Castlewood State Park; one of the premier destinations for mountain biking, in all of Southwest St. Louis County.  I know it well, I used to partake in a bit of mountain biking when I was a younger fella armed with nerves of steel and an indestructible mentality.   But, 20 years has a way of changing ones perspective.  Humbling-life experiences, and priority reflection have a mischievous way of chipping away at that indestructible mentality.  Couple that with the ‘Flipping over the handlebars of my Aluminum Cannondale’ incident and the re-assurance it was now okay, to give up Mountain Biking, became reality.  I hadn’t been back to Castlewood since that very day.

Until Now…

20 Years later, I come to Castlewood motivated by a different adventure.  You see, old man winter had just graced St. Louis County with a 2-inch blanket of a pearly white snow, and being the adventurous drone pilot I am, I felt compelled to capture the moment.  It was an early morning call for my Mavic Air, and its job was to illustrate the Missouri River gently snaking through the snow-covered cliffs at the very place I used to ride mountain bikes.  Old Memories became new ones that day, only this time my partner was the Mavic Air, rather than the Aluminum Cannondale.

The train below was an added bonus.

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After navigating the ½ mile snow-covered path, up the 40% grade, arrival at the man-made lookout became all the more gratifying.  Looking down at flying birds, with the Missouri River and snow-covered landscape behind them, was a perspective I had missed since my mountain biking days.  Then, out of the blue came the wail of the train horn, as if it were the cue to ready the Mavic!  I felt rushed, I had to quickly find a safe spot for the launch.  The strategically placed wood bench nearby made for the perfect ‘home’ point for the Mavic.

Liftoff

I was able to salvage enough time to get the train in the camera frame before it passed me by.  I took this shot with the ISO set at 800, the shutter speed at 1/800, and without an ND Filter.  I’ll admit the photo required a bit of lightroom clean up, but I kept that to a minimum.  Simple adjustments to the exposure, saturation, sharpness and a few other variables were all that was needed to make the image pop.

As I reflected on the flight during the drive home, my only regrets were; I wished I could have made this flight a day earlier, when the snow was more prominant.  And, the thought of not visiting Castlewood State Park these last 20 years due to my injury, was almost childish.  It’s too pretty of a place to hold a 20-year grudge on, my healing is complete.