Friday, May 24, 2019

I was thinking about all the trips I’ve made back and forth across Manitoba, mostly in the southern part of the Province, looking for wildlife and nature, and started thinking about the different photographs I’ve taken both on the journey and home again.  If I go back as far as 2007, when I got my first DSLR and started counting the number of trips I’ve made, both weekend and weekday trips near and far, I think I have come close to that thousand journey mark. 

Old Trestle Bridge along Grass Lake, Manitoba

Old Trestle Bridge along Grass Lake, Manitoba

My most frequent journeys over the years, have been to the small Village of Ninette, that sits along the northern shore of Pelican Lake in southwest Manitoba.  This is a special place to me, that takes me back to all the journeys made as a child, riding with my family to visit my Grandparents, and exploring all the sights that this beautiful valley has to share.  Many secrets were found and close friendships were made here, that remain with me today.  The Trestle Bridge above, is now filled in as part of a walking trail, but as a child it was one of those places that was off limits to me and my siblings.  And of course being the adventurer that I was, I definitely didn’t listen to what I was told. 

Sunrise at Pelican Lake, Manitoba

Sunrise at Pelican Lake, Manitoba

Pelican Lake is the longest lake in southwest Manitoba, at 11 miles long and approximately 1 mile wide.  It has a lot to offer, with boating, fishing, swimming and an abundance of wildlife and nature that can be found if one takes the time to stop and smell the roses.  Summer sunrises are as beautiful as anywhere I’ve ever been, and although a little later to appear due to this being in a valley, they are breathtaking and leave me wanting much more.  As an early riser, I am always up with the sun and off to find the best photographs I can find.  Pelican Lake Yacht Club above is home to many sailing ships, that are waiting for the day to begin.

A huge storm cloud as it moves through Winnipeg in July, 2016

Hands of the Storm

Many of my journeys have been very close to home and some I have stayed within the Winnipeg City limits.  Sometimes I plan on going to one place and end up at a totally different place than I had planned, but spontaneity is one of the things that keeps me on my toes and makes life interesting.  After all, it’s never about the destination, but rather the journey we make and the treasures we find along the way, that give us our best memories in life.  This photo above was a quick detour from what I and my fellow photographer had planned.  As it turned out we went a completely different way than we were thinking of going and ended up getting caught in the middle of one of the most intense summer storms I have ever been in.  I hope not to experience that kind of journey again in the same way. 

Cook's Creek Ukrainian Catholic Church 

Cook's Creek Ukrainian Catholic Church

As I journey from one place to another, I will often stop along the way to photograph things that appeal to me, and those will always include old buildings, both in a state of ill repair and ones that are kept in perfect condition.  This beautiful Ukrainian Catholic Church at Cook’s Creek, about a half hour drive east and a little north of Winnipeg is one of those marvels that has a rich history and is still being used today.  There is also a Grotto at this location, but due to vandalism over the years, both the church and the grotto have been fenced off and are under lock and key most of the time.  Every 2 years, this location is host to a Medieval Tournament and display that allows visitors access to both the church and grotto, which I make a point of attending whenever I can.

An Old Barn Along the Journey

An Old Barn Along the Journey

Unlike the previous photo, this old barn is in a state of disrepair and well on it’s way to the end of it’s days.  Mother Nature, will always find a way to take back what is hers and if not taken care of, what man has created will return to nature.  As I travel around Manitoba and sometimes into Saskatchewan to the west or northwest Ontario to the east, I come across many of these old buildings and try to capture a photo of them to share with others and to remind me of what was here before me.  Some of the old buildings have been restored and are still in use today, but many of them have been abandoned and are slowly falling down around us.

The Boardwalk at Brokenhead Wetlands

The Boardwalk at Brokenhead Wetlands

Not all my journeys are made by vehicle alone.  Some are a mix of driving to a destination and stopping to walk among nature along the way, while others are strictly walking around my neighbourhood to see what I can find that is new and interesting.  This particular journey was a mix of driving to somewhere, but with no particular destination in mind and taking a walk in nature.  I happened to stop at the Brokenhead Wetlands and walked through the cedar forest to reach the fen.  In doing so, I was able to access this special place along a boardwalk, which was built after a generous donation that was bequeathed by the Eugene Reimer Environment Fund, thereby allowing visitors to the area access, without disturbing the flora and the fauna.  This is one journey everyone should make in their lives.

Riding Mountain National Park, East Gate

Riding Mountain National Park, East Gate

Many of my journeys take several hours of driving to get to, and some of them have me spending more than one day exploring the area that I have arrived at.  One of my favourite places to explore is Riding Mountain National Park, which is about a 4 hour drive from Winnipeg, so one needs to get an early start to their day if planning for only a day trip.  But I would rather camp overnight or get a hotel and be able to capture photos of this magical place during all hours of the day and night.  The east gate of the park, shown above dates back to the early 1930s and is the only gate of it’s kind remaining in any of Canada’s National Parks.  There is so much to explore and see in Riding Mountain National Park, that I recommend doing so over the course of a few days, unless of course you live right at it’s doorstep.  I have done day trips from Winnipeg and have been disappointed that I didn’t get to see all that I wanted to see.

Canadian National Railway Main Line ~ Redditt, Ontario

Canadian National Railway Main Line ~ Redditt, Ontario

As I said earlier on, some of my journeys take me outside of Manitoba and one of my favourite places to explore is just across our eastern border into Northwest Ontario.  The City of Kenora is a tourist destination and one that I have been to many times in my life, with at least one or two trips each summer, to see the beauty of the Lake of the Woods and the rugged terrain that the area has to offer.  Another favourite destination for me in this region, is north of Kenora to the town of Redditt.  Although this is not a tourist area, it is a place I found many years ago and come back to once in awhile.  Pictured above you can see a rock face that I used to climb as a young man, and although not as high as many in the mountains of Alberta and British Columbia, this rock face has it challenges for anyone who enjoys rock climbing.

Grand Beach Provincial Park, Manitoba

Grand Beach Provincial Park, Manitoba

One of many Manitobans favourite destinations during the summer months, just over an hour drive north of Winnipeg along the southeastern shores of Lake Winnipeg, is Grand Beach Provincial Park, where I have spent many a day or weekend, enjoying the sun and the fun that this place has to offer.  As you can see from this picture, it is a very popular place to be during our short summer months and on a hot July or August day, there are often lineups to get into the Park and access the beach.  There are camping spots available, but I recommend booking well in advance in order to secure a spot.  Or you can rent one of the many cottages available in either the Towns of Grand Beach or Grand Marais. 

Sunset at Grand Beach Provincial Park

Sunset at Grand Beach Provincial Park

On July 1, 2016, I decided to make a trip north of Winnipeg, and spent my day journeying from one location to another to see what different towns and villages outside the city had to offer in the way of Canada Day celebrations.  At the end of the day, having driven well over 500 kilometers, I ended up once again at Grand Beach Provincial Park.  I make sure to get an annual Provincial Park Pass each year, because there are so many parks that Manitoba has that are just screaming to be explored, and many of our Provincial Forests are also located in our Provincial Parks.  As the sun was beginning to set, I saw a canvass developing in front of me that only Mother Nature can paint.  And as a photographer I was determined to take a few pictures of this.  The pastel colours give me a sense of calm and draw me into a state of meditative peacefulness.

Fireworks Over the Lagoon at Grand Beach Provincial Park, Manitoba

Fireworks Over the Lagoon

After taking a number of sunset photos, I set up my tripod and waited for darkness and the start of the fireworks, which would bring a conclusion to a perfect day and one of my best Canada Day memories for years to come.  Each step of this journey brought me something new and exciting, from town parades to local fairs and from tastes of food that one can only find in rural Manitoba to music and dancing with people of all nationalities sharing their heritage and costumes for all to enjoy.  After taking a number of photos of the fireworks, I decided it was time to make the journey home. 

Sunset at Culross, Manitoba

Sunset at Culross, Manitoba

Waiting at the end of every journey is a sunset worth photographing.  Many of my journeys to southwest Manitoba had me returning home to Winnipeg along Highway #2, and as I always do, I watch my rear view mirror to see what is happening behind me.  I don’t do this just as a highway driver who needs to know all about my surroundings, but also to see what is happening with the sky in the west.  Sometimes the sunset is very little, as the clouds are prevailing and there is no opportunity to take a proper picture of the setting sun.  Other times, as in the photo above, the sky is mostly clear and as the sun sets in the west, the colours that dance across the horizon are breathtaking.  This was one such time to me and one I will never forget.  The railway lines became molten and with the grain elevator standing proud, I felt this to be an iconic Prairie Sunset.

If I have not quite made my thousandth journey, I know I will soon reach this milestone, and then aim for the next thousand beyond that.  Each journey I take, brings me new adventures, new memories and a world filled with photographs for me to save and share with each of you.