Monday, December 20, 2010

Driving in Alberta on a November Weekend: A Photo Essay

Text and images (c) Robert Barry Francos/FFanzeen, 2010
These lo-rez version of the photos can be enlarged by clicking on them

At the end of November of 2010, we traveled out to Alberta for personal reasons. Along the way, I snapped. Note that just about all these photos were taken out the car window while going at least the speed limit, so you will see some blurriness. It was cold that weekend, and over the two nights, there was a fog which led to some very beautiful hoar frost.

The first day we drove through some small towns on our way to Edmonton. These photos are only one way, as it was dark by the time we returned.

Riding along, we passed through the town of Ohaton. I've always liked the shape of the car repair garage centered in the distance, with it's three-level roof facade.

The Ohaton public school is old enough to have once had separate entrances for genders. I can't make any snide remarks, because the elementary school I attended in Brooklyn (PS 128) had the same thing.

The small city of Camrose has the beautiful Mirror Lake and bridge in the heart of it, in Jubilee Park. Along the same lake is the Ukrainian Catholic Parish church that I've found to be charming, including the fancy metal work around the steeple.

Out in the countryside, this new style of grain elevator is becoming increasingly common, as the old fashioned iconic wood elevators are disappearing at an alarming rate.

The weather-beaten look of this farm house and barn is both rustic and lonely. The lines across the picture are from the heating elements along the back car window.

The distance one can feel as you look out over the snowy fields is staggering and beautiful all at the same time. In a climate like this, it seems infinite.

Rolls of straw covered with snow is reminiscent of breakfast cereal with frosting.

Many farms use more equipment than can fit in their own storage, so they park the implements outside for the duration of the winter, ready to hit the fields again once spring has sprung.

More breakfast cereal-inspired hay, a common sight outside of city limits.

Is it me, or does "Whitemud" seem like an oxymoron?

The fake tree-like smokestacks hide behind their models of reality (or, perhaps, humanity vs. nature?).

Smokestacks are also a common sight in the prairie cities and countryside, between oil, natural gas, potash, and other natural products that are in need of processing. Industry always wins.

A train trestle over the North Saskatchewan River.

Almost missed this one: yes, that is a road named after Mr. Hockey.

Obviously part of New Jersey's attempt to take over the world!

Somewhere there is an adolescent laughing at the combination of "Humpty's" and "Yellowhead." For those who don't know, one of the main arteries in Edmonton is known as the Yellowhead trail.

This reminds me of a sign at Coney Island's boardwalk (not sure if it's still there). It's definitely a cool logo for this company. I understand the whole double meaning of "space" indicated here, but does one want their stuff sent off to the galaxy, or to stay put/ This image could work both ways.

I liked this sign. Northern Lights is also the name of a Casino near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, though I'm sure they are both in reference to the Aurora Borealis. Interestingly, both the cemetery and casino have a similar message of eternity; the one here is "The care is everlasting," and for the casino, it's a disingenuous "Where the winning never ends."

The second day we headed out again, with the foliage covered with hoar frost, which is incredibly beautiful as they are encased in snow and ice, giving them a white casing. Here we are back on the road to Camrose.

One of the bigger modern-style grain elevators, in Legacy Junction, just outside of Ohaton.

An abandoned farm is not all that uncommon, unfortunately, as the Canadian farmers are also in financial straits between rapacious banking loan regulations and big agri-business pressuring independent farmers by trying to buy out everyone.

Camrose has all their Christmas themes up right after Halloween, since Canadian Thanksgiving falls in mid-October.

The sun sits behind this octopus elevator.

Another abandoned and graffiti covered farm along the Camrose area correction line.

A lovely spot, but this truly is the middle of nowhere.

Hoar frost in all its glory, lining the road and keeping a barrier between the cars and the farm.

A lone farmhouse in the distance near the town of Round Hill.

In Round Hill, two churches sit along the same road. Note the sign is old enough to have the distance in miles rather than kilometers.

St. Stanislaus in Round Hill. We did not go inside.

I love the feeling of distance one gets looking out the window as the car rolls along. It's beautiful in any season.

Stacks of hay surround a mound of dirt, though keeping with the theme, it could be a lump of sugar among the Weetabix cereal.

Some lonely trees stand shorn and waiting for spring, as are we all.

More hay bales spread throughout a farm.

On our trip home heading east, we actually drove through the fog bank we had been in the night before on the return from Edmonton. Luckily, it passed quickly and we arrived home that evening. Special thanks to Ayrin for watching our cats, Ming and Memphis, while we were gone.

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