Best Laid Plans–Quick Decisions-Sometimes a Great Adventure “Happens”….


In today’s world, and I guess we’ve all noticed this, is that technology (in theory), allows us to jam more things into a day and as a direct result, we tend to “stuff” more into a day.  At the pace we move at, a lot of times, it seems like a change in schedule can create some major drama as we re-schedule to adjust.  Something as a simple delay in something puts the rest of the day or week into turmoil as try to keep everything on track.

If one is into photography at the level that I am, which is quite “deep”, and also looking at it as a potential career path, one of the very key elements for me is actually time itself.  Having been unemployed for a while, AND having revenue properties (and one being prepped for rental), AND trying to figure out next steps on the photo side can be hectic to say the least.  As we have been coached to do – keep to routine, etc. etc. etc.  At the same time, we need to be flexible enough to be available for interviews, meetups, coffee meetings, etc.  To me, one the very key elements around this, is taking breaks – more important – taking breaks without guilt.  The one big saying from my past that I try to adhere to – “Slow down to speed up”.  That’s one that I interpret to mean that those “breaks” are more valuable than one initially realizes.  We already know that we should take breaks from being on our computers – but do we? I don’t think so.  As much as we try, that screen seems to swallow us to the point where we lose track of time.  Suddenly – we are rushing to get back on schedule. 

Anyway – starting to rant…..  With me, literally over the last year or so (I actually did have work for a few months), I’ve been dealing with several streams in parallel.  Looking for work, renovation work, photography all simultaneously and there comes a point where one literally does need to stop and take a real break.  Let’s face it – when things drag out (like looking for work in a tough economy), it can get very frustrating.  Getting away from that PC, or attending meetup after meetup, forever coffees and then back to other “stuff”, can really get one’s mental state down.  For me, photography is one of the few things that clears my head, but in saying that, I need to literally take either several hours or a full day  to “level out”.  Driving and looking for photo ops, for me, is amazingly relaxing. I have many hobbies, but this one is one of the ones that I am very passionate about.

Last year, our networking group took literally a day off and got out of the city.  Absolutely refreshing and we vowed to do it again at some point.  Well, it didn’t happen quite that way, but this year, I decided to make a more deliberate attempt at this, even if I did a bit on my own.  Especially this last month or so.  A more recent trip was to the Saskatoon Farm in Okotoks which was with some other friends turned into a wonderful time.  Most of our networking group couldn’t make it, but despite that, we went ahead anyway. 

This last time, things sorta happened more on an impulse than anything else.  It wasn’t scheduled in the sense of schedule – like deliberately planning ahead of timeSmile   A couple of things were happening in parallel streams.  I was doing renovation work on one of my properties and at the same time, as time permitted, I was flushing out photos for my portfolio.  The initial “plan” was to pay a visit to another person in our network.  Farah, one of folks in  our network, has been helping me with renovations as her time allows.  That morning, part of my “plan” was actually to  spend a bit of time taking photos before Farah and I got together to go visit Jen for something that I needed to get to her.  At the same time, I had this underlying urge to get out of the city.  AND to make it worse, I knew that renovation still had to be done…..  Anyway, it started like this:

I had to get gas for the car  – as I was getting gas, I happened to notice a rather interesting cloud formation that “might” get me a landscape shot or two.  AND at the same time, the plan was to get more photos printed for my portfolio.  Sooo… off to Nose Hill I went (one of my favourite spots for cityscapes) and I got this shot.


Nice shot, but not “quite” what I was looking for.  You see, I need to add more landscapes to my portfolio to round it out.  Then, as I was trudging back to my car, Farah phoned to say we couldn’t get to Jen’s today.  Farah, had also, I think, planned to help with renovations once we visited Jen’s.    Wow!!  Suddenly there was this blank spot in the schedule and IF I didn’t do renovations…… AND with the weather being abnormally good for this time of the year, there could be an adventure in the works Smile   It’s actually Farah that calls these outings adventures, and they actually are to a certain degree – no set plan per se – just something very general.  A quick question about Farah’s schedule and it turned out she was game Smile  Soooo.. off I went to get her and then we got my prints made and THEN, we needed to decide on a direction. We decided on East to about Langden/Carseland, and then a loop back into Calgary somewhere south of the City.  The intent was to see if I could get not only some landscapes, but perhaps some old run down buildings, whatever.  We got to the printers, and as luck would have it, due to it being Remembrance Day, they weren’t going to open for another hour.  We decided to grab something to eat, THEN got the prints made and off we went.

I’m going to insert this map a couple of times to give a bit of easy reference.


I made the decision to go on the #1 TransCanada highway going east.  As we got to Chestemere, I asked Farah if she had ever been here and she hadn’t.  I hadn’t been there in a lot of years, sooooo…. we “diverted” to snoop around.  First off, we found this store called The General Store – it’s sort of a combination of a dollar store and curio/trinket type shop.  I’ve also seen one like this in Didsbury.  Then, we decided to tour around the lake, and stopped at a few spots.  Of course, to get photos Smile   Chestemere Lake itself was like a mirror – no wind.  One thing we also noticed, and it was a bit shocking, sort of, was the number properties for sale along the lakefront on both sides of the lake.


Back on the #1.  We got to the Langden/Carseland turnoff and then headed south along Highway #24 to the Mossleigh turnoff and then headed back west towards Okotoks.  Along the way, we noticed a lot of harvesting going on with the good weather we’ve been having.  As we moved along, I was watching how the clouds were forming and with the sun peeping out or trying to the odd time, coupled with the cloud formations, I knew that a “stunner” would be in the works.   AND then we found a spot where we could safely pull over.  THIS was the shot.


We actually spend about 20 minutes here.  Then, into Okotoks along 547 for a Tim’s and a short break from driving.  Now – for folks wanting a pretty drive in the country, heading west from Okotoks towards Black Diamond and Turner Valley, this is one for your bucket list Smile  You are starting to head into the Foothills and one sees the mountains.  By the time we got close, it was roughly 3:00 p.m. and as we hit the Priddis turnoff, I turned the wrong way.  I didn’t realize that until the first road marker showed we were on the way to Bragg Creek.  In reality, something should have twigged me that we were heading the wrong direction, but at the same time, it was not that big of a deal either Smile Sometimes, it simply works out.  Farah had never been in that area and I hadn’t been there in at least forever, so we “kept on truckin’”.  I had forgotten how pretty that stretch of road really was. 

One thing here.  When I drive on these little “tours”, I’m there for the drive and photos  and not necessarily too worried about routes or schedules per se.  The reason?  My car Smile  Because we never really had an extra vehicle available, and the way our lives are, getting out like this, for the sake of getting “out”, simply didn’t happen.  By the time we hit Bragg Creek, it was closer to 5:00 p.m., so we didn’t stop there and headed back into Calgary.  Now, again, I kinda wanted to head back via either #1 or even Cochrane, but I ended up back via #8…..


It turned out that Farah had never been to Bragg Creek either, so perhaps another “adventure” could be in the works here Smile  Perhaps…… a loop from Canmore/Banff south back into Bragg Creek on the next one… Still thinking on that one…… 

Until the next one……..


Taking a “Break” from Job Hunting

In creating this entry, I was torn between posting this on my photo blog or my technology blog.  This entry sort of straddles that line Smile  Because it’s more photography driven, here we are in my photo blog.

As the coaches from our various networking sessions have told us, job hunting is a job in itself. It’s also mentioned that job hunting can also be a “lonely” thing and job hunting as a group makes things much less tedious as well as a bit more accountable Smile  They’ve also told us about the importance of taking breaks.  The “breaks” that have been mentioned tend to be short ones and one of the drawbacks I’ve found, is that they don’t always clear your head as they should.  Anyway, that’s what I’ve found.  Of course, in today’s economy where jobs are scarce and networking is a very key component of the job search, I’ve also found that those breaks tend to be few and far between.  Because I have several “streams” of options away from the world of IT, early last year, we took a break for literally a whole day and went into Kananaskis Country for our break.  Oddly enough, we didn’t do that again until recently.

The one thing I’ve found as part of that “head clearing” process, is that for my head to clear, I need to do”something” that steers my mind totally away from the job seeking thing completely.  More important, something that diverts me from my PC as well as my phoneSmile  For me, one diversion happens to be photography.  Now – in saying that, photography is not only a passion, it’s also a potential career path so taking photos on a constant basis is critical to getting more skilled. 

How many times have you heard of a location that you one day SHOULD go visit, but life gets in the way and you really never get there?  More important, when one is NOT working, there’s never really a better chance to do that, so perhaps this “guilt” comes into play and you don’t go because you SHOULD be job hunting.  One of our coaches, recently suggested we visit the Saskatoon Farm near Okotoks as a place that might be fun to visit.  I’ve been in Calgary since 1969 and wanted to go there more than a few times and never did go, so this “memory twig” was the perfect incentive to simply go.  Yes, there was a little planning to ensure I could get away for the day, but the day was picked and away we went.  Because, it’s quite late in the year, coming into mid October, we knew that flowers wouldn’t be in bloom – we wouldn’t be able to pick Saskatoons, BUT we were told there was an awesome restaurant (good food is always an incentive Smile) and most important, it was out of the city.  For those who don’t get out much – there’s nothing like a drive in the country side AND especially near Calgary, where is less than an hour from the Rockies to help clear your head.  More important – the weather cooperated and we had a nice sunny day!

Soooo….. the Saskatoon Farm is located near Okotoks just off the #2 south of Calgary.  About 20 minutes from the city limits.  There is a sign for the turnoff, so one does have to watch for it.


On entering the farm, one is greeted by the main gate.


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As one gets past the gate, there are ponds on either side.



In getting into the parking lot, one of the ladies in the networking group, Farah, noticed some rather interesting ice formations in frozen puddles.


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As one gets to the main part of the farm, we see this:



It was suggested that we go right to the end and backtrack and so we did that.  The “farm” itself, straddles the edge of a valley and the Saskatoon growing area is situated in the valley.  The view (even in the fall) is quite stunning in it’s own right.





One can actually go and pick your own when they can be harvested!!  This would be earlier in the year.  Definitely something to keep in mind for next year.

By the time we started backtracking, we decided that lunch would be in order so in we went.  The restaurant/general store is quite neat if you are into antiques.  The restaurant is modeled accordingly.



The food was amazing plus, of course, being a Saskatoon farm, desert simply HAD to be Saskatoon Pie, with whipped cream and Saskatoon Ice Cream Smile

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With food out of the way, it was determined that we definitely needed to take a walk Smile  Notice that Farah & I shared the pie……  We meandered a bit through the store and looked at various things.


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If one is into antiques, knick knacks, whatever…. this is definitely an interesting place.

Of course, a little something for home….


Once we were done at the General Store, we did a little exploring outside.  Despite we were there very late in the year, there was still a lot to see.






We arranged to meet at about 10:30 a.m. and by the time we finished, it was close to 3:00 p.m.  I can’t imagine how much longer we would have been there had this been mid-summer!!

But WAIT!!  It doesn’t end there Smile  Farah has always said that it was always an “adventure” whenever we went exploring and I really wanted to get closer to the mountains, so rather than head back to the city, I decided on a slight “detour”.  We looped back to Okotoks and then headed west.  Of course, we were also due for a Tim’s so that became a priority once we got into Okotoks Smile  As we headed west, I totally had forgot about the “rock” and Farah had never seen it, so we stopped to take a closer look.


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We decided to take a walk around the rock and if one is into seeing patterns in the sandstone:




The sun was starting to get lower and there’s this one “effect” I had seen and wanted to see if I could reproduce it.  It’s shooting into the sun, but creating a “starburst” effect.  To be a little technical, it involves putting the camera into Aperture Priority mode and using a smaller aperture (like f22 or f16) and the blades of the aperture create the light dispersion.



Because we are in the foothills AND it was a sunny clear day, the Rockies were quite prominent.



Rather than fight rush hour, we continued on to Black Diamond, Turner Valley, Millarville and took 22x back to Calgary. 

What a wonderful way to end the day!  In one sense, it was tough coming back to real life Smile