Last weekend Mr. Bastard was out of town on a fishing trip so I packed up the truck, loaded in Creepy-dog and headed East. With no real goal in mind, I aimlessly zig zagged across the prairies making a series of right hand turns down endless highway and dirt roads in search of a change of scenery and some simple compositions. Prairie Simplicity III B&W
At one point, the road dipped into a coulee and I suddenly found myself in the middle of a small and surprisingly busy little town. There were people everywhere I looked, and part way through town I began to notice a pattern. The townsfolk were either sitting in lawn chairs along the sidewalk (odd, I thought), or loitering in small groups around the tail gates of their pick up trucks which had been backed up in parking lots facing the street (slightly less odd, I thought). When a stranger drives through a small town, it’s noticeable to the people who live there that someone new is around. I garnered quite a few looks from the people along the street, but paid little attention to their glances. (As a person who grew up in a town of 225 people, yes, we do know you’re not from here and yes, we are staring at you)
Still, maybe they had somehow known I would drive through town that day and gathered to see me and Creepy-dog. (Gather round one and all! Llisa and Creepy, racing across the prairie! See the famed truck Mrs. Beastly in her currently operating state! Watch as woman and fur-beast awkwardly try to drive while eating snacks not designed for consumption while driving! See them occasionally stop to take pictures or scoff at poorly maintained bathrooms!) Egomania be damned, it wasn’t until I looked down a side street towards the end of town and noticed a colourful parade at the end of the block that I put two and two together.
I had unintentionally become a parade marshall.
In hindsight, I should have been throwing candy out the window (or in my case, oodles of pickle and cheese sandwiches). At the very least, I should have waved.
Giggling madly to myself, I continued on my journey with less of an audience. I made notes of places that would be good places to photograph at sunset or sunrise. On the outskirts of Drumheller, I noticed a small canyon that would be dynamite at sunset and decided I would come back around 8 pm. I spent the rest of the day roaming around aimlessly, watching the sunlight play tag with the rain clouds and cast pockets of light and shadow across the prairie landscape. Occasionally long skid marks would appear under the tires of my truck on lonely gravel roads after seeing a composition I found pleasing. Other times, the skid marks would appear simply because it's really really fun to spin around in the dirt. (The new truck tires I bought last year were money well spent)
As sunset approached, I made my way back to the canyon I spotted early in the day, and set up my camera in the nick of time to capture what I was after. I couldn't believe my good timing once the light quickly became flat and boring again. I had assumed that would be where I spent my evening, but with new found time to spare I headed towards the Hoodoo formations on the other side of Drumheller.
I had vowed to not take photos of grain silos while on the prairies, but I stopped briefly to snap a few more photos of a grain elevator bathed in golden sunlight. Although they are still common photographic subjects, the grain elevator is a quickly disappearing icon of the prairie and the opportunity was too good to pass.
I made it to the Hoodoos with the intent of taking the easy way out photographically speaking, and shooting the famed formations. However, as I entered the parking lot a less typical scene caught my eye. I ended up crouched down on the side of the highway in a drainage ditch while the sun disappeared behind the horizon.
With a certain photo in mind for sunrise at the Hoodoos, I set up an uncomfortable bed in my truck and spent the night in the parking lot. The nice thing about truck sleeping in the summer is the short amount of time to wait before the sun rises again.
This truck ain't big for the two of us Creepy-dog
A few hours later I was up and sharing the view of a lacklustre sunrise with a fellow early rising photographer. "Any minute now" I kept saying, but the sun and clouds did not cooperate as I had hoped. After a while, I noticed a ball of light hovering 90 degrees to the left of my camera and realized the photo I had in mind for that morning, wouldn't be achievable for another six months or so. A cold sleepless night for nothing. Note to self: Research before leaving the house.
I waited around for two hours hoping something interesting would happen with the light, depleting my coffee source in the process but alas I had been skunked. I took a few consolation photos, packed up, drove home and crawled into bed for an award worthy nap.