A Vacation Fit For a King!

Being a King is really hard work! So I needed a vacation to get away from the stresses of everyday life... greeting guests, mixing margaritas, surfing to find new attractions, and locating appropriate sacrifices for the Island Goddess...

Well, I suppose my real life job as a computer geek had something to do with the stress as well... :o)

So I took a little vacation... 3 1/2 weeks wandering about the "Four Corners" area of the US and soaking up the spectacular natural beauty of this region. This part of the American Southwest (Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico) contains some of the most beautiful scenic places in the world! And we made an effort to see as much of it as you can with several weeks of free time and a 4WD vehicle.

If there was a "theme" to the trip, I would have to call it the "3 R's Tour": Railroads, Redrock, and Ruins.
Among the goals we had set for the trip was to ride as many of the scenic Coal/Steam trains still running in the area as we could get to (Leadville, Cripple Creek, Cumbres/Toltec, Durango to Silverton) and other scenic trains (Pike's Peak Cog Railway, Royal Gorge Incline Railway) to get the flavor of how it might have been in the "old days" before everyone travelled by car.

We also had the goal of visiting as many of the spectacular "Redrock" canyon parks as possible... and we didn't miss many of them! There was Garden of the Gods (Colorado), Natural Bridges, Canyonlands, Arches, Capital Reef, Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks, Zion (Utah), the Grand Canyon (Arizona), and Monument Valley (Arizona and Utah).

The third major theme was the fascinating Ruins of Anasazi villages and cliff dwellings, represented by Mesa Verde (Colorado), Hovenweep (Utah), and Chaco Canyon (New Mexico). As I said, it was a very scenic trip, with hundreds of photo opportunities (which I took full advantage of!). So, many of these scenic wonders will eventually find their way to my Photo Gallery page.

In additon to experiencing the scenic wonders of the Four Corners region, there was also the food characteristic of the American Southwest... we enjoyed dining on such wild west delicacies as Bar-b-que beef, spicy Mexican dishes, biscuits 'n gravy, roadkill fondue, and dirt and worms (don't ask...).

About the only negative about the trip was the camera problems I experienced... On the Cumbres/Toltec railway, I spent most of the time in the "open" car so I could better enjoy the scenic beauty on both sides of the train and have better sight lines for photography. The hazard of this is that, on a coal-fired steam train, there is a lot of soot flying around. Somewhere on the second leg of the trip on the way to Antonito, Colorado my state-of-the-art, whizbang, gee-whiz electronic wonder with all the fancy bells and whistles choked to death on the grit and soot... Unable to unjam the camera or find a camera repair shop in the small towns of the area that could get it working again, I shifted to "Plan B"... I picked up one of those compact zoom 35mm cameras to serve fill-in duty until I could get my "real" camera repaired. So, most of the pictures I took on the trip were with this "point-and-shoot" camera... limited to a 28-90 zoom range and with no shutter/aperture control, I'm waiting to see how the pictures turned out... I've heard good things about the new breed of compact cameras, so hopefully there will be plenty of pictures of the quality I look for to put in my Gallery... If the results are good, the camera will get a plug here. :o) So I spent the trip with a point-n-shoot camera around my neck, and my high-tech camera rig serving as a 40-pound doorstop. Oh well...

Camera Update!
Well, I got the slides back and took a look at them. And do you know what? That little P&S camera did a pretty darned good job! I got good quality images in all but the trickiest lighting conditions. When I bored my friends to death with a slide show, if I hadn't told them, they would not have known which ones were taken with the "little" camera! (Of course, I only loaded the pick of the litter in the slide tray...)

So, true to my word, I'm going to give my emergency camera a plug here. The understudy who came in when the star went down was a Pentax IQ Zoom Model 928. While I missed not having my super-wide angle 21-35 lens for many of the scenics, and my selection of filters, I would have to say that my little Pentax performed yeoman duty and salvaged my photographic record of a trip that presented so many great photo opportunites I would have kicked myself silly if I hadn't had a camera available. If you need a camera and don't want or need all the doodads, bells, and whistles of a full-scale SLR rig, I can heartily recommend this camera. I would guess that many of the other cameras in its class would have performed as well.

So you can look forward to seeing pictures from this trip from time to time in the Photo Gallery... Any ideas for great places for me to visit on future vacations?

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Billions of my visitors have joined me on vacation since December 18, 1997.