Vega State Park
Sunday, August 07, 2011 Filed in: Camping | Mobile Productivity | Pet Photography | Wildlife Photography | Travel
ContentsRearview Mirror - Summary of the past week
Pups Across America! - Sunrise Pups
Headlights - Our schedule as to where we will be heading
(Note: click on any photo for a larger image/slideshow)
Sunday: Chasing the Sunrise
Upon rising, and while the water is heating for coffee, it is my normal habit to check the weather and forecast online. Although the temperature has risen each day to the low 90s the last week, each morning started in the very pleasant, light-jacket mid to high 50s. This morning, however, it was already 72 degrees at 4:30 a.m. with the promise of quickly heating up. Thus, I decided to walk the Pups quite early, when it was still an enjoyable task and not a bothersome toil. Thus, we were on the Highline Lake Bluffs trail about a half hour before sunrise, my favorite time to be outdoors. With clouds in the East, the colors started to roll in; pastels at first, transitioning to different orange hues, to bold reds and various combinations. Within 30 seconds the pre-sunrise scene you just viewed may have morphed into an entirely different composition.
The Kids seemed to have as much fun as I did on our walk, including a rabbit chase that I was able to at least catch a glimpse of with my camera. You’ll notice that “fast-as-the-wind” Mitzy is the lead chase Pup, hot on the trail--and the tail--of the bunny, with Jerry bolting from the back.
After breakfast I helped Jan pinch-hit for our camp host colleagues, and then I finalized my preparation for my Boston client and tackled some other lingering chores.
Monday: Quick Trip to Boston
Being it was to be a short trip, I left Jan carless and drove to the Grand Junction airport. I took the 6:35 a.m. flight to Dallas, and after a short layover hopped another flight to Boston. I detest driving in Boston, but the cab fare to my hotel and to my client would have been ridiculous, so I rented a car. Had a quiet evening including a nice soaker tub.
My “what it takes to build a services business” session went very well, and by noon I was back in my rental car arriving at Logan airport in time for lunch. Here I treated myself to a lobster roll and a glass of Sam Adams--there are some benefits of being in Boston! After a couple a flights and a short drive, I arrived back at camp by 9:30 that night.
Wednesday: Rainbows and Computer Screens
Today my hike around Highline was gorgeous. I couldn’t decide which of these two rainbow shots I liked best, so I included both. Which one do you like best?
I spent the rest of the day behind the computer screen, qualifying a new piece of business, giving feedback on a new online course I’m developing, and making and returning calls.
Thursday: Good-bye to Highline
Busy morning! I took the Pups on one last hike around the lake, and after 40-some days of looking, we finally saw the deer herd.
(Note that none of the shots I took this week at Highline had any saturation added--that’s just how awesome the light was those mornings.)
Upon returning I helped Jan get our motor home, BERT, ready to roll, and then headed down to the visitor center to put on a selling webinar (over the phone and Internet) for a couple hundred people in cooperation with my friend Hank from the Professional Services Journal. As soon as the session was over, I walked back and Jan and I finished up preparation for leaving. We said good-bye to friends David and Marjorie and wished them good luck with camp hosting (the new camp hosts replacing us appear to be quite the Butt Heads!).
By noon, Jan was driving, BERT was purring, and the Pups were alternating sitting on my lap, standing on the dash, or sleeping on the sofa. We had a gorgeous 70-mile drive, taking our time through Loma, onto I-75 east past Grand Junction and Palisade, turning east on 85 then east again onto 330. We meandered through Molina, puttered through Plateau City, climbed through Colilbran continuing our upward voyage into Vega Lake State Park.
About three miles from the Vega Park entrance, as we turned a corner, Jan and I both saw a large animal of some sort on the side of the road. Within seconds we made the ID—Golden Eagle! As we approached, this very big guy gave us a dismissing look, and then slowly beat his huge wings a couple of times and was gone. I had my camera on my lap, but there was no time for an attempted picture, but the experience was exhilarating. After checking in we got set up and sat outside overlooking the lake and watched the day come to an end.
Friday: Deer Galore
The first thing after coffee, we all piled into our Element and drove back from the park the way we came in hopes of finding the Golden Eagle. No luck this time, but we saw dozens of deer on our way down and back. Instead of returning to BERT we slowly drove around the lake looking for critters. Just before turning into our campground, Jan spotted a young buck on the edge of the forest chomping on leaves. He was not afraid of cars and he let me take several pictures of him less than 30 feet away.
Back at our campsite we had another cup of coffee, then leaving the Kids to finish their breakfast, Jan and I took off in the car once again. Our plan was to take an access road, Forest Road #262 (also called Park Creek Road) for the mile and a half into the Grand Mesa National Forest for some hiking. We slowly crept along the rough dirt road, but the heavy rains from the night before created a fast-running current across our path. After studying the possibility of proceeding, prudence stepped in and we retraced our tracks. Here is a chipmunk munching the top of a tree.
However, our backup plan was a good one, for we hiked the two-mile Vega Trail through an Aspen forest. We saw lots of pretty foliage, flowers, and mushrooms. The pretty but poisonous baneberry was everywhere along with a number of other plants that I couldn’t identify. This is bear country, so Jan carried our bear spray as we headed up and down the narrow overgrown trail that was covered by a thick, dark canopy. We saw no critters, but heard the noise of one very large animal along our way.
As an aside, Vega State Park is at 8,000 feet--it takes a little while getting use to the altitude.
After lunch, I spent time doing business. While I was working I asked Janny to go and find a spot where there was both a good AT&T and a Verizon signal. She came back a couple hours later having explored a large portion of real estate. Taking the Kids, we retraced her steps, driving the 11 miles back toward Collbran, stopping at Gandhi Park. Here I rejoined civilization (I guess), checking for voice messages, downloading e-mails, and responding to those messages requiring immediate action.
In the evening, Jan built a fire, and we sat around watching the activities of the lake and the campsite, smelling the pleasant odors of campfire cooking, and hearing the sound of thunder in the distance.
Saturday: Hungry Hummers, Marmot, and Another Eagle Sighting
I stood outside at dawn, watching the sky colors and the reflections on the lake. I took the Pups out early, down to the boat launch where they could run loose and stretch their little legs.
As soon as we had set up camp the day before, Jan filled our hummingbird feeder and set it on our picnic table. Within five minutes (no kidding) we had a flock of hummers lining up to eat--reminded me of the opening of a new restaurant on the Island at 5:00 p.m. Blue Hair Special time!
By Saturday morning these petite, glutinous avians had devoured the entire contents of the feeder, a concoction of one cup sugar and four cups of water. Jan quickly went into action and filled up the feeder again. These live missiles were so ravenous that one was trying to feed out of the bowl that Jan was using to fill the feeder. Once refilled, we counted 15 hummers either eating or awaiting their turn. Here is not a great shot, but it sure shows the excitement at our picnic table.
A little later the four of us hopped into our car and made the circle of the lake, seeing the occasional deer and admiring the fields of summer flowers. I also took a shot of our campground from the other side of the lake.
At 8:00 a.m. we pulled into the Vega Lodge where we had breakfast overlooking the lake. From there we finished our circumnavigation, stopping to shoot yellow-bellied marmot at their digs. Cute little fellows.
Once back in the coach it was time to work. I’m fortunate in having lots to do, but it was really hard to get motivated to sit at the computer with a setting such as we have! Anyway, after stalling for a while downloading pics, I got to work on my Sarasota project.
Later in the afternoon we decided to go back and look for the Golden Eagle. Jan was driving, I had my camera set up for action on my lap and WHAM! There was the big guy surveying his territory, sailing on the wind over the valley. Jan let me out of the car and went to turn around while I followed this lord of the sky with my viewfinder. I probably got 50 shots off before he vanished from view. The first shot (18 megapixels) was what I saw in my camera, the 35mm equivalent of 640mm (or about 13X if you were looking through binoculars or a spotting scope). I severely cropped the second shot (2.5 MP) just to show a little more of what he looked like. Yes, the light was not the best and he/she was a long way away, but I got my first Golden Eagle photos! I was (and am) one happy camper.
By sheer luck, we chose to camp at Vega State Park during their annual Cowboy Poetry event. Attendees brought finger food to pass around (Jan made hot wings), and we all sat around on picnic tables and camping chairs listening to local artists playing cowboy songs, followed by readings by cowboy poets. It was really an enjoyable time. Here are a few pics from this event.
If you want to see more cowboy poetry pics, click here.
August 8-11: Rifle Gap State Park
August 11-31: Exploring Colorado
September 1-15: Heading north and east
September 23-October 7: Markin Glen County Park, Kalamazoo, MI
October 8-15: ???
October 16-31: Visit Kentucky friends
November 1: Head back to Pine Island
Have questions or comments--send them in.
See you next week.