The Jeep Geek

The Jeep Geek's Blog

Mushrooms Mountain Goats and Mud

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The Jeep Geek and the Y-Hike crew went up Mount McClellan this weekend and encountered a bunch of Mushrooms, Mountain Goats and Mud. What a wonderful trip. As we were photographing these mushrooms, Danny Tomlinson (The Jeep Geek’s staff historian) pronounced these as Angel of Death mushrooms…sounds yummy.

After some research, The Jeep Geek is not sure. Some Web resources call these Fly Agaric…in which case they are psychoactive and mildly toxic. Either way, not something to be ingested. If they are the Angel of Death mushrooms, one cap will kill a man in just a few days. They will cause liver and kidney failure.

After extensive research, The Jeep Geek has concluded that every non-poisonous mushroom has a poisonous variety that looks just like it. So he is going to stick with Safeway as the place to get his safe mushrooms.

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Pretty little things though. The Jeep Geek wonders if these mushrooms were the inspiration for Disney’s toadstools in Alice in Wonderland.

The group then moves on up the mountain to the top of Mt. McClellan. While enjoying the view we see this guy. A fully mature mountain goat walking around the rocks.


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He is clearly the king of the mountain. Just looking at The Jeep Geek and daring him to come over to this rocky ledge…no thanks.

Rain clouds with a bit of thunder and lightening cause the group to leave the mountain top and seek safer ground below the tree line. The trail is moderately easy, but narrow in a few places so not for Hummers or Pickup Trucks.

The Jeep Geek hopes you get off-road here in Colorado and see some of these great views…breath taking.

As always, The Geek abides
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Photographing Waterfalls

The Jeep Geek is far from a professional photographer, however he does enjoy capturing the scenes he encounters out in the bush so that he can share the majesty of God and His creation with his readers. If you are wondering if all this is some plot to get you to make decisions…yes, of course it is…get out on the trails and see all this and become inspired.

While this is not a photography website per se. No site that talks about the great outdoors is complete without some discussion of photography technique. This article focusing on specific techniques for capturing dramatic images of waterfalls. These techniques wouldn’t work for wildlife, flowers, or landscapes, but during a recent trip to Ouray, The Jeep Geek tried these techniques and was pleased with the results.

First, equipment needed to do this:

1. A DSLR camera (a point and shoot won’t allow for the adjustments to get images like this)
2. A tripod (you won’t be able to hold a camera with your hands using the long exposure times to get this to work)
3. A polarizing filter (water reflects light and a circular polarizing filter will allow you to adjust reflection for some effects)
4. Neutral Density filters are an option…while The Jeep Geek didn’t use any, the lack of these filters required him to shoot only in shaded areas.

The Secret is to stop the aperture to it’s smallest setting…in this case f22. This increases the depth of field allowing everything in the shot to be in clear focus. Then with the camera on a tripod hold the shutter open for several seconds. By holding the shutter open, any movement is blurred. In this case, the water flowing down the water fall will blur and produce a cotton candy like effect, while the rocks and plants will be clear.

Rotating the polarizing filter allows for different effects from the same position. Take a bunch of shots from the same position varying the filters and the shutter speed to get different effects.

Photography is about exposure, composition and experimentation. So enjoy these shots and let The Jeep Geek know what you think.
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As always, The Geek abides


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The Jeep Patriot and Compass

The Jeep Geek is not sure why these great Jeep vehicles don’t get the market respect that they deserve. They are the perfect solution for folks who are looking to get into a 4 wheel drive SUV but have budget limitations. The fuel economy approaches 30 MPG and they use regular grade of gas. The pricing is in the low to mid $20K depending on equipment and options. The rebates are great right now and this might just be the solution for a small family, young drivers or those on a fixed income.

In addition to saving money on fuel, these are also the #3 and #4 cheapest vehicles to insure. Some of The Jeep Geek’s customers report saving up to $40 per month on insurance. These top IIHS safety picks are going to go a long way toward protecting the most precious cargo in the vehicle...the people inside. They have the same high tech lightweight roll cages you find only in Mercedes and BMWs. This allows us to put more weight lower in the vehicle such as suspension which will survive both off-road rigors as well as Colorado pot holes and the occasional brushes with curbs here...you know who you are.

Jeep as a brand is the most reliable American brand and the Patriot is the most reliable model in Jeep’s lineup. The Compass is the same vehicle with just a different body shape. Speaking about reliability, the Jeep is the #3 lowest cost to maintain brand on the road today...all in all these mean that these are among the very low Total Cost of Ownership vehicles that are available. In fact Edmunds lists the Patriot as the lowest Total Cost of Ownership SUV on the road...the Compass is right behind it.

So, most buyers focus on the monthly payment of the vehicle...what they should be focused on is The Total Cost of Ownership...that amount of money that has to be paid out each month to actually own and operate the vehicle...these units stand out in that category.

As far as ease of driving, these SUVs rock. They handle more like a sedan, easy to park and have very good visibility so they are perfect for both new drivers and those who are new to SUVs. The peppy 2.4L engine combined with the Continuously Variable automatic transmission make these a dream in the mountains. You will never be caught between gears as happens with fixed ratio transmissions. The engine produces 172 HP so they have the power of a 6 cylinder engine with the fuel economy of a 4.

As always, The Geek abides.


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Alice Historical Society

Sea Level is for Sissies. That is the slogan of the community of Alice Colorado. Located at 10,800 feet above sea level, they certainly can make that claim. Life was hard here when it was a mining camp. It is one of few mining camps that survived and is a vibrant community of vacation and weekend homes high in the Rockies. The beauty of the landscapes here make this an idyllic setting with a rich history that is being documented by a small band of property owners that are interested in preserving this history.

Alice’s history is a mirror of the history of much of the Rocky Mountains in general. Many of the communities that exist today started as mining camps founded by a hardy group of pioneers following their dreams. As The Jeep Geek travels throughout this region, exploring the Jeep trails that run from the old mining camps, he is struck by how tough life was back in the 1800s when these camps were booming. The weather was extreme, supplies had to be carried up by horse drawn carriages and the gold and silver ore had to be hauled down the same way. Life was hard.

Many communities failed once the mines played out. In the lifestyle section of this site The Jeep Geek has documented many of these failed camps. Alice is a wonderful example of succeeding despite the odds against it. The mines gave out, but the community thrives due in large part by the beauty of the area. Located at the foot of St. Mary’s glacier, which feeds a couple of small lakes, the residents are a hardy breed that brave the harsh winters to enjoy the quiet splendor of this area.

Now for the point of this whole article...the Alice Historical Society (headed up by Jacquie Zegan) is a small group of property owners who are working hard to preserve the history of the area as well as build a tighter community. With almost no budget they have preserved the old Alice School house and converted it to a community center. The picture at the top of this article was taken in the basement where they are restoring the room to its condition in the early 1900s when it was the home of the school teacher.
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This restoration work was accomplished with just a few hundred dollars and a ton of sweat equity. Last year, even The Jeep Geek could be seen slinging some paint to help out. This effort, although modest, was contributed because of The Jeep Geek’s belief that this important history is worth the effort to preserve.

Now for the appeal. The Jeep Geek is asking his site visitors to contribute to this effort. There are a number of ways to support this work. You could come up when there is a work party organized. You could contribute funds to this frugal group...if you saw how carefully they spend money, you would be impressed with how they stretch every dollar. You could come to the annual Pancake Breakfast (Labor Day) and eat a hardy breakfast and look over the historical documents they have gathered. You could purchase a couple of tee shirts that support their efforts. Maybe you are in possession of some documents from this area that can be copied and contributed. Anything is gratefully accepted. Jacquie is a gracious host and would be encourage just by having you visit and see what she and her team have accomplished. Please, just engage and be part of this rewarding work.

If you are willing to help, leave a comment, or fill out the form in the Contact Us section of this site with your offer. The Jeep Geek will connect you with Jacquie.

As always, The Geek abides

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Random Thoughts from the Trail

The Jeep Geek and some friends were out off-roading this last weekend. As he was coming down the mountain this scene presented itself. The thought came to him that life is not as fragile as some make it out to be. Here is a tree that has been there for hundreds of years, right up by the tree line. This tree began as a seed that fell on a boulder. There it rooted in a small about of dirt that blew into a crevice. Even though the boulder would limit its growth, constricting the roots and impeding the trunk’s growth, the tree thrives in one of the harshest environments in Colorado...limited rainfall, high winds, high altitude and cold weather. It is fighting for life despite all that would stand in its way.

Life finds a way.

The Jeep Geek and friends were on a trip up to the high country to visit a couple of ghost towns: Waldorf and Santiago. These are must visit sites if you have the equipment to get there. Stock Rubicons can reach them easily.

These towns were associated with mines owned by Edward John Wilcox (Waldorf Mining and Milling Company). They were started in 1868 as gold mines, but imagine their disappointment when very little gold was found, but in its place was silver. These mines pulled about $4 million dollars in silver out of the ground before they were exhausted.

Waldorf had a post office from 1906 to 1912. It was billed as the highest elevation for a post office in the country...11,666 feet above sea level. The town started to boom when the Argentine Central Railroad was built in 1906. Tourists from Denver arrived that year, and the train brought ore from the mines back to Denver. This railroad went up to the summit of Mt. McClelland.

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Here is a picture of the old post office. Danny Tomlinson tells us he actually mailed a post card from this post office when he was 6...The Jeep Geek thinks he was joking...he doesn’t look a day over 90.

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If you want to see how it looks today, go over to the lifestyle tab and see the pictures we took yesterday.

Robert Leaman Brown wrote a wonderful book titled “Jeep Trails to Colorado Ghost Towns” that documents the history of 59 ghost towns that you can travel to. Or, you can join The Jeep Geek and Danny Tomlinson (The Jeep Geek’s staff historian) as we go visit many of these on Sundays during the warm season.

The Geek abides

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