Photo #N22-10

North on 855 #1

The final night of my September 2002 road trip and I was working my way back in the direction of home. I had been on the road for days and already accumulated a good amount of material. Or so I hoped anyway. You never really know until you see the film. Such is the nature of night photography. I crossed the border back into Alberta around dusk to unsettled skies. The plan was to work some abandoned homesteads in the Kirriemuir area along the Alberta Saskatchewan border. The closer I got, the more the skies socked in with dense cloud. It was raining occasionally and I couldn't even see the moon. I watched as my turnoff, a small, inconspicuous gravel road, approached on the screen of the GPS. The night sky was so dark I barely saw it as I went past. There was no chance of shooting here tonight.

Continuing on, I listened to the stereo attempting to drown out the familiar rattles and squeaks as the Starving Artist Van hummed down the highway. An hour passed as I headed West. The skies were beginning to clear and some potential locations I had marked over a year prior were starting to show up on the GPS.

As I approached Halkirk, I followed the GPS off the highway and along a gravel road until I was right on top of the little dot on the screen. Grabbing my spotlight, I scanned the nearby landscape and there it was. An old farmhouse lay before me on top of a small hill. The location was perfect. The skies had cleared completely too and a bright full moon was overhead.

The only problem was that I was completely uninspired. Sure I should get out there and shoot. That's the only way new photos happen! But I was exhausted from being on the road for days and all I was thinking about was that if I kept driving and pushed through, I would be home by morning. A clear, moonlit night like this almost makes you feel guilty when you don't take advantage of it but my heart just wasn't in it anymore. I guess getting rained out at Kirriemuir broke my spirit. After pondering all of this for a few minutes I decided to continue on.

In search of further inspiration, I followed the GPS to a few other nearby locations. This area is rich with abandoned farms and homesteads. They would have all been just fine. I wouldn't have marked them the last time I explored out this way if they weren't. But nothing inspired me enough to get out of the nice warm van and go shooting. It was already a successful road trip. Maybe next time.

I wound my way back to the pavement and continued on not really paying attention to much other than the CD playing on the stereo. Something seemed a little strange though. Nothing looked familiar. ...And the road almost seemed smaller. Whatever. I was tired. Ignore it. A very unusual underpass approached in the distance and I was once again faced with the reality that I wasn't where I thought I was. Hmm, the GPS said I was going North. The map shows this part of Highway 12 as going East to West. Yup, somewhere in the process of checking out those abandoned farms, I had found my way back onto the wrong highway.

Oh well. . . Whatever. North was fine too. It's a highway. It has to go somewhere. When I get there, I'll know where I am.

I continued, North apparently, past featureless terrain, hoping to come across something I could identify on the map. Then, out of nowhere, I rounded a corner and began a descent into a deep, wide valley. It was gorgeous. A surreal landscape lay there before me with a winding, forking river meandering its way along the valley floor covered by a thin layer of mist. Some sort of power plant or industrial facility glowed off in the distance at the edge of the valley. Cool. Ok, the artist is inspired!

Pulling over at the first opportunity after the bridge, I parked the van and soon figured out where I was. Seems I accidentally detoured onto secondary 855 and stumbled upon the Battle River. Totally re-energized by my newly discovered surroundings, I shot here for the rest of the night.


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