I wish I had of kept a journal of my photographic adventures and misadventures. I'm sure that I have forgotten more than I can remember.
Manservant and I visited Algonquin for the autumn colours the end of September 2013. We arrived safe and sound and checked into our cabin in the woods. We decided to live the experience and stay right inside the park. It costs much more, but we would be closer to the action and not have to wake up as early for sunrise. Normally we stay in Huntsville which is about 45 minutes away and then we need to travel another 35 km to capture the sunrise.
We heard that the leaf colour change was 100% peak when we arrived. We kept hearing reports that conditions were so good for the best year ever for fall colours. When we arrived we thought the colours were washed out and wondered if indeed this was peak. We were reassured that it was indeed peak colours but they were the dullest they had ever seen at Algonquin.
A friend of ours decided to join us to take some fall pix. He was meeting us at the Lodge for dinner at 5:45 - sunset would be at 7:00 pm and we had to travel approximately 30 km away - it didn't leave us much time.
Dave hadn't arrived by 6:00 pm so we thought we better order or we would all miss sunset. He arrived shortly after, we all gobbled down our gourmet dinners (included in our package) and headed out.
When we arrived at our destination, the sun was down, the colours in the sky were dispersing - sunset had been missed. Keeping a positive attitude, we all thought - that's okay the morning sunrise will make up for it. We headed back to the cabin in the woods for the evening. Dave was staying outside the park in Dwight but we would meet up before sunrise the next morning.
It was pitch black when we returned, we unloded our bag, headed to the cabin door. I see manservant checking his pockets and he asked "Do you have the key", "No, I say, you have the key". He had lost the key and decided to search for it for 1/2 hour in the dark. I had to PEE badly. Finally he went to the office (just before close) and thankfully we didn't need to sleep in our car or pee in the wilderness (although it certainly wouldn't be the first time).
The cabin had no TV, no INTERNET. It had no clock radio or telephone either. That meant we could turn in early to wake up for sunrise. We were in a duplex. About an hour later the couple staying next door arrived home for the evening. We actually thought they were in our room. From one room to the next, you could have heard a mouse fart.
The room had electric baseboard heaters. The night was going down to 3 degrees C so I turned them up to 15. They were so noisy, not just the expected cracking noises while they heat up or cool down, but BIG ASS banging noises. I had to turn off the heat if there was any chance of getting any sleep - the room was freezing - bbrr. I love the sound of loons - but there were so many crying their haunting calls that I felt they had joined us in the room along with our neighbours. I stayed awake listening to the loons, manservant snoring and a noisy fly that apparently was also having trouble sleeping in our room.
We woke up early, thanks to my cell phone alarm, and headed to one of my favourite spots for sunrise. I was excited thinking there would be just the right amount of mist with the cooler evening and there were a few clouds that would allow for some awesome colour. Well the mist turned out to be thick and had totally obscured the sun and it wasn't able to break though until late morning when it was too high in the sky. No sunshine - it was the same all week.
Sadly, we didn't bump into any bears, wolves, foxes, pine martins or rutting moose.
BTW - we found the key outside the drivers side door in the morning when we had the lantern from the cabin for light.
Sometimes shit happens :) On a positive note - the weather was gorgeous!!
During the summer I spotted a beautiful butterfly perched perfectly on top of a coneflower. The light was behind me, the background uncluttered. So as not to scare the butterfly away, I dragged myself toward it. Unfortunately I was on a wooden deck and in doing so I ended up ripping my pants and getting about 50 splinters in my butt. Imagine my embarrassment when I had to pull down my pants to have the splinters safely removed - ouch. I still have scabs on my left cheek - too much information - there's more where that came from :)
When you are out in the wild photographing there are rarely the conveniences of home, like washrooms. While I'm photographing I'm so focused on what I'm doing that I sometimes don't notice I have to go until there is a lull in the activity. While up north one day, during one of those breaks I realize I have to pee and I have to pee NOW. It becomes a challenge finding a spot where there is no poison ivy, few blackflies, etc. I found a spot on an incline with stones and rocks. While in the middle of going, the stones start giving away, off I go - pants pulled down in the middle of a pee and now laughing my head off. I end up at the bottom of the hill still laughing. Manservant didn't think it was quite as funny while he was pullng stones out of my hands and butt. My butt does take a beating - LOL!!
Not too long ago I took a trip to Tiny Marsh to see what birds and bugs were around. Just after I arrived I noticed some ambush bugs mating on butterfly bush. I squatted close by to take some shots of bug porn :) I was photogaphing away and my legs were getting pretty sore in that position so I was about to kneel. Just before I did, I noticed that something did not smell very good (understatement). I stood up and thought I must be close to dog poop. The smell seemed to be getting stronger and stronger the more I moved. I got out of the tall grass and realized that I had stepped in some kind of poop and it was all over my hiking shoes - bottom, sides and it stunk. The smell was making my eyes water and I was having a hard time keeping my breakfast down. The worse thing was knowing that I couldn't get away from this smell because I was wearing it. I discarded my favorite shoes and called it an early day :(
We were downtown when I noticed a goose at the top of a small hill sitting on her eggs with her mate standing guard close by. At the bottom of the hill sat one of their eggs. I thought - oh no - this one rolled out of the nest and they have no way of retrieving it. I decided to roll the egg up with my foot, thinking it was a better option than my hand. When I arrived at the top of the hill - being quite proud of myself for this good deed - the male goose started flying at me - I turned around and ran - I ran the fastest I have ever run in my life. I could hear the flap of his wings and feel his hot breath on my ear as he gave it a little nip. My husband, being no help at all, was laughing his head off. He wishes with all of his heart that he had of video taped that episode. I always learn the hard way that you shouldn't interfere with nature!
Once in a while my mother will accompany me on a photo adventure when we are close to home. One day we were walking through a wooded area when we located two turkey vultures perched on snags. They seemed to be a little aggressive toward us, so while I was setting up my tripod and camera, I asked my mom to keep her eye on them because I couldn't watch both. I said if they come near us just wave her hands to scare them off. I was photographing the one furthest away from us and when I took a break I noticed the other one flying toward me. When I looked for my mother she was running quickly in the opposite direction - LOL!
That reminds me of another story about my mom - totally unrelated to photography. She often comes with us when we walk our pups - two Miniature Schnauzers. We have had quite a few bear sightings in our area so we have a plan just in case we need it. I will pick Jerzey up (smallest of our pups) and Manservant will pick up Jynx and we will back away slowly while making ourselves look big. One day while walking them in the early morning we spot a bear a fair distance away. Manservant grabs Jynx, I turn around to grab Jerzey and my mom is running away dragging Jerzey with her leash over roots, rocks, etc. Apparently she can't be trusted in an emergency.
I have been searching for a field of sunflowers for as long as I can remember. Lo and behold, on our way to the Carden Plains I spot a field that we must have passed a hundred times in the past. We decide that we will stop there on our way home. When we drive up the long driveway, I fully expect to see a farmhouse, but before me is a beautiful home surrounded by fields of sunflowers. We park and I walk to the front door, which is about 500 yards from the driveway. I ring the bell and wait. I wait for about 3 minutes and no one answers. I hear a big WOOF and think they have a dog and it sounds big. The garage is open and the ride-on mower is on the lawn. I decide I should try another door. I hear a growl behind me and there is the largest dog I have ever seen. I climb one of the chairs on the front porch and the dog climbs right up with me. I am not sure whether he has me cornered or he's just friendly. I'm frantically waving to manservant in the car to do something. He doesn't budge from the car. I'm thinking - get out draw his attention from me - anything!! I'm picturing the owners are going to answer the door with me and their huge dog on their chair. Once again I try to get manservant to do something - he doesn't even stick his head out of the window. I have a funny feeling that he is laughing at me. I have to calm myself down because I'm thinking this dog can feel my fear. I know my dogs love to answer the door, so I say to him - let's go see who is at the door. He jumps down and runs down the pathway. I start jogging to the truck, ready to jump in. Just as I'm about to jump in, a truck drives up and the occupant is looking strangely at us. It's the owner of the house. I explain why I'm there and give him a card and he's happy to allow me to photograph the sunflowers. The dogs name is Bear and he's a Burmese Mountain Dog and really friendly. He followed me around for the rest of the day.
I guess manservant's duties begin and end with lugging my equipment and don't include saving me from wild animals, horses (that's another story) or guard dogs. He did say he would have saved me if the dog attacked me, but the truck was quite a distance from the front door, so I fear it would have been too late - and - he was laughing at me.