Return to The Dunes

When Labor Day rolls around, that means one destination for us – Great Sand Dunes National Park.  We adored this place even when our home base was in Pennsylvania.  Once we moved to Colorado, getting to Dunes was comparatively easy and it quickly became our new holiday weekend ritual to end the summer season.

This past Labor Day was no different and the weather was absolutely perfect for most of our trip.  (Ok, the first full day down there the weather was a bit meh for the start of the day, but it rebounded from there on out.) . In between lengthy bouts of relaxation and laziness, we did do some hiking in the dunefield and I snagged a few shots.

Our first full day started with quite a treat at our campsite – a teeny tiny rain shower passed over the dunes just as the sun got above the Sangre de Cristo mountains to the east of us giving us a small bit of a rainbow!  Talk about luck.

I thought for sure I wouldn’t be able to stash my camp coffee, get the camera out, and get it setup before the rainbow went away so I figured on simply enjoying it in the moment.  I’m so happy I was wrong!  It stuck around long enough that I was able to take quite a few shots with both my standard walk-around lens and my super-wide angle lens before it faded away.  Like I always tell folks – there’s always something new for us down at The Dunes!!

Lucky Charms - Sand Dunes Style

Once we got out on the dunefield for various hikes during our trip, I snagged shots of my prairie sunflowers (of course!).  According to the park rangers, this year’s bloom was a little late in terms of timing, but wildly big and colorful thanks to the week of off-and-on rain Colorado got in early August.  Yay for me!!  Here’s 2 of my favorites that I got…

Solitary SunshineBlown

We also stumbled across somebody’s old meal leftovers…


And as always, the sands and the shadows were fun to play with – both for large-scale scenery shots & some more mellow close-up work…

Shadow ValleysRelaxing Waves

We had another good trip to The Dunes and I bagged another round of good shots.  I’ll share those in a couple of upcoming posts about this trip.  Stay tuned!!

– JC

Rainbows & Farmers Markets

(Originally posted September 23, 2012)

Rainbow Umbrella - Farmer's Market in Golden, CO
Rainbow Umbrella – Farmer’s Market in Golden, CO

If I’m having a bad day, I know I can always count on this picture to cheer me up.

Whenever we’re in Golden, Colorado, we make a point of checking out the farmers market that they host downtown every Saturday during the summer.  It’s a small, but really nice, farmers market with the requisite touches of the Colorado vibe – most people are walking around with their dog, kids are riding in buggies attached to the back of their parents’ mountain bikes, chile peppers are being roasted fresh on site, and an old western horse-drawn carriage takes folks on free rides through historic downtown.  They have something to offer everyone, and for us, that’s the food!

People may not think of Colorado as a place where there are a lot of farms because of the mountains, but the state produces gobs of great produce and some of it comes to Golden each summer weekend.  For us, it simply turns into an easy breakfast.  And while I may have a taste of the fresh fruit and the veggies, my sweet tooth usually makes a beeline for the fresh bakery goodies!  (Side note – I always marvel at how this particular bakery is able to churn out so many great breads & pastries at altitude because baking can be really hard to do well in Colorado… but that’s a different story for a different time!)

On this day, our trip to the farmers market involved breakfast as usual and we scored some seats at one of the tables scattered throughout the lot.  While we were munching away, the sensationally bright colors of the umbrella at our table caught my eye.

No matter how many times I look at this picture, every time I see it, it makes me smile.  Hopefully it brightens your day a little too…