It’s strange sleeping in a house again. There’s so much room everywhere!
Experience changes everything. Before I would have said the house was spacious, but not overly so, now it seems enormous… you could fit 3 Bills in the studio alone!!!
I’m a third of the way through ‘drawn to respond: ‘hai’ lights on the road’ –
so much packed into such a short time – super intense – I’m really feeling the need to decompress and process not just the journey, but the work as well. I had a chance to quickly look at some of the latest video on the big screen, overall I’m happy with what I shot… there is a lot of footage to go through…. A LOT!!!
I’ve decided not to go to Watrous next week. I would have liked to create a pop up piece in Wellington park and join the Manitou trail, but it just feels like too much…I will do an installation there one day, just not next week! As soon as I made the decision to stay put for a while, I immediately felt better, more relaxed, eager to work on documenting what I had done so far. I was also looking forward to time in the garden, which is so glorious at this time of year.
‘Be’ ing in the city is so different from ‘be’ ing while travelling … not sure how to clarify –
There’s more ‘doing’ stuff involved in city life, travelling is more opening, absorbing, witnessing ….
The plan is to go back on the road after I know my mom has survived her cataract surgery, and I have had time to work on all the follow-up that is waiting for me!
Until then enjoy July!
July turned out to be a very productive month – video editing mostly, but also family obligations, visiting with friends, dealing with ongoing health challenges, primarily skin and gut – it’s because of that, that I delayed going back on the road until the second week in August. I did not want to be travelling with a skin infection, and it took a while for it to clear up. I managed to go out Saskatoon berry picking a couple of times with friends, the abundance this year was truly amazing.
I spent as much time in the garden as possible – did much of the editing and writing while listening to the birds and the fountain, enjoying the green and the shade of the back yard.
The weather this summer was stellar….warm…hot… all day and long into the night, not just the occasional day, but most days. Virtually no rain, therefore no mosquitos!!! I loved being able to do computer work outside, it made a tedious job, easier.
After the long weekend in August, I got ready to go back on the road…it was time, I was ready. I made arrangements to visit family in Olds for a couple of days, as well as tour an acreage that belonged to some friends…looking for possibilities. But the BIG plan was to put up an eclipse piece on August 21st, either in the Crowsnest pass or in Castlegar.
Enjoy the rest of the lazy hazy days of summer….
I left Empress after packing everything up and headed south towards Sceptre, taking the long way around to avoid gravel roads as much as possible. The museum was closed again, so I drove straight out to the dunes, thinking it was so hot there wouldn’t be many people…wrong… 8 cars and trucks, kids tobogganing down the hill, people having lunch….so I decided to go into Leader to check out the campground, that way I would know where I was going when I finished the installation.
On the way into town a rock hit the edge of my windshield beginning a crack that would interfere with my vision if it kept going. I was so upset, every time I hit another bump or rough patch in the road it would get bigger. I decided to put duct tape at the ends of the crack…hoping it would hold until I could get it repaired tomorrow, and then tried to calm myself down, it was only a cracked windshield!
When I got back to the dunes, there were even more people than before. I found a place with some shade and parked Bill, brought out my chair and sat outside reading, waiting for the crowd to thin out.
By 6:30 almost everyone had left, so I picked a suitable spot and started planting pieces, following the patterns of the shifting sand and the lines of the earth. I spread them out quite a bit, maybe too much in retrospect. A curious young couple travelling to the Yukon came by and engaged in a conversation. By the time I was finished photographing everything it was almost 10p. When I got back to the parking lot, two other cars had decided to stay and car camp to catch the sunrise, so I decided to stay as well, it was too late to take everything down, and drive into town. I wouldn’t be alone, so it was all good! I had a bowl of cereal for dinner, cranked up the propane and fell asleep, too tired to even review what I had shot!
I was up and on the hill by 5:20a. It was a beautiful sunrise, but super cold. I was wearing all my wool gear. There were deer and bear tracks in the sand, bird and beetle tracks, and some other mysterious tracks to be sure. ( This is one of those instances where having an overnight time-lapse would have been fascinating! ) I shot video for just over an hour, then took the piece down, had some B/F, packed everything up and then drove very slowly into town to have the windshield repaired. I waited at the Leader hotel – had a coffee on the house and checked email while listening to a table of farmers talk about everything from prostate cancer to marijuana legislation…
ah to be a fly on the wall….. invisible in the corner of the room!!!
The cost of repair ….$65 and less than an hours time!
I was grateful that my vision wouldn’t be obstructed, the guy did an awesome job!
Great Sandhill dunes SK
On the road again by 10a, happy to be driving surrounded by green fields, I’m blown away, not just by the wind, but by the sheer beauty of it all –
I stop to take photos and weep…impossible to capture the immenseness of it all – basically I’m standing in the middle of your salad bowl, your dinner plate, your breakfast cereal, and toast…and what it takes to get it from here, the fields, to there, our homes…
it’s pretty amazing, enough to blow anyone away!
Surrounded by an ocean of green
The rest of the day went something like this: got lost in Medicine Hat, filled up with gas, got lost in Redcliff looking for the 525, found the Cucumber Man, bought some fresh greens, got directions from the cashier at the CO-OP, found the 525, busy and barren, eventually stopped in Vauxhall for the night. The campground was just off hi way 36, Veteran’s Way, a N/S trucking route, definitely not quiet, but well maintained, free showers, friendly hosts. I spent time cleaning all the sand out of the RV, backing up my equipment, made a green juice, lamb burger and new potatoes for dinner. Afterwards I got caught up on some writing.
Today I’ve been on the road for a week, 6 days ago I was sitting on top of Mud Butte waiting for the wind to stop – hard to imagine, seems longer than a week!
Finally fell asleep when the traffic died down around 3a. I wasn’t driving far today, but I didn’t really know where I was going. I just had some vague directions from Marv, and an inadequate grid map. I got lost a lot looking for back roads that would take me away from all the traffic. Southern AB is very busy, lots of agri trucks, big industry farming, super smelly! I stopped in Picture Butte for a break and decided to have lunch at a restaurant. I ordered a caesar salad, a 10″ no tomato shrimp pizza and devoured everything except one slice. I couldn’t believe how hungry I was! I also checked wifi, email messages and road maps so that tomorrow I would know exactly where I was going. I was able to find photos of the road on google!
After I got settled at Carmanguay campground, I napped from 3:30 – 6p, beyond tired!
I could not move! When I woke up I got everything ready for an early start tomorrow, had dinner, read, did some writing and then bed.
I was up and on the road before 9a, and at Sundial Medicine wheel by 10:30a. I couldn’t believe how close I was yesterday, I just didn’t know it. It was a very nerve-wracking drive on a gravel road, then a farmer’s field, cows roaming, huge boulders and very uneven ground. Once I got to the top of the butte, I decided I would make a piece right then and there, I wasn’t keen to have to make that drive again. I was there, had pieces ready, equipment powered up, the sky looked clear for now, so why not?
It was quite difficult to put pieces into the ground, it was mostly rock, so I decided to just focus on the middle of the wheel, where people had left medicine bundles and prayers. I rang my bell, set my intention for the piece and then proceeded to plant ‘hai’ lights.
The wind was picking up and clouds loomed on the horizon. I did not want to get stuck there in the middle of a storm. I had everything up, filmed, and down by 2:30p. Some visitors showed up at one point, a geologist from Calgary and some of his friends, touring the area for the day. I let them explore the space while I went and had something to eat. When they left, I took down the piece and then got ready to leave for Little Bow Provincial Park, where I had decided to spend the night before heading back to Calgary.
Sundial Medicine wheel AB
June 30th Back in Calgary
My night at Little Bow was stormy, I was glad to be in a safe and secluded place, even if there wasn’t any wifi or cell reception. It gave me a chance to check my video footage from the last 2 installations.
I made it back to Calgary yesterday, June 29th, a more or less easy drive into town, but long weekend traffic was already starting . Beautiful, fresh air, light breeze, blue sky.
I drove straight into Strathmore, to the truck wash place that I went to earlier in June, and gave Bill a much-needed cleaning. Then it was basically Country Hills Blvd all the way home. It felt easy this time compared to 6 weeks ago.
I’ve become accustomed to Bill and he to me – horse and rider are one!
It actually feels good to stop moving , and to have space, especially to stretch /exercise – to have time to process everything, so much stuff, so much learning, so many levels –
Looking forward to hooking up to reliable technology, seeing my work on the big screen, getting my blog started, and spending time in the garden –
After ticking off all the things on my ‘to do’ list in the city, I got ready to make a solstice piece. The plan was Mud Butte. I had been watching the weather and speaking with my contact in the area – I loved the possibilities of the wide open prairie and unimpeded views for the longest day of the year. So on June 19th I left Calgary once again and headed north and east, staying just outside of Hanna at Fox Lake, a beautiful wetland campground for the first night. After an early start the next morning, I drove a different route through Coronation on my way to Gooseberry Provincial park. When I arrived, I explored the park for installation possibilities, it was very hot and just a whisper of a breeze. After ascertaining that an install anywhere within the park would be difficult at best, I returned to my campsite and started assembling pieces for my solstice piece the next day. As I made them I bundled them and put them outside under the picnic table to give me more room to move in the RV. Around 9:30p totally out of nowhere a storm blew in, I scrambled in the rain to cover and weight everything down, then hoped for the best. The storm seemed to last forever, I lost power at one point. The shear viciousness of the thunder, lightning and wind was terrifying!
I finally fell asleep around midnight when the worst of the storm seemed to have subsided. In the morning there was blue sky, sunshine and debris – everywhere. But my pieces survived – I was happy!
However it was still very windy, and even though the drive to Consort was challenging I decided to continue with my plan to put up a solstice piece at Mud Butte…
surely the wind would die down at some point and when it did I would be ready!
On the way to mud Butte relentless wind!
Here’s what I wrote while waiting for the wind to die down:
June 21 2017
I have been sitting on top of Mud Butte in the special areas of AB, just S of Consort, N of Oyen since 11:30 this morning. It is now 7p and there has been no sign of the wind even remotely letting up. Initially when I got here I went and scouted around, looking for the best possibilities. The sun was hot and intense, the wind cold and vicious, I could barely stand without being blown over. While I waited, I spent the day mending my sweater, going through paper work, purged, consolidated everything, read some online stuff that I had been saving for a rainy day, meditated, it has been a very productive day, even if it wasn’t what I had planned.
It seems as though the wind is getting worse, even though the storm seems to be mostly south and west. I am going to continue to wait, as long as it doesn’t rain, maybe it will be an early morning install!
Clouds & sky Mud Butte AB Summer solstice June 21st
waiting for the wind to stop
June 22 2:15p
Well I ended up waiting until 4a, then raindrops on the roof woke me. My contact had warned me to leave at the first sign of rain, getting stuck was a real possibility.
I’d had some teenage visitors around 8:30p. I didn’t get that they were malicious, just obnoxious. Another car showed up shortly after the first one, I was thinking if they were going to party that I would leave. Instead they went down into the butte and stayed pretty much to themselves. Eventually they left, after the sunset, sometime around 10p, but I became hypersensitive to more people coming….what if?
By this time I’m committed to staying and doing an early morning piece – when the wind stopped! surely it would stop!
I dozed off and on. I thought I would see amazing stars, but it never really get dark until around 2a. The big dipper was so close, it felt as though I could reach out and touch it. When the clouds came in shortly after, the rain followed. The wind just kept howling. I quickly secured everything, shut off my propane and headed south to Oyen where the tourist information centre would be open at 9. I could check the forecast, and decide what to do next. I arrived at 5:30a just ahead of the storm, the wind had been pushing me all the way. I parked, made a cup of coffee, and then slept until 9:30a. The weather was looking bad everywhere, so I decided to stay put and wait for the storm to pass. I checked into Satori campground, met the owner Jerry Kuhn who had some interesting stories about the area, had B/F, showered did some writing and slept some more, then had dinner, meditated and started thinking about what next.
After checking the weather report again, I decided to go south and give Empress another try. Jerry Kuhn had mentioned a medicine wheel that had piqued my interest, and I thought if anyone knew how to get to it, it would be Pat Donaldson. So off I went. The rain had stopped, even if the wind had not, it wasn’t as bad as yesterday. The windshield had been completely washed of all the bugs by the intense rain, the sky was blue and clear, it would be a great driving day!
After meandering around Acadia Valley and checking out the municipal dam again, I arrived in Empress and went straight to That’s Empressive to see what Pat had to say about the medicine wheel. She knew exactly what I was talking about and gave me the person’s name and number to contact. She introduced me to another woman from Kindersley who used to farm in the area, who was also a wealth of information. We had a long visit and interesting conversations. By the time I parked Bill and hooked up at Pete Fiddler campground it was 3:30p.
I spent the rest of the afternoon getting caught up with phone calls home. Talking on the phone was a way to not have to listen to the relentless howling wind…would it ever stop?
I just watched the sunset in the Red Deer River valley – glorious sunset – not a cloud in the sky, after tumultuous clouds and rain on and off throughout the day –
Now it’s like a different day altogether. Two days ago I was on top of Mud Butte waiting for the wind to stop, and now the silence is so silent – I strain to hear something- anything – yet I hear nothing – the kind of silence that is deafening –
The valley and the river that I overlook is exquisite – islands, sandbars in the middle of the river – gets my imagination soaring –
I’m sitting in the dark not wanting to disturb anything –
even pen on paper seems loud –
I am going to stop writing so I can absorb this awesomeness –
just be in it – memorize it
Just BE where I am
BE the silence!
Red Deer River Valley AB Pete Fiddler campground Empress AB
I woke up to watch the sun rise and the sky fill with light, then dozed again until 8a. I was still unsure as to where to go next, so I made a call to a shaman friend in Coleman who knows about medicine wheels and sacred sites. After a long conversation, I decided that I would create a piece at Sundial Medicine wheel around Carmanguay AB, instead of trying to find this other one, but first I would go to the Great Sandhill dunes in Sask. The weather was looking good south and east.
I stayed another day in Empress, assembled a couple hundred more pieces and reorganized how I travel in the RV, ready to head out again tomorrow.