no exit

The 'no exit' signs used to make me anxious as a kid. Obviously I didn't understand what they meant. There were some neighborhoods in Red Deer that my mom and I loved walking in because they were close to the bike paths by the river. There were some lovely, heavily treed alley was that curved around an unseen bend, and right by the entrance was a bright yellow 'no exit' sign. I had these sad imaginings of the families that lived there lining up, waiting for someone to bring them groceries, because they weren't allowed to leave. They looked like nice paths to go walking down, but then I couldn't leave? That would be terrible.

We think the silliest things. Even as a 33-year-old adult, I still find myself thinking very silly things (as is apparent in some of the things I paint).

I was reminded of this silly thought of my younger self on my drive home yesterday from Maycroft. I had a whirlwind adventure beginning Friday afternoon right after I got off work at the cafe. I quickly went home to pack for an evening, grabbed the dogs and filled some jars with water for them, got gas and promptly left the city. I needed to get to Fort McLeod to grab my paintings from that show and then duck into the mountains for a brief stay with my friend Ron in his little house nestled at the base of a mountain. I hadn't taken highway #3 from Fort McLeod to Lundbreck (near where highway #22 or the Cowboy Trail intersect) for a long time, and I was on it at the most gorgeous time of evening. The sun was low and bathing everything in this lovely rich gold. The grasses were this fantastic deep bluish green with pink strands rippling through it. There are many power lines above that roadway and power stations by the road. Even the wires were this marvelous pink, like fine garland suspended by huge mesh towers that look like ladies about to curtsy, holding up the corners of their skirts. To my left I noticed I was racing a train going in the same direction. It was like something out of a western novel. There was very little traffic. The mountains ahead of me were ghostly hues of gold and lavender. Not real mountains, just their ghosts. Maybe it was because of the heat of the day or the smoke from the fires in BC and Northern Alberta, I'm not sure. I stopped just once at a roadside turnout near Pincher Creek to try and capture it on my iphone. It did not bad, but nothing compares to the real thing, to being there, by the side of the road, in the warm wind surrounded by the rolling hills that are abruptly about to boil into mountains after the next dip in the road. That landscape down there. Unreal.

I arrived at Ron's and we had a short visit and a glass of wine. I fed the dogs and let them stretch their legs. I'd hoped we could enjoy the remnants of the dwindling daylight on his front porch, but the deer flies and mosquitoes were quite terrible, so we did our visiting inside and then retired for the night.

After a good night's sleep we got up and continued our visit over coffee and breakfast BLT's in his small, sunny kitchen. The day was just warming up but the dark clouds hovering over the hills across the road warned of rain to come later. We got ready for the day and I repacked the car, then we took the dogs for a stroll across the road onto private land (of people he knows) to see who was camping by the Old Man river.

The spot we visited has a wonderful swimming hole. It's a bend in the river that is deep enough to jump from the rock face and into a fairly calm (and cold!) pool below. We came across Ron's friend Tom, reading a book and taking dips in the cool water, accompanied by his adorable something-or-other dog named Chewie. Tom has a cabin just up the short, steep climb from the swimming hole.

Tom's cabin. i'm certain he is someone's uncle, so really, this could be Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Tom's cabin. i'm certain he is someone's uncle, so really, this could be Uncle Tom's Cabin.

It's the sort of cabin you'd fully expect a trapper to have. It looks sort of ramshackle, but is quite sturdy. It's decorated with antlers of a variety of sizes and is pieced together with whatever is or was handy at the time of repair. I took some pictures of it because it won't be around much longer. The owners of the land are in the process of designating their ranch and the land it encompasses (along with other ranchers in the Livingstone Range) into a nature conservancy. Tom is an interesting character. A voracious reader with the best handle-bar mustache I have ever seen. We also spotted a few of Ron's other friends that were walking by the river, looking for arrowheads. The one woman (who's name I forget) has quite a collection of arrowheads from her various walks in the area, all of which are surface finds. Oh, to have that skill and luck! I'd love to find an arrowhead in it's natural habitat. One day, maybe.

After introductions and a pleasant chat by the Old Man river, I was off to Black Diamond to drop off some of the pieces I had picked up in Fort McLeod to the Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond.

the rolling hills and some locals near the Maycroft School House.

the rolling hills and some locals near the Maycroft School House.

But we had time, so we visited the Chain Lakes, because I had never been and have wanted to go down that road for a while. What a lovely series of tiny lakes with so many families about enjoying the sunshine and warm weather. People were fishing and paddling in inflatable rafts. Some were just reading by the water in their folding chairs. We continued on and then I was once again, distracted by things to photograph, this time down a 'no exit' road leading to the historic Bar U Ranch.

the shed i stopped for at the entrance to the Bar U Ranch, and comically blocked an entrance that some of the ranchers needed to use to get into the field to work. typical me. they laughed when they saw me taking photos and apologizing. i'm such a tourist!

the shed i stopped for at the entrance to the Bar U Ranch, and comically blocked an entrance that some of the ranchers needed to use to get into the field to work. typical me. they laughed when they saw me taking photos and apologizing. i'm such a tourist!

Since I had the dogs and had 2 more stops to make, we didn't explore too much, but I've made a mental note to go back and read and wander. Still, it was a nice little detour, but it was time to get to the gallery. I was hugged by Karen, the gallery owner, posed for a quick picture with the 2 pieces I dropped off and then went back to the car to decide what was next. It was hot. I needed ice cream, so the dogs and I ventured across the street to Marv's Classic Soda Shop for a coke float with whip cream and a cherry on top!

i try and make the few selfies i take not the standard, serious or coy selfies. open sign at Marv's Classic Soda Shop, Black Diamond.

i try and make the few selfies i take not the standard, serious or coy selfies. open sign at Marv's Classic Soda Shop, Black Diamond.

What a cute little soda shop, and thankfully it had a shady patio with large bowls of water for dogs. We sat there on the steps of the porch, enjoying the shade and delicious float before we were off again.

A quick detour into Calgary to drop off a painting at a buyer's house and then back onto the highway, almost straight on through to Edmonton. I took a quick detour along a gravel road running perpendicular to highway #2 to snap this photo of some old sheds in a beautiful field of canola.

If that isn't one of the loveliest things you've seen in your life, I'm not certain what it is you are looking for while you are here on this planet.

Now it's Sunday and blissfully cool. I sat on the back step this morning and sipped tea while the dogs meandered about. I had to put on a sweater! Pretty soon we'll pile in the car again and go for a walk by the river. So continues the summer of tiny adventures.

Happy Sunday, friends. Go slow today.