Rocky Mountain National Park

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I think spring is my favorite season but fall comes in at a close second. One of the most magical places to experience autumn is in Rocky Mountain National Park. The last time I was there was a decade ago, when I took this picture, but lately I've been getting the feeling that I need to go back. The very first time I went to Rocky National Park I was 14. I had my first real camera which was Korean. A friend of my dad's gave it to me but it didn't have a manual and even if it had I wouldn't have been able to read it. I'd had the camera for about a year before the trip and it took me almost that entire year to figure the darn thing out by myself. (If you know me, you know I hate asking for help.) All my babysitting money and money from my part time job at the grocery store went to film and processing and I kept getting 36 black or blown out images back when they came in. Kids starting out in photography have no idea what it was like in the old film days: One roll of film, 24-36 shots, that's it. Then you can't see if you captured the picture or not, you just had to cross your fingers and wait an entire week to see the results. That trip to Colorado was my first experience with mountains and wildlife and I was in love. My dad drove up to a group of elk, two males were fighting about twenty feet from the road and of course, not knowing anything about wildlife I jump out of the car to get a picture. I barely made it back in the car in time. Then we hiked up to this beautiful waterfall and I decide that I think the waterfall would look much more picturesque from the other side. I was bracing for the jump to the very slippery looking rock across the way when my Dad was like, "Don't even think about it Shannon." Sometimes my boyfriend or my kids see that same expression on my face when I'm taking pictures and they know exactly what I'm thinking. Sometimes I listen to their voices of reason and then other times I don't. That trip is probably my favorite teenage memory. When those pictures came back from the lab and all of them were in focus and well exposed I was giddy with joy. Have a great night. Photo by Shannon K. Culpepper