phrases that seem to ooze from these things. I know how I’m voting and have since election day 2016. Nothing said between now and election day 2020 is going to change how I feel about a cockroach being in charge of our government.
I’m not seeing as many dim-wits running around without their face masks lately. I know they are still out there, but my avoidance techniques have tuned me in to steering clear of the dumber people roaming the streets. I consider wearing a mask to be a simple IQ test. Stupid people don’t wear them, smart people do. Avoid the stupid people at all costs.