Tag Archives: driving

Introspective Perspective

Random thoughts while driving…

The meeting was set for 1:00 pm on Saturday in the quaint coffee house, Pebble Ridge, in Rocky Mountain House. My new author is from Red Deer and it would be a short drive west for him to finally meet to discuss his book project.

I started out from home at 8:00 am, filled the tank, and got a cold drink to go. I couldn’t understand why I was so thirsty so early, but realized it might have been the consumption of wine the evening before… Rested and raring to go, it was easy to rise and pack and hit the road early. Although another route was more direct, I chose the longer way to enjoy the journey. It’s not always about the destination – although that can be important – how you get there, too, makes all the difference sometimes. For one – heading west always feels right and, for two, taking the Cowboy Trail is a good choice because it feels right, too. I’ve been this way before a few times lately (highway 16 west to highway 22 south), but I love the drive – the feel of it relaxes me and sets my mind free of city encumbrances. Driving alone, however, is open game for thinking – good and bad. If I don’t want to think, I play music to drown out the persistent voices, the constant thoughts, the never ending discussion between the realist and the dreamer. The radio station fades away and I play the soundtrack from Cavalia or Maroon 5.

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A robin poses for a close up shot.

A bumblebee buzzes around the windows looking for in or through or whatever. Sunshine sits in the Miette Hot Springs parking lot looking like a big yellow flower in a meadow of concrete – tasty temptation for the timid little bee. I roll my driver’s side window up and two seconds later it attempts to say a closer hello. A robin hops nearby on the pathway along the trees, and I mega zoom in on it – magnifying its feathers and bright eyed curiosity. I sit contemplating my move. I remain there for about an hour, reading, calming frazzled nerves that poke in and out of the relaxing peace. I cannot explain the diametrically opposed pieces of my mind. Happy. Sad. Inspired. Depressed. Peaceful. Anxious. The parking lot fills up – it’s time to move on.

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I could see the same view day after day and it would still humble me, overwhelm me with its magnificence.

When I drive the mountain roads I cannot believe the feelings that wash over me. I often wonder if those people who speed by in fast cars, neglecting the stop at look outs, ignoring points of interest, not even slowing down to enjoy the wildlife – I wonder, if they ever feel the emotion I do in the mountains. Perhaps, they did the trip before and it’s no big thing. Perhaps, they are too focused on the end point to notice the points of interest along the way. My emotions run the gamut – my mind stops, starts, and suspends itself in the magnificence of my surroundings. I am soothed by its beauty, overwhelmed and humbled by its magnitude. I cry at the thought of leaving this world and never seeing such beauty again. Then, I admonish myself for silliness and return to revel in the moment.

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Distant waterfall cascades down the mountain.

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An eagle flies o’er mountain high…

At a roadside turnout, high above the river below, I stop along the guardrail to take in the vast panorama. Mountains with snow covered peaks, shimmering shale rocks, greenery of all shades. A distant waterfall cascades down the mountainside. The telephoto lens brings the river from the valley floor and the highest shimmering rock face to me as if in reach. Out of the corner of my eye I see it – circling, circling, circling… Soaring on upper air currents, the large bird covers the sky in wide spread wings, so high it is even a speck in my lens. I am not sure of the species of raptor, but the bird is magnificent. The words to the sound about love lifting us up, come to mind and ring in my head, prompting tears to spring to my eyes, again.

The trip wasn’t totally about doing everything I love, but it encompassed some of the ‘musts’. I already mentioned the Highway 22 South route – well, 11 West is a dream and being in Rocky Mountain House with a free night ahead of me meant I couldn’t pass up the chance to see things I love and traverse the route with such beauty. My travels now include limits, however. Due to health issues, there are limits I never had to consider before, but there they are, forefront in planning and executing events. Accepting I have limitations both angers and frustrates me. In moments of appreciation, I think of all the things I’ve done and all the things I still can do. I digress and say thanks – at peace with the body’s changes. With those thoughts, I decided I would explore some different things/places amongst the wonderfully familiar, while taking time to clear my head and rest my back and knees.

For the most part, driving is easy until I log too many hours in the Sunshine saddle – then the back begins to remind me of its chronic pain. I need to stretch and walk a bit to loosen up the muscles and work the knees. Refreshing road weary eyes is always a good thing, too. My stops are frequent because of the awe I feel – lots of pictures return home with me – but, I temper my attempt at each stop depending upon my ability. Many times, I am the best darned truck window photographer! Since I stopped at Athabasca Falls last year on the reverse trip, I decided I would stop at Sunwapta Falls this time. However, I couldn’t proceed past the parking lot because, although only a .1 km hike to the vantage points overlooking the water, all of the pathway is a downhill grade and that is a no-no for the knees. Acceptance of limitation. I listened to the roar of the water rushing below, thankful for my sense of hearing and sight.

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A decision to stop for the day to rest weary bones offered me opportunity to stay in a place I never stayed before… another new experience.

The need to keep in motion produces undesirable effects. The conundrum being more movement = activity = weight loss, but more movement = pain = exasperation! The pills I am on to manage pain help with numbing it so I can sleep and I don’t get overtired, sometimes. Depending on the activity (and the weather) my pain is what it is – constant. At times, it is excruciating, forcing me to just take things easy. Doctor’s orders are movement, keep active, but my body’s response is anything but accommodating. I most likely will need double knee replacement surgery, but the weight loss is a must in order to proceed in that direction. The weekend needed to be modified with extended rest to recover bothersome knee pain. The prior long weekend retreat tired me out – 2nd floor rooms in a lodge meant stairs multiple times per day. I mentioned this concern to my doctor on a previous visit. I took it very slow. Writing, yes. Stair master, no.

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6th Bridge – the sounds of birds and rushing water soothed. When the small parking filled, I escaped with pictures to remember it by.

It was exciting to travel familiar roads, but also intriguing to discover new ones. I took some time to discover 6th Bridge where I sat for some time reading. I took some pictures of the water and the bridge, then vacated when it started to get busy. Bikers, hikers, and other sightseers. The road to Miette Hot Springs was awesome – winding, curving, bordered by cliffs, rises, and lots of trees. It took me deeper into the back country. Again, I parked and listened to the birds, did some reading, and took pictures. As before, I backtracked and headed to the highway and proceeded east on 16. East is not good. It means leaving behind something as profound as the images of the Rockies in my mirror that soon fade from sight. My mood soured despite respite in the glorious mountains. How can one feel so inflated, yet depressed? So inspired, yet so empty? So determined to do better with renewed vigor – all the while, feeling overwhelmed with all that lays ahead… Prospects and potential paralyze – how can that be?

The comfort I take in all of this is my ability to see the beauty, appreciate the wonder, realize the potential for danger or recognize opportunity, and even laugh at myself with good humor, as necessary. The feelings described above hit me every time I leave the mountains to return home, leaving me to wonder why I never moved there if such a connection rips my very soul by their separation from my view. I concede – I was fearless in my youth and have become jaded in my aging even though I would certainly consider the move – looking around the little cabin I rented I surmised – “I could live here.”

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Amazing colors… there’s probably shiny things and a squirrel in there, too 😉

So to end this blog about perspective and its inward retrospection while getting away – I leave you with a tip while driving throughout the Alberta countryside. Be aware that if Main Street is blocked off in Small Town, Alberta – and there are people pulling lawn chairs to the curb side – it could mean there is a celebration you are not privy to. I wondered why that little girl waved to me… All I could think was how lucky I was I had such a beautiful, bright truck! Sunshine was in her glory parading by the locals… oh, look, what a beautiful tree!

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Photo Blog Challenge Wrap Up

January 2015 – 30 Day Photo Blog Challenge Wrap Up

So it is now going on into the early morning hours of February 1st and I am contemplating the grand finale for this challenge. I found that trying to focus on my own work allowed me a chance to express a little bit of suppressed creativity. I love my words. I love my camera. And to combine them into compositions in answer to the prompts in whatever manner happened was worth the time invested. I found as I went along, the challenge was something that I love do anyway – I am always watching for that perfect shot, that one time chance, that image that evokes a feeling and can be related by words, as well. Although this is a “wrap up” there will be no real end to this for me as it is as natural and as inevitable as sun rise. There are a few prompts on the list that I will admit to passing over, either because they deluded me in attempt or they didn’t spark an interest. Prompts are like that – they either “speak” to you or they are silent. I like to think that I can respond to anything, and I guess I can if I don’t really care what I “say” – however, I enjoyed the posts that happened when least expected. It’s like the moments in life that you either catch on “film” or you commit to eternal memory. So I always look up to the sky for inspiration and light or down to the ground for that unusual shadow or circumstance. I think as I go and realize an offering when it is handed to me. Like spaghetti falling onto the counter, tempting a game of pickup sticks. Synchronicity at work is the greatest compliment to my creative impulse.

Day 26 – Close Up Blog - Jan 26 - image close up>>> The rocks lie below and if you don’t pay attention to them, take a look next time. What do you see? Perhaps, it is just a haphazard arrangement of sizes and colors with no apparent pattern? Do you question the missing spots and wonder if you’ve “left no stone unturned” in your evaluation? Or is it just there, tempting those who might glance down to see something in what is apparently nothing more than a rock gravel parking lot… Interpretation is, after all, up to you and your muse.

Day 25 – Strangers >>> have nothing of note for this prompt so I pass on this one. I have mentioned before that I am not a portrait photographer and think less of imposing upon others around me. I am okay with people watching in order to study habits and characteristics for my writing, but taking pictures of people without their permission would be just creepy. That would be how you would interpret this as “strangers” the noun. Pass.

Horses

Day 24 – Animal >>> Well we all know where this might go given the opportunity… which happened to present itself on a recent drive. Horses will always warrant a stop along the road. It brings back April memories of seeking the wild horses that run west of Sundre.

But, if I keep close to home, the little pest that is poking at my leg to pet him is always around even though he might not be the most willing photo participant at times. He is quick and takes to looking away just as you click the pic. I am going to wrap up Day 20 – In My Bag – by saying that if I had it open on the floor like this box, I can tell you I would have a cat in the bag right quick. So, although I did not really fulfill the Day 20 prompt as best as I think I could, it is another one that gets a pass. So here’s my animal… Squishy in a box ready to ship off. Any takers?Squish

That only leaves Day 21 – Faceless Self Portrait and Day 30 Self Portrait… really nothing has changed enough from Day 1 to insert any other self-portrait here. I embrace creativity, yet have specific things I stay away from – particularly me in a photo. The Day 1 photo was one of those – ah ha moments – it was there on a day out to Elk Island Park and was something to recognize in the moment. It spoke to the challenge and to me and to what I would attempt to accomplish. It really addressed Day 21 as well because with that camera up in front you are, in essence, faceless. What I am going to finish up with, however, is my beautiful Sunshine – it usually makes it into all my photo days because without it I wouldn’t be traipsing all over snow-covered back country roads. The truck is a blessing and has helped to fulfill many adventures already. Memories that will stay with me forever; and isn’t that what life’s all about. This challenge has given me some great opportunity to share, to explore, to create… and for that I am truly thankful.

Sunshine makes winter tolerable

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