Homeward bound

every driving day a different color

Thursday  September 14th
On the road and at the hot springs by 10a. It was a glorious hour, just long enough for the body to thoroughly relax and breathe in warm, moist air. I caught the 11:30a ferry to Kootenay Bay and decided to stop at Yasodhara Ashram again. This time I spoke with Samayananda. I had an opportunity to explain what I was doing in more depth, what my impressions had been, what I was thinking… She seemed receptive, but had not really had a chance to review my portfolio, so I left it with her.
The new temple opening would be in June, it could be a possibility. I left feeling hopeful, happy to have made a connection!
I was aiming to make it to Fort Steele Campground, 10 minutes north of Cranbrook. It was one of the few campgrounds that was open all year round. The drive was straight and without stops. RCMP patrolled the highways, making sure no one stopped along the way or ventured off the road. Fire warnings were everywhere. I arrived around 6p, after  stopping at a fresh fruit stand, outside of Creston and at the Superstore in Cranbrook to stock up food for the next week. The plan was to rest for a few days at Fort Steele then slowly start to make my way home.

Friday September 15th         Fort Steele RV park    BC
I’m writing by the light of the early morning sun, coming through the door window. I woke early – 5:27a – it was a cold night, first one in what seems like a long time. The furnace had been on throughout the night. I made some hot chaga tea, put on wool socks, wrapped myself up in my wool shawl and crawled under my wool quilt  – brrrr!!!
Just yesterday and every day before that – no furnace, open windows all night, no wool quilt or shawl or socks – What a difference a day – and 2500 feet elevation makes! Certainly the coldest night so far, I was glad to be staying put for a couple of days. It would give me time to catch up on journal writing. I had access to good internet and cell service, hot showers, lots of food and propane to keep me warm – happy!!


smoky hi way drive along the #3

Saturday    September 16th
I left Fort Steele around 11a, after filling up with propane. I was making my way home along hi way #3. Once again there were some very smoky areas, and no going off the road, many campgrounds were closed, so I just kept heading east. I was feeling drawn to go and explore around Waterton, their evacuation notice had just been lifted, however the area had been devastated and there were no open campgrounds close by, so I changed my mind and headed north on hiway 22, aiming for Chain Lakes Provincial Park. It seemed like a good place to hang out for a couple of days before arriving back in Calgary.
It was a super busy road, lots of weekend traffic and wind. When I made it to the park, conservation officers were stationed at the entrance making sure no one went into the area. Basically there was no where to stop for the night, save a town – Longview, Okotoks, or Black Diamond – all within an hour of Calgary. So I decided I might as well drive straight home, how bad could the traffic be  late Saturday afternoon?
Turns out there was a football game and I drove smack dab into the middle of traffic on Crowchild trail…backed up from Marda Loop all the way home.
Six months ago that situation would have terrified me, I would have white knuckled it all the way home. Now, it was an inconvenience that I tolerated knowing that there wasn’t anything to do except get through it, weaving in and out of lanes as I needed, truly feeling no nerves! Five months on the road alone, boosted my confidence in my ability to do – well – anything really – seemingly curing me of any anxiety … anxiety I never knew was there until it wasn’t –
I have more to say about that in a later post.

I arrived home sometime after 4p, exhausted, grateful – in a surreal state of mind –


All images / text  ©  Louise Pagé   2017

Sept. 8th – 13th


                                                      every driving day a different color

I left on Friday morning headed for Nelson on my way to meet up with my friends. Because I had not been in a very long time, I was looking forward to touring around for the weekend – staying open to possibilities. I’d made reservations at the city campground. I wanted to be able to walk and explore this mountainside town, and not worry about driving and parking. As it turns out it was a good thing, it was their annual vintage car show all weekend long. The town was packed with tourists, every kind of vintage car roamed the streets… American Graffiti style…
a real throwback to the past.

After checking in at the campground – very dusty & noisy, crowded, no green anywhere, but it was in town and convenient – I went exploring –
I walked both sides of Baker St, roamed through  a few of the side streets, stopped in many of the shops, chatted with the shop owners, curious about how much it had changed. I could not believe the number of high end clothing shops and restaurants. Their health food store was like walking into a Canadian whole foods – not the hippie, off the beaten path place it once was. I loved it!
After a while I stopped in a small  coffee shop to escape the heat and the smoke, and to make a few phone calls. Just as I was going to call my friends to let them know I was in Nelson, their daughter walked into the coffee shop! I introduced myself…it had been a long time since she had seen me… we had a really nice visit.
There are a lot of coffee shops in Nelson…beautiful serendipity!

Saturday   Sept 9th            7:45a            Nelson BC

” I’m sitting in Bill listening to overhead planes and helicopters endlessly trying to put out the fires. The smoke has gotten so bad that my engine light went on! My mechanic informed me that the engine is having trouble “breathing” – not enough oxygen –  who knew?  I seem to have grown accustomed to the smoke, although I must say that last night the choices to leave the windows open and breathe smoke and dust all night, or close the windows and have the fan on to circulate the stifling air, were not great –
I wrote about the trees the other day – I was feeling their stress – this morning I’m feeling it in my lungs, and my eyes. It is supposed to rain today…here’s hoping!”

I had a lovely day wandering around town, Baker St was closed off and vintage cars lined the street on both sides as well as the side streets. It was very festive, music playing, food smells wafting, people from all over, sharing their car passions with each other. The promise of rain later in the day filled the cloudy grey day. It did eventually ‘rain’ –
more like a soft drizzle, but it was welcome nonetheless.


Vintage car show   Baker Street      Nelson  BC

Sept 10th
I left Nelson early Sunday morning hoping to avoid traffic, headed for Schroeder’s Creek campground, north of Kaslo about 20kms.  After I parked and had lunch, my friends picked me up in their boat – the only way to get to their place. It was a glorious day, the rain had refreshed everything, so welcome – the air was clear, the trees could breathe again, the water was calm –
I so love being on the water. Once we got to the other side, we immediately hopped onto their barge, which was loaded with firewood for their family in Nelson, and went back across again to unload the barge into 2 trucks. It was a fun family affair. I loved hanging out with everyone… then it was back across the water to spend the evening with my friends. It was great to catch up.
I asked about the possibility of creating a piece somewhere on their property – I had my eye on their swinging bridge –  they agreed. It meant having to schlep my stuff across the water, but my friends were very gracious, helpful and accommodating – gratitude!
After dinner I was ferried back to my campground, where I immediately got everything ready  that I would need for the next couple of days –
I couldn’t wait to see what would happen!

My view from Schroeder’s Creek campground looking east


Taking a load of wood across on the barge and back again

9:30a the next day  Monday
I got picked up with all my stuff,  unloaded everything at the dock in the bay where I would be staying. Once I was organized in my cabin I walked the property, took photos, and decided that the swinging  bridge could work. There was a cable of sorts under the planks where I could hang the wire from. It would be labor intensive, but I was game… when would I have another chance to create an installation on a swinging bridge, over a creek? I worked until 5:30 when the sun disappeared behind the mountain. There wasn’t much else I could do at that point, so I went back to my cabin, had an outdoor shower…

I love an outdoor shower… in the Kootenays, in a cedar forest, on the edge of a creek, under twilight stars – beyond words!
I had dinner with my friends again, lively conversations, good laughs, great food.

Getting schlepped across Kootenay Lake … Fry Creek fire wafting through the valley

I spent time photographing the swinging bridge piece in different light throughout the day, sat on the dock in the sun, meditated and generally relaxed and enjoyed the glorious day. I also decided to use the time to experiment with a water piece/idea while I was there to see if it would work. In the end it did not, but I gained a lot of valuable information and understanding about what needed to happen for it to succeed.

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Failed water experiment

I decided to leave the bridge piece up for another night and take it down in the morning before leaving… I wasn’t counting on rain!
Fortunately the pieces were protected enough by the bridge that they survived.

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Swinging bridge     Kootenay Lake    BC

I was back at my campground Wednesday afternoon around 3p. After a long shower and exercises outside on the platform in front of my campsite, I had dinner and got organized to leave tomorrow. I had taken a fall in the creek when I slipped on some rocks and was feeling the trauma in my body. I was planning to stop at Ainsworth Hot springs tomorrow on my way back to Balfour ferry.

I wasn’t sure if I would have an opportunity to create another installation. Fewer and fewer campgrounds would be open as the season winded down. The fires were also limiting where one could travel –  I still felt as though I would like to scout around for future possibilities, even if making it would have to wait.
This next leg of my journey was going to be the first time since I began that I didn’t have anything or anywhere particular in mind as I drove through the landscape…
I was curious about what would draw me, inspire me –


All images  / text  ©   Louise Pagé     2017

Smoky Spiral – scattered –

Sept 6th

Because of the extreme heat during the middle of the day, I had to time my installation so as not to be outside until later in the afternoon, and to be finished before dark. I arrived around 3p. As soon as I figured out where I would start, I set up the camera and got to work. I drew a spiral on the ground with a stick to start the pattern, then proceeded to place the pieces around it. At one point I decided to scatter the ‘light’….
as though the energy of the spiral decided to take off in different directions.

twilight shots       smoky spiral scattered       Pass Creek Road   Castlegar  BC

Darkness  came very quickly, almost as soon as the sun set…but the moon was no where in sight. I had not wanted to drive down that mountain road in the dark, but as it tuned out I had to….very slowly! I arrived back at the campground around 7:30 in the pitch black. I had to back up into my camp spot in the dark.
I am amazing myself with my confidence driving Bill – parking, changing lanes, backing up… all things that were anxiety producing – now no longer. I feel very little if any nervousness any more. I still don’t like it when there’s a long line of cars behind me, and I pullover when I can, but as they say ‘ you’ve come a long way baby!!!’

As always I was eager to see what I had shot. I had been disappointed that the moon didn’t show up before I left – here’s where an overnight time-lapse would have been great! I would have to be happy with my scattered spiral in the smoke. I had dinner and a shower while everything was backing up and dwnlding before tomorrows shoot, and took a brief look at what I shot with the iPad before going to bed exhausted!

Sept 6th     2017         Fire moon               Castlegar   BC

Sept 7th
I wanted to give myself enough time to do all the documentation that I needed to do before it got too hot, so I left around 10a to go back to the site. There was a soft breeze animating the pieces, the air was hot and heavy with smoke, which created a strange and surreal space. The sound track was unrelenting crickets and grasshoppers, birds and bees, I can’t wait to hear/see how it turns out. A couple of hours later, everything came down.
I know I’ve said this before, but it seems to be true each time…
the strangeness of seeing the land after the drawing (installation) is removed…
as though now, there is something missing from that space…
It’s a weird sensation, difficult to articulate…

smoky spiral scattered            Pass Creek Road  BC

soundtrack during the entire install

Once back at the campground I got ready to leave the next day…
I’d had a very productive week and was looking forward to a little time off exploring Nelson, where I had not been since the ’80’s.


All images  / text   ©  Louise Pagé    2017