Monday, July 02, 2007

Tin Cup Pass and the Lost Wimberly Head

We've been in Colorado a week or so now. We're back in areas where I spent time as a teenager. I wanted to go over Cottonwood Pass near Buena Vista and then back over Tin Cup to the Chalk Creek area.

The drive up the Cottonwood Pass was beautiful and uneventful. We went over to Tincup and had lunch at Frenchy's Cafe named after a real person from the 1800's town. Hamburger was great!

We went to the top of Cumberland Pass. You really feel like you are on top of the world seeing the beautiful valley and the mountain peaks surrounding you. We came back to Tin Cup and started on the road to the pass. From Tin Cup to Mirror Lake the road was bumpy but not too bad. I marveled at the people who had taken their trailers and 5th wheels over it. Lots of places to camp - some "official" and some unofficial. The official campground is at Mirror Lake and would be a lovely place to stay sometime. But the road is too rough for us to want to take our 30 ft RV.

After Mirror Lake the road became very much a four wheel drive road. Much of the road was like going over cobblestones - VERY BUMPY. There were lots of areas where you had to go over large rocks or ride the edge with the jeep tilted uncomfortably. We've been over roads like this before. But I still have memories of losing the oil pan at Death Valley, so the big rocks were making me nervous. Plus we've been hearing noises this whole trip that sound suspiciously like suspension issues. I had NOT planned to take the jeep on this kind of road until we had this noise checked out. But on the other hand, this kind of road usually gets you to a beautiful place, and I've been to the top of TIn Cup Pass and I KNOW it is beautiful. So we carefully made our way up. I did hear one very metalic clank, but I assumed it was just a rock that was thrown up under the jeep.

My memory said that the eastern side of the pass was much smoother so I was looking forward to getting to the top and over to the easier passage. However, as we approached to top, we had someone warn us that the pass was closed by a big snowbank. We continued up and made it to the top of the pass. There were wildlfowers and it was beautiful.

As I was finishing up my photos, Henry came over to tell me my tripod was damaged. I looked at the one I was using trying to figure it out. Then he tells me the tripod head is gone. Sigh . . . that is a Wimberly head - current price $599 and I had the leveling base - another $179.00. The photos I was taking today would probably not cover the cost of replacing this equipment. I was hoping to take photos of the bighorn sheep I remember live in a pasture near Chalk Creek. While I can probably make the big lens work on the smaller tripod - it won't be as stable. Henry does not want this to ruin my day. I also remember that "clank" - it must have been when the head fell off.

Well, I guess it is a good thing that the pass is closed - we'll have to back track and perhaps we'll find the tripod head. As we drive along, Henry is both watching the road to navigate those treacherous rocks and to see the tripod. I'm looking out the side in case it rolled off the road into the sage. Out of the blue, a four wheeler passes us and asks if we had lost something. Turns out another four wheeler had found something that he thought was part of a bicycle rack. He was going to take it and turn it in at the "general store." I asked if he meant the store at TIn Cup. He looked puzzled and said he did not know. Well, I had a little hope. And that meant we did not have to watch the road so carefully searching for it. We asked a few four wheelers we saw if they were the ones who found it. No luck.

We got down into Tin Cup - good, the store's door is open. However, the guy outside says, "We're closed." We go ahead and ask about the tripod head. No, they don't have it, but the nice lady takes my name and phone number. She even let me get a couple of drinks and some ice cream. We hang around there for a little bit, hoping we beat the four wheeler down. But it is getting time to go on - so we head on down to Taylor Park. There is also a store there. I see someone being carried in - looks to me like an injured four wheeler - who is beginning to hyperventilate. They start asking for a paper bag. There are three clerks who all look busy. When I finally get to the counter, I tell my story and at first I get a blank response. But then . . . on the far side, another clerk holds up my tripod head! He tells me that the person who found it looked around to find all the parts. I want to thank the person who found it . . . but the clerk says he wouldn't remember him - not someone he knew. Silly, but I hug it close. I've used it to take so many of my favorite photos. It is a necessary and wonderful tool - something I thought was going to be lost forever - is now found.

To me, this is an example of humanity at its finest. While the finder thought it was part of a bike rack - it was an expensive piece of equipment. It could certainly have been sold on EBAY. But this was not only an honest person, but a thoughtful one as well. Knowing it looked important, he made sure he got all the pieces and turned it in in a place where it could be found.

Since I can't think this person myself, I can at least ask God to send him some special blessing. And, the best I can do, is to be sure I help some other stranger down the road.

P.S. The tripod and Wimberly head will NOT ride on the back of the jeep next time we do a jeep road!

P.P.S. The photo is straight out of camera. When I get home and get my photoshop installed again, I'll post a worked version.

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