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colorado alligators

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ufo watchtower / gator farm photographer's road trip!

I love crazy.  I do.  If you have a crazy uncle who wants to talk about DIA conspiracy theories, be sure to introduce me, because I'm totally fascinated by things that are crazy/ creepy/ weird/ unbelieveable, whether I personally agree with them or not.  I'm so fascinated by weird, random roadside attractions, too, and one night I was meeting with a group of photographer friends when I may have gotten a little too excited describing the awesome weirdness of Colorado's own UFO watchtower, and the gator farm down the road.  That, combined with my trying to explain ultra-small town life to my friends in "The City" (as we small mountain town people call it, doesn't really matter which city), and we decided they just had to see it all for themselves.What followed was a road trip of epic proportions - I seriously don't think I've ever crammed so much into two days.

We drove through Leadville where I attempted to explain ski jorring, stopped for coffee in my hometown of Buena Vista where our coffee was served by the mayor, and then we walked across the street to visit the old brothel (which apparently is a weird thing to refer to casually), then on to Colorado Gators!  We spent the afternoon cuddling baby gators and making friends with the gator wranglers, then headed to the UFO watchtower, where we put on crazy outfits, took some pictures in the sunset, danced around in their vortex garden at night, camped, woke up, encountered a fellow UFOer who refused to tell us his real name but said, "Some people call me Fez,", and  then went to the Sand Dunes where we were, by far, the most unusually-dressed hikers.  On the way back, I took them to the ghost town of St. Elmo, where we got curious and learned via Wikipedia that St. Elmo was named after a Victorian novel, not a saint, but that St. Elmo himself is actually the patron saint of sailors.  Curious, given that St. Elmo town is in a landlocked state at an elevation of 10,000 feet.  We drove back through the real South Park, knocking off an item from Heather's bucket list- she had never seen a ghost town before, and now she's seen two!  Phew.

Okay, brace yourselves for a gigantic number of images.  First, the gator farm, which is run by nice people with either the least amount of regulation or the best, most subtle sense of humor ever.  Giant tortoises, dogs, and peacocks roam the property freely, and you can pay $100 to take an ALLIGATOR. WRESTLING. CLASS.  Which, no, I have not yet had a chance to do, but yes, I plan on doing in the future.

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 A little out of focus, but still fun:

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 You could really just reach in and grab this little guy if you wanted to.

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Now, the UFO watchtower.  I haven't had any personal experience with actual UFOs, so I can't claim to be a believer, but for some reason I keep ending up at these UFO events...  I don't know.  I think it's the costumes.

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Self-portrait:

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Heather got beamed up! ;)

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This shot on the left is so unsettling and slightly creepy and I think it's awesome.

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Then, to the Sand Dunes! We planned to shoot for longer, but it got SO.HOT. so quickly that we didn't spend as much times as planned.  Also, we got some pretty awesome looks from the boy scout troop that passed us.

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I love these girls!  Be sure to check out their work at http://heathergrayphotography.com/ and http://kelseybigelowphotography.com/.

And I love road trips!  And I love hanging out!  Want to come with me sometime?  I'd be happy to show you around my favorite rural mountain towns, desert destinations, or explore somewhere new.  Just fair warning: I say the word "awesome" too much, you can't take me anywhere in Buena Vista without having to say hi to half the town, I like mimosas in the morning, and the second day of our road trip, I consumed one Rockstar, three Red Bulls, and two americanos without blinking.  So, if that sounds like your kinda party, get in touch!  It'll be awesome.

I grew up in Santa Fe, and I head back a few times a year.  I'm still planning to go this summer, but don't have dates yet.  Anyone wanna come with?  You can check out a few blog posts from previous Santa Fe trips 1. Here 2. Here and 3. Here.  Yay!

 

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