Sunday, August 03, 2008

Starland County-Drumheller Trip (Aug. 2)

Yesterday I travelled to the Starland County - Drumheller region. I wanted to just get away from the city over this long weekend. Earlier in the year i had anticipated going camping with some friends, and arranged extra days off. It didn't turn out that way. Not wanting the weekend to go to waste without seeing or doing something away from Calgary, I broke through the city limits around three o'clock.

I had travelled through Drumheller on my many trips to or from Saskatoon. It is an interesting area with its "hoodoos," that is columns of soil and aggregate formed and eroded over many, many years. Some are hills with the characteristic bands of sedimentation. I thought an excursion through this area to photograph and learn more about it would be interesting. Perhaps I could stretch it out over several days.

I took the Trans-Canada through Strathmore, a
nd headed north when I turned onto Hwy 21. I detoured on Hwy #584 (Starland County) with the intention of heading over to East Coulee to see the Atlas Mine Historic Site. This was a once active coal mine that closed up operations in the 1980's. It advertised itself on the Internet, and recommends coming later in the day for a tour. None of the shafts are accessible to the public. So its just the above-ground apparatus that is used to teach about how coal mining was done in the area. Once you are in the region it becomes apparent that coal was king here for a number of generations.

Travelling toward East Coulee reveals the great abundance of grain fields in the area. With the sun shining in the vast and near cloudless sky, I was held in wonder of the colours of
the land. Pastures filled with livestock grazing. I stopped to take many pictures. And I did so with reason because I have started a greeting card company that celebrates the Prairies. And what is it called? Well, just look at the title of this journal, and you'll know.

When I started writing this years back, it was never my intent to design and market cards. The idea came about last year when I took nine photographs I had produced between 2005 & 2007, asked a local printer to put the images on an art card format. I was just going to use them for personal correspondence. The reception to the cards as I sent them among friends was positive. It encouraged me to look at the idea further.

I realize that paper cards are being moved out of the market
place by e-cards. It is largely the under fifty age group that is propelling this change in how we communicate during special occasions. Yet, I often hear people say that e-cards are not the same; they don't transfer the emotion as well as paper cards. E-cards are also ephemeral; unless printed, they don't last. There is usually an expiry date on how long you can view them. It has been my experience that when you do print them out, and unless its some high-quality paper, the emotional attachment of a keepsake is absent or lost. So, it maybe that this product is only for a select demographic (nothing wrong with that -- besides there are a lot of 50-80 year olds). I can hope for a bouncing back of the popularity of paper cards. I can also hope for business looking for something unique in attracting customers.

I shot of two rolls of film (yes, film -- until I get my DSLR I will use my p&s and film cameras) yesterday, along with about sixty digital images. Furthermore, I found some time to stop just for myself, and relish the solitude of the countryside with only the wind, birds and the sun to place its countenance upon me.

I did actually go to the town of Drumheller as planned. However, every motel and hotel was full. Plan B, formed on the spot, meant having supper at the Boston Pizza, watching the opening the first quarter of the Stampeders-Roughriders CFL game on the wide screen, and heading along Hwy 10 to do some more photography before coming home. East Coulee is a nice little berg along the Red Deer River. But, due to the hour of the day I never did see the Atlas Mine. Doubling back to Hwy 56, I headed south to Hussar. Once there I crossed over on the #581 to connect with the Trans-Canada. Eventually, I entered the city about 10:30 PM. It was a good day.

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