A Bad Day With A Camera

A Trip Too Late

I had been trying to make a trip to Elk Island National Park with my friend Ray for the past year and a half. I visited Ray in August of 2022 and we walked around a large portion of Telford Lake in Leduc, Alberta. We were about a kilometer in when Ray realized he had overestimated how much gear he could carry (he brought all of it), so I wound up carrying his gear for another five kilometers along with mine. At the end, we were both too tired to go to the national park that evening.

Welcome one and all, Elk Island National Park, Alberta. 2024-03-09

I was back in June of 2023 and we went to Clifford E. Lee Bird Sanctuary, but Ray played out a short way in. He barely made it back to the parking lot so a trip to the Elk Island National park was out of question. He was done for the weekend.

November of 2023 found me back in Leduc visiting Ray. He pushed himself too hard photographing Walterdale Bridge in Edmonton, Alberta in the evening. I did myself in photographing the same bridge the following morning. Neither of us could make it to Elk Island National Park that afternoon or evening. We’ll do it in January, Ray said.

Ray was not doing well when I visited in January of 2024. He could only make it downstairs once on his own while I was there and needed help back up. We were not going to the park. I had no idea how to get him into a car, or if he was healthy enough for a trip anywhere, so we visited and chatted. The fact that the weather hit a record low of -48C while I was there did not help. This was the last time I saw Ray in person as he passed on March 4th.

Lacklustre sky, Elk Island National Park, Alberta. 2024-03-09

Yesterday, my wife and I were in Edmonton to visit Uncle Roy’s widow and for me to also check a box for me. I owed Ray a trip to the Elk Island. We made it there about forty minutes before sunset and the sky was not prepossessing at all. It was a grey day to be sure.

Jennifer and I drove through the park looking for a good vantage point to shoot the sunset from. We didn’t find one, and that was from the shores of two different lakes. We did find one lovely old private residence in the park.

That old house, Elk Island National Park, Alberta. 2024-03-09
Not a pretty sight, Elk Island National Park, Alberta. 2024-03-09

We also found one ugly as heck farm at the other end of the park just past the exit. Somewhat defeated, we headed back and inadvertently finally had some luck. Elk Island is home to elk, yes, but also some large herds of buffalo.

Grand old man, Elk Island National Park, Alberta. 2024-03-09

One of the beasties was snacking on grass at the side of the road and paid no attention to me as I rolled up next to it and poked my mobile phone out the car window for a few shots.

Sunset between the trees, Elk Island National Park, Alberta. 2024-03-09

We could see signs that the sky was blossoming into a good-looking sunset and we sped along searching for a clearing that would let me capture it. We found one. I pulled over to the side of the road to get sunset pictures. The two cars behind me did the same, and for a few moments, we had an impromptu parking lot at the side of the road.

Last light, Elk Island National Park, Alberta. 2024-03-09

Jennifer and I decided to look for one more opportunity to photograph the sunset from a unique vantage point and discovered it a couple of minutes down the road.

I went to the park at the wrong time of the year at the wrong time of day and still came away with shots I liked, so that’s a win. I just wish Ray could have been there with us.

All images in this diary entery were made with my Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra mobile phone despite the fact the trunk of my car was nearly filled with camera gear. Frig.

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© 2024 Sean D. McCormick

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