A Visit To Alberta
I decided to make a short visit to Alberta to see family and friends. Weather was good and I did some fishing, some hiking, and a lot of eating. On the way from the Edmonton airport, I stopped to take this photo of a lonely highway. There are many of these quiet secondary roads where you won’t see a car for ages.
My first destination was Saint Paul, the area has a lot of farmland with old and abandoned buildings. These make for great photos, especially at sunset.
One of the reasons I like shooting here is because the clouds are often interesting and completely change the composition. Montana is referred to as Big Sky Country but it certainly applies to Alberta as well.
Next day, my dad and I went fishing to Bellis Lake. The fish were not biting but I did see a large Osprey nest so I went to investigate. Not as majestic as the Bald Eagles I shot in Brackendale, but I managed to get some photos of these amazing birds. There was a pair of them, and they seemed most displeased that I was walking around their nest. After a few photos, I left them alone.
We left Bellis lake and decided to check out Hanmore Lake. A beautiful, clean lake where we each caught a Northern Pike and I went for a swim.
My brother arrived and we decided to head out at sunset to find more abandoned buildings. There are a lot of them, and I’m sure each one has an interesting story to tell. They all have a lot of character.
Sometimes it is not just houses that are abandoned.
On our way home, as the sun was setting, we stopped to look at this little valley. There is a beaver lodge in the middle, hard to imagine a better paradise for those guys than this spot.
The next day, I set up the camera close to my parents hummingbird feeder. These are Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and they are FAST, and hard to capture, though I did get a few decent shots.
Somewhat easier to capture when they sit still for a second, but she didn’t stick around for long.
I also took the opportunity to eat a ton of berries from the yard. The yellow raspberries are my favorite.
The next day, it was time to move on. My brother and I drove south towards Calgary and on our way out of Saint Paul we saw some good ol’ redneck ingenuity.
We stopped in Lamont to take some photos of the limousine ‘sculpture’. Odd, but every town in the area has its own claim to fame.
We drove through Elk Island National Park hoping to see some wildlife. We did see some bison, though none were close enough for a shot. Overall, the park was a bust but worth going as the wildlife are always on the move.
On my final full day in Alberta, we made the most of it. We first drove out to Dinosaur Provincial Park (DPP) which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. My brother (who lives in Alberta) enjoyed telling me that there are four UNESCO sites in Alberta and only one in BC.
DPP is in the badlands of Alberta, an arid region full of snakes and dinosaur fossils.
We took a short hike next to the river to look at the ancient cottonwood trees. These things are several hundred years old, gnarly and deformed. They have seen a lot of things in their many days.
We also walked the Badlands Trail, where you can see some of the interesting geology of the area.
After a sufficient baking in the mid-day sun on the Alberta badlands, we went to the metropolis of Brooks for lunch before heading to Newell Lake. The lake is actually a man-made reservoir created after construction of the Bassano Dam. My brother tried his luck at fishing while I took a few photos. Found this Double-crested Cormorant taking off not far away.
This beaver also cruised by and didn’t seem too bothered by our presence. I couldn’t get close as there were a trillion ants on the bank of the lake and if you got anywhere near them they immediately covered you.
We decided to go for a drive around the lake instead of fishing as the fish were not cooperating. We were just killing time waiting for sunset and the real fishing to begin. These cows were worth stopping for.
Not much farther we saw a mule deer.
Finally the sun was starting to set so we found a nice spot to set up in. While it was a beautiful area, the mosquitoes were horrendous. We both covered ourselves with bug spray but it didn’t seem to help much. There couldn’t be a better breeding ground for these things and often I was standing in a few inches of water with my tripod getting completely attacked while setting up for a shot. I fought through it and managed to get some of the shots I wanted.
This is a shot taken with my iPhone 4S showing my D800 set up for the sunset shot.
The resulting shot from the D800 turned out to be my favorite shot from the trip.
As the sun went down, it was time to explore the real reason we came to Newell Lake in the first place: crayfish! These are like small freshwater lobsters, and invasive in many waters in Alberta. They are best to catch at night, just walking through the water with a flashlight. When you see one, just grab it and throw it in a bucket. We caught enough for a feast.
Ready to eat.
As you can see, they are just little guys, but tasty!
It was a fun trip to Alberta, I covered a lot of miles but saw a lot and caught up with friends and family. Here is a link to the general route map. I flew into Edmonton, and out from Calgary covering over 1500Km in the few days I was there. Certainly made the most of it