In praise of place: Ouray and environs (Part 1)
Now begins a difficult process: distilling down the Ouray, Colorado experience for purposes of this, my personal photography journal.
Difficult for several reasons. Firstly, because I’ve spent a week or two there out of almost every summer for the past quarter century (with just one exception, involving a new wife with relatives in Santa Fe). Imagine the volume of images to pore over in search of just the right ones to share. Also difficult because, when I first began documenting my summer vacation destination of choice, I really didn’t know an F-stop from a hole in the ground. Not to mention the fact that the equipment I brought to the task has, up until the last several years, been lacking in capability.
These teaser images, for instance, were captured over the summers of 2001 and 2002 using a Canon Powershot G-1, which I thought was pretty hot stuff at the time (it saved RAW images at 4-5 megs — although I seldom used the RAW functionality back in those casual shoot-from-the-hip days, preferring the convenience of .jpgs). Prior to the new millennium, I (along with just about everyone else) shot on actual film, and most of those slides remain unconverted to digital format. (A project awaiting my decrepitude, perhaps.)
What was I doing returning summer after summer to this one (admittedly remarkable) place? Two things: my best friend Tim owned a property there (I’ll not call it a “house” for reasons to be explained) on 9th Ave. across from the horse barn — an occasional source of pungently odoriferous breezes. The free
accommodations proved hard to turn down. Also, considering the abundance of outdoor activities and outstanding dining opportunities accessible literally within walking distance, it was hard to make an argument for going anywhere else. (I actually never attempted to make such an argument — and Anne, being a perceptive sort, soon realized that resistance would prove futile.)
The view from the front porch (see rainbow picture) made such minor inconveniences as horse manure and primitive/unreliable utility arrangements more than bearable. Which brings us to the confessional part: I refused in the above paragraph to describe the property as a house because it was, in fact, a double-wide trailer. (Gasp!) However, 15 some-odd years ago, Tim’s dad Bill added a dandy wooden deck to the front of the place, allowing for a fabulous spot for kicking back with a brewski and watching the sunlight paint all kinds of colors across the vast bowl of the Amphitheater; and honestly, from the inside, you’d think you were living in comfortable, if somewhat rustic, cabin.
Two doors down, in fact, lived (and lives) the current mayor of Ouray, Bob Risch and his charming wife Karen (see photo with kit-built airplane hanging out of the garage). The Risches have always been the most kind and accommodating of neighbors, devoting more time and energy than ought to have been expected making Texan vacationers feel comfortable and welcome.
Bob and Karen bought the property from Tim in 2011, marking the end of my string of summer visits — at least for now. (No more free rent.) It’s a two-sided outcome: on the one hand, I am going to miss my annual pilgrimage to the Switzerland of America; but on the other hand, it’s probably way past time for us to consider alternative locales. (In fact, in 2012, Anne and I vacationed in Moab, Utah, leaving Ouray entirely out of the picture.)
There are so many stories to tell about Ouray and environs — and by this I mean photos to share — that readers of this blog will probably find themselves groaning when yet another chapter of the Ouray summer saga appears.
I hope you won’t mind too much.