Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Lonely Road in Alberta - Big Sky Country

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.
Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Lonely Road in Alberta - Big Sky Country

 

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.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse Sunset HDR

 
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.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse Sunset HDR 2

 

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.
Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Osprey in Flight

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Osprey in Flight 2

 

I also saw this Volkswaken Bus in the parking area, so even though we didn't catch any fish I left with some interesting photos.
Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Volkswagen Bus at the Lake

 

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.
Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Hanmore Lake

 

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.
Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse Sunset HDR

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse Interior HDR

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse Interior HDR 2

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse HDR

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse HDR

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Barn Doors HDR

 

Sometimes it is not just houses that are abandoned.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Old Farmhouse and Abandoned Car HDR

 

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.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Beaver Paradise

 

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.

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Feeder

 

Somewhat easier to capture when they sit still for a second, but she didn't stick around for long.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Branch

 

I also took the opportunity to eat a ton of berries from the yard. The yellow raspberries are my favorite.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 - strawberries and raspberries

 

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.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : 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.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Lamont Limousine Sculpture

 

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.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 - Snakes on the Road

 

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.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Dinosaur Provincial Park Cottonwood Tree

 

We also walked the Badlands Trail, where you can see some of the interesting geology of the area.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Dinosaur Provincial Park Badlands Trail

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Dinosaur Provincial Park Badlands Trail

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Dinosaur Provincial Park Badlands Trail

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Dinosaur Provincial Park

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Dinosaur Provincial Park

 

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.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Double-crested Cormorant Taking Off

 

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.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Beaver

 

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.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Cows

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Cow Tongue

 

Not much farther we saw a mule deer.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Mule Deer

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : 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.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Sunset at the Newell Lake

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Sunset at the Newell Lake

 

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Sunset at the Newell Lake

 

This is a shot taken with my iPhone 4S showing my D800 set up for the sunset shot.

Sunset Newell Lake, Brooks, Alberta - iPhone 4S

 

The resulting shot from the D800 turned out to be my favorite shot from the trip.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Sunset at the Newell Lake

 

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.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Live Crayfish at Newell Lake

 

Ready to eat.

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Cooked Crayfish at Newell Lake

 

As you can see, they are just little guys, but tasty!

Alberta Visit Aug 2012 : Cooked Crayfish Just a Little Snack

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 :)
Alberta Trip Route Map