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moving   no comments

Posted at 7:30 am in Uncategorized

Sage helping out with packing up for our move

Note: I’ve moved this blog to a new location as it suddenly started to have problems with navigation and the comment feature (comments no longer displaying). Please visit the new location to read this and more recent posts. Sorry for the inconvenience. – Bev

This is the short version of an account of the trouble that I’ve been having with this blog. Read on and you’ll find information about what I’ve done to get around this problem.

About a week ago, I noticed that the “comments” feature on my blog wasn’t working properly. The most recent post that had a dozen comments, was now showing “0 comments” and even posts that did show that they had comments, could not be accessed. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy about this. Further, navigation between posts was almost impossible. I spent all of my spare time on a couple of days trying to fix the problem, but I don’t seem to be able to get everything working again. I came up with a less-than-wonderful solution. I started up a new blog at a new URL, and migrated all of the Journey to the Center files to that location. It’s up and running now, so I’m going to direct you to head over there to read the longer version of this post which explains this problem in a bit more detail, and also provides an update on how things have been going since my arrival back at the farm in early April. So, use either of the following links, OR, just click on the above photo to access the entire post at its new location.
http://journeytothecenter.magickcanoe.com/2009/05/17/moving/
or
http://magickcanoe.com/blog11/2009/05/17/moving/

Written by bev on May 17th, 2009

Tagged with

mindscapes   8 comments

Posted at 2:32 pm in Uncategorized

Note: I’ve moved this blog to a new location as it suddenly started to have problems with navigation and the comment feature (comments no longer displaying). Please visit the new location to read this and more recent posts. Sorry for the inconvenience. – Bev

As mentioned in the previous post’s comments, I’ve reached my winter destination in southeast Arizona. However, there are a few things left to write about the journey, and several photos that I would like to share, so I’ll continue on with the account that leads to my doorstep.

Writing about this trip has been more difficult than expected. Driving long distances alone and dealing with the van’s mechanical problems often left me too fatigued to write, let alone think. However, I believe that’s because my trip followed so closely in the footsteps of a year spent dealing with Don’s illness and his eventual death less than three months ago. Add to that the overwhelming landslide of forms that must be filed, phone calls that must be made, and struggles with the bureaucratic red tape that ensues when someone dies, and it’s little wonder that my energy levels have struck a new low. However, I’m here and feeling that I would like to fill in some gaps on this journey.

The top image was taken alongside the TransCanada highway somewhere in Saskatchewan. I pulled off the roadway to photograph a derelict house surrounded by broken trees and brush. Inside, strips of plastic sheeting flapped and twisted, incessantly tugged by the eerily moaning prairie winds. As I shot several photos, I found myself slipping into sadness and stopped to analyze why that might be so.

Since setting out on this journey, it’s become increasingly apparent to me that, when someone very close to you dies, the world is seen through different eyes — maybe best described as “old eyes”. This isn’t a recent epiphany. About ten years ago, I cared for my father through end stage kidney cancer, so I was well aware of how my world changed on the night that he died. It was as though the earth shifted, moved by a quake registering only on my personal seismograph. Caring for Don through end stage lung cancer reified what I had already felt. The world I inhabit has shifted once more. Pressure cracks have appeared in a landscape where underlying tectonic plates tilt and grind. The path I once followed ends at a cliff’s edge. My world is now filled with metaphors of birth, life, love, loss, and death. A derelict house becomes a reminder of how fleeting are our lives and our creations. Smashed out windows, gaping doors, or a fallen roof are signs of irreparable destruction and termination. Of course, most photographers are aware of the existence and use of metaphor in objects and landscapes. It is our stock in trade. But there is a difference between making use of, and living within, a world filled with metaphors.

On this journey, landscapes have become mindscapes. On the rolling, golden wheatfields of Washington and Oregon, the division between earth and sky seems blurred and vague as a softly sculpted knoll conceals all but the edge of the next cloud bank drifting beyond. Driving through the mountains, one ascends from sunny valleys to mist-shrouded peaks and passes. Am I still in the mountains, or am I now traveling through air? Life and death seem not far removed from such questions. Well, one thing is for certain — metaphorical or not, I am in a different place now than I have ever been before.

Written by bev on November 27th, 2008

crowsnest surprise   11 comments

Posted at 12:36 pm in Uncategorized

Note: I’ve moved this blog to a new location as it suddenly started to have problems with navigation and the comment feature (comments no longer displaying). Please visit the new location to read this and more recent posts. Sorry for the inconvenience. – Bev

I’m now looking back on these photos taken nearly a month ago, and thinking that they are almost a lifetime old. That’s how this journey seems to have played out — not just miles rolling by, but also a mind-bending passage of time. I’m not sure why this should be so. Today, I should finish the last of my driving, which has generally varied from around 250 to 400 miles on those days when I moved from one place to another. I’ll be at the site where I will be spending this winter, but more of that later.

Returning to my passage across the Canadian prairies, my plans were dictated by the weather. I had hoped to camp along the way, but weather decided otherwise. Snow had fallen just ahead, and traces lay in the recently harvested wheat fields. When I would step out of the van to take a photo, the raw wind would buffet me, and at one point, blew the van door shut with such force that I had narrowly missed what would probably have proved to be a serious injury to my ankle. The van, which as you may remember, had been giving me trouble in northern Ontario, now dried out and ran well. However, I watched the forecasts for the route ahead and worried about predictions of rain in the Crowsnest Pass section of the Rockies just north of the Canada-U.S. border. I hoped to make it through before the weather turned, as I had been unable to get the van repaired without hanging around a town somewhere for an extra day or two. My restlessness got the upper hand over my usual prudence on such matters. Fortunately, my luck held as I set out from Lethbridge, Alberta on October 17th. I could see dark clouds to the north and south, but the pass looked clear, so I made a run for it.

Just a short distance before the pass, I rounded a bend in the highway and was surprised to find a long row of dark-colored wind turbines stretching out along the top of a high ridge. These were not the usual white turbines on thick columns, but blades mounted on huge lattice frames. The above photo shows just a few out of the long line of turbines. Noticing a turn-out, I pulled up to read an information sign about the Cowley Ridge. It indicated that there are 77 turbines on the ridge. The dark turbines on lattice towers were installed in the mid-nineties, another group of the more familiar white turbines on columns were installed in 2001 (see link to sign for more information). The strength of the wind in that area was phenomenal on that day. I wondered what it must feel like on an average day — or perhaps that was average. If so, it would be a difficult place to get much done, with the wind tearing at everything. I was soon to see how that would be so.

Continuing on up the highway, I noticed that my ABS (anti-lock braking system) warning light was now glowing on the dash in place of the of the flashing engine warning light. What now?! What next?! What a thing to have malfunctioning as I drove through the Rockies. However, I tested the brakes a bit on a couple of dips in the highway and things seemed okay, so I proceeded onwards. Although it takes a lot to get me rattled, the van was starting to get my goat and I got the urge to stop and regroup my nerves. Just then, I noticed a large parking lot where a couple of transport trucks were pulled in for a rest stop. I turned off the highway to join them. As I sat in my van, I watched a maintenance worker wrestle to empty garbage containers in the high winds blasting through the pass. After resting awhile, I noticed some stone structures at one end of the parking lot. Curiosity got the better of me, so Sabrina and I wandered down the path to investigate.

It turned out that this site is probably one of the better kept secrets of Crowsnest Pass — the Leitch Colliery provincial historic site. For anyone interested, here is a link to an excellent website about the history of the colliery. I spent about an hour walking around shooting photos of the ruins of the buildings and other structures. That gave both Sabrina and I a chance to stretch our legs and relax in preparation for the rest of that day’s journey. Leaving the parking area, we continued onwards, through Crowsnest and past the infamous Frank Slide site. Here’s a link to the rather sobering story, Alberta’s Frank Slide: When a mountain fell on a town. I did not take photos, but found a good shot of the remnants of the slide in a Flickr gallery by Mike Wood.

I continued on into the Rockies, stopping for the night at Cranbrook, British Columbia. In the morning, I decided to just start driving toward my destination in Portland, Oregon, and just stop for the day when I got tired. About ten hours later, I found myself driving into Portland in the dark, after having crossed into the U.S. in the morning, cutting across the northwest corner of Idaho, then down the western side of Washington state. I crossed the Columbia Gorge and tore up through there as sunset turned to darkness. I’m not a fast driver, and in fact, I barely drive at all, so blasting along the gorge after dark, in the middle of a pack of transport trucks, is not something I would normally attempt. However, I got in behind a truck that looked like it knew where it was going, and followed it all of the way to Portland. Once in the city, I became incredibly lost and had to make a couple of calls to friends living south of the city to try to figure out how to escape. After being told that I was at the “absolutely worst spot to try to get onto I-5” I did manage to straggle on and blend in with the rest of the rat pack racing southwards. Speaking of which, I should be getting onto another interstate to continue on my way and hopefully end these many days of wandering. So this seems like a good place to stop writing for today.

Written by bev on November 15th, 2008

Tagged with , ,

subtle shapes and colours   8 comments

Posted at 11:55 am in Uncategorized

Note: I’ve moved this blog to a new location as it suddenly started to have problems with navigation and the comment feature (comments no longer displaying). Please visit the new location to read this and more recent posts. Sorry for the inconvenience. – Bev

It seems that the gap between my posts and travels continues to grow day by day. Opportunities to post have been few and far between, so you’re seeing events that happened about three weeks ago. I do plan to close that gap soon — once I am settled in the place I’ve chosen to winter. In the meantime, I’ll provide a quick sketch of where I’ve been since these photos were taken while crossing Saskatchewan in October.

I continued west into Alberta and British Columbia, then turned south at Cranbrook, B.C., crossing through the northwest corner of Idaho, then into the eastern side of Washington state, then down to the north edge of Oregon to travel west along the Columbia Gorge as far as Portland. From there, I began to move south through Oregon, visiting with friends along the way, then into the California redwoods of Del Norte and Humboldt counties. The weather took a serious turn for the worse while I was in the redwoods, so I moved east through the Trinity Alps region, visiting with friends in the Redding area, then on east and south through California and through the edge of Nevada on the way to Arizona. That’s about where I am now, with just a few hundred miles left to go. As mentioned, I will make an effort to post photos from these travels as there were many interesting things to be seen and those, in turn, inspired certain thoughts and ideas which might be nice to put down in writing.

Now, about these photos. While crossing the prairies, I tried to keep a sharp eye out for wildlife. As Clare mentioned in the comments to my last post, there is a lot to be seen while on the prairies. However, it’s a little more subtle than what we might be used to seeing out east where you either don’t see wildlife at all, or you see it up very close. On the prairies, gatherings of creatures are often seen from a great distance, so you must watch for subtle shapes and colours. The geese in the above photo were just such a case. From a couple of miles or more away, they looked like a tornado-shaped swirl of dark specks. As the distance closed, I could make out bird forms that appeared similar. At closer range, I realized that these were geese, probably mainly Canada and Snow Geese. Click on the above photo to see a much larger version. I’ve left it at full size so that you can see the geese better — so you’ll have to scroll around to see areas of the entire image.

Likewise, the below photo doesn’t look like much of anything, does it? However, if you click on it, you’ll see that there is a herd of Pronghorns grazing in a field which has been harvested. I was on the lookout for Pronghorns as I crossed the prairies and spotted them on a number of occasions — always at some distance from the highway, but easy to recognize by their white bellies and rumps. As some of you might remember, I wrote about Pronghorns on my Burning Silo blog two years ago.

Well, I have to get on the road, so must cut this short. However, I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m doing okay, as is Sabrina. We’re a bit weary from our travels and looking forward to settling down to get to know the natural history of one place this coming winter. I’ve been reading everyone’s comments (they come in on my email via the blackberry that I am carrying on this trip). I’m sorry that I haven’t been posting replies, but that’s been difficult and my days have been taken up with cooking over campfires, hiking, shooting photos, packing up the camping gear and moving on, visiting people, and occasionally checking in and out of motels here and there across the landscape. I think of everyone often and try to drop by to visit your blogs when I catch a moment of time on the net here and there. Take care all. I’ll try to put up another post soon. – Bev

Written by bev on November 13th, 2008

roadside distractions   7 comments

Posted at 12:32 pm in Uncategorized

Note: I’ve moved this blog to a new location as it suddenly started to have problems with navigation and the comment feature (comments no longer displaying). Please visit the new location to read this and more recent posts. Sorry for the inconvenience. – Bev

It will come as no surprise that my journey has gotten ahead of my blog posts. Life’s like that. I’m in Oregon – just preparing to continue on my way into California. More about that soon.

Last post, I was in the last leg of the trip across Ontario and about to reach the prairie region of Canada. The crossing took about three days as I did not push myself too much as I was fighting off a head cold that had been attempting to bring me down. I knocked off early and tried to get as much sleep as possible and that seemed to do the trick. The other reason for not driving so far each day was that I found it surprisingly difficult to spend many hours behind the wheel while crossing such flat terrain. Where the drive around Lake Superior was demanding, it was stimulating because it demanded most of my attention. On the prairies, I spent a good deal of time struggling with drowsiness — no doubt partly due to the head cold. As a coping strategy, I began pulling off the Trans Canada highway to visit and photograph grain elevators any time that my alertness began to flag.

Here in Canada, the familiar wooden grain elevators such as that above, are fast becoming a dying breed. Many have been demolished and replaced with new concrete and steel structures such as the installation in the next photo. It seems something of a loss to me as most of the older elevators are quite individual — in shape, construction, and paint. As you can see them from miles off, they are an identifying mark on an otherwise seamless landscape.

Leaving the highway, I would drive to the elevator to shoot a few photos, then make a small tour of the town before heading back onto the open road. Often, there were old trucks or buildings, or some type of industrial structure — objects which have always been of interest to me.

In the town of Indian Head, Saskatchewan, there was a tall chimney that rose like an obelisk on a side street. It seems that it must be the remnant of a power plant.

Leaving town, I came upon one of those large roadside attractions which are so often found in small towns around Canada and perhaps beyond. Well, I am back on the road again as of this morning, but will try to write more soon.

Written by bev on November 5th, 2008