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The last night my parents were here, we went to dinner in Loveland. When we came out of the restaurant, it was a gorgeous evening, so we decided to drive to a nearby park for a little walk before the sun went down. However, we got sidetracked as we were driving past Lake Loveland. We pulled off at Lakeside Park and watched the glorious sunset. It felt like the perfect end to a wonderful visit. There was even a statue for us to enjoy.
I was taken with the colors and texture of the lake surface as the sunset went on. I took several reference shots, thinking I might make something to mimic this look.
But the sunset itself was the real treat, and I have pictures that document the entire evolution of the event, from burning to burnt out.
This is turning into the Summer of Sunsets. I’m grateful to live in Colorado, where we are surrounded by such beauty every single day.
We drive right by the Fossil Creek Reservoir every time we go to Denver. I had no idea what a gorgeous spot it was until I went there with my parents after dinner one night.
The lake is down slope from a large prairie, which is full of wildlife. The bunnies were particularly bold.
As with all of our little adventures, we took lots of pictures. Dad spent some time trying to get a good shot of the western meadowlark serenading us.
Because of the water, the area attracts lots of birds. At the west end of the trail is a blind, where you can sit and watch the birds on the lake. Inside are tables and seats, plus lots of labeled pictures of the birds you might see.
My attempts at bird photos did not work out that night — everything was too far away. But we saw quite a few species, including a gadwall mother with her brood. The excited babies swam in circles like wind-up toys. I did manage to get some pictures of the field full of sunflowers that lies just up the slope from the lake.
The most amazing part of our evening was the sunset, which would not quit. My picture hardly does it justice. I can’t wait to see what my father does with all the versions he took of this:
Tomorrow: Another amazing sunset in Colorado
My parents’ visit to Colorado inspired us to visit some of the parks and natural areas in our own backyard. The result was that we discovered some treasures we will be visiting regularly, now that we know they are there. Only a week after our first hike up to Arthur’s Rock in Lory State Park, we were back with my parents in tow to walk along the nature trail and marvel at the wildflowers and the birds.
The trail starts off through a meadow that has banks of wildflowers in it.
Since it’s in the foot hills, many of the flowers had already gone to seed, but were interesting to look at nevertheless.
Only a few trees were growing in the meadow, although a little stream trickles out of the hills here. This one is clearly done growing.
Birds kept flying over us. A couple of hawks were chasing each other up and down the line of hills. Dad took a slew of pictures and got some nice ones. I also managed to get one with my little camera. (Note: the secret to this close-up is cropping instead of down-sizing the original.)
The trail starts to wind its way up into a canyon, and new flowers could be found there.
Before we knew it, it was baking hot and time for lunch. We didn’t hike far because we weren’t moving very fast, but the small section of the trail that we saw was exquisite, and excellent material for a family with cameras in their hands.
Tomorrow: Fossil Creek Reservoir
While the mountains were full of wildflowers, I did not have much luck getting good pictures of them. The abundance of flowers meant I was always trying for landscape shots that showed the colorful meadows. But wildflowers, especially subalpine ones, are on the small side. Get too far away, and you can barely see them at all. So we’ll have to make do with this close-up, which at least gives you a taste of the beauty that was all around us:
I took a number of tree photos. For some reason, they look better when they’re dead. (Probably it’s just easier to appreciate their structure when they no longer have any leaves.)
These birch trees have been stripped of their bark (up to a point) by grazing elk.
While it makes for interesting texture, I’m afraid it can’t be good for the trees.
Tomorrow: we leave the mountains to spend some time marveling at the plains of Colorado.
Our day in the mountains was full of wildlife. When we weren’t busy seeing big mammals, we enjoyed the birds and the small animals of the woods. Dad and Kurt got a lot more bird pictures than I did, but I still managed to catch a few. While Mom and I sat at a picnic table by Lily Lake, a song sparrow landed right in front of us and sang long enough for me to snap a picture.
Another Lily Lake show-off was a ground squirrel who has clearly been fed in the past. He came out and posed for me.
Later, when we were searching Rocky Mountain National Park for elk, a stellar jay landed in a tree right next to us, and we all took pictures of him. Unfortunately, the memory card in my camera maxed out right then. I only got two shots of him.
Tomorrow: plant life that caught my eye (and wound up in my camera).