This could be a long entry...

As time goes on, I'm finding it takes longer and longer to create a journal...  I don't know if I'm getting slow in my old age, if the computer is sort of holding me back, go figure, I just don't get it.  Maybe I just need to do it more.

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The Black Canyon, of the Gunnison...

The drive from Durango to Montrose usually takes about 3 to 3 ½ hours for most people – most people.

But, get two trigger happy photogs on that road, and the trip mysteriously lengthens anywhere from 4 to 6 hours.  Which is fine.  It's great to be able to stop at places that other cannot due to life's restraints of everyday life.  The bad part is that I end up spending too many hours just dealing with the images.  I'm trying, really trying to shoot more judiciously.  And for the most part I'm making progress.  Every once in a while I slip up though, and just go ape shit with the shutter button..  Oops.

Last weekend, fiendishly deviant-deviant Allen J. Miller and myself hit the road up to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. 

Black what?

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Canyon Edge, nothin' but space...

Black Canyon.  No, I never heard of it either, until another great friend Jordan Powers, made the journey out last May.  He mentioned it may be on his itinerary when he split DGO.  Being we've spent a lot of time shooting in the mountains as of late, I figured a reprieve might be cool, and you can't get much more different from a mountain than a canyon does.  They are essentially an inverse mountain when you think about it.

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Chillin' on the edge...  Sunrise.

In true Gonzo Fashion, we hit the road comfortably late, after spending dubious amounts of green on necessary nourishments for our journey.  Lots of Starbucks (sorry, but damn, I am an addict – can't beat those doubleshots and frappuccinos!  Hey, if somebody else made them, I'd be more than happy to oblige.  Besides, I have a little coffee karma anyhow, since I actively support many of the local coffee brewers, all of whom very in to the free trade deal).

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Trees at Molas Pass...

We reached Molas Pass just at the tail end of sunset.  Some pretty incredible light was going on, and I took a lot images – too many – many are repeats of the compositions I created last trip, only with different light.  I have yet to really even look at those.  The rest of the drive through the mountain passes; Silverton, Ouray, Ridgway, were fairly uneventful – sun had gone down and we pit stopped in Ridgway, collectively deciding to skip Subway, in favor of fine gas station nutrition, and a haphazard sampling from the smorgashboard of fancy coffee carafes.  Yeah, we had a trunk full of Frappuccino, but I needed something hot.  And well, I dare you to say no to beef jerky when on a road trip (given you are of a carnivorous nature, that is). 

We blasted our way out of Ridgeway, and did decent time to Montrose.  Surprisingly, Black Canyon of the Gunnison (hereafter referred to as just “Black Canyon” - that whole “of the Gunnison” sort of bothers me...  as if there are a plethora of Black Canyons running about...) is only about 5 miles outside Montrose, and then the requisite X number of miles of entrance road, in this case about 7 or so. 

We've developed a habit, Allen and I.  Or maybe a preference, or rule of thumb regarding National Park visits:  Arrive when the park is closed.  While this is the perfect set up for avoiding the park entrance fee, we still like to pay to get in to “our national park”, and I can see in the future, it's probably not the best way to secure a campsite for the night (but car camping is not all that bad, and is bearable for one night if, needed.  But when you arrive at night, most of the parks features are hidden from view under the blanket of the night sky and lack of lack light pollution. 

It's not the best time to put up a tent though.

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After a brief telepathic encounter with a beady-eyed field mouse (I swear it was talking to me), and seeing what information was available at the visitor center (little), we found the campsites, and initially paid for one night.  We located a site, which was marked 'reserved' - in fact, all the sites were marked reserved - for the month of August anyhow.  Allen busted out the tent, and by the headlights of the car and a small flashlight, we commenced with looking like fools.  It's been years since I've put up a tent, I think the last time was near Flagstaff, on cross-country jaunt to Area 51.  But that was small tent.  Allen's tent was...  ...large  ... immense ... it was goucho.  After a lot of X-Files like flashlight shining, and and equal amount of head scratching, and a fair share of pounding stakes with a Coleman provided Fischer Price hammer, the Nylon Castle stood strong against the Colorado night.  Big I say, you could stand up inside with room to spare.  Room enough to stretch, hell, if one were so inclined, one could perform jumping jacks, back handsprings, or even breakdance. 

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After patting ourselves on the back for completing such a mind bending task, I stayed up for a while and took in the night sky, marveling at the star filled night sky, wondering about life, the universe, and everything, and then turned in for the night. 

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We both slept pretty much through the sunrise, a testament to the Nylon Castle's weather shielding ability.  When I got out of the tent, a small herd of deer were wandering about.  They were not very concerned by my presence, and went about their morning pruning of the flora.  I wandered down to a small trail that overlooked a portion of the Black Canyon.

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The Nylon Castle in the morning sky.

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Curious Deer...

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Neat Stuff...  Not so black now...

After Allen crawled out of the Nylon Castle, we had our morning caffeine fix, and jetted out to some of the closer overlooks. 

(NOTE: as I write this, I am having the strangest craving for peanut butter and tuna fish.  I have both in the apartment, but think that I'll resist the crave, and enjoy them separately later on.  Ok, back to Black Canyon, sorry for the interruption.)

The Black Canyon, the only one I've heard of or seen, is pretty swell.  It's about 48 miles long, and at it's deepest, not quite 3,000 feet.  It was carved by the Gunnison River, over a rather short period – geologically speaking.  Once “discovered” by the white man, it took less than 100 years to damn it up, provide power to the people, and slow the erosion process.  Which is fine, as it also was set aside as a National Park, and the area below the rim has been declared a “wilderness area”.  This protects the land as place of solitude and “unspoilment” forever – or until the government find that holds oil, or some other natural resource, then all bets are off. 

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The Gunnison, of the Black Canyon.  about 2,000 ft below

The Canyon is particularly narrow, and its walls are steep and shear.  It gets its name because of this, and supposedly very little light reaches in to the canyon since its so steep and narrow.  If it's not mid-day, perhaps this is true.  but we drove up and down both sides – east and west, and I can say it's a pretty colorful place.  I guess it's similar to the way we think that the night sky is black, but in reality it's quite bright with all the stars and ufos.  Because it's so narrow,  the Black Canyon sort of lacks the immediate punch in the eye one gets from stepping up to the edge of the Grand Canyon for the fist time.  And while a person is less likely to speak in four lettered expletives for 5 minutes upon first sight - (again, like the Grand Cayon) – anybody with an aesthetic sense will at least utter a few of the seven
words you still cant' say on TV. 

Yes, I think I'm going to start a new National Park rating systems, based the amount swearing one can can sincerely engange in, and for how long upon seeing what ever the main feature or view may be.

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The North Face of the Black Canyon, of the Gunnison

I think I said that shot a lot of photos...  but I don't think very many  are “worthy” of any status above “snapshot”.  between the magic hours, the light does not really flatter the place.  I think the best images I got were at a classic used car lot in Delta Colorado.  Of all things, hmph.  I still have quite a few to sort through and bumble around with, so I guess the jury is still out.  Hence the peppering of snapshots in this journal entry...

What was exciting is that I finally got the infra red thing down – sort of.  I don't know exactly how, but I was finally able to get the damn kit lens to focus.  I have not had any luck with the 28-105, or either of my manual lenses (which is strange because they even have infra red focusing marks).  If anybody has any tips, they would be greatly appreciated...

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Sprout.  North side of the Black Canyon

Another keen thing we were fortunate enough to witness, was a pretty decent sized fire.  A good line across the face of “North Saddle Peak” I believe.  It spewed white smoke in to the sky for miles, creating quite a hazy day for anybody in the general area.  We were wondering if we should report it, but shortly after that though occurred, we came across a sign that said something like “Prescribed Burn, Do Not Report”.  Really?  It looked pretty outta control from our point of view. 
Witnessed some amazing light through the mountains on the way back, but most of it seemed to escape my lens...  But then, there's just some things you cannot photograph effectively, and maybe are not meant to be photographed at all.  That's how I rationalize it anyhow. 

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North Saddle Peak, with smoke.

It's always a blast road tirpping with Allen too, cant' express enough how keen it is being able to connect with a kindred soul.  Thanks bro!

Other than the Black Canyon trip, life in Durango is pretty normal, which I guess is fine.  I cannot complain about lack of drama.  Focus has been an issue the last couple weeks, or rather the lack of focus, or the inability to achieve it I guess.  Maybe I should get shipped back to the factory and have my settings checked out.  Haze is clearing slowly though, and I have bunch of paint, brushes, and a few canvases to start playing with real soon.  (Thanks Angel, you rock!)

Well, as usual, if you made it this far, thanks for looking.  Have a great weekend :peace:

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Canyon Squirrel, also curious.

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Remote controlled chipmunk.  At least, they appear to be remote controlled as they zip about the canyon edge..

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Sunrise... er, no, sunset...

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This, would be sunrise...

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And this would be the super keen Chinese Buffet, I think in Montrose...  was a great lunch...