Thursday, December 31, 2015

Las Vegas Sunset (Nevada) - In Another Minute (Week 296)

Nothing quite like the Las Vegas sunset, with the mountains in the background, the Bellagio Fountains in the foreground and The Strip in-between.

Las Vegas Sunset (Nevada) - In Another Minute (Week 296)

This week, my husband Scott Solary and I went to Las Vegas for the first time - to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary on December 30th. This included a renewal of vows ceremony with Elvis at Graceland Wedding Chapel and dinner at Le Cirque with a view of the Bellagio Fountains and the "Eiffel Tower".

But first of all, we enjoyed the incredible view from the balcony of our suite at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Of course, I had to capture that view for you in a time-lapse video that would show the Las Vegas sunset as it changed the city from being lit up by the sun to being lit up by the neon signs. The dance of the Bellagio Fountains was just the icing on top.

What appears to be a regular Ferris wheel in the shot, is called the High Roller and actually features 28 glass-enclosed pods that each hold up to 40 people. It takes each pod 30 minutes to complete the cycle. Naturally, you can bring drinks on board or hire a bartender to take the spin along with you. Will have to try that next time...

The song in this video is called "Twilight" and was written and performed by my friend Jason Matherne from Gainesville, Florida. Thank you and keep 'em comin', Jason!

Next week, I'll share another video with you offering more Las Vegas views. Maybe you'll even get a glimpse of our Graceland Chapel wedding with Las Vegas Elvis...

For now, I wish you all a happy and healthy 2016. Thank you for virtually traveling and exploring along with me. And please always remember to be brave and be kind.

Las Vegas sunset featuring the Bellagio Fountains and The Strip

Thursday, December 24, 2015

2015 on Instagram - In A Colorado Minute (Week 295)

The video for this holiday week shows an excerpt of my view of 2015 on Instagram. It's basically a small selection of photos I published via the phone app this year.

2015 on Instagram - In A Colorado Minute (Week 295)

The photos include images from Colorado, Wyoming, Mexico, New York, Germany, and Arizona. A few of them, I took via the Hipstamatic app; hence those have a bit of a visual effect and a frame. The pictures are loosely in order of the seasons, skipping January and February, since I had already published photos from those months in the video "Fall + Winter (2014/15) on Instagram – In A Colorado Minute (Week 256)".

If you'd like to see more of my photos from 2015 on Instagram, or current pictures as I publish them, please check out or follow me via the app. If you do follow my account, please let me know that you watched the video and I'll make sure to follow you back and check out your photographs.

The featured song is the instrumental version of “Midnight Sun” by Josh Woodward ( This song is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 US License. Thank you, Josh, for making all your beautiful songs so readily available.

Thank you all for watching - and maybe even sharing and commenting on my videos this year.
Wishing everyone a lovely and joyful holiday season and a fantastic 2016!

Swimming during sunset in Horsetooth Reservoir, Colorado

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Snowshoeing in Lory State Park - In A Colorado Minute (Week 294)

I can't say it enough: snow shoeing is so much fun! So as soon as we dug our way out of the driveway after the snowfall this week, Scott, Whiskey and I went snowshoeing in Lory State Park.

Snowshoeing in Lory State Park - In A Colorado Minute (Week 294)

Lory State Park is the closest and most beautiful nature spot away from any streets to Fort Collins. It's perfect for some easy snow shoeing since it features some trails that aren't very steep - but with great views of the surrounding hills (or mountains in the mind of this flatland girl), like Arthur's Rock. There are steeper trails as well, if you'd like more of a challenge and view down onto Horsetooth Reservoir. We took the South Valley Trail, which I think would also be perfect for a cross-skiing adventure, which I hope to finally try this winter.

Snowshoeing in Lory State Park
Included in this video is a quick shot of our dog Whiskey catching snow. Please consider it a teaser for an upcoming video, maybe as a Christmas present to all you Whiskey Lovers. And her Christmas present should be a new winter coat. Looks like she's finally outgrown hers... After all, we got ourselves the full thermal outfit. Makes you feel a bit like a yeti. But then I think that's all part of the fun as you slowly stomp through the snow and go where no one else has disturbed the snowdrifts yet.

If you do take your dog on a snowy hike, please keep in mind that your dog is not wearing boots on top of snowshoes (the reason why your feet will stay warmer, since your boots don't get submerged in snow as they would without snowshoes). Whiskey, like many dogs, can't stand wearing dog boots. So we always bring a towel and stop every once in a while to warm up her feet, take out the clumps of snow between her toes and dry her fur.

And bring yourself a flask of whiskey to stay warm on the inside ;-) Of course only, if you have a designated driver.

I can't wait to go snowshoeing in Lory State Park again soon - and next time make it all the way to one of the Horsetooth Reservoir coves...

The song in this video is “Nice and Easy” by Jason Shaw of He has made this and many other cool songs available via a CC BY 3.0 license. Thank you, Jason!

For more snowshoeing fun, check out this video from 2 years ago: Snowshoeing With Whiskey Dog – In A Colorado Minute (Week 198)

Lory State Park
Bellevue, Colorado

Thursday, December 10, 2015

U3 Hamburg U-Bahn (Subway), Germany - In Another Minute (Week 293)

With my love for train and subway travel, I have a favorite subway line in my hometown Hamburg, Germany: the U3 Hamburg U-Bahn. The most scenic section IMHO is in-between the stations Baumwall, Landungsbrücken and St. Pauli. There the train goes above ground and rewards you with fantastic views of the Hamburger Hafen (Hamburg Harbor or Port of Hamburg).

U3 Hamburg U-Bahn (Subway), Germany - In Another Minute (Week 293)

When I traveled to Germany this past week to visit my family and catch up with friends, I took the opportunity to take a quick ride on the U3 subway to record the view of the Hamburg Harbor for you.
It was a grey but bright day (as is so typical for Northern Germany), so only one direction of shooting worked out because in the other direction the sun turned everything else into silhouette.

Unfortunately, this means that this video couldn't feature the old harbor buildings with the entrance to the Alte Elbtunnel (Old Elbe Tunnel) that greets you when you emerge from below ground between the St. Pauli and Landungsbruecken stations. But I figured I'll be back to Hamburg a lot more in the future, and one of these days I'll shoot a fully dedicated video of the harbor, not just a drive-by shooting.

A few facts... The U3 Hamburg U-Bahn train started running in 1912, which makes it Hamburg's oldest city train track. The U3 train line is about 20 km (12.5 miles) long and is often referred to as a Hochbahn (Elevated Train) because most of the 26 stops along the circular U3 train line are actually above ground. However, the U stands for U-Bahn or Untergrundbahn, which means subway. Other areas it connects are downtown, the upscale Eppendorf neighborhood and the outlying neighborhoods of Barmbek and Wandsbek, where I was born.

The Hamburger Hafen (Port of Hamburg) is located on the Elbe River, a little over 100 km south-east of the North Sea. It's Germany's largest, Europe's second largest and the world's 15th largest sea port. By the way: ich liebe den Hamburger Hafen!!!

On a side note: later that day, I witnessed and filmed an action in the Münzviertel (a Hamburg neighborhood) by the koZe (Kollektives Zentrum = collective center). This group of Hamburg activists are currently occupying (aka "squatting" in) an abandoned school building, which is scheduled to be torn down in order for a private developer to put up some fancy buildings.

The associated local activists include my father, Günter Westphal, who is a social artist heavily involved in the neighborhood. They would like to see this city-owned area and the future buildings to remain public and cater to the needs of the community instead of the growth of personal wealth of private developers. The occupied building currently houses a bike workshop, a coop, creative work spaces, and most importantly, housing for refugees. On Thursdays, they have bar night, where my dad, a few friends and I got to drink beers and talk about how we can make this world a better place. I met so many inspiring people that night and couldn't have been more proud of my father, who turned 73 a few days later! At some point, I will publish a video of the koZe action I recorded that day. It's the least I can do to support koZe and my father's work.

The song in this video is “Sailor's Lament” by Jason Shaw of He has made this and many other instrumental songs available via a CC BY 3.0 license. Thank you, Jason!

Rickmer Rickmers in the Port of Hamburg - seen from the U3 U-Bahn subway line

Thursday, December 3, 2015

First Snow - In A Colorado Minute (Week 292)

This week (on Thanksgiving no less) Fort Collins, Colorado got its real first snow. The heavy grey clouds, the dark water of Horsetooth Reservoir, and the powdery snow on the ground and on the plants created a magical atmosphere that weekend.

First Snow - In A Colorado Minute (Week 292) 

Of course, I had to face the sub-zero temperatures to capture the first snow and winter atmosphere in autumn - and share it with you. Scott and Whiskey were up for the fun - and we even ran into our Florida/Brooklyn friends Sheree, Jeff and Jeff's mother. A lovely afternoon in the snow with great company!

Since you probably won't be able to tell in the shot at regular speed, the bird that flies through the last quarter of the video was actually one of two bald eagles that kept cruising over the reservoir. In slow motion, you can see the white feathers.

Something else you may not notice right away: all the shots (except for the very last one) are actually videos and not photos. It was so still that day that even the clouds didn't seem to move. You only get to see movement in the little wrinkles on the water and a few wildflower close-ups.

On a little Whiskey dog side note: on my Facebook page, you can currently watch a video of Whiskey catching snow from that same outing.

The song in this video is the instrumental version of "Stars Collide" by Josh Woodward. This song is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 US License. Thank you so much, Josh, for all your great and free (!!!) songs!

First Snow at Horsetooth Reservoir
Fort Collins, Colorado

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Complete Drive Up Pikes Peak Highway, Colorado - (Extended Version)

This video shows the complete drive up Pikes Peak Highway to the summit of Pikes Peak in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado. It's the extended version of the 1-minute video Driving Up Pikes Peak Highway – In A Colorado Minute (Week 279).

Complete Drive Up Pikes Peak Highway, Colorado - (Extended Version)

The drive, shot with a GoPro and sped up 400%, took place in September 2015 during week 279 of the 5-year-running weekly web series Moving Postcard.

Pikes Peak Highway is the only road that takes you up to the summit at 14,115 feet (4,302.31 m), which is about 6,000 feet above the road’s entrance. Alternatives are the Broadmoor’s Pikes Peak Cog Railroad that rides up from Manitou Springs and, of course, hiking up the mountain along marked trails. The highway is a toll-road that cost us $40 for 5 adults. It takes about an hour to drive up the 19 miles – if you keep your speed at the recommended 25 mph (and 10 mph in the sharp turns). However, during the annual race, some cars cover the last 16 miles up in about 12 minutes.

The music in this video was all made by Jason Shaw. It includes the songs Marathon Man, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Dirt Road Traveler, Green Daze, and What’s It To Ya Punk. All songs are available via a CC BY 3.0 license on his website Audionautix. Thank you so very much, Jason!

Check out these other videos from Pikes Peak that include more information about the mountain and the drives:

Driving Down Pikes Peak Highway – In A Colorado Minute (291)

Driving Up Pikes Peak Highway – In A Colorado Minute (Week 279)

Pikes Peak Summit – In A Colorado Minute (Week 280)

Cycling up Pikes Peak Highway to the Pikes Peak Summit
ColoradoComplete Drive Up Pikes Peak Highway, Colorado - (Extended Version)