Thursday, September 29, 2016

Cherokee Park Road (80C) - In A Colorado Minute (Week 335)

Cherokee Park Road (County Road 80C) is a 32-mile dirt road that takes you through lovely vistas of the Laramie Foothills on the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains in Northern Colorado.

Cherokee Park Road (80C) - In A Colorado Minute (Week 335)

Cherokee Park Road turns off US-Highway 287 about 20 miles north of Fort Collins, Colorado. After driving for about 77 minutes (if you don't stop for hikes, picnics, fishing, etc.), 80C changes its name to Sand Creek Road. Time to turn around and enjoy the views the other way...

Scott and I discovered this road through a chain of events. First, someone recommended he check out the North Fork River in Eagle's Nest Open Space for some late summer fly fishing. We ended up spending an entire Sunday afternoon up there. Once we gushed about how lovely and secluded it was up there, Pete recommended, the near-by Halligan Reservoir.

So on Wednesday we tried to find Halligan Reservoir... We turned off 287 at Cherokee Park Road and were immediately enamored with the rock structures. Why go up to Vedauwoo, if we have this right here in Colorado? Alas, once we got the smaller dirt roads that were supposed to take us to the reservoir, we found them all locked up for the season. Instead of hiking in, we kept driving. That's when we discovered all the bright Aspen trees in the autumn colors. On that day, we chose against following 80c once it becomes a "not maintained in the winter" road and followed the more prominent County Road 59, which led us to Wyoming. Hello. By the way, it is easy to miss that you have to turn left at that point to stay on Cherokee Park Road instead of accidentally driving up to Wyoming via 59.

Because Cherokee Park Road had been so cool on this partial drive, we returned this Sunday to take it all the way west to Eaton Reservoir aka Worster Reservoir and explore the Cherokee State Wildlife Areas along the way.

I thought I'd share the lovely ride with you and shot it with the GoPro Hero 3 mounted to the hood of our car. Now, I'm quite disappointed with the image quality of the video online. I don't know why I keep falling for shooting driving time-lapse with the GoPro. Once it's exported and uploaded, it's so chunky, it makes me cringe. Please make sure you watch the video at the highest resolution (1080p). It does still give you a pretty good idea of what that drive is like, right? And you can always come visit me, and I'll show you the full-resolution offline version, which looks fine... or maybe I'll even take you for this drive...

As you travel Cherokee Road, you have the opportunity to stop at several entrances to the Cherokee Wildlife Area, which is divided into Upper Unit (4,822 acres), Lone Pine Unit (6,654 acres), Lower Unit (2,751 acres), and Middle Unit (4,826 acres). Fishing, hunting and camping are allowed with certain restrictions. But this Colorado State Wildlife Area is a patchwork of units interspersed with Forest Service land and private property; so you have to pay attention to whose land you're on. There's a great interactive map that can help you sort that out.

We stopped for awhile along Sheep Creek for a picnic, fishing and photographing. After this afternoon in the sun, we were ready to build a little summer cabin along the stream up there.

The song in this video is appropriately enough called "Dirt Road Traveler" by Jason Shaw of Audionautix. He made this song available via the CC BY 3.0 license, which I'm super grateful for. Thank you, Jason!

Autumn Aspen trees along Cherokee Park Road, Colorado

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Photos of Eagle's Nest Open Space (Colorado)

It was such a treat to discover the Eagle's Nest Open Space in Larimer County, just 30 minutes north-west of Fort Collins. Even though it was a hot and sunny Sunday in September, we only ran into a few people at the beginning of our hike down to the North Fork river (which runs into the Cache la Poudre River). After that... no human soul in sight.

In this post, I'm sharing a few photos, but I highly recommend you check out my video "Eagle’s Nest Open Space – In A Colorado Minute (Week 334)" - that's also where you can read more about Eagle's Nest Open Space.

If you'd like to see even more photos from this location and other Colorado adventures, check out my In A Colorado Minute 2016 Flickr album.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Eagle's Nest Open Space - In A Colorado Minute (Week 334)

Eagle's Nest Open Space features 755 acres of nature, about 5 miles of trails, access to the North Fork of the Cache la Poudre River and beautiful views of Eagle's Nest Mountain and the Laramie Foothills. The best part about Eagle's Nest Open Space: not many people seem to know about it.

Eagle's Nest Open Space - In A Colorado Minute (Week 334) [4k]

Eagle's Nest is just outside Livermore, Colorado, about half an hour north-west of Fort Collins via 287. For locals: the entrance is on the left side just after you turn at Forks towards Red Feather Lakes. From February 1 to July 15 certain areas as are closed to protect nesting animals. And yes, there are Golden Eagles nesting on Eagle's Nest. I didn't get any footage, but I did photograph a raptor. Haven't identified yet which bird it is though.

Larimer County Open Spaces are free to enter and are financed through a 1/4 cent sales and use tax. Some of the land is used in cooperation with farmers - so don't be surprised if you run into a herd of cows. Started as a citizens initiative, these lands serve both as a protection of natural resources and as places of recreation.

The reason why I think this a well-kept-secret is because when we were there on a beautiful, sunny, warm Sunday afternoon, we only ran into one small group on horseback and one other guy when we first got there - and then didn't see another human being for the rest of the afternoon.

A quick note on the video: When we first got out of the car it was so crazy windy that there was no way I would be able to shoot a decent video, even with a tripod. So I left the tripod behind. Once we had walked a bit and got down into the valley, the views were so breath-taking and the wind had died down some. So I ended up getting footage without the tripod. Tried my best to smooth it out in post.
By the way, I'm still struggling a little bit with color correction of the 4k footage in Adobe Premiere. I'm interested in your feedback regarding color, contrast and brightness.

The song in this video is the instrumental version of the song "Midnight Sun" by Josh Woodward. This song is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Thank you so much, Josh!

Eagle's Nest Mountain reflected in the North Fork (of Cache la Poudre River)
Eagle's Nest Open Space, Colorado

In the next few days, I'll upload a few photos to the In A Colorado Minute 2016 Flickr album and my blog

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Photos of St. Vrain State Park

St. Vrain State Park is an oasis of ponds, wildlife and views of the Rocky Mountains right off Interstate 25 in Northern Colorado.

These photos I took while shooting the video "St. Vrain State Park – In A Colorado Minute (Week 333)." Check out the post for the video to read more about the Colorado state park.

Three cormorants...

Two cormorants...

One cormorant.

St. Vrain River
St. Vrain State Park, Colorado

St. Vrain State Park, Colorado

Pelican Pond
St. Vrain State Park, Colorado

St. Vrain State Park, Colorado

Pelican Pond
St. Vrain State Park, Colorado

Whiskey dog running through St. Vrain River

Abandoned farm seen from St. Vrain State Park, Colorado

St. Vrain State Park, Colorado

Pelican Pond
St. Vrain State Park, Colorado

St. Vrain State Park, Colorado

Next year's blooms and this year's blooms
St. Vrain State Park, Colorado

Bald Eagle Pond
St. Vrain State Park, Colorado

Coot Pond
St. Vrain State Park, Colorado

Thursday, September 15, 2016

St. Vrain State Park - In A Colorado Minute (Week 333)

The St. Vrain State Park near Longmont, Colorado, features about ten ponds and the wonderful backdrop of the Rocky Mountains.

St. Vrain State Park - In A Colorado Minute (Week 333) [4K]

While the Colorado state park was named after the St. Vrain River, which flows along its north side, it's not the main attraction. Actually, access to the river is a bit of a challenge. The main attraction of St. Vrain State Park are the ponds and the wildlife they support, namely birds and fish. It would be interesting to know why they changed the park's name, at some point, from Barbour Ponds to St. Vrain.

St. Vrain State Park encompasses 604 acres of land and 152 acres of water (split up between the ponds and Blue Heron Reservoir). When I visited this past week, it looked like they were doing another expansion on the north-west side. Exciting!

Birds commonly seen in the park are egrets, white pelicans, blue herons, migrating waterfowls and various birds of prey, including bald eagles. The St. Vrain ponds are a very popular fishing destination for a good reason. Not only are the ponds stocked with different fish, the Colorado Parks Department provides you with excellent information about which fish can be found where. I'm impressed.

There are two facts about this location I purposely left out of this video: the noise of close-by Interstate 25 and the large amount of RVs. While the proximity of the interstate and the excellent amenities for RV camping make this a prime road trip camping spot, it wasn't what I wanted to feature in my nature-focused video. So from afar, St. Vrain State Park may just look like an RV park with some ponds to you - but when you get close and allow yourself to get lost in the beauty of the nature and wildlife here, it's simply a lovely oasis.

Most of this video I recorded around Pelican Pond, with additional footage from Mallard Pond, Bald Eagle Pond, Coot Pond and the St. Vrain River. At Coot Pond, Scott, Whiskey and I watched the most thrilling sunset yet... I didn't include footage of that here because I'll be sharing a time-lapse video of the entire sunset with you very soon (maybe next week already).

There are a few milestones marked with this video:
  • It's the first Moving Postcard published in the 4k/UHD format. While most of you probably don't have an UHD monitor yet and might not be able to enjoy how large and sharp this video can play... you will one day.
  • It's the first Moving Postcard I edited on Adobe Premiere Pro (vs. Final Cut Pro 7). I had to switch to be able to work in 4k/UHD. Since I used Premiere Pro before FCP had become the standard a decade ago, switching hasn't been as difficult as I feared. I think I still have a lot to learn about the color correction aspect. What do you think? Do the colors and contrast look okay? Whiskey doesn't look as red-haired as usual, no?
  • Last but not least, this is the first video location I recorded based on a recommendation by someone on Google+. Thank you, Bailey! In the last few months, there have been some exciting developments for me with G+. First, my In A Colorado Minute Collection became a Featured Collection (and by now has over 28,000 followers), then I was invited into the official Google+ Create Community - and by now I've had several very meaningful exchanges with people on Google+ that make me want to celebrate those human connections here as well. (Of course, I will not be fooled by the thought of this G+ thing being everlasting. I do still remember how YouTube/G+ screwed me over and permanently deleted all my work and community 4 years ago. I ain't no fool.)
The lovely guitar playing in this video is the instrumental version of the song "Memorized" by Josh Woodward. This song is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Thank you again and again and again, Josh!

Pelican Pond and Longs Peak
St. Vrain State Park, Colorado
You can look at more photos of the park (and Whiskey splashing in the water) in the In A Colorado Minute 2016 Flickr album and on my blog.