Backroads, Pottawattamie County, Iowa. Few things are more relaxing than exploring the backroads of rural Iowa, where antiquity, nature, and modernity all mingle in a slow-paced reverie. There doesn’t have to be any particular start point or end point. Wherever you are, at any given moment, is the destination, and that’s the greatest part. One mile of backroads and one hundred miles cover the same distance. The discovery, the renewal, the awakening, it’s just waiting there, all day long. You’re just along for the ride.
County Road 40 seems like such an unfairly pedestrian name for the gravel passage between Highway 34 and Highway 125. It's a short but resplendent drive through lush valleys and the Rocky Mountain foothills. About halfway along the length of County Road 40 is Willow Creek Reservoir, an aspen-lined lake that was shrouded in low-lying mist the first time we saw it. It's also home to the most dramatic warning sign I've ever seen, which warns that entry into the reservoir's trickling spillway means "certain death." Maybe the spillway's flow was just unusually slow on the few days we visited, making the warning that much more amusing. Nonetheless, we did not test its credibility. The best part is that County Road 40 is nearly deserted. We never saw another car on the road, meaning it offered some welcome privacy in an otherwise touristy area. Some other photographs taken along this road are here and here.
Some places are staggering in their vastness.
Here is another photograph of magical Monarch Lake, whose surface was strikingly still on the morning of our first visit. When we first got there, not long after sunrise, Teri, Gavin, and I had the lake all to ourselves. That's the great thing about early mornings; most people have a deep aversion not only to waking up early, but also to getting up and at 'em at that hour. Accordingly, it is my favorite time of the day for photography.
Much of the forests in Colorado have been decimated by mountain pine beetles (not to be confused with the Japanese beetles that are ravaging your roses and raspberries). But this healthy fella has figured out that there is safety in solitude.
There's no better cure for the dog days of summer than a trip to the alpine tundra. The point below is at an elevation of 11,796 feet, which means that you have 11,796 reasons to bring along a sweater, even in July.
This photograph is dedicated to the mysterious midnight workers who conspire with Mother Nature to leave abandoned, character-rich log cabins and ramshackle old barns out in the middle of nowhere for me to find during approaching storms. I cannot thank you guys enough.
I reintroduced myself to Bear Lake a few weeks ago after a brief falling-out in 2010. I realize now that it was me, not her. I smartened up this time and approached her with fresh eyes. I'm guessing that next time will be even better.