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A week in Colorado

From the moment we landed in Grand Junction, Colorado, all I could say was “wow!” Every direction I looked, there were mountains. I took out Katie’s Panasonic Lumix and started shooting as we left the plane and walked to the terminal.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ8 — ISO 100 @ f/4 and 1/200 sec

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ8 — ISO 100 @ f/4 and 1/200 sec — A man puts on his jacket after getting off a Frontier prop plane in Grand Junction, Colorado.

I knew this was going to be a great trip.

It takes about 30 minutes to get from the airport to the house we were staying at in Mack, Colorado. We were out in the desert and only six miles from the Utah border. As we got to the house, sun was setting and they were starting to feed the horses. I figured I’d waste no time and start photographing ASAP.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — ISO 800 @ f/2.8 and 1/500 sec — Horses walk around the enclosure at sunset in Mack, Colorado

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 800 @ f/2.8 and 1/500 sec — Horses walk around the enclosure at sunset in Mack, Colorado.

After feeding ourselves, it was time to light the bonfire. I’ve always lived in cities and suburbs so I had never experienced a private bonfire. Living on seven acres in the desert gives you all the privacy and independence you might want and need. Again, I grabbed my camera and tried to do a wide shot of the fire. This was my first test for my TC-80N3 cable release.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — ISO 100 @ f/2.8 and 13sec — A bonfire lights up the surroundings in the Colorado desert.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/2.8 and 13 sec — A bonfire lights up the surroundings in the Colorado desert.

Day 2

I really shouldn’t have been this excited but when I saw my first tumbleweed, I nearly screamed! I reacted to memorialize this moment in the parking lot of the Plum Creek Winery in Palisade, Colorado.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 70mm ISO 100 @ f/5.6 and 1/500 sec — My first encounter with a tumbleweed.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 70mm ISO 100 @ f/5.6 and 1/500 sec — My first encounter with a tumbleweed.

After visiting a few wineries, we drove up into the Colorado National Monument. It was absolutely breathtaking. I got out of the car at some points and did short hikes along the cliff sides.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/8 and 1/500sec — A section of the Colorado National Mounument.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/8 and 1/500 sec — A section of the Colorado National Mounument.

Day 3

Off to Utah. We took off in our early 80’s Ford van and headed for Moab, Utah. We stopped in the middle of the desert at a place known as Fisher Towers. While the towers weren’t that impressive, our huge van dwarfed by the expansive desert was.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 70mm ISO 100 @ f/8 and 1/400 sec — Our blue van is dwarfed by the expansive desert.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 70mm ISO 100 @ f/8 and 1/400 sec — Our blue van is dwarfed by the expansive desert.

After making a short pit stop in Moab, we headed to Arches National Park. On the way in, we stopped at many of the roadside pull-offs to take more photos.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/5.6 and 1/250 sec — The roadway carves through the landscape at Arches National Park just outside of Moab, Utah.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/5.6 and 1/250 sec — The roadway carves through the landscape at Arches National Park just outside of Moab, Utah.

Eventually, we actually made it to part of the park with natural land arches. Katie and I took off on a hike to get close to the arches.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/5.6 and 1/1000 sec — An arch in Arches National Park.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/5.6 and 1/1000 sec — An arch in Arches National Park.

After hiking for what was probably close to half an hour, we found a sign that said “Primitive trail back to parking lot.” Ok. Sounds good. The only problem was that the trail disappeared. We were walking on the backside of these arches with no visible trail. We practiced how we would defend ourselves from mountain lions, just in case. Eventually, we found a sign pointing us in the right direction.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/5.6 and 1/640 sec —After being lost along the "primitive trail" at Arches National Park, we found a sign that pointed us up a rock face to continue along to the parking lot.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/5.6 and 1/640 sec —After being lost along the “primitive trail” at Arches National Park, we found a sign that pointed us up a rock face to continue along to the parking lot.

After stopping at a few more places in Arches National Park, we drove up the road to Dead Horse Point. The area got its name when starving horses jumped off of the cliff to drink out of the Colorado river below. The drop is probably around 1,000 feet.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/2.8 and 1/500 sec — A view from Dead Horse Point.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/2.8 and 1/500 sec — A view from Dead Horse Point.

Day 4

Believe it or not, I didn’t take any photos on day 4 of our trip. We all slept in a bit and took our time getting ready. In the early afternoon, we took three horses out for a ride. Of course I brought my camera. I put it in a padded bag that attaches to the saddle horn. We rode in the Colorado National Monument at a place called Devil’s Canyon. Being that this was my first time doing trail riding on a horse let alone one of the only times I’ve ever been on a horse, I never did feel comfortable enough to take my camera out, especially since we were running up and down hills, climbing rocks and crossing streams. It was tremendously fun. It was very beautiful as well. Katie’s aunt took a picture of us with Katie’s camera.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ8 — ISO 100 @ f/4.5 and 1/400 sec — Katie and I on our horses at the top of Devil's Canyon in the Colorado National Mounment.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ8 — ISO 100 @ f/4.5 and 1/400 sec — Katie and I on our horses at the top of Devil’s Canyon in the Colorado National Mounment. The famous “mushroom rock” is between us in the background.

Day 5

We left Mack and headed into the mountains towards the town of Ouray. It is pronounced yur-ay.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/5.6 and 1/400 sec — Ouray is nestled in the San Juan range of the Rocky Mountains.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/5.6 and 1/400 sec — Ouray is nestled in the San Juan range of the Rocky Mountains.

Ouray is known for its ice climbing and its hot springs. We went to Orvis hot springs. It was beautiful and relaxing. Unfortunately I can’t show you. It is a clothing optional hot spring and no cameras were allowed in. For the record, I opted to leave my swimming trunks on.

Day 6

On our final day, we headed up to Mesa Lakes to do some snowshoeing. Again, we drove up into the mountains. The lodge where we rented our snowshoes from was at just under 10,000 feet in elevation. Once we got going, we estimated that the snow was a minimum of five feet deep in some areas. You would not want to sink in. At one point, we came to a bridge we had to cross. It had a foot and a half of snow on top with a very narrow flat surface. Katie and her aunt crawled across while her uncle and I braved walking across…very slowly and very carefully.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/8 and 1/640 sec — Katie's aunt crawls across the snow covered brige at Mesa Lakes while snowshoeing.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/8 and 1/640 sec — Katie’s aunt crawls across the snow covered brige at Mesa Lakes while snowshoeing.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/8 and 1/400 sec — Katie crawls across the snow covered bridge while snowshoeing around Mesa Lakes.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/8 and 1/400 sec — Katie crawls across the snow covered bridge while snowshoeing around Mesa Lakes.

The trail winding through the trees was very beautiful.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/8 and 1/500 sec — Trees along the snowshoe trail at Mesa Lakes.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 24mm ISO 100 @ f/8 and 1/500 sec — Trees along the snowshoe trail at Mesa Lakes.

After we finished a loop of one lake, I continued on alone for another twenty minutes or so because I was having so much fun. I decided to take a self portrait in front of one of the snow-covered lakes.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 15mm ISO 100 @ f/8 and 1/800 sec — I stopped for a self portrait in front of a snow covered lake while snowshoeing at Mesa Lakes.

Canon EOS 1D MarkII — 15mm ISO 100 @ f/8 and 1/800 sec — I stopped for a self portrait in front of a snow covered lake while snowshoeing at Mesa Lakes.

Day 7

That was all she wrote. The next morning, we headed back to the Grand Junction airport — an airport so small it only has six gates. Oddly enough, I couldn’t remember which gate the lady and the check-in counter said we needed to be at for our flight to Denver. When I saw this sign, I guessed we were at the right one.

Panasonic Lumix DCS-LZ8 — ISO 800 @ f/5.8 and 1/60 sec — A sign at the Grand Juction airport indicated that flights from this gate were headed for Denver.

Panasonic Lumix DCS-LZ8 — ISO 800 @ f/5.8 and 1/60 sec — A sign at the Grand Juction airport indicated that flights from this gate were headed for Denver.

I loved every part of this trip. In fact, I would love to live near Grand Junction. The outdoorsman and adventurer inside me would be busy all of the time. I definitely think another trip is in order to see more of the beautiful scenery and do more of the outdoor activities that appeal to the mountain man inside.

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7 Responses

  1. Hi there Max,
    I was wondering if you could help me! I’m planning a road trip with some friends in May, we’re going to be travelling through the Arches National Park.
    I have a photo of myself sitting infront of an arch from 1988, when I was 7yrs old. I couldn’t believe it when I Googled and found the extact same one here on your page (day 3)! I would love to find that same arch and get an updated version! For one, my hair is better and my knees aren’t nearly so knobbly…
    Is this one easy to spot? Could you give me any pointers on how to go about finding it? Is it on a certain trail? We only have one day to explore- and some driving too, so not even a whole day really.
    Many thanks,
    Rhi (England)

    • Rhi,
      Please forgive me if I am wrong since it has been a year since I made this trip.

      I believe that was a view from the primitive trail around “Double Arch” in “The Windows” section. On this map, you can see it on the right hand side in the center.

      I remember from the parking lot, there is a wooden path up to the arches. From there, you can take the primitive trail that wraps around the backside which would be from where I took that image.

      I hope that helps!

  2. I saw this picture and one other with the DMC-LZ8. IMHO it shoots better than the tz5. I thought that the color quality and sharpness is beyond reproach. I have played with Panasonic’s dmc-ls80 and ls85. The ls80 shoots darn good videos with nice mono sound. The ls85 is a very capable snapshooter below the league of the LZ8 but great because it is small. It takes slightly noiser videos than the 80 but they are razor sharp with the camera giving great mono audio. The TZ5’s 720P high def mode however appears to be superb;virtually video noise free with great color and briteness.

    • Kelsci,
      The DMC-LZ8 is tremendous especially considering its price point which was right around $100 when I bought it. I haven’t compared it with the other models you listed but on every Panasonic point-and-shoot I have used, the still image quality and video have been rather remarkable.

      However, on the video front, I am really liking the Casio point-and-shoot cameras. Not only do they do HD, many of them have high-speed shooting modes allowing for super slow motion. Some of them now allow for over 1000 fps at a lower web resolution. Still image quality is pretty stellar as well.

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