In the summer of 2019 my girlfriend, Crystal, and I drove across Canada to pick up a load in a cargo trailer from long term storage to bring back across Canada to our farm. For me, this had been the fourth year in a row to make this exact same trip, but for Crystal it was her first time being past Northern Ontario driving.
We slept in the empty trailer on the way West, which was an absolute luxury. We tried to pull off the side of the road so we wouldn’t have to get a campsite, but it was during the time of the nation wide man hunt for the two young fugitives from Vancouver Island so we were always just a little bit on edge when we’d find a nice place to stop. Nothing like a little danger to keep a trip exciting. I like to put little camp symbols on our oversized map so that in future years we know where a good campsite is. It’s probably not necessary because there are campsites in nearly every town, but sometimes you’re sitting there thinking to yourself: “I know the campsite was somewhere in this part of the country, but I just don’t remember the name of the little adorable town it was located in.” So there, on the map, is a little camp symbol that solves the mystery.
I think one of the more memorable things for me was when we stopped in the Fraser Canyon of BC to look down the canyon on a particularly beautiful turn in the river, and behind us we hear a few rocks tumbling down. I was worried because the truck was below those rocks, but up up up we see some goats following an ancient trail. First a big male goes to show the way, then a few females, then about 5 little kids make their way across! What a sight! Sometimes it’s easy for me to get caught up in our modern industrialized and urbanized world and feel like our wildlife is a thing of the past, that we no longer have any, and then seeing something like this makes me realize that there is still something out there untamed, wild, free, true.
At this point, we were on our way to Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island. Seeing the wild Pacific Coast one last time was pretty special for us. I remember growing up I always wanted to live in Vancouver. The wild old growth forests and the gnarly roots everywhere was to me something very special. In fact, it was in the mountains around Vancouver that I really started photographing as I hiked endlessly. For Crystal, it was her first time seeing the giant cedars and firs and the wild, rugged coastline of the open Pacific Ocean.
And just like that, it was time for us to zip back to Atlantic Canada and back to the farm.
Shawnigan Lake is where I’ve been calling home for a while now. It’s a beautiful community along the Victoria Watershed, just north of the Malahat and Victoria, on Vancouver Island, in beautiful British Columbia.
Being an outdoors man, naturally I’ve taken to wandering with my camera in hand. Every month I get a collection of wander-clickings I’ve captured, and if you follow any of my social medias, you’ve maybe seen some of these images pop up at times. You know, when the mood hits.
Ever since I was first exploring these lands with my parents on summer vacations of y’or, I have always been incredibly fascinated with these old growth forests. They are unlike any other I’ve experienced, which isn’t to say they are better, but just that they have a special place in my heart that started when I was young. The giant roots crossing single-track trials covered in cedar branches and fir needles, with oregon grape and salal flanking as I meander up and down valleys. Oh, the depths of canyons found within trunks of a thousand year old fir trees.
This is what I’ve come upon.
tech specs // Sony a7 / Super Takumar 55mm f1.8 / Jupiter 11A 135mm f4 / Super Takumar 28mm
I grew up in Prince George, BC. I’ve always described it as the place smack dab in the middle of BC, though it’s the capital of Northern BC. On a map, it’s pretty perfectly in the center. Driving, it’s about 10 hours north of Vancouver.
Driving from Vancouver one first finds the Fraser Valley, then abruptly turn norther into the winding Fraser Canyon that turns into the North Thompson canyon and then connects back up to the Fraser River to follow it more or less all the way up through the Cariboo to the Central Interior and Prince George. On the way back South, we hooked West at Cache Creek to wind our way through to Pemberton and Whistler before getting back to Vancouver.
In the winter the scenery is brown and muddy and very snowy and icy the further north one goes. In the fall you can expect to find every color of the rainbow in the trees that occupy the landscape that spins by. In the spring and summer everything is green and growing and each of the little lakes and creeks along the way call out, inviting you to jump on in.
Being so long of a drive, and one that I’ve done countless times in my life, I’m usually trying to avoid stopping, rather then stopping to take photographs of anything that catches my eye.
Having a foreign friend – Nene – with me, I took all the back roads and detours I knew! She was all smiles, and “ooh” and “ahhh”. Great travel companion!
My brother, Bart, has slowly become more and more passionate about naturalism: listening to the land so it can tell us how to survive off it by gathering and harvesting. Perhaps he’s always been this way.. Anyways, he’s been learning about fungii, spends weeks picking berries and climbing through a natural playground. In short, he’s becoming a wild man.
Naturally, I’ve also picked up some of this interest.
Last autumn, him and I made a trip into the Kootneys to look for chanterelle and lobster mushrooms. It was a trip filled with much philosophizing, introspection, and heated debates confusing the realistic with the ideal. We slept in his camper van with socks on, showered by a splash of ice cold lake water, made tea by a propane stove inside his van, and spent all day walking through the forest on the hunt.
The smart way to cut mushrooms is by using a plastic knife: much less painful when you slip and fall on a plastic knife then your razor sharp hunting cadaver. I wore a compass every day. The number of times I thought I knew the direction I was heading, only to confirm with my compass I was nearly heading the wrong way always blows my mind. I blame it on the slope of the land. When you’re walking on a 30-45deg slope around the base of a mountain for a few hours, it’s hard to orient oneself I guess.
Also, there are thousands of fungii types, and I’m learning I’m horrible (or it’s hopeless) at naming them! I know the Lobsters are right..
Lately I’ve been taking to the streets of Vancouver with my camera to photograph anything that I see. This is part my effort to begin studying what it means to be a documenter, and part my effort to learn the new camera I am using, the Sony Alpha7. It’s truly a remarkable camera and I have plans to do a full review of the camera shortly.
Vancouver is a city that I find incredibly beautiful, depending on the day. Some days, golden light shines through semi-tall buildings filled with multi-cultural citizens who spill out into the streets to enjoy the green city, some of them walking or cycling about their business.
Today was one of those days where the city is simply golden.
My path? I walked from Chinatown, to Gastown, to Granville St and Robson Street, back East through Yaletown, across the viaduct between Rogers Arena and BC Place Stadium, and back through Chinatown.
This is the architecture, graffiti and other nonsense I found along the way. Street Photography post can be found here.