Monday, December 31, 2018

Passing adventurers

A surfer and a paddleboarder cross paths off Jordan River on Vancouver Island...
Surfers and paddleboarders enjoy the waves off Jordan River...
Surfers at Vancouver Island's Jordan River can be territorial about their surf spot. In particular they can be vocal in their disdain for paddleboarders.

However, when the crowds are thin, a truce is called and everyone gets to enjoy the water without judgement.

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Ledge in Lights

BC's provincial legislature lit up for the season...
Christmas lights outline BC provincial legislature...
During the Christmas season the provincial legislature (a.k.a. The Ledge) lights up in green and red.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

After the hard work is done...

Santa's ellves take a well-deserved break...
Chillin' in the hot tub with some buds and brews...
... it's Miller Time!©

Monday, December 24, 2018

Friday, December 21, 2018

Old Town Christmas

Christmas decorations at Old Town in the Royal BC Museum...
A touch of old timey Christmas...
Old Town is a turn-of-the-20th century recreation of Victoria, BC located on the third floor of the excellent Royal BC Museum.

Santa Claus as we know him today is mostly an early-20th century figure... before that he was known as Father Christmas. In keeping with the time and the theme then, Father Christmas puts in an appearance at Old Town to entertain the young kids.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Not so tough now, are you?

An iguana in the rafters of a Mexican outdoor market...
Trying to keep a low profile in Mexico...
This colourful but harmless iguana tries to keep a low profile in the rafters of a Mexican market. It's not easy being green and trying to stay unseen.

Sixty-five million years ago though, his ancestors the dinosaurs -- "terrible lizards" -- ruled the earth.

Dinosaur model from a former RBCM exhibit...
A model dinosaur outside the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, BC...



Monday, December 17, 2018

Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse Memorial taking shape out of Thunderhead Mountain...
Faith can move -- or shape -- mountains...
We first saw South Dakota's Crazy Horse Memorial about 15 years ago. It didn't appear to have changed much since then but that's probably only due to the sheer size of the sculpture. To fully appreciate it, take a look at how small the earth moving equipment looks in the photo above.

The sculpture's final dimensions are planned to be 641 feet (195 m) long and 563 feet (172 m) high. The arm of Crazy Horse will be 263 feet (80 m) long and the head 87 feet (27 m) high; by comparison, the heads of the four U.S. Presidents at Mount Rushmore are each 60 feet (18 m) high.

It will likely be decades before it's completed.

From Wikipedia:

The memorial is a non-profit undertaking, and does not accept federal or state funding. The Memorial Foundation finances the project by charging fees for its visitor centers, earning revenue from its gift shops and receiving contributions. 

Ziolkowski reportedly was offered US$10 million for the project from the federal government on two occasions, but he turned the offers down. He felt the project was more than just a mountain carving, and he feared that his plans for the broader educational and cultural goals of the memorial would be overturned by federal involvement. 


A view of the eventual Crazy Horse Memorial sculpture...
What the final sculpture will look like...




Friday, December 14, 2018

Vallarta nights

Sunset over Puerto Vallarta...
The western sky glows with the setting sun over Puerto Vallarta...
The setting sun silhouettes the palm trees that line the bay of Puerto Vallarta...

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Death of a gunslinger

Gunslinger Wild Bill Hickok...
Photos of Wild Bill Hickok on the walls of the No 10 Saloon...
James Butler Hickok a.k.a. Wild Bill Hickok was only thirty-nine when he was shot and killed in Deadwood while playing cards in a local saloon.

His reputation as a gunslinger was embellished by penny novels of the time. They described him as having killed over 150 men when the reality is that he probably only killed about six or seven men.

The hand of cards that he supposedly was holding when he was killed has come to be known as a Dead Man's Hand... a pair of aces and a pair of eights.

He is buried in the cemetery above Deadwood.

Visitors to Deadwood can see entertaining re-enactments of the shooting at the Legendary Old Style Saloon No. 10 on Deadwood's main street.

The final resting place of Hickok overlooking Deadwood...
Wild Bill's headstone above his grave overlooking Deadwood...

Monday, December 10, 2018

War of the Worlds

The aliens are here...
When worlds collide...
"Across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us."
-- War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells

Friday, December 7, 2018

Welcome to Deadwood

Deadwood welcomes visitors...
Main Street Deadwood welcomes you... sort of.
American's wild west is very much a part of Deadwood's history. Many famous characters such as Wyatt Earp, the Sundance Kid, Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok passed through Deadwood.

Deadwood's main street...
Saloons, casinos and tacky gift shops...


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Deadwood SD

Deadwood... a genuine slice of American Wild West...
Their slogan is the real deal...
Deadwood SD was our ultimate destination during our summer road trip. We had visited the area briefly about 15 years ago and had always wanted to return.

Deadwood was originally known as Deadwood Gulch. Although I had heard the word gulch often used in western movies, I didn't know what it meant until I looked up the definition.

A gulch is defined as a narrow and steep-sided ravine marking the course of a fast stream. Although Deadwood Gulch sounds like a cooler name for a western town, it eventually came to be known more simply as Deadwood.

Deadwood nestled among the hills of South Dakota...
A small town with a big history...



Monday, December 3, 2018

Bull in a bar

Now that is a long horn!
Now that is a Texas longhorn!
Not far from Devils Tower in Wyoming, we discovered this Western bar that was so perfect that it could have been a movie set.

Behind the bar the wall was plastered with currency written over with notes of appreciation.

Bucks, bullets and booze...
Bucks, bullets and booze... the currency of America...

Friday, November 30, 2018

Abandoned

Gone and forgotten...
Slowly becoming part of the landscape...
This old truck sits quietly rusting on a hillside near Barkerville, BC...

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

¡Ay, caramba!

A gator swims among the yachts at Puerto Vallarta...
Do not go swimming off the docks!!
We recently returned from Puerto Vallarta where I made a surprising discovery. While waiting in the local marina for a bus ride, I glanced out over the water to see a 10-foot alligator lazily swimming among the yachts.

Locals working on the jetties didn't give it much attention, so they are obviously native to the area. We've been to Mexico numerous times and this is the first time we had ever seen one. I guess when you consider that alligators stroll the golf courses of Florida, it's not such a surprise, but it's still disturbing to see them so close to civilization.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Beach birds

Three of artist Paul Lewis' collection of driftwood sculptures...
Birds on the beach...
If you stroll along Esquimalt Lagoon's beachfront, you'll encounter this collection of sixteen bird sculptures crafted from carefully assembled driftwood.

They are the work of local artist Paul Lewis. His story is remarkable. Twenty years he was tried and convicted for armed robbery and sentenced to eight years in prison. He credits his time in prison with turning his life around when he turned to art to relieve the boredom.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Devils Tower

Devils Tower beckons visitors in Wyoming...
No extraterrestrials on the day that we visited...

Anyone who saw the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind back in 1977 will be familiar with Devils Tower in Wyoming.

It sticks out above the horizon like the proverbial sore thumb, but its true scale isn't apparent until you get closer. With binoculars, you'll see climbers scaling the face of the 900 foot high monument like so many ants on a hill.

Each of the green circles in the bottom photo indicates where one or more climbers were visible on the day that we were there. There was even a couple at the top.

Climbers rise to the challenge of scaling Devils Tower...
Climbers tackle the Tower...

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Eyes up here...

A hidden sign for those who know where to look...
If you want to be uplifted,
stop walking around with your eyes on the ground...
What you see depends on where you're looking.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Beautiful deadly

One of Yellowstone's many thermal pools...
Do NOT attempt to swim laps...
Yellowstone's thermal pools might look inviting with their aquamarine colour so reminiscent of tropical water, but don't be fooled.

The temperature of the water is only slightly below boiling and the water is extremely acidic. Staff are often on the lookout for people 'hot potting', i.e. illegally trying to have a soak in the pools as if they were hot tubs.

One unfortunate man from Oregon several years ago learned how deadly they could be in the final minutes of his life. He slipped and fell into the water. The high temperatures and the acidity of the water literally dissolved him before his body could be recovered. Ewww...

Hot potting is a bad idea...
Hot potting... a good way to thin out the stupid ones...

Friday, November 16, 2018

Alien world

Strange horizons...
The strange horizon...
Although most people associate Yellowstone National Park with Old Faithful, there's more to see than geysers. With an eye for the off-kilter, you can take some truly surreal photos that don't require any fancy-schmancy Photoshop-ing.

Trippy landscapes...
Trippy landscapes...

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The age-old question...

Chickens contemplate the situation...
Chickens got questions...

Monday, November 12, 2018

Under the orange sky

A cruise ship docked at Victoria under a hazy sky...
With the onset of the rainy season, Victorians are already quickly putting the memory of last summer's hazy skies -- filled with the smoke of our second worst wildfire season on record -- behind them.

Friday, November 9, 2018

White wolf

A wolf gives the evil eye...
"I can stare for a thousand years..."
I was surprised to see these all white wolves at The Grizzly Bear and Wolf Discovery Center. Every wolf I've ever seen before was always shades of white, grey and black. However, Google assures me that, yes, grey wolves can indeed be all white.

They are not to be confused with Arctic wolves which are also all white.

I also learned that if an animal such as an elk is being hunted by wolves, it stands a much better chance of survival if it stands its ground and uses its antlers for defence. Wolves prefer to run after their prey and pull it to the ground.

When they are milling around an animal which is standing its ground the pack members more often just get in each other's way.

A wolf stretches after a snooze...
 A post-snooze stretch...

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

A rose among the ruins

A rose grows from the ruins of the now gone Holiday Court Motel...
A spot of colour among the ruins of a soon-to-be demolished hotel...

Monday, November 5, 2018

Grisly remains

A grizzly bear on the move...
A grizzly on the go...
The Grizzly Bear and Wolf Discovery Center on the east boundary of Yellowstone Park is the only bear-safe food container certification testing facility in the United States.

Yes, that's a thing. Before any food storage container can advertise itself as bear safe, it must first be able to withstand a 90 minute full-on bear bashing. The containers are baited and scented with bear attractants and then tossed into the pen with the big bruins.

The image below shows the remains of various containers that did not pass the test.

Staff there told us that some of the smarter bears figure out how to open containers by simply manipulating the locking mechanism with their paws. Most of them though resort to the tried and true method of simply smashing the hell out of the container.

Failed test subjects...
Food grade but not grizzly grade...

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Get out!

Parked in a sea of big-ass motorhomes...
The smallest one of the bunch...
Our little 15-foot trailer is frequently surrounded by much longer and luxurious motorhomes in a lot of the RV camp sites that we stay in. We joke that we must annoy our neighbours because we are bringing down the local property values.

I woke one morning to find that someone had left this dead bird on our power box. We laughingly figured that someone was leaving us a warning to take our little pop-up and get out of Dodge.

At least it wasn't a horse's head...

Was it a warning?
There's a message here... I think.



Thursday, November 1, 2018

Atomic City ID

Main street of Atomic City ID...
Nothing happens on Main Street of Atomic City...
Atomic City in Idaho is definitely off the grid. It's about 20 miles off the main interstate at the end of a non-descript gravel road.

I wanted to see it because I was intrigued by its retro-future name.

It's nearly a ghost town now, home to just 30 people. It features a small stock car race track which appears to be still active, but, except for a couple of grizzled old characters -- one of them sporting two artificial legs -- it seemed deserted in the middle of the day.

The only bar in town... closed for business.
The only bar in town is long shuttered...

An oasis in the desert...
No longer serving cold ones...

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Haunting

Whatever walked there, walked alone...
"Whatever walked there... walked alone..."
This Halloween season Netflix has been streaming The Haunting of Hill House, a one-shot 10-part series inspired by Shirley Jackson's creepy 1959 book.

In the series, Hill House looks very similar to local landmark Hatley Castle. Hatley Castle is familiar to some movie fans as the Mutant Academy in the X-Men and Deadpool movies.

Of course, any castle has to have its share of ghosts and Hatley Castle is no exception. I spent numerous nights sleeping in the castle back in the day when it was a military academy. I had my share of creepy encounters during those nights, but only one that I would consider to be truly supernatural. One was enough...

Friday, October 26, 2018

Arco

Arco's claim to fame...
Arco... City of Tomorrow...
Leaving behind Craters of the Moon, we were well and truly into the deserts of Idaho. We passed through the town of Arco whose claim to fame is that they were the first city to be totally lit with atomic power.

In researching Arco before we made our trip, I came across this odd X-Files-ish story on the website reddit. I'm not sure what to make of it. I can't say our experience was anything odd.

Arco tucked away in the desolation...
Arco... surrounded by desolation...

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Beach ogre

A creature of wood and stone...
Giving beachcombers a welcoming hand...
Looking like a refugee from a Lord of the Rings movie, this large sculpture of drift wood beckons beach combers along the Esquimalt Lagoon in Colwood...

The smile of a gentle giant...
The smile of a giant...

Monday, October 22, 2018

Desert dawn

Sun rays illuminate the horizon in Idaho...
A glorious dawn over the barren landscape...
 The sun rises over the Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho.

One way to illumination...
We're all going one way... let's hope there's a light at the end... 💀


Friday, October 19, 2018

I'll Be Watching You

Skull Wall near Treasure Island Hotel in Las Vegas..
The one who patiently waits for all of us...
"Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I'll be watching you
Oh can't you see 
You belong to me"

So sang Sting and the Police in the 1983. Was he singing about a lover stalking his ex... or something more existential?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Craters of the Moon

Remains of ancient volcanoes...
All that remains of ancient eruptions...
Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho is a surreal black landscape of ancient volcanic rock deposited in a wild variety of shapes and textures.

Trudging up a mountain of volcanic pumice...
Inferno Cone is a mountain of ground up pumice as black as pepper...
A stubborn tree grows at the top of Inferno Cone...
One tree hill...