Nov 16 2011

My How Fast They Grow Up

by andrew

Probably about time for a photo refresh here:

Mar 8 2011

Day 696: Update in Photos #2

by andrew

Here’s Part 2… ok, no blabbering commentary – just the visuals this time:

Sep 28 2009

Day 170: Sledding in the 70s

by andrew

A couple days ago we made the short trip up to my grandmother’s cabin in the mountains to turn off the water (before winter brings the threat of busting pipes) and take care of a couple other chores (like eating the chocolate zucchini bread Renee made and drinking coffee on the deck overlooking the meadow and the Rockies). When we got there we discovered that there had been a decent amount of snow a few days prior, because all the meadow grass was matted down and there was still a bit of snow left despite a couple warm days since the precipitation.

Turned out to be the perfect day to go sledding in warmer than 70F!

Speaking of photos, here are a bunch more as I am catching up:

A few days ago I headed into the mountains with my dad and mom in search of some fall colors to photograph. We found some, but not as many as we’d figured would be up there already. Still, we got some amazing shots and had an incredible time. It was the perfect weather and lighting all day long:

Working my way backwards, we had a wonderful time celebrating our niece’s 2nd birthday in Winnipeg before we headed west and south again (I know I already sent this to some of you):

In the “hey that was a long time ago” category, here are some shots of The Dredge I explored back in August if you are even remotely interested in the exploration of the old, decrepit, abandoned, wrecked, decaying remains of human endeavor and technology:

Also in August: the Rempel Family Gathering near Dauphin, MB:

So, there… that gets things a little caught up photographically speaking.

Yesterday Bennah and I broke out the mountain bikes and had some awesome trail rides… we had been planning the adventure for weeks, and it was a blast to finally get on the dirt. There are some long and excellent trails that weave through the city while managing not to feel like the city. I am definitely going to have to take the cameras back there and get some shots and video.

Aug 23 2009

Day 134: July Photos and Twitter

by andrew

So, I’m still working on a bunch of media updates for the blog… videos… The Map (which is giving me some headaches)… all kinds of great stuff. And I had originally intended to put it all out at once, but I figure I better pace myself since everything takes so long to edit and upload. So, here’s a window into what our July was like:

Click through to go through the gallery in order… or just watch random moments from our July right here. There’s nearly 200 photos in that gallery. And, as if that wasn’t enough, I had to give our family time in Neskowin, OR a separate gallery of it’s own since there were so many photos from that week with my brother, sister + her family, and our parents celebrating their 40th anniversary:

You might have also noticed the Twitter feed that I added a couple months ago near the top of the side-bar to the right. It automatically updates whenever we save a new post here, whenever I upload new photos from Lightroom to SmugMug, and whenever who knows what else my geekiness will think to wire up. Once in a while I even update it manually. If you like Twitter, you can follow my feed directly here:


Jul 16 2009

Winnipeg to the West Coast in Photos

by andrew

Thanks for all the comments on the last post. I realized a few hours after posting that I probably did the adventure a cursory injustice. In my haste to get it posted while I had a connection I left out the emphasis that all your comments made up for: it was a truly blessed trip! And even with the tire explosion and all, it was awesome. It defined why we’re doing this. It sounds crazy but I love flat tires! Not necessarily the specific inconvenience of having to change a flat in a potentially dangerous situation – but the general archetype of the Flat Tire! The unexpected! The Challenge! The reliance – the adventure of discovering how YHWH is going to get us out of that one. 🙂

And He did – all the provision was in place, and my praise to Him for the journey was grossly lacking from the last post. Sure I had to sweat a little and work a little, and I was tired when we arrived, and I hope I don’t have any other blow-outs as long as we travel, but I DID love it anyway. And YES – we are protected. Protection doesn’t mean we won’t have to deal with anything hard. But it means that if we put all of ourselves into LIFE and trust the outcome to YHWH then He will prove faithful every time.

So, yes, we definitely had fun that day. And we love and miss all of you reading too! Sorry we don’t have more time to say so personally, individually, but hopefully Father will give us time together down the road… literally… 🙂

Here are some excerpts from the overall trip from Winnipeg to the West Coast, including several of the mentionable moments I referred to in the last post:

Giant Wheel Turtle

This is a giant turtle made entirely out of old wheel hubs. It’s in Dunsieth, ND and was fun to see – I used to drive past it almost every weekend going from Minot, ND to Winnipeg to visit Renee when we were engaged back in 2000.


This was the view from our camp site at the KOA just a mile a way from the East Entrance to Glacier National Park.


Here we are in Glacier national Park. It was so amazingly breathtaking.


The only way to really try to capture it somewhat was to put some panoramic photos together. I did about 10 of them overall, and they turned out quite well. Some of them had as many as 20 individual images in them. Here’s one below composed from about 8 images. The original versions are well over a giga-pixel each. That is snow in the bottom of the frame. We found out later from other campers that just a week before we got there, the road through Glacier was still closed because of the snow. It had only started melting in earnest shortly before we visited. What a blessing that it was open when we were there!



These mountain goats came right up to me and asked if I’d be willing to do a photo shoot with them. They got really close… I probably took 200 shots of them all together. What a treat!


And here’s that crazy hail storm that ran into us on our first day of travel after we left the KOA and Glacier.


Check out the grape-size hail stones! Biggest I’ve ever seen. These pelted us for a good 10 minutes. It was intense, and a fantastically awesome thing to experience.


And of course – the tire incident. I wasn’t kidding – it literally exploded.


There! That’s better… It was a long hard journey from Winnipeg to the West Coast. By the time we got here, late, tired, and road-weary part of me was ready to be done driving for a long while, and I wasn’t looking forward to thinking about the next leg(s) of the journey. But then… we finally went to bed after setting up the trailer… and I woke up to this:


This is our site right on the river. I stepped out the next morning to the sound of baby birds chirping in a birdhouse mounted on that tree right outside our door. The sounds of the river. The smell of the ocean and the evergreen hills. And all the travel-weariness slipped away in an instant. We’ve been having adventures all up and down the coast, and our time at this site is drawing to a close. In a couple more days we’ll join my parents and brother, and sister and her family just up the coast at a beach house for the week.

And I have a ton of coast pictures to share… and a crazy adventure that I went on this morning… but that’s all I’ll say about that – you know, have to keep some suspense to keep the readers coming back.

Jun 16 2009

The Race Project

by andrew

The Race Project… OE21G… Adventuring… it has many working titles at the moment. The short version goes like this:

For nearly a decade now, one of my close brothers (of which I have many among my spiritual family) has been teaching an Outdoor Adventuring course at a private, faith-based school in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Incorporating the necessary provincial requirements, the course qualifies as phys ed credit for the students and teaches them fundamental survival skills like navigation, fire building, shelter making, team dynamics, etc. They spend a lot of time during the year practicing what they learn. They go hiking and camping in a remote area during the Fall Camping Trip. They build quinzhees and spend a night in sub-freezing temperatures on the Winter Camping Trip. And the year is peppered with biking trips, obstacle runs, urban night hikes, and the like. At the end of the year they have a final written exam and a final practical exam.

The practical exam has evolved over the years, but it has always been modeled after the fine tradition of adventure racing (e.g. Eco-Challenge). The amazing part is that these are 9th, 10th, sometimes 11th grade students completing roughly 100 km / 62 miles entirely self-powered (on foot and bike) during a 36 hour period; including a campcraft phase during which they have to build and sleep in their own tarp shelters. Held at the beginning of June each year in Canada, temperatures can still hover close to freezing. Each student team races against each other and against a veteran team (Bravo) that ran the race as students themselves several years ago and has been coming back for the fun of it since then. They have to navigate their way through roughly 30 checkpoints armed with their compasses, cardinal-based riddle-like instructions, and an appreciation (usually begrudging) for their instructor’s sense of humor. The checkpoints take them through a surprising variety of terrain from urban environments and open road, to bush-whacking through provincial parks, across muddy landscapes, and wading (or swimming) through river-like flood-ways. These are just some of the challenges they face. In addition, the instructor placed several handicaps on team Bravo this year to even the playing field as much as possible (for example, they had two 90 minute penalties, an additional checkpoint, and found all their bikes disassembled at one of the transition points).

A while back another close brother of mine and I got it in our heads that this course (and all the real, bigger than life characters that surround it) would make an excellent documentary. So, for the last year and a half we’ve been exploring how to pull it all together into a coherent project. Part of the exploration has offered me the privilege of chasing the teams through the course in 2008 and 2009 grabbing as much footage and photography as I can on the run.

I’m really cutting my teeth on any semblance of video experience through the exercise and pushing my photography skills as well. One exciting thing for me personally, as I wade through all the material that I collected at this year’s race just over a week ago, is that I am noticing a huge improvement in both the footage and the photos. I think a big factor in this is that I was here ahead of time, which made it possible to help the instructor set up the course. I knew were every single checkpoint was and (more or less) how the teams would approach and leave. Also, having gone through the whole experience last year, I had a subconscious working model that helped me anticipate where great clips or shots might be likely to emerge.

In all this, though, I know that there is a bigger story to tell, and it almost seems murkier now with 2-years-worth of solid coverage. Each class and each year has its own independent theme tying everything together for that particular group of students. Start adding the years together, however, to define something as big as the overall course, and the story-telling challenge grows exponentially with each additional year considered. One area that is significantly lacking in our coverage are the background stories of the students themselves – their families – their other interests – and the events that shape them throughout the whole year in the class. Now that we’re mobile, I’m hoping that we can start to fill in a lot of the gaps.

One thing that bears mention, and I saw this emphasized for me personally this year in a profound way: the efforts and sacrifice of the support teams that make this race and the course itself possible are immeasurable. Renee and the kids supported me being away for several long evenings while we were setting up the course, and then they followed me / drove me around / rode around in the truck for two days straight while I chased the shots. The instructor’s family supports him in similar ways throughout the entire year. And the parents of the students entrust them to a very worthwhile course that has very real dangers. Bennah, my oldest son, also helped take some excellent photos at times and places that I simply couldn’t be all at once. Seeing all of that in a new way this year really impressed on me the desire to make this a significant stream in the documentary’s storyline.

Here are a few of the photos I took from that amazing weekend adventure (see link below for a gallery of many more photos from the 2009 race with details of this year’s story in all the captions):

Here’s a gallery of photos from the 2009 race. [NOTE: The 2008 and 2009 Exam Race galleries are password protected out of respect for the student’s privacy. You can email me for the access codes, or get them from Mr. Dave directly.]

Other fun / related resources:
Here is a Google map of the whole course for 2009.
Here are some of the photos from the 2008 race.

Feb 18 2008

Winter Mulch

by andrew

We came across a most curious sight on our drive up to / through Pennsylvania this past weekend. Right along 104 there were these immense mountains of mulch steaming from the decomposing process and a front-end loader taking smaller piles and putting them onto bigger piles. It was truly amazing… perhaps all the more interesting because there was still some stubborn patches of snow clinging to the surface in spots. I didn’t really have the time that I would have liked – such as 8 days or so 🙂 – to truly document the spectacle properly, but in the few short minutes I had while my family waited in the truck, I jumped out and fired off a few quick rounds. It was hard to decide which one to post, but this captures the essence. Sadly, none of the shots I grabbed captured the enormity of these mulch piles, nor the precarious position the loader was being driven into. The pilot literally drove this thing up the steep side of these piles to drop a new deposit on top. It was expertly accomplished, but I thought for sure the giant machine was going to tip and come rolling down the mulch mountain right at me.

mulch loader

Jan 22 2008

Freezing with Geese

by andrew

With temperatures in the 20s (and a bit colder at night) over the weekend, I knew yesterday would dawn with some potentially interesting ice to shoot. There’s a marsh just down the road, and while it is not a remarkable landscape, it always feels like it could yield some interesting photos at any given moment. I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed at 6:30 am on a day off and noted with some annoyance that I was already 30 minutes too late to get any pre-sunrise colors already unfolding.

It was 18 degrees and colder with windchill. I pulled on some crazy arctic boots that I had all but forgotten about until the night before. Scrounging for some cold weather gear I found them burried in a bin in our “storage room.” They had been issued to me in Minot, North Dakota during my Air Force days, and they kick some serious butt… water tight with thick wool liners, they feel like they weigh 10 lbs each.

Sure enough, the marsh was frozen over quite nicely. I was originally intending to explore the ice with my camera during the shifting colors of early light, but the Canada Geese quickly became my primary pursuit when I saw the scene they presented. I spent the next hour and a half inching closer bit by bit, sliding my tripod across the shallow ice, trying to squeeze evey last bit of distance out of my longest lens that maxes out at 300mm. I would have never even tried this without the boots, because I knew I was bound to break through in spots, and sure enough I did, but they kept me warm and dry.

As it was, the best photo I have to show for it doesn’t even look like I got that close. The geese were on to me. No matter how slow I went or how often I paused, they had a way of inching further away and settling back down again. I was almost in pain for want of a 2x extender or a decent 600mm (or better yet, both) to adequately capture the amazing sight. But as it was, I was able to keep from spooking them completely by taking it easy, watching and listening for their “warning” mode calls, and stopping when they noticed me until they were comfortable with my new position.

What amazed me was the sight of these geese, sleeping on the ice in well below freezing temperatures. And as if that wasn’t enough – and this is what I really wanted to capture but couldn’t with my short range – their feathers were covered with a significant layer of frost. They didn’t seem to mind much though. No wonder we make blankets out of their down.

Ice Geese