Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bison at the Arsenal

An overcast and somewhat cold day here in Metro Denver, there's perhaps an inch (if we're lucky) of snow forecast for overnight and the weather clouds have blocked most of the views of the mountains.

I rode out towards Downtown Denver, heading for the Western Expo Complex to check out the National Motorcycle Expo that is going there for the next three days.  I got there with no issues, parked pretty close since I was on a motorcycle and headed in to the exhibit hall after a little UDF.

Didn't make it in very far, the ticket booths were cash-only and the place was incredibly crowded.  Much to crowded for my taste and the majority of the attendees were from the Harley Davidson portion of the motorcycling gene pool.  Not my cup of tea on all counts, so I left.

It would spit snow flakes on and off the rest of the morning.

I headed east a bit and took Quebec street north towards the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge Area.  This place used to be where munitions and nuclear warhead components were made back in the days of the Cold War; now it's a Superfund cleanup site and a wildlife reserve inside the confines of the Metro Denver area!

It's a bit unusual, having this much land fenced off and dedicated for wildlife refuge inside a big city I think, but I like it.  The last time I was here, I was with my oldest son Patrick and my 2011 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig: Valencia.  LINK

Scarlett, my 2014 URAL Patrol Sidecar and I motored about the open roads slowly checking out the prairie scenery.  Because it is a Superfund cleanup area, lots of the roads are signed as closed to unauthorized vehicles.  Still, one can find a few areas to enjoy the quiet prairie and once in a while see deer grazing near the road.

The next three pictures are from "The Lakes" area of the refuge.  There's walking trails bordering the lakes if you're into hiking.

Leaving "The Lakes" and the vicinity of the contact office, I found myself entering an area used to "enclose" wild Bison!  All these years, I didn't realize there were Bison here in the refuge, I thought it was just wild deer.

I saw the sign above as I rode over the cattle guard that prevented Bison from wandering off their enclosed preserve area.  It caused me to be a bit more attentive but for the next 30 minutes or so of riding and taking pictures, I didn't see a single one.

I found a place where one could get a good look at the distant buildings of the Denver Downtown area and posed Scarlett thus:

 Downtown Denver from the Wildlife Refuge

As I packed up the camera to get going, I glanced up the road and spotted four Bison grazing near the gate that leads to the Visitor Center.  One of them I watched crossing the pavement:

Sorry for the poor quality, this was at max zoom with digital zoom on top
using the telephoto lens.  I didn't want to move closer you see.

Cagers visiting the refuge started congregating near the gate as they spotted the Bison and soon the above solo Bison got spooked and ran quickly back to join his fellow Bison.  He moved very quick, by the way.

Given what I saw of the speed of the solo Bison, I fired Scarlett up and instead of simply getting a bit closer and parking behind a car that was perhaps 100 ft from the herd; I headed through the above pictured gate and parked safely on the other side of the cattle guard.

At this point, I was perhaps 50-60 ft from the four Bison and took a bunch of pictures.  They turned out hard to shoot as they were behind a wire fence and they were quite dark in coloration!

As you can see by the sign, one is not allowed to walk right
up to the fence to stick one's camera lens past the wires

I photoshopped away the wire fencing for the last 
shot of the Bison.  Such magnificent animals, quite large
and I'd no doubt they'd make mincemeat out of me and Scarlett.

Worked then intruded into my life shortly after 12:30 or so, so I headed on home do do the work in comfort.  A quiet ride through the Arsenal's refuge, very nice way to wait for the incoming snow.

Previously: The "I'm Officially Bored Challenge"


Richard M said...

I really like the image with the Denver skyline in the background. Quite a contrast.

Trobairitz said...

I too like the skyline image and Scarlett posing in the grass.

It makes me think of a pop-up book. Someone opened the book and out popped the city skyline. That is what we used to call Calgary as it popped out of the fields on approach. A pop up city.

Charlie6 said...

thanks RichardM....if only there had been clearer conditions...oh well, next time.

thanks Trobairitz, I like that term....pop up city.

SonjaM said...

+1 what Richard said. What a stark contrast. I love bisons, they are beautiful animals. I will always connect them with the wild west America.

Charlie6 said...

Danke SonjaM....took a few shots to get the perspective you saw, I liked the outcome I posted. One could caption it...."the prairie hides the lurking Ural it stalks its next prey".