I pulled up to Chevron on my scooter to perform my weekly fill-up (65mpg this week; not bad) when I was accosted by a voice. "Hey, Buddy," it said, and I jumped because I hadn't noticed anyone standing there. "Yeah, you, pumping the gas," it continued, and I realized that the voice was coming from the pump, and I was wondering why the attendant was talking to me. Then the voice went on to talk about how it would be a shame to waste any gas on running over a pedestrian. Some kinda public service announcement.
That got me thinking. I was thinking about all the times I pumped gas and didn't have anyone reminding me not to run over children in the street. Like last week when I was in rock Springs, WY pumping gas. No voices there.
Weren't any voices in Colorado Springs where I had just come from, too. And it's a good thing: I hate to think of the kind of voices I might hear at a place called Garden of the Gods.
It's a cool place. Lots of rocks. Arkosic sandstones pushed vertical during the Laramide orogeny some 50 million years ago. Kinda cool. However, we were there in the middle of the afternoon the first time, and that's just not the great time of light for landscapes (hence the cartoony processing on the above). Still, sometimes you shoot when you can. Sometimes you step out of the car in the parkinglot and look up and see the Moon finishing the day off at the North face of the Tower of Babel.
This climbing route reaches about 300 feet high, and the moon below really makes it feel tall. Using my 300mm f/4 lens at f/11 brought a sharp image with both the moon and the rock face in focus. Never climbed this myself--a little above my skill level. The Three Graces are really more suitable for me and my chalk bag. The trouble is, you sometimes reach for a hold and find a pigeon instead. Sorry, that's 'Rock Dove' in the Garden.
Besides rocks and their doves in the park, plants also abound. This juniper guards the base of the Scout Climb (so named because even Boy Scouts can climb it). It's a slab climb that is pretty simple once you realize that you can really stand pretty tall and walk almost directly up the face.
Yep, in Garden of the Gods just about anybody can get up just about any of the rocks and end up two or three hundred feet above the ground in no time. Even the flowers can lodge themselves in the crevices.
And there are lots of crevices. Kids love this place.
The Kissing Camels (below, duh) welcome you when you arrive and also introduce you to Pikes Peak, which is an amazing piece of granite.
It really is a single piece of granite, too, and as it floated upward through the Crust it cause the Garden of the Gods to stand up tall. And you can fish in the reservoirs.
We drove up there on Labor Day to enjoy the views that inspired Katharine Lee Bates. We enjoyed the views from Crystal reservoir, but the wind was picking up so we continued our drive to the 14,110 foot summit. Then we were surprised to find our trip halted at Glen Cove because the winds were howling at over 80 miles per hour above the tree line, and they closed the road. Hmmm...they closed the road at the gift shop: what a coincidence. Undaunted, we continued shooting pictures, despite the breeze. Wouldn't you know it, there were power lines in the way. These things are the scourge of the universe.
Still, I made this image, and it's one of my favorites from the trip. I shot it with my 300mm f/4 lens. I tried it from several different angles, and apertures. This lens is fixed at 300mm, which is something like a 12x magnification on a spotting scope, and it doesn't zoom at all. This really forces me to see the world in a different way, and it's pretty fun. I settled on this one (this time--another day I may prefer a different perspective) at f/8.0, 1/640s, and ISO 400. I particularly like that the tree is frozen at an angle as the wind blew it around.
As the trees swayed in the wind a few feet below timberline, the sounds of other tourists was about all one could hear. A few squirrels. Some cyclists cussing about choosing the windiest day ever for their ride. The ranger turning all the cars around. No voices from the gift shop saying, "Hey, Buddy--yeah, you with the camera..."