Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Uraling to catch Sunset at the Garden of the Gods

Rode Valencia, my 2014 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig down to Colorado Springs to try and catch the sunset's lighting on the famous rock formations at the Garden of the Gods.

Instead of motoring down the I-25 expressway though, I rode to the start of Rampart Range Road just a few miles west of the small town of Sedalia, CO.

The road is packed dirt, two lanes wide (barely at times) with lots of sections which are bone-jarringly washboarded.  The sides of this road are bordered by the occasional campsite and thick growths of pine trees.  You can see, dirt bike trails on the western side of the road, as you have to have state license tags to use Rampart Range road itself.

The road also has the designation of Forest Road 300, and these were the signs I followed along the 30+ miles of dirt riding that it took to finally find the end of the road in the town of Woodland Park.  The road changes names about a block shy of the intersection of it and US24.  Look for Baldwin Street (there's a McDonald's at this intersection)

I had originally planned to camp so I could also catch the sunrise at the Garden of the Gods (GOTG).  Finding myself over 18 miles from the site, I motored on US24 eastbound till I got to the GOTG exit just past Manitou Springs (Home of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway).

It was still way early for sunset pictures when I arrived at the GOTG so I motored onto Forest Road 300 near Balanced Rock (I later, after looking at Google Maps, saw that FR300 splits off and exists in two very different paths, sigh).  FR 300 takes you out of the park on a climbing and twisty dirt road with some great views of Colorado Springs and the nearby mountain peaks of Pikes Peak and Cheyenne Mountain (home of NORAD).

The big mountain in the distance is Cheyenne Mountain

About 23 kilometers of dirt road later, I had ridden through the area devastated by the great Waldo Fire of a couple of years ago.  The area is starting to recover, somewhat, but gone are all the pine tree forests that were there before.  The national forest is closed in these parts due to the fire so no camping here as I had planned!

After reaching the junction with paved road 306 which takes you to Rampart Range Reservoir, I retraced my steps back towards GOTG.

Approaching the GOTG

I thought it was still too early to go sunset picture shooting so since there was no camping in the National Forest near the GOTG park, I motored on back towards Woodland Park to check out some sites I'd seen on FR 300.

Above is the site I had spied on the way down towards Woodland Park.  Big open area with a great view of Pikes Peak as you can see.  However, it was an area where the local liked to come and shoot.  There was evidence of shotgun shell casings, spent pistol and rifle casings as well so not a great spot to camp.

I checked out two other nearby sites but one was already occupied and the other had this old decrepit looking mobile home/trailer alongside the trail leading into the camping areas.  I could hear banjo music playing in my mind so I turned around and bagged the idea of camping.

I killed some time eating dinner at the McDonald's and rode on towards GOTG thinking I had plenty of time for sunset pictures as it was only 7:30 PM or so.  Wrong!  Due to the nearby mountains, sunset at the GOTG happened right about then it turned out.

There were many tourists and a slow moving traffic jam through the park's roads so I didn't make it to the desired spot till at the end of the sunset lighting.  No spot to place Valencia to include her in the pics either due to cars.  Oh well.

I parked Valencia near the spot I'd originally planned on and walked to a spot where I could see the below rocks clearly.

Here's a very shaky time-lapse video.  I didn't have my tripod with me, left it on the rig, so I propped the camera on top of a fence post and held the angle with my hands only.  Not optimal, but should give you an idea of conditions.

I was back at my rig, packing up to ride home when I noticed a rock climber on top of the peak of the tallest rock in the above video:

I swapped lenses on the Sony Camera and got this full zoom with digital enhancement shot for demo purposes:

I finished packing up and rode on home in under two hours.  I rode back towards Denver staying on the I-25 expressway.  Even going at about 60 mph, I still managed to pass a couple of trucks along the way so I wasn't the slowest vehicle on the road that night!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Uraling in Europe: A Compilation.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Yep, another Colorado Sunset

One never knows how many sunsets one is going to get to see and enjoy, so today I blog about yet another beautiful Colorado sunset.

This was one of those occasions where of the 105 pictures I took, it took me a while to whittle it down to 13 to post-process, ending up with the 7 pictures below.  I hope you like them.

 Downtown Denver's Skyline

 I wonder if a similar sunset back in old Japan inspired their battle flag

Reminds me of burning embers of a dying fire

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Home Sunset

It's good to be back in Colorado, my home state.

Been doing a lot of traveling lately, and being back in familiar surroundings and among my family again is a good feeling.

Got my rig, Scarlett's starter swapped out by Randy, the URAL dealer in Fort Collins yesterday.  It's apparently sourced from the Ukraine and a metal sleeve on it had failed, leading to it not matching the teeth on the flywheel during starting operations; resulting in the nasty sound of metal grinding against metal.

Today, was a day of chores at the house, squaring things away from all the traveling.

I liked the sunset that Mother Nature presented this evening, I hope you like it too.

about 20 minutes before sunset