October 24, 2008

Brandon, Riding Mountain Park, Dauphin, Swan River

Update when I get home.

NOTE: I am taking hundreds of photos, but as mentioned earlier, am traveling with an old Japanese Windows ME laptop that cannot load contemporary Nikon or Canon software (am carrying several cameras :-)

Dauphin, Manitoba -- nice town with some gorgeous buildings.

Highway 10 heading north from Dauphin in Manitoba lined with Ukrainian Orthodox and Catholic churches, many nearly in ruins, along with cemeteries.

Ukraina, Manitoba -- a dead village several kilometers east of Highway 10 named after the home country of many early settlers, with a neglected, rotting church, open to the elements. I felt sadness, shame, and resignation... But there is nobody left, so who is to blame?

I got that feeling a lot along the 10 north in Manitoba.... Tough country that it appears a lot of people gave up on....

Ethelbert, Manitoba -- dueling Ukrainian Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic churches at opposite ends of town :-).

Transition from prairies to forest comes much faster than equivalent central Saskatchewan latitudes.

Posted by Paul at 08:00 PM

October 23, 2008

Brandon, Riding Mountain National Park, Shilo

I will update this later when I get home from the road trip.

Beautiful Clearwater Lake. Many golf courses. Shilo Canadian Forces Base -- sobering sight of hundreds of yellow ribbons on fence posts for miles and miles around the base.... Assiniboine College -- site of former "insane asylum" -- not my words but those on a historical photo, is another beautiful site with impressive old buildings and beautiful grounds.

Posted by Paul at 07:54 PM

October 22, 2008

Regina to Brandon

I will update this later.

Posted by Paul at 05:51 PM

October 21, 2008

Swift Current, Red-Coat Trail, Moose Jaw, Regina

This is a placeholder to remind me to update this later.

Windy southern Saskatchewan -- can barely stand up!

Was taken aback at how hilly and "bad-landish" it is south of Moose Jaw on the No. 2...

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Heritage Centre in Regina. Beautiful new museum that reviews the force's amazing history and proud heritage while glossing over or omitting the less complimentary bits.... Don't get me wrong, I have huge respect for the history of the NWMP and its successor the RCMP. I have worked with RCMP members to improve communities. I just figure it wouldn't hurt to be honest and own up to a mistake or three? The best PR is when you admit all... and do better...

Anyway, one item that irked me aside from the rah-rah intro movie was several references to the "disappearing bison" that resulted in a massive socio-economic-environmental disaster on the prairies, that completely disrupted the lives of First Nations tribes. It was never explained how or why the bison "disappeared" in a decade or two after being sustainably harvested by First Nations for thousands of years. Was it magic?

Right... There was no mention of the slaughter for hides by Caucasian killers -- I do not deign to call them hunters -- that arrived in the mid-to-late 19th century that took bison to the brink of extinction, along with the First Nations that relied so much upon them.

No self-respecting historian would let such a reference go unexplained. This ain't no political polemic, it's the facts...

Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

October 20, 2008

Medicine Hat, Cypress Hills, Red-Coat Trail, Swift Current

This is a placeholder to remind me to update this when I have more time.

Posted by Paul at 07:47 PM

October 19, 2008

Lethbridge, Head Smashed In, Medicine Hat

For some reason I woke up at 5:00 this morning and could not fall asleep again. I got up, did some excercises, shaved, showered, and it still wasn't time for the free continental breakfast at the hotel. I read the paper, and finally 7:00 arrived and I had my breakfast.

But it was still dark! I snoozed until 8:00, and then checked out and headed off into a gray dawn. I decided to drive back west on the No. 3 to Fort McLeod and from there to Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump -- a World Heritage Site. According to my guide book, it was supposed to open at 9:00, but when I arrived, the sign said 10:00. That was OK, because it gave me an hour to explore the trail through the killing grounds below the cliff. There were several signs warning of bear and cougar activity, so as I walked my head kept swivelling like a WWII fighter pilot, and I made sure to make plenty of noise as I trundled along.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, a buffalo jump was a way natives used to kill many of the huge bison by driving them off a cliff. Then they would smoke and dry the meat, render the fat, and use the bones and hides for various purposes to get them through the winter. Nothing was wasted.

Over several thousand years, the jump at Head Smashed In was reduced from over 20 meters to around 10 as bones and fallen rock and washed off dirt filled the area below the cliffs. It's still an impressive site, with magnificent views over the rolling prairie and the Oldman River marked by a line of trees off in the distance.

The interpretive center was a strking modern building set into the cliff, with excellent displays about the site and the Blackfeet who controlled the area. While the autumn colours were modestly spectacular, I'd like to see the site in the summer, too.

Then it was back to Lethbridge for lunch, followed by a couple of hours near the Oldman River, where I walked some trails, viewed the magnificent rail trestle bridge (the longest in Canada, or the longest in the world, depending on which sign or source you read), and checked out the reconstruction of Fort Whoop-Up.

As I was taking photos of the fall foliage I spotted a midsized beast curled up in a tree about 12-15 meters off the ground. I couldn't quite make out what it was, and a passing jogger said it was a porcupine. Huh? When the nature centre opened I went in and asked the staff, and sure enough, porcupines often sleep way up in trees during the daytime! That was new to me....

Two more hours on the road brought me to Medicine Hat, which I found to be a very confusing city to get around in. Dunno why, nothing seemed to go as I expected it to...

I am really on the prairie now -- it was flat flat flat for much of the leg from Lethbridge to Medicine Hat. But the wide open spaces are beautiful in their own way.

Posted by Paul at 05:13 PM

October 18, 2008

Calgary to Waterton to Lethbridge

I left my cousin's place on an acreage west of Calgary this morning and zipped into the city to drop off a package for a friend. Mission accomplished, I backtracked west on the No. 1 -- and ran into a near whiteout of a snowstorm! Groan. Just what I needed after two days of rain.

I persevered, heading south down the 22, and within half an hour the skies cleared, the sun came out, and I enjoyed a wonderful drive through the beautiful, rolling, ranch country with the mountains to the west. As I cruised south, view upon view pulled me to the side of the road to shoot photos. The silvers, yellows, browns and golds of the autumn landscape were amazing, with the blue, purple and gray backdrop of the distant mountains, and the white clouds scudding across the vast, azure, western sky!

When I hit the No. 3, I backtracked west to visit the Frank Slide, then it was east again on the No. 3 and then south on the No. 6 to Waterton National Park.

I arrived in Waterton to find the village literally boarded up for the season and just a few hardy tourists wandering around. The townsite was full of deer. The countryside was gorgeous and I took a pile of photos. I had not visited Waterton in over 30 years, and the short sojurn today sparked weak memories, at best. But I vowed to bring my wife Yumi to Waterton in the spring, or next autumn, to make fresh memories together.

I left Waterton reluctantly, as fragile fragments of camping in the park as a kid with my family began to form and tease over the intervening decades... Were we driving the Rambler? Did we have that huge, heavy, yellow and brown canvas tent?

It was time to head onward into the future again...

I took the No. 5 north and east to Lethbridge. I ran into another line of windmills, about 20 or so, not as many as the dozens along the No. 3... I wonder how much of Alberta's electricity comes from the wind?

Today made up for the last two days of non-stop rain. I loved cruising along the nearly deserted roads at 10 - 20kph below the limit and pulling over whenever I felt like it to drink in the views and frame a few shots.

Sorry, the photos will have to wait until I get home in about ten days -- I don't have the gear and software to get them onto this ancient notebook computer that I'm using....

Posted by Paul at 07:52 PM

October 17, 2008

Rain Burnaby to Canmore

Well, despite Environment Canada forecasts, it rained all the way from Burnaby BC to Canmore AB over the last two days. I stopped in Banff for a quick walkabout in the drizzle today, drove the Bow Valley Parkway -- I always like to pay my respects at the monument to Ukrainian-Canadian internees near Castle Mountain. While none of my relatives (ancestors) were interned, I still feel a bond. And on my wife' side as well, for she is Japanese... Two great travesties in Canadian history and democracy... It finally cleared up around Canmore... and I arrived at my cousin's place in Calgary for an excellent meal and a great bed.

Posted by Paul at 07:35 PM

October 16, 2008

On the Road

I left Burnaby on a two-week road trip this morning, so I won't be updating this blog all that often. I've got my photo gear along and plan to amble along from BC to Manitoba before visiting relatives in Saskatchewan.

One snag is that a new notebook computer that I ordered from Dell did not arrive in time for the trip. My main laptop is being used by my wife for a class she's taking -- it's the only machine we have that has MS Access 2003, which is required for the class. I have her seven-year-old Japanese IBM laptop with me, but it's constrained by the obsolete Windows ME operating system so I couldn't even load some of my software on it before I left. It's pretty slow, too, with its Celeron processor and 192MB of RAM...

Not to mention working with the Japanese menus! By guess, and by golly, and by ancient memories of scripts and characters learned many years ago... Dang it, I really need to keep up my Japanese...

So I will be limited to taking a few notes and surfing the web, but not posting photos to this blog. I hope to catch up in November with several dozen photos winnowed from the hundreds I plan to take over the next two weeks.

Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

October 14, 2008

Road Trip Prep

I've been gearing up for a two-week road trip across BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. I'll be visiting friends and relatives, and taking tons of photos.

I figured I'd be seeing snow, and sure enough there already was a dump of several centimeters in southern Saskatchewan, so I'm glad that in the last few days I got a new set of Arctic Claw winter tires from Big O Tires, and got a major service on our '98 Outback from Don Docksteader Subaru. My automotive philosophy is never stint on maintenance, and use reputable service providers. We've put 165,000km on our Outback, or over 100,000 miles, with nary a problem.

Posted by Paul at 08:06 PM

October 12, 2008

Pitt, Hayward Lakes

The Thanksgiving long weekend provided an opportunity to get out of town a bit and take some photos.

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Pitt Lake

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Pitt-Addington reserve dike trail.

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Trail near Hayward Lake.

Posted by Paul at 06:41 PM

October 10, 2008

Autumn Signs Along Byrne Creek

A ramble down the Byrne Creek ravine revealed signs of autumn, though a holdout garter snake proved it wasn't too cold yet.

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An empty bench in Ron McLean Park invites contemplation of changing colours.

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The return of an American Dipper to the creek is a sure sign of the impending arrival of spawning salmon.

These bouncy little birds love to dive under the water for salmon eggs.

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Not the best shot of a garter snake -- but I was happy to see they were still enjoying a bit of sun as the cold comes on...

Posted by Paul at 01:13 PM