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On our trip to Colorado in September, we had the privilege of experiencing what it’s like to hike Rocky Mountain National Park. Aside from the magnificent beauty of this amazing place, it was awe-inspiring to contemplate the forces of nature that molded and shaped this spectacular landscape: the tectonic plates and the crush and rumble, the slow grind of rock and sediments and water and ice, the featured players in creating this most incredible terrain in all of the natural world.

And so, stumbling upon this smaller rock wedged – just so – beneath this large boulder (or perhaps the little guy is really only propping up the bigger fella?) gave me pause to consider how, after all that geological activity had exhausted itself to create the breathtaking scenery that surrounded us, seen and not yet seen, these two rocks would end up in just this manner.

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In a place like this, it’s impossible not to gaze in wonder at the beauty that surrounds you. The quiet, the stillness, the solitude – it’s always there, in the dark of night, in the early morning, at the end of each day. I get it now, why people speak so lovingly and with such enthusiasm for not just this particular place but anywhere that nature takes us, pulling us in, away from day to day worries, cares and concerns. When I was in my 30’s, a group of friends and I, with my young son, went camping and hiking several times throughout the year, exploring state parks, lakes and trails. Why is it that I let that go for so long? Our recent trip to Colorado has awakened that sense of wonder in me again. I yearn for it and find I’m happiest and most content when I’m outdoors, actively engaging with the natural world all around me.

My husband, knowing how much I enjoyed camping, proposed to me at an overlook at Bellevue State Park. It was the first and last time we used the new tent he purchased for the occasion. And then we got busy with graduating from college, starting our careers, buying a new house, remodeling, friends, family – our lives somehow got in the way of pursuing something that is simple enough to enjoy and yet we always maintained ‘sometime we’ll do that again’ but somehow we just never did.

Fall camping is my favorite time of year and we still have that tent. I don’t know that either of us wants to sleep on the ground anymore so a trip to ye old Bass Pro Shop may just be in order to check out more comfy options. Favorite memories are flooding my brain now: the sounds of the woods at night, hiking and exploration, great conversations (and fantastic meals!) around a roaring fire and being awakened by the songs of the birds in the trees. Lovely recollections and experiences so real and genuine that I’m actually stunned that I’ve failed to recreate them all these years since then.

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ~ Albert Einstein

Gorgeous fall day and all is well.  Sitting comfortably in the sun, sturdy twin-seat andirondack chairs beneath us, favorite beverages in hand, we are enveloped by nature.  Babbling brook, stellar jays and magpies flitting about, congregating three abreast on a branch high above, wildflowers and tall grasses slightly swaying in the warm autumn breeze.  Perfect venue for playing with my camera, inspired by two new photography books I picked up at Barnes & Noble earlier this week.

Bill and I took a class when we bought our first SLR almost fifteen years ago.  The assignments were fun and we learned a lot.  However, while I ‘got’ it at the time, working the manual dials on my camera is a bit of a challenge for me.  Bill retained pretty much everything and so is a good mentor.  My brain just can’t think that fast.  But I know practice is key and this is something I’d love to master.

Auto mode is easy and, for the most part, a no-brainer.  From my perspective, composition and subject selection are what I enjoy most but as Bill and I played around today stuff was starting to click.  The books I purchased include assignments to complete to help drive home the concepts.  I’m looking forward now to becoming a student again and photography is one subject I heartily look forward to studying any time, any place!