Tobogganing in Kananaskis (again)
A couple of weeks after sledding on our tiny hill across the street, we went to the best toboggan location in our neck of the woods last weekend. The slope is somewhat dramatically called Suicide Hill by locals. We have gone there since all of the kids were really young and it is always a lot of fun. I titled a post in 2017 the same and it was fun to compare then and now.
We went late in the day which meant fewer people but came at the expense of the sun falling behind the trees shortly after we got started. It was still a beautiful day and we had a great time.
Super fun at the Calgary Stampede Midway
My children and I went down to the Calgary Stampede on Friday for a day on the grounds. We ended up staying for 10 hours and they spent most of that riding, sliding, dropping, stopping and flying around, over, through and across the midway.
We rode on the Skyride which takes you over the middle of the fairgrounds and affords a great view and an opportunity to map out the order of rides, games and food.
It was hot, by Calgary standards – around 32°C, so the misting and water stations were important oasis stops for us throughout the day.
One of those water bottle refill spots was in the Agrium building. The cool air and really interesting agricultural kiosks and interactive centres kept the kids interested and allowed us to lose some heat! Kezia loved feeding the chickens in particular while Kian enjoyed watching the day old chicks waddle around their pen.
Ice cream after lunch and slushies in the afternoon were necessary – at least to us!
But, this was a day of rides and we did that with very few other breaks. It was the first time the kids have come down to the Stampede and I am really happy that they loved it. I’ve always had a lot of fun down here – on the midway, at the rodeo, watching the chuckwagons and the grandstand show, etc. I’m excited to share more of the fun that the Stampede has to offer with them.
They hit the Euro Slide early in the day and later in the afternoon. The sun was behind them for the afternoon rides which allowed for a cool look by over-exposing the shots. I definitely had a lot of fun playing while photographing these cool cats!
The Outlaw Roller Coaster was one of Kian’s two favourite rides. He made a couple of runs solo on that after going with his sister the first time. He didn’t mind having the front seat all to himself – and it worked well for the photographs too! My favourite is the riding philosopher as he finished his last ride on this one.
And then there was the Starship 4000! It was the consensus favourite and they both rode it A LOT. Kian went 13 times and Kezia rode 16 times – in a row! Dad was a bystander while they racked up their circular miles inside the spaceship. It spun around pasting the riders against the wall but still allowing them to move around a bit. I didn’t go on this one but I have been told by both kids it was AWESOME!
We didn’t even get into the games that line the midway alongside the rides. Kian definitely liked this pink monkey so he’s looking forward to trying for one of them next year.
We finished the day off with a couple of flights on the hang gliding ride called the Cliff Hanger. I liked flying like Superman – the kids did that and enjoyed making faces and having a blast as they spun around.
A great day at the Stampede – we’ll be back next year!
Happy Canada Day!
To my fellow Canadians, and anyone else with a soft spot for the country, Happy Canada Day! 149 years old today!
This was the annual bike parade in Redwood Meadows led by our local Fire Department. And followed closely by my daughter, Kezia, in the middle looking back.
Kezia and Finnegan
On the weekend, my children and I visited the Calgary Zoo for the better part of a day. We used to go frequently when they were younger but it had been a couple of years since we went together. We had a really great time there with a number of fun moments watching the animals and having fun with each other. When we visited the river otters, Kezia had this wonderful interaction with Finnegan, the son of the other two otters. The otters are so curious, which matches Kezia perfectly, so when he saw her at the glass he swam by performing spins and rolls. When she put her finger against the window, he followed it around to her great delight. Two beautiful creatures sharing a little time together.
Kian’s crazy jumps
The kids and I took their cousin up to the park this morning. The playground there is pretty cool but the most fun we had was when the kids were jumping off some of the bouncy animal rides. Taking a low angle, I wanted to make these small guys into giants. Kian loved these photographs and said it would be alright if I shared them.
(click on an image for a larger image gallery)
Exploring the Rockies: a few summertime adventures in the mountains
I was working on some images of the active lifestyle in the Rockies for a client and thought the summer set would be fun to post. With fall ready to give way to winter any day it was nice to recall the summer before the snow flies.
In July Jeff and I met a kayak team on the Kananaskis River during one of their training sessions. We definitely had the easier work scurrying over the rocks photographing compared to waging war against and conspiring with the water.
When I was in the Tonquin Valley with Art Wolfe and Gavriel Jecan, I had a minute to photograph Gav as he was bouldering. That ended when we noticed a grizzly bear among the rocks a stone’s throw away.
This guy, Chris as coincidence had it, was visiting friends in Jasper and came to Horseshoe Lake for one purpose: to hurl himself off this cliff about seventy feet above the lake. I remember doing some decent jumps but shooting him descending was a different perspective. I was impressed with his lack of hesitation and the nonchalance displayed when he swam back to the shore afterwards. It wasn’t enough to convince me to follow suit though.
I photographed a group of para-gliders, hang-gliders and other fliers from their launch at the top of a ridge above Golden in British Columbia. Watching them spiraling upwards on thermals, as this lady was doing in the image above, was amazing. I came away with a profound appreciation for the grace and the silence of these engine free forms of flight.
We went into the Tonquin Valley in August along a trail that started in forest, came up above the treeline and then slowly descended towards Amethyst Lake. In the image above, our guide Sarah is leading our group out of the valley. Seemingly not as adventurous as some of the other images, throw in a trailside bee hive and a six hour trek through rain and sleet, and I think it belongs.
The Calgary Stampede is almost here!
With the regular excitement leading up to Stampede amplified by the attendance of the young royals during their honeymoon tour across Canada, Calgary is in great spirits right now. The Stampede Parade this morning kicks off the crazy ten day party. Rick Hansen is the Parade Marshal which is an inspiring choice. Canada’s Man In Motion will no doubt add more fuel to the fire in the city.
As the Stampede gets closer, more people start to don their Western attire and businesses deck their store fronts (and walls, alleys, staff, windows, etc.) with fanciful cowboy characters, horses and chuckwagons (mostly artwork but there are living embodiments if you go to the right bar or corporate lobby). One of my favourite decorations is this cowboy that Canadian Pacific Railway perches on top of their black locomotive that is set along 9th Avenue in front of their offices in the Gulf Canada Square building on 4th street.
This year I have a few framed prints showcased at the Western Photo Gallery which is one of the five areas of the Western Art Show at the Stampede. I was there for an opening party on Wednesday night and the artwork on display was incredible. Some of the paintings and sculptures are truly incredible. If you visit the Western Showcase in Halls D and E in the BMO Centre at the Stampede Park you will have a great opportunity to see the work of some incredible artists – and a couple of nice photographs too!
I have been accredited to photograph the rodeo and the chuckwagon races for the second time this year. Thank you to Dwayne Zaba and Roy Anstey at Bragg About the Creek magazine for your sponsorship. I can’t wait to get on the rail to watch these events – I didn’t grow up competing but had a number of cousins who did so I appreciate the level that both the animals and the people perform at during the Stampede. I’m sure I will be posting a few images over the next couple of weeks.
If you are in Calgary and make it to the Stampede this year, I hope you have a great time. If you aren’t, try to visit sometime down the road, I don’t argue with their slogan, “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”.
Earth Day – First Nation Dancing
Our community, Redwood Meadows, is built on land leased from the Tsuu T’ina Nation. We have great opportunities to work with them and to invite them to share their culture with us. Our new mayor, John Welsh, is carrying forward with this relationship and I believe he is making great strides to strengthening the connection between the Redwood community and the people of the Tsuu T’ina. Yesterday, as the culmination of the Earth Day celebrations at the community center, several Tsuu T’ina dancers and drummers performed. I have enjoyed their performances before during their Pow Wow and Rodeo that is an annual event every July but it was great to watch them in this smaller environment. Here then, are a few images from the dances. A very warm thank you to the dancers and musicians – it was a wonderful celebration!
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Fire Station Party – happy birthday to my son!
Friday was Kian’s 4th birthday and it kicked off a birthday weekend that was a whirlwind of fun.
Our local fire station, the Redwood Meadows Fire Department, allowed us to throw Kian’s birthday party at the Fire Hall in the garage right beside the fire engines and emergency response vehicles!
The kids, and most of us adults, had a great time. The fire fighters on duty were incredible – allowing the kids to tour through all of the vehicles, explaining gear, reinforcing fire safety in a fun way and really having fun with the children.
An incredible group of men and women. Their work in the community is amazing and it was fun to have a chance to talk with them and see their interest in teaching and playing with the children.
A huge thank you to my wife, Bobbi, for putting this event on; the fire department for everything they did that made the party incredible, Trisha for her amazing desserts, my parents for helping pull it all together and all of the families who came out – I hope everyone had a great day – we did.
Happy birthday Kian – with all of my love to my big boy. I love being your daddy and helping you as you blaze your trail. You amaze me every day.
The Tsuu T’ina First Nations Rodeo
The Tsuu T’ina Nation’s reserve lands run on both sides of Highway 22x, The Cowboy Trail, as you approach Bragg Creek from the east. Every year, the band holds a Rodeo and Pow Wow in July at their Beaverdome and rodeo grounds across the road from the Redwood Meadows Golf Course.
The event is attended by nations from all across North America. The rodeo is a major pull for competitors and fans alike. Drawing on a rich history of horsemanship and true cowboy toughness, these men and women put on an exciting, unpredictable and truly enjoyable show.
Here is a sequence showing a great ride ending with a hard, hard landing…
… I spoke to this gentleman afterwards where he had missed a full ride by less than a second. He told me he almost had him and all he wanted to do was get back on tomorrow. Awesome! Pretty mean looking horse too.
I stayed late on Saturday night, with the sun leaving us in twilight, a moon drifting higher in the east and the bulls seeming to gain the upper hand over the would be riders. It was a relief at the end, as there were a couple of bad tramples. There may have been a couple of broken bones but not many moans. It has been said how tough cowboys are and watching a bull stomp on a rider’s knee or chest, that comes to light in the aftermath.
The breath holding eased as the last of the riders made their way off the dirt. Giving room for the beauty of the area and a great sporting event to take back center stage in the minds of the crowd as we shuffled out of the grandstands.
I already can’t wait for next year’s rodeo (July 22-24). If you can make it, you will have a great time and meet some wonderful people.
Midway at the Calgary Stampede
This year the Stampede started its 10 day run with a lot of cold, wet weather. I made it down to the grounds with my good friend Dan Pichette on the Thursday before the big final weekend. We picked a good night as it was warm, there was a great sky in the evening and the grounds were busy but not packed.
We brought the tripods for the purpose of playing with long exposures on the lights of the rides, games and kiosks around the fairgrounds. Here is some of the work I came home with. Dan made some dynamite images and I’m bugging him to let me throw a couple of his images up here too. Not yet, but maybe soon.
I always have a lot of fun at the Stampede whether it’s watching the rodeo, checking out the art exhibit, listening the outdoor concerts or roaming the fair.
When I’m down there with a camera, I have yet to not get inspired by all of the commotion and excitement.