Sunday, April 13, 2014

Six Month Update - Time to start posting again!

It would take a lot of words to relate all of the things that have happened in the past six months since I last posted a significant update.  Oftentimes, pictures can be the spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down, so I'll try and use pictures as much as I can.  Hopefully I've reached a point in my shooting where the pictures will actually be interesting enough to keep people here to the end of the post!  Now that we're getting into the race season, I'll be updating more often with some more in-depth and detailed posts.  Please check out the pictures and leave a comment with any thoughts.  Thanks for reading!  

At the beginning of the fall, I had the opportunity to go on one last off-road adventure.  I headed up a favorite route above Fairplay, CO to the eastern side of Mosquito Pass.  I've previously posted images from my first two excursions in this valley - one time checking out the North London Mountain Mine, one time checking out the London Mountain Mill.  This time I couldn't make it to the mine because of the snow and there was a large group of people checking out the mill.  I decided to head up the gut of the valley to it's northwest termination, instead. 

After leaving Mosquito Pass, I headed north towards Breckenridge.  2 miles short of the resort town, I stopped to catch the sunset over Goose Lake Tarn.

I enjoyed a quiet dinner of Mexican food in Breckenridge and chose to get back home by going over Loveland Pass.  I was fortunate enough to have brought my tripod along and decided to try my hand at night sky photography.  The results were not as sharp as I would like, but it's better than nothing!

At the end of October, I headed back to Lees McRae College and Banner Elk, North Carolina for the first time since leaving the school in May.  Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals was held on top of Beech Mountain, directly adjacent to town.  I traveled and lodged with my friends from Colorado School of Mines and our partners in crime from University of Wyoming joined us in the house we rented.  We made it to the high country just in time for the first cold snap and snowfall of the year.  Temps were sub-20 degrees the first day but warmed to nearly 60 degrees the second day.

Yet another trip through St. Louis coming back from Nationals!
L'Hospital was happy to see me upon returning to Golden!  Only at School of Mines would there be a dog named after a calculus rule.  

I was at home for a week during Thanksgiving break and for almost three weeks over Christmas break.  Hanging out with my family was awesome, especially playing with Sam.

Mom one-upped me with the camera body and lenses we got her for Christmas!

Extra cute, fluffy and cuddly.

In between the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks - the day before flying out for Christmas, actually - I explored the ghost town of Gilman, Colorado.  Gilman was a successful mining town located between Leadville and Vail, but separated from the two by over dozens of miles of forest and mountain ranges in either direction.  In 1984 the EPA declared the entire town and the immediate surrounding mines a superfund site, took control of all of the land, and proceeded to boot everyone out.  Absolutely everyone.  Not a person has lived, worked, or recreated in Gilman in the past 30 years.  I spent a day checking it out.

Mine shaft elevators.  The elevators were locked at the ground level, but I could feel cool, moist air from the mine below pushing out around the edges.  The moisture froze on every surface in this room, giving it an ice-age appearance.

This is what's left of the bowling alley after 30 years of vandalism.

At the end of my Christmas break, I headed to New York City for a long weekend with my friend Dan, who lives just outside the city.  I checked out the city's notable buildings, the subway, and then something a little more unique and unseen.  Letchworth Village near Palisades Mall is an abandoned insane asylum and orphanage roughly 90 minutes from New York City.  Opened over 100 years ago and closed during the end of the 20th Century, the institution has somewhat of a dark past.  For over 50 years after the village opened, it was common for the mentally disabled to be completely disowned by their families and given to the state.  Those individuals too disabled to refuse consent (mostly children) were used as guinea pigs for a wide array of medical tests and scientific experiments, often resulting in the death of the subject.  Post-mortem lobotomies were standard procedure at Letchworth throughout the facility's active years and they maintained a gallery of brains in the hospital building.  

Since 2013 was the last year for the legal sale of incandescent light bulbs, these will likely be the last traditional bulbs to burn in the first house to ever have electric lighting - J.P. Morgan's house.  

Brickwork on the smokestack of Letchworth Village's powerhouse.

Vandals had ripped the faces off of hundreds of CPR test dummies found in a supply building and scattered them in dozens of other buildings.

Hospital building, ground level.

The view from the third floor of the hospital.

The second week of 2014 brought USA Cycling's Cyclocross National Championship to Boulder, Colorado, just 30 minutes away from my apartment in Golden.

Allison Arensman, Brevard College

Tyler Coplea

Sam O'Keefe

A masters 35-39 racer on the run-up.  A spectator was offering shots of beer to racers, but this one decided to take the whole can from her other hand.  The crowd went nuts.

Dylan Knutson, Lees-McRae College

Tim Johnson, Cannondale Cyclocross World

I've headed to a few good punk and ska shows at the 7th Circle Music Collective in Denver this winter.  Entry is free, but a donation of at least one dollar is essentially required.  100% of donated money is split between the bands performing on a given night and all of the staff are volunteers.  7th Circle is for independent and underground music only, catering mostly to punk, ska, metal and acoustic/folk music.  Punk and ska are the mainstays.

Chad Lovings, the current head mechanic at the shop, is working on starting his own custom frame building company.  He is currently finishing his second frame - a fillet-brazed cyclocross bike.

During the last week of March, I drove to and from Austin, Texas to race a Leadville 100 qualifier.  I stopped at the ruins of an old ghost town on Raton Pass in Colorado to see the last remaining structure - a mission-style church - on the trip to Austin, and visited an almost ghost town in New Mexico on the way back.   During my five day stay in Texas, I stayed two miles from the course in Smithville, a town of 3,000 people about 45 minutes southeast of Austin.  I cannot say enough good things about that town.  It has an incredible amount of charm, history, friendliness and authenticity.  The historic district has endless blocks of well-kept, picturesque victorian homes of all sizes and colors.

Sunset over Raton, New Mexico and the Rockies.

The view from a bed in a caboose in Smithville, Texas, the location of the race.

Another Caboose view.

Although a few residents remain in this New Mexico town, the church is among the growing number of abandoned structures that already outnumber maintained buildings many times over.

That's just about all I've got to share for now.  As it usually goes with posts spanning this much time, I'm sure I've missed a fair amount of detailed stories... anyway, I'll be back to my regular posting this race season, starting with a trip to Grand Junction and Fruita this upcoming weekend.   Although it's been 70 to 75 degrees and sunny for all of the past week, we've gotten a few inches of snow today and more is coming overnight.  It is spring in Colorado!

No comments: