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Monday 26 July 2010


Not Worth Taking? Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh. The Northwest Territories is a beautiful place. I really enjoyed seeing Wood Buffalo National Park and the waterfalls are spectacular in the NWT.Alexandra Falls
Alexandra Falls - Click for larger
Sambaa Deh Falls
Sambaa Deh Falls - Click for larger

I’m glad we did this but I’m not sure I will ever travel this way again in July. Too many bugs and too much rain! The roads were okay in some spots and rough in others.

We saw lots of Bison.Bison Fighting
Bison Fighting - Click for larger

The salt flats make an interesting landscape. It was wonderful to see wolf tracks near the salt pile. Maybe if the bugs were not so bad, I would have worked this area a bit more.Salt Flats Wood Buffalo National Park
Salt Flats Wood Buffalo National Park - Click for larger
Buffalo National Park
Buffalo National Park - Click for larger

We hit Yellowknife and resupplied. Couldn’t find a motel so we got a campsite at the edge of town. We got up early the next day to look for something to photograph. I found Yellowknife a bit frustrating. I was hoping to find a nice view by Great Slave Lake but no luck. I did find a nice reflection of the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre - Click for larger

There have been several times in the past couple of days that I have thought, that’s all I can take. Maybe we should turn the car around and pack it in. After a shower and a good night’s sleep, we carry on.Mosquito
Mosquito - Click for larger

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Stormy Weather

I'm sitting in a Motel in Jasper watching the rain turn to snow. A group of 10 guys on Harley Davidsons from Wyoming are waiting out the weather. They are in good spirits in spite of the snowstorm they drove through to get here. They reminded Lori of the movie “Wild Hogs” but I think these guys are the real deal, not wannabe bikers like John Travolta. I chatted with one of them at breakfast. He said the trip up the Icefields Parkway was miserable. I found it hard in a van. I can’t imagine what it would be like on a Harley. Blowing snow, sleet and rain mixed with gusts of cold wind.Motorcycles
Motorcycles - Click for larger

We felt a bit overcharged for the room. The restaurant’s food was well below average. Can’t win them all I guess. We stopped at a place with cabins before we stopped here. They wanted $190 for the night. I’m a photographer, not an Oil Barron. We continued on to this place that shall rename nameless. It was a bit cheaper but not cheap. Some day I think I will write a book about all the bad places we have stayed. I will probably need a lawyer though so on second thought, maybe I will just keep a list of places I will never ever stay at again. It’s not a very long list thankfully but we have stayed in some winners. (See Lori’s previous post that mentions the dead lizard.)

We drove through some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet on what must be one of the top 5 drives in the world. We couldn’t see a thing. It has been moody, glum at times and ever so often spectacular light. We are still enjoying it. It’s not always easy. The other day, I was trying to make something of the pitiful light I had. I stopped at the side of Waterfowl Lake in Banff National Park. Just as I set up, it started to rain. Lori came out with an umbrella to help keep my equipment dry. I dragged my camera bag over to get it under cover. It was open and my brand new 24-105 mm lens (the one I had just replaced because my old one just gave up the ghost) the brand new, never been used still squeaky clean right out of the $1400.00 box rolled out of the bag and was rolling toward the lake. It stopped about 2 inches from complete disaster. It gently rolled up to a rock and sat there. I dusted it off, put it on the camera and got back to work. As my friend Hal once said to me when his camera toppled over, “hey, if it can’t take it, what good is it?”

Sh-t happens.Banff National Park
Banff National Park - Click for larger

If you do this long enough, you will drop stuff. You will fall and scrape your knee, twist an ankle. It has taken me a long time to learn how to do this, the travelling photography/massive road trip thing. The nagging self-doubt and the inner noise in my head that is all things good and bad never stops. You learn to listen to your real voice, the creative one that never ever rests.Mount Chephren
Mount Chephren, Banff - Click for larger

Life is good!

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Monday 12 July 2010

Friendly Manitoba!

The trip is going nicely. We finally made our way out of Ontario. It’s such a big Province; it takes days to get to the northern border. As we approached Kenora, we drove through some flooded areas on the road and stopped in to take some photographs in Rushing River Provincial Park.Rushing River Provincial Park
Rushing River Provincial Park - Click for larger

It rained so hard the night before we were happy to be in a motel.
We travelled to our friends Frieda and Dennis Fast’s place in Kleefeld Manitoba. Both are wonderful photographers. I had the pleasure of sharing a trip to the Seal River in northern Manitoba with the Fasts last November. (See previous posts) We arrived mid-afternoon and had a great visit talking non-stop through dinner. They took us for a drive through the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve and we photographed Western Prairie Fringed Orchids. It is the only place in Canada this endangered flower exists.Western Prairie Fringed-Orchid
Western Prairie Fringed-Orchid - Click for larger

The next morning we got up early and worked the Tall Grass Prairie while Dennis and Frieda ran some errands. We dropped in to see Christie and Laura who work in the preserve, had a good chat and then headed back to have brunch with the Fasts. It was another good meal with endless conversation. They are such great hosts!

Our next major stop was the Chaplin/Morse area of Saskatchewan. This area off Hwy 1 is packed with birds and wildlife. We camped at Morse. This is not a quiet place to camp. It’s clean and well looked after but it’s right on the train tracks and the freight trains come through all night long with horns-a-blasting. Makes for interesting dreams though. I love working this area. There are not many people and you can work right from the car with little interruption from other vehicles. We see thousands of Avocets and some still are nesting.Avocet on Nest
Avocet on Nest - Click for larger

From Morse, we headed to The Great Sandhills of Saskatchewan. Unfortunately it was raining so hard and the roads were so wet, we didn’t get in to see them. We wanted to photograph this area again and we wanted to see the signs they put up using some of our images. If you have ever driven in Saskatchewan “Gumbo” you will understand why we didn’t risk the roads! Maybe we can drop in on the way back. On the way south from Leader, we stopped at this old one room schoolhouse - The St. John’s School Historical Site.St. John's School Provincial Heritage Site
St. John's School Provincial Heritage Site - Click for larger

We continued on to Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta. It’s hot and buggy. Lots of mosquitoes! After getting a campsite we scout for the evening shoot. We do a hike after diner. It really is an interesting landscape but the bugs!Hoodoos
Hoodoos - Click for larger

We have decided to move on tomorrow. Too many bugs and too many screeching kids! We will head to Calgary to replace my ailing 24-105mm lens and then head to the Rockies.

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Saturday 3 July 2010

It’s a Big Small World!

Finally we had everything packed into the van and headed out the driveway around 2 p.m. The loaded van
The Loaded Van

We drove north on Hwy 400/69 stopping at Nobel where Lori took over driving. A little north of Pointe Aux Baril traffic stopped. A woman parked at the side of the road said there was a bad accident and the road would be closed for another 6 hours. If we wanted to continue, we would have to go back to Parry Sound, go east to Sundridge, north to North Bay and then head west on Hwy 17. At that point, I thought it best to just camp for the night and try again in the morning. We drove back south to Killbear and got a campsite at the edge of the beach. Very nice. We had a bite to eat and then I wandered over to the rocks to take a few snaps. I was shooting a landscape when a man and woman with a little girl came by. The woman and the girl sat right in the middle of my scene so I asked them if they minded if I take their photo. She looked unsure and asked her husband if it was ok. He said, "Sure", and Lori asked them to sign a release. I shot quickly as the light was changing. My 24-105mm lens is acting up. It gives an error. Seems the contacts between the lens and camera have a problem. In spite of all that, I think I got a good shot.Killbear Provincial Park
Killbear Provincial Park - Click for larger

When I handed the man my release he looked at it and said, “Scarborough eh? Do you know Marc Crabtree?”
"Yes I do!" It's a small world. After chatting with them for a while Lori and I headed back to camp. We played a little cribbage and then went to bed. Sleeping in the van worked really well. There is lots of room and it is surprisingly comfortable. We just need to make sure it’s level next time!

The next 2 days we spent on Manitoulin Island. We had a nice visit with Lori’s Mom.Canola Field on Manitoulin
Canola Field on Manitoulin - Click for larger

The Farm
The Farm

On Thursday we drove to Pukaskawa National Park. After setting up camp we lazed on the beach. What a great way to spend Canada Day. I love this place. It’s so rugged and beautiful. After dinner at our campsite we walked back out to North Beach. It had clouded over but I shot anyway. It was very dramatic.Pukaskwa National Park
Pukaskwa National Park - Click for larger

Pukaskwa National Park
Pukaskwa National Park - Click for larger

The back of the van makes a good platform for doing backups!Doing Backups
Doing Backups

The next day we moved on to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park near Thunder Bay. Our campsite was so tiny there was barely space to squeeze the van in beside the picnic table. Good thing we didn't need to pitch a tent! After dinner we shot the cliffs at the edge of Lake Superior.Cliffs in Sleeping Giant
Cliffs in Sleeping Giant - Click for larger

From Sleeping Giant, we headed to Lake of the Woods. It was stormy so we got a motel with WiFi. Nice to be inside when it’s stormy outside!

Tomorrow we will head further west. Our next major stop will be the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve in southern Manitoba.

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