Winner: Gold Saskatchewan Article

It’s too bad we couldn’t be at the Western Magazine Awards gala in Vancouver this evening. I had been to two awards banquets previously. Each was a marvellous affair, an opportunity to socialize with some of Western Canada’s excellent and dedicated writers, photographers, editors, art directors and others who contribute to the success of publishing.

But, we couldn’t get away. So, instead, we were following along on the WMA’s Twitter feed, when this appeared:

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Great day to tour the countryside

Autumn colours and ferry, Highway 782, St. Laurent, SK (Darrell Noakes)

Autumn colours and ferry, Highway 782, St. Laurent, SK (Darrell Noakes)

We have been experiencing an uncharacteristically warm autumn. Yesterday, for example, it was reported on the news that Saskatchewan broke 27 daytime high temperature records. I guess it’s only fair. We had such a long, cold winter, followed by a delayed, cool spring. So far this fall, we have yet to get an overnight frost. Winds have been light, too. As a result, leaves are turning brilliant shades of yellow and orange, clinging to their trees, except for occasionally drifting lazily to the ground.

You can’t let this kind of weather go to waste. On Sunday, we took a drive up to St. Louis, mainly to check on progress of the new bridge, but also to see how things were looking at Riverlot Orchards winery and their new bistro overlooking the river. We decided to tour up the river valley as much as possible, taking the bridge east of Rosthern, then cruising up Highway 782 past Batoche and St. Laurent. Even at a leisurely pace, it seemed that the winery materialized into view quickly. Continue reading

Ghosts

Trail, BC. (Darrell Noakes)

(Darrell Noakes)

What if you could go back in time?

What if, one day, when you were a grown-up, you went back to your old home and climbed the ladder into your parents’ attic?

And, way in back, in a dim corner, barely illuminated by the flashlight in your hand, there was a box, a trunk, a large, dusty wooden trunk, with a lock that used a skeleton key?

So you contemplate whether or not to open it, to turn the key and open the lock, carefully, because you don’t know what might be in there, and the attic was a place that you seldom entered when you were a kid, not only because it was hard to get to, but because it was a cold and dark and drafty and scary place, and only the grown-ups were allowed in there. Continue reading

Bike Alley

The Bike Alley is a whimsical exercise in community development from within, says its creator, Dan Haley, owner of Casa di Cioccolato in Trail, BC. The bicycles line the alley behind his chocolate and tea shop at 346 Bay Avenue. (Darrell Noakes)

(Darrell Noakes)

“You should take a walk down there,” says Bruce, pointing to the lane in back of the old Arlington Hotel, a popular watering hole where a group of us had just wrapped up lunch over beer.

“Let’s see how many you find,” he adds as he and his sister, Sandra start across a deserted street.

“We’ll meet you over at the other end in a few minutes. We’re headed for the Artisan store. See you there.”

The Bike Alley. (Darrell Noakes)

The Bike Alley. (Darrell Noakes)

So, while the rest of the group went left, I hung a right and traipsed on down the block.

It’s pretty quiet for a Saturday, especially on a holiday weekend. There’s practically no traffic. Pretty much anyone who stayed in town must be at the Arlington.

As I reach the entrance to the lane, I spy a bike tied along the guy wires of a telephone pole, then a line of bikes overhead, pinned to the building wall. Further down, more bikes. Continue reading

First day of spring

Downtown Saskatoon, winter night (Darrell Noakes)

Downtown Saskatoon, winter night (Darrell Noakes)

It’s supposed to be the first day of spring today. Instead, it looks like winter is coming back for another blast.

After a sunny morning, it’s turned cloudy. The forecast calls for snow and blowing snow, northeast winds 30 km/hr gusting to 50, a low of minus 20 degrees Celsius tonight and a wind chill of minus 28. We’re not expected to see daytime temperatures go above freezing until well into next week, nor overnight lows above freezing until sometime in April. The past two weeks were so nice, too, in contrast with the minus 30 lows that ushered in the month.

I thought that if March came in like a lion, it was supposed to go out like a lamb! Continue reading

Catching up on photo backlog

Circle Drive South Bridge officially opens, Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (Darrell Noakes)

Circle Drive South Bridge officially opens, Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (Darrell Noakes)

Personal projects always get short shrift.

That’s not good, because personal projects are the most engaging, the most energizing, the most rewarding and the most creative.

But they fall behind because other work pays the bills.

Anyway, I figured this weekend would be a good time to catch up on a backlog of personal work. There are a couple of photo books that have been in the works for far too long and a wall decor project that’s running behind schedule and over budget. Continue reading

Hemingway’s world

Hemmingway haunt: La Bodeguita Del Medio Empedrado, Havana, Cuba ‎ +53 7 571375 (Darrell Noakes)

Hemingway famously spent a lot of time at La Bodeguita Del Medio Empedrado, a popular restaurant-bar in Havana, Cuba. (Darrell Noakes)

At Saskatoon’s latitude, February 15 is the date when the sun reaches above the horizon high enough to chase away my winter blues. Every year, it’s like someone waves a magic wand over the landscape. That’s the date when you can really feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Before that, from the beginning of November, the sun shines a cold, blue light — bright enough to need sunglasses, to be sure, but lacking in warmth and colour. Each year, I look forward to February 15 the way a kid looks forward to the day after the last day of school.

Winter can be a lovely time of year. I love the way freshly fallen snow sparkles under a full moon. I love the bright, clear night skies with so many brilliant stars. Looking out on a winter landscape is like living in a sentimental Christmas card. But I hate what the darkness of the long night does to me. Continue reading

Quest for coffee

I love a strong cup of Dark French roast to start the day, especially when I’m travelling. That first sip of Joe breathes an air of familiarity into whatever corner of the world that you might find yourself. It grounds you.

 (Darrell Noakes)

Mmm. . . . first coffee of the day, a rare treat on this tour. Binscarth Regional Park, Manitoba. (Darrell Noakes)

Camp coffee is my favourite. The aroma wafting through the morning air starts the day off right. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, or if it’s minus 40 degrees Celsius. Coffee makes every day warm and sunny.

I don’t mean cowboy coffee, either, although that’s pretty good — coarsely ground beans dropped into a tall enamel coffee pot that has been brought to a boil, then left to cool slightly (a dash of cold water helps settle the grounds just before serving).

I prefer to travel with one of my little macchinetta coffee makers, setting the pot on a compact alcohol stove to heat and brew while I go about other camp chores or preparing breakfast. Whether I’m bike camping or car camping, it’s always possible to find someplace to tuck the coffee supplies. Continue reading

Sagging for GASP 2013

GASP 2013, Lake of the Prairies (Darrell Noakes)

A broken spoke can really wreck your day, especially if it’s an outside spoke on the sprocket side of your rear wheel. Fortunately, someone had a spare “S” spoke for such emergencies, and we got our cycling colleague back on the road in fairly short order. GASP 2013, Lake of the Prairies (Darrell Noakes)

“So, what does ‘SAG’ mean, anyway?” someone asked.

Well, as long as I can remember, cyclists where I grew up referred to the support vehicle that accompanied them on trips as the “sag wagon”. Where the name came from, nobody really knew. What the term meant, everybody had their own opinion.

On the club tours that characterized my early tour experiences, the sag wagon was there to offer support and encouragement to tired riders, besides carry gear. We referred to the driver as “mom”, regardless of her or his gender or age, knowing that whoever was in charge of the van would look out for us and take care of whatever we needed. Continue reading

Summer nights’ jazzy lights

Aurora borealis over downtown Saskatoon skyline, night of June 28-29, 2013 (Darrell Noakes)

Aurora borealis over downtown Saskatoon skyline, night of June 28-29, 2013 (Darrell Noakes)

I’ve enjoyed the works of Herbie Hancock and Dr. John as long as I can remember. Back as a teen in high school, I worked evenings and late nights at a small town FM radio station. A weekly jazz show was my only respite from the endless, dreary “easy listening” background music that took up most of the station’s airtime.

I’d like to be able to say that the Friday night jazz show came across as something along the lines of John Corbett’s fictional KBHR disk jockey character in Northern Exposure, but our station management would have had none of that, anyway: just play the music, kid, and keep the talk to a minimum. Come to think of it, though, Trail at the time of my youth had quite a bit in common with Cicely, except the isolation maybe, and could have benefited from someone like Chris Stevens. Continue reading

Kinsmen Park memories

No rides in Kinsmen Park this year. After closing the rides at the end of last season, the City began construction of new attractions that are scheduled to be open in 2014.

City of Saskatoon offers free rides (normally $1 per ride) on the last day of operation of the Kinsmen Park train and carousel, Labour Day, Monday, September 3, 2012. The City is decommissioning the miniature train and carousel for a 25-year multimillion-dollar plan to renovate the 46-acre Kinsmen Park. A ferris wheel was removed several years ago. On March 5, 2013, the City of Saskatoon announced that the 38-year-old train had been sold to Country Fun Farms, a 70-acre theme farm 10 km east of Prince Albert. (Darrell Noakes)

City of Saskatoon offers free rides on the last day of operation of the Kinsmen Park train and carousel, Labour Day, Monday, September 3, 2012.

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