Distances travelled within Canada’s vast landscape are huge. Travel along its roadways demands commitment to best use of drive time between point of origin and destination so you get where you are going and so you enjoy where you got yourself to. Within this travel predicament kinaesthetic awareness of the road counts as much as visual presentation in terms of road familiarity. Curves, drops, bumps and inclines inform you in your travel along the road. Artists depicting the predicament of Canadian travel often poke fun at vacations enjoyed from a car’s interior as the terrain passes by as much as it is something enjoyed at the destination’s endpoint. A better way to see more of Canada’s landscape is accomplished looking through a camera lens; doing so requires you to stop your vehicle, stow it safely along the roadside, get out of it and interact more substantially with the environment you encounter.
An iconic rendering of Canada’s roadscape is what the image presented here is about. I’ve photographed a portion of the up-and-down incline leading up to Twin Lakes along Alberta’s Highway 35, one hundred and fifty kilometres south from High Level en route toward Edmonton. In distance, the incline covers five kilometres of road surface and rises onto a land mass noted for the temperature change that occurs from bottom of the incline to its crest. In winter a double-digit temperature change can occur and is accompanied by a marked change in weather travelled through. Ascending or descending, driving this incline is a tricky endeavor in winter, something compounded by snow. While one aspect of this image favours the artist’s tongue-in-cheek take on ‘Windshield Time’, the manner in which most Canadians see their Canada rolling past them, the image also recalls lives of former students who as new (and perhaps impatient) drivers were trekking through this bit of terrain on second- or third-ever tries; one bright future ended in a vehicle roll-over. Another life was impacted by partial paralysis. It’s this portion of road in this image that seems to surprise drivers … even experienced ones. Last November, descending the incline in snow was an activity more akin to skiing than rolling forward in a half-ton truck.
Listening to: Gillian Welch’s I Dream a Highway from her Time – The Revelator album, Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road from her album of the same name and High and Dry from Radiohead’s The Best of Radiohead.
Quote to Inspire: “No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.” ― Ansel Adams
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