Thursday Morning Musings…and Photos

I know, I shared this image of the Stew Wagon yesterday, but it kind of captures how I’m feeling about things, right now. I’m out in the wilderness, with all my stuff, ready for another adventure.

So far, the day has been relaxed for me, here at the mill. There was a dusting of snow, as usual, when I woke up. We’ve received an inch or so more, as we approach nine o’clock. People coming in from lower elevations (read Denver) tell me that the highway is closed at Eisenhower Tunnel. That’s always fun for people driving up.

The Eisenhower/Johnson tunnels cut through the midst of the Rockies, right at the Continental Divide. If you watch closely driving through, you’ll see a marker that indicates exactly where that is. The tunnels were built to make east/west passage easier for motorists. Until their completion in the 1970s, travelers had to take Vail Pass, which is a longer, more complex (curvy), and slower route. At one point, over a thousand people were working on their construction. In all, it took eleven years to complete them both. The 1.7 mile trip will take you about two minutes. If you prefer the scenic route, you can still drive over Vail Pass. It’s a beautiful drive, and you wont be sorry.

Here are a few pics I did in a short snowfall, yesterday.

That’s it for me, today. Enjoy the life you’re living.

Unusual Photography!

These ladies were grazing on a hillside about half a mile away from where I was. The sky was overcast, preparing for the snow that would fall overnight. I’d been shooting along the Blue River, outside Silverthorne, Colorado. Glancing up, I saw these tiny, odd, kind of balloon looking things way up the side of another mountain. Bringing my camera up, I could see that they were the hind ends of these beautiful elk. Without a tripod, I scrambled to find ways to steady myself. I knelt on a boulder (pictured later), and leaned up against various trees, pushed my lens all the way out, and started clicking. Of the twenty or so shots that I took, only a few turned out at all well. To be honest, I’m surprised that I could reach out that far with that little SX40HS. I was also a little disappointed that the bull never showed up. That would have been nice.

This big ol’ toppled pine tree was the first thing that greeted me, as I clambered down the hill. They always fascinate me. I have seen some that continued to grow, sending new branches high into the air, like individual trees.

It must have been Bone Day, because I happened onto several skeletons. Most were small animals. Probably deer. One, though…I have no idea what it was. All I can say is, it was large. That’s a size 9 1/2 shoe.

Here are a few miscellaneous shots, from around the same area.

Finally, here’s a shot of the Stew Wagon through the trees, and a couple of views that are closer to where I sleep. You can see why I’m digging this assignment.

Thanks for following VagabondStew. Enjoy the life you’re living.

Brief Update and Thoughts…

Had a little snow overnight, but nothing to talk about. The wind, though!, rocked the Stew Wagon like a train car, waking me several times through the night. By morning, it had calmed down, and we were left with lovely white trees. There is no small snow mover, so this is what happens, even for an inch or two.

This photo, and a few other recent ones, have been taken with my Droid Turbo 2. I’m learning to use it, and getting better, as mobile photography seems to be carving its way into the mainstream. To shoot, I use an app called Open Camera, and for editing, I use SnapSeed. Both are available in the Play Store.

As I’m shooting, I hear Joel Sartore’s voice telling me to look for, or wait for, The Shot. That’s the one with something extra. For example, this morning I could have simply shown you the snowy trees and mountain across the valley. With that big loader out there, though, it seemed like a much more interesting shot to include it.

As I’m out shooting the landscapes here, I often struggle with that. Henri Cartier-Bresson liked to find a scene, set up his camera, and wait for something to happen. I’m tempted to do that here. There are a couple of places where I see lots of animal tracks, so I know there’s traffic. The Big Unknown is timing. Is there a particular time of day when this traffic is happening? Probably. If I decide to try this tactic, I’ll just have to be patient.

Another hazard is the snow itself. Sometimes, on cant tell how deep it is. Of course, this isnt the Arctic, so I’m not going to fall down some bottomless crevasse. Still, stepping unawares into a six foot drop can be dangerous, too.

Thanks for following VagabondStew. Dont forget to check out the Facebook page at, and follow vagabond.stew on Instagram.

Meanwhile, enjoy the life you’re living.


VagabondStew on Social Media…

In case you’ve been wondering, VagabonsStew does have a presence on both Facebook and LinkedIn, along with Instagram. Here are the links.

Facebook –

LinkedIn –

Instagram – Just search vagabond.stew

That’s all for today. Thanks for checking in. Enjoy the life you’re living.

Snow and Other Things…

It’s snowing again, up here at the mill. Yesterday, I had to use the A/C in the Stew Wagon. Another marvelous thing about where I live.

The framework that you see at the top of this photo, is a portion of a giant conveyor. It moves Molybdenum fifteen miles, from the foot of Jones Pass, through a mountain, and on to this facility, on Grand County Road 3. Built in 2000, it is the largest conveyor of its kind. Here at the mill, the raw ore is refined for use in metallurgy, lubrication, and other applications that I dont even know about.


So, what am I doing boondocking at the top of a mountain pass in a National Forest, and working at a Moly mill? Short answer: Saving up.

There’s some extended travel on my agenda and a monetary stash is always advisable. When someone mentioned that the mill needed a temporary person, and the pay rate, I took advantage. With no overhead – sleeping in the Stew Wagon in the indescribable heart of the Rockies – it was a No-Brainer.

Three weeks in, I’m happy.

Although the weather has kept me from some of the hiking and exploring that I’d planned to do, I’ve still been able to paint and shoot a lot of photos. That’s the immediate payoff. The long-term benefits will include some National Parks, meet-ups with Internet friends, ocean-side drives, and dozens of other things along the way.

Would you believe that only a year ago I was ready to cash it all in and die? If you’re feeling that way, drop me a note on the contact page. Let’s talk about it.


A couple of Fridays ago, I had coffee with a good friend. We’ve been acquainted for a long time, so conversations usually go beyond the usual weather and kids kind of talk. This time, we got to talking about Gratitude, and its importance in our day-to-day experience.

The consistent expression of Gratitude has several effects in the life of the Grateful. It causes us to consciously examine, and take a positive view of our current situation. That helps us to expect positive things in the future, which leads us to attempt things that we might not, if we took a negative approach. In turn, as we accomplish these new things, we become more grateful. In time, the practice of Gratitude simply becomes one of our defining characteristics.

A few years ago, I was coaching a client who had a problem with one of her co-workers. “She’s just so stupid and lazy. I don’t even like being in the same room with her”, she said. I challenged my client to find one reason to compliment this person, every day. In our next session, she said, “I’m glad you had me do that. I wasn’t seeing all of her. You helped me broaden my focus, so I wasn’t only seeing her faults.” It’s the same in most other circumstances. Many times, we need to broaden our focus, to see more than the unpleasant things.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you should be grateful for everything. Some things are inexplicably horrible, and to be grateful for them, at least in that moment, would be inappropriate. Who can be thankful when their child is dying, or they’re watching a house fire destroy everything they have?

What I am saying, is that we should find something to be grateful for in every day, if we can. Even on the day that a child is dying, something positive happened. Although the house burned down, and all was lost, other things were happening, too. Of course, we might not be able to see beyond those terrible things at the time, and that’s alright. There’s nothing wrong with allowing ourselves to completely process those events. We just cant let them become the focus of our lives. As soon as we can, we must begin to see the good.

In his letter to the believers at Philippi, Paul the Apostle said, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” When we do this, our hearts will be encouraged and we can be grateful. Then, peace can come in.

Thanks to you, for reading and sharing. Have a marvelous day, and enjoy the life you’re living.

A Little Night Shooting…and Cougar Safety

With a marvelous full moon up in a nearly cloudless sky, I had to take advantage. These were shot using my Canon PowerShot SX40HS. Each of these is a 15 second exposure, set on Tv (shutter priority), then adjusted and cropped.

Yes. Believe it or not, these are night shots. I dig these because they appear so much like mid-day, but those stars are shining up there. Super stuff!

I have to admit, I was a little nervous, knowing there’s a cat in the neighborhood. While I dont think I’d be in danger – people dont look like deer – it’s best to be on one’s guard.

According to Wikipedia, there have been only 14 fatal attacks in the US and Canada since 1970. However, six of those happened in the 90s, and there have been three since 2000. So, it may be that our continued expansion into their habitat has made them less shy.

Until 1991, the vast majority of cougar attacks were on children. Since then, of the nine, only three have been against children. One of them survived, but the mother was killed while defending her child. Another was an 18 year old male jogger, and the rest were people over 30 years old. Most of those were joggers or mountain bikers, traveling alone or ahead of their group on familiar trails.

Most of the material that I’ve seen points to early morning and evening hours as likely times for cougar attacks. This is when they are most actively hunting. Recommendations are a) to travel in groups. They prefer a quick and easy kill, to a fight. b) Be aware of your surroundings, although lions are stealthy and you probably wont see one, even if it’s there. c) Make noise, as this will let the cougar know that you are not food. d) Stay upright, because a crouching or bending posture might appear to be a four legged creature.

With these things in mind, during my brief shoots, I sang, whistled, walked around. I did pretty much anything I could to advertise that I was not a good food source. After all, while the odds are hugely in my favor, there’s no point in taking a life or death gamble.



Love Missed…

When I met Scott, a few weeks ago, he was reading “The Great Gatsby”, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. That isn’t a book you see people reading, very often. Our tables were next to each other, at a local coffee shop in Arvada, Colorado. I asked him what he thought of the book, so far. He told me that he’d read it before, but decided to read it again, to see how age might have changed his perceptions. We talked about that, and I bought him a free refill.

In the course of our conversation, he told me a bittersweet story. It seems that, in 1986,  he’d met the love of his life, and missed it.

After he got out of the Navy, he’d gone back home, to Minnesota, where his family was. He’d taken a couple of jobs there, but didn’t feel like it was time to settle down. A road trip seemed like a good idea, so he packed his things into a 1979 Chevy van, and started driving. Winding up in Alaska, he fell in love with the place and decided to stay. Before long, he got a gig flying people around on sight seeing and fishing tours. That’s where he met her.

She was a bit younger, brunette, and funny. When he found out that she was from Minneapolis, he had her sit up front with him, leaving her brother to sit behind. They got on very well, and he didn’t want to let it end. Although he had another tour scheduled that afternoon, he decided to cancel it (equipment problems), and put the plane down on a lake (I don’t remember which).

The three of them sat on the pontoons, talking and laughing, then moved to the shore. Her brother even seemed to like him. At the end of the day, they’d promised to get back in touch. He knew that he’d be going back to the Cities, now and then; so, they could meet up and get to know each other better.

You know how this ends. Several months passed, and he did go back to Minnesota, trying to let her know before he made the trip. The unfortunate truth was that the contact information that he had, from her tour, was out of date. Apparently, she had changed apartments and didn’t think to let him know. After all, that Alaskan pilot from last year, isn’t somebody you automatically put on your list. So, now, he just had a nice memory of a day on the lake with a girl who might have been The One.

He stayed in Alaska for a few more years, did some more traveling, and finally stayed here in Colorado. While he loves Alaska, the winters were more than he wanted to deal with, and he has his own plane now, so he can visit whenever he wants.

Thanks for the story, Scott.

Three Little Pics…

Sometimes, it still amazes me how quickly things happen here. Springtime in the Rockies is not necessarily something to sing about. In the past two weeks, we’ve had several inches of snow, but you’d hardly know it. Tuesday, the sky dropped about six inches of the stuff on us. Yesterday, the temps warmed up and it was almost gone from the valley. Of course, up here on the mountain we still have a bunch.

I’ve already mentioned that one of the things I was looking forward to, with this new assignment, was the opportunity to do some hiking, photography, and painting. The thing is, even when the weather’s nice, the ground is sloppy and mucky. It isn’t the kind of situation to be hauling my easel around in. Selfishly, I hope for dry weather. We desperately need the water, though, so I wont complain (much).

Here are a couple of frames I did after work, yesterday.