Posts Tagged With: Alberta

Fort McMurray Wild Fire 2016

As many of you have seen on TV or social media (or my constant re-tweets)there is a huge wildfire burning in Fort McMurray and surrounding area in Northern Alberta. It has gone from a small wild-fire to threatening the town and causing an evacuation of 88,000 people. The fire has burned on despite the tireless efforts of crews on the ground and the air. Last check it was nearly 161,000 hectares; larger than the metropolitan area of the city of Toronto. Many homes and businesses were lost. People fled and the photos and video of the traffic through dense smoke, ash and burning embers with fire close to the road side is scary. It seems so unreal like a movie or something from a nightmare. People somehow remained calm and left in an orderly fashion. The silver lining to this tragedy  – no lives were lost in the fire.

Watch a video here from a dash cam. It starts with smoke then fire and ash with a sky black as night.

Heart warming stories have come out of the tragedy with people offering space in their homes, on their land for pasture animals to campers. A woman who lost her wedding dress was overwhelmed with offers. Free food, gas and supplies were given by many businesses. In the first few days people risked going back into the fire zone to save animals that got left behind. People were devastated when forced to evacuate from work with no time to return home to grab a few mementos, pack a bag and save their 4 legged family members. Then there is the outpouring of support with donations of food, clothing, necessities and money. Over $44 million has been raised in days. The support, love and caring certainly has not been lacking.

Fire burns near a road in Fort McMurray, Alberta on Tuesday May 3, 2016.

Look at what people were driving beside as they escaped their homes and city! photo by Holly Ayearst

I have never been to Fort Mac, but John has worked outside the town for years. The pictures touch your heart as you see Alberta face another natural disaster. Only 3 years ago Calgary and surrounding areas were devastated by floods. As this all comes as a part of Emergency Preparedness Week we must all stop and take pause. Are we prepared? We can’t think it will never happen to me. Think about what you would do in this situation. What if you had only 10 minutes to leave? Surely you would be panicked and not thinking clearly. Take time now to get a few things together and put it in a bag, box or tote. Hopefully you will never use it, but prepared just in case.

On May 4, 2016, the the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) on the Landsat 7 satellite acquired this false-color image of the wildfire that burned through Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada. The image combines shortwave infrared, near infrared, and green light (bands 5-4-2). Near- and short-wave infrared help penetrate clouds and smoke to reveal the hot spots associated with active fires, which appear red. Smoke appears white and burned areas appear brown.

The satellite image of the area above. -Photo NASA -Joshua Stevens

People are in limbo as they cannot get back in and see the devastation and damage first hand. Some homes and entire neighbourhoods have been reduced to ash. Others have some damage. The unknown must be the hardest part. Not having a timeline when it is safe enough to return must be heart wrenching. The fire started a week ago and no end in sight as it continues to burn. At least the hot dry and very unseasonable temperatures have cooled off. Now we just need to pray for rain and lots of it.Everything is tinder dry after a mild winter with little snow followed by a spring with little rain.

Smoke and flames from the wildfires erupt behind a car on the highway near Fort McMurray, Alta., May 7, 2016.

Photo Mark Blinch

Thanks must go out to the firefighters, police and first responders, our everyday heroes. We must also say thanks for all the love support kindness and support that has spread and grown during this time of need. The numerous touching stories are endless from people offering hugs to a young boy raising money with an old school lemonade stand. If you want to donate to the Red Cross it is easy. I will add the info below. Our government has pledged to match every dollar that Red Cross raises.

Home foundations are all that remain in a residential neighborhood destroyed by a wildfire on May 6, 2016 in Fort McMurray, Alta.

Some of the first images of what was left after the wildfire ripped through Monday and Tuesday. – Photo   Scott Olson

How to help:

text – in Canada by texting  “REDCROSS” to 30333 you can donate $5

call – 1-800-418-1111

website – click here to go to the Red Cross website to make a donation using a credit card

Stay tuned…

Categories: Canada | Tags: , , , , , ,

Beautiful Lake Louise in Winter

As winter comes to a close and CTB will be saying good-bye to winter forever (???), as we prepare to move to the Caribbean, I wanted to share some images of the Great Canadian icon in winter. Lake Louise, a short drive from Calgary, feels like it is a world away. You have seen the photos of the surreal turquoise waters, but have you seen it in winter? It is stunning, breath-taking and surreal in a new way. The elevation allows for great snowfall amounts. The trees look like they are covered in icing and the views look like a movie back drop. The dry cold makes you soon realise it is for real.

In late November, once the lake is completely frozen, the Chateau Lake Louise builds an ice castle and skating rink. Cross country skiing, snow shoeing and horse-drawn rides are also things to enjoy. Not far from the Chateau you can even go for dogsled rides! In January, there is an ice carving contest. As long as the weather allows, the ice sculptures sparkle in the sunlight and add to the surrounding landscapes. We enjoyed just walking in the snow and taking in the beauty of it all. Soon this will be traded in for hot temperatures and new vistas. I feel like Frederick from Leo Leoni’s book and soak it all into committing and etching it to memory.


Frozen - Lake Louise in a new way

Frozen – Lake Louise in a new way


The Ice Castle on the Lake


The boat house cabin patiently waiting for the spring thaw

The boat house cabin patiently waiting for the spring thaw

Have you ever been to Lake Louise?

Stay tuned…


Categories: Canada, Nature, Photography, Tourist in My Own Town | Tags: , , , , , ,

Winter Wonderland

Winter has arrived in parts of the Northern Hemisphere. In the Rocky Mountains of Alberta snow has been falling regularly over the last few weeks. In Lake Louise in a 24 hour period 54cm fell. We happened to be there that day and look at the fantastic views.


Lake Louise. Along the path to the Lake. A small ‘cabin’ near the Chateau Lake Louise.

Unfortunately the turquoise lake was under a thin layer of ice and the heavy snow blocked out the majestic mountain view. The snowflakes were quiet and wrapped the area in a surreal silence.

Banff -The snowy walk pack to the parking lot from the Hot Springs

Banff -The snowy walk pack to the parking lot from the Hot Springs

You may have wondered where I have been lately. It has been weeks since I posted anything. I have taken to Twitter and have been using it more frequently to do a quick post right from my phone. You can get the link to my Twitter feed to the right of the posts. I don’t think you need an account to view, but may to comment and like. I will try to get back here more frequently and post.


Categories: Canada, Nature, Tourist in My Own Town | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Change: Photo Challenge

Wednesday was the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere… change has been felt here in Alberta throughout the month of August and September. Light snow flurries have been spotted in the city and more in the nearby mountains, on more than one occasion, since we arrived out here August 13th. Not only is it a change of seasons, but a change for me. Living in Shanghai for 5 years we didn’t see a lot of snow and maybe this kind of weather in January or February… not summer!

3 Seasons in 3 Days

3 Seasons in 3 Days

September 11-14 we saw a big change… 3 seasons in 3 days. We climbed to 30c and dropped to single digits, snow in the mountains. The leaves had started to change colour too. This photo looks like I added colour and black and white, but it is the snow blocking out the green of the grass and evergreen trees. A few days later we were back to mid 20s. Welcome to Canadian weather… ever-changing.

You may recognise this photo. I posted it on twitter. I have been taking to twitter more and more as I have a quick pic or idea I want to share. Sometimes I tweet a random thought, event or idea instead of a posting here.  To check out my tweets, take a look at the sidebar on the right and click away.

Change can be interpreted in many ways. Here is a link to WP too see more ‘change’.

Stay tuned…

Categories: Canada, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Grid -Photo Challenge

This week’s challenge asks for a photo framed in a grid like fashion. As WP says we often use the invisible grid, or lines within the viewfinder, to frame photos into the ‘rule of thirds’. The photos in this week’s challenge will show the grid.

My first pic was framed in the Lake Agnes Tea House, a little wooden cabin, at the top of the trail from Lake Louise. A rainy hike had a little surprise rainbow. I snapped the view from inside the cabin looking over the valley with Lake Louise below.

Room with a Rainbow View

Room with a Rainbow View

As I searched for the above picture I came across this one, which I didn’t think about when considering the theme. It doesn’t have the clean sharp lines, but the interesting shape and view I decided to include it. The unique tube like bridge made me feel I was inside a fish or a snake. We went for a walk along the Bow River in Calgary through the parks. In various places bridges crisscross the river making both sides accessible for walking and biking.

Inside Looking Out

Inside Looking Out

Stay tuned…

Categories: Canada, Nature, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Road Trip -Going West

August 10th would have been the day I returned to work in Shanghai. Instead we traded in the 14 hour flight for a road trip across Canada. We left early afternoon (much later than we had hoped) and the 3 day road trip stretched into a fourth day. The car packed and ready to go we set out on a new adventure.

20150811_182650I documented the journey through the car window with a few stops along the way.

Willow came along for the ride too since we would be out here about 4-5 weeks. Poor thing crossed the world a month ago and was about to embark on a cross Canada road trip. She quickly settled in with a cat nap. We’re so lucky she is good in the car.

Willow enjoying the newest adventure

Willow enjoying the newest adventure

This is one bear hug I will avoid.

This is one bear hug I will avoid.

We hit pouring rain in Toronto shortly after we started out, which snarled traffic. Once past the city traffic eased. We made it to Northern Ontario, just outside of Sudbury, where we stopped for the night. Due to the possibility of deer and moose we stopped driving around dusk. The next morning we made good time and a side trip to get breakfast we encountered our first wild life sighting. We stopped to grab a quick pic from the safety of the car.

Later that day the rain followed us. It made for a cooler drive and wasn’t so heavy that it caused slippery roads or poor visibility. The scenery changed from cities and farms to more and more trees. Soon we were getting closer to Thunder Bay up around the Lake Head. Driving along the highway Lake Superior came into view through the trees and as we reached hill tops. Stunning. We stopped at a look out point and took it all in. Back in the car we continued on the longest leg of our journey. From the Niagara area to Thunder bay it is a 12-14 hour drive. We stopped for the night between Thunder Bay and Kenora, ON.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Winnie the Pooh, White River ON 'Where it all began'

Winnie the Pooh, White River ON ‘Where it all began’

Now into our third day of the road trip we were still in Ontario, definitely the longest stretch of our journey. We passed more trees, lakes and logging trucks. A few hours later we passed into Manitoba. The landscape started to change as it went from forests and lakes to more wheat fields, as we entered the prairie areas. We hit heavy rain as we approached Winnipeg, but quickly drove through it. Not long after we arrived in Saskatchewan. The rolling hills had made way for the traditional flat prairies filled with wheat. More construction slowed us down and we put up in Regina for the night.

Calgary was about 8 hours away, but we made a side trip to Rouleaux, AKA Dog River from the popular Canadian show “Corner Gas”. The show has been off the air for a few years, but last year they made Corner Gas the Movie. The small town, with a population around 500, still draws fans of the show. We stopped by the iconic Corner Gas and Ruby restaurant, the TV show set. We walked main street, saw the Dog River grain tower and filled up for gas. I was tempted to call the guy Brent, but thought that would be an old and tired joke by now. After a few pics John was anxious to get to Calgary and miss rush hour traffic.

Corner Gas and the Ruby in 'Dog River'

Corner Gas and the Ruby in ‘Dog River’

Dog River

Dog River

Icky view after the flurry of butterflies

Icky view after the flurry of butterflies

After the heavy rain the day before there were hundreds of white cabbage butterflies everywhere! It was a beautiful warm sunny day, but it looked like it was snowing. There were THAT many butterflies. A customer at the gas station in Rouleaux said they all came out after the heavy rain the day before. The butterflies continued for miles and miles. Once we reached Alberta there were less and finally just the normal random few.

It isn't snow or all those butterflies. It is salt maybe from an ancient sea.

It isn’t snow or all those butterflies. It is salt maybe from an ancient sea.

More views along the road… salt flats that are farmed for… salt.

The flat prairies made way for rolling hills as we got closer tot he Rocky Mountains. Lots of farms with beef cattle lined the highway. Wild Buffalo used to roam here… could it be?

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

Willow continued to do well. Each night she fussed as we put her in the crate, but became curious once we got into the hotel. She would explore a bit then be fine. Each morning she would meow and check out everything in the car ensuring it was all in place. After her exploration and she was happy everything was in order she would stretch out and enjoy the view and nap. People passing us would spot her and point. One trucker even got out his phone and started to snap pics. She is a well-travelled cat!

Soon the city was in sight and we made it. It was the first time I had driven out west and great way to connect to my home country.


Downtown Calgary from the highway. City to the east and mountains to the west.

What a welcome back home to Canada…

Stay tuned…

Categories: Canada | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

From Every Angle: Photo Challenge

From different angles the same view, item and thing can look very different. Most of us are familiar with the Canadian icon of Lake Louise with its surreal turquoise waters. Tourists flock to the lake and take photos along the shore in front of the Chateau Lake Louise hotel.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise

Even fewer take the long hike up to the Plain of the 6 Glaciers, which goes around the lake and up the mountain. I have visited Lake Louise numerous times and on 3 visits we hiked to Lake Agnes, a 3.4 KM walk uphill. Our last visit we decided to do the longer hike a mere 6.6KM to the Plain of 6 Glaciers Tea House. From there we had many different angles and views of Lake Louise.

View on the opposite side of Lake Louise looking back towards the Chateau.

View on the opposite side of Lake Louise looking back towards the Chateau.


The hike started off beautifully along the shores of Lake Louise on a  trail lined with many log benches. The lake ends along the ribbon like river that feeds the lake and a gentle climb begins up the steep slopes.


View of Lake Louise from the trail heading up to the Plain of 6 Glaciers.


After 4KM, when you are just getting tired, the trail gets rocky and steep. The views are worth it. You feel so small with the huge mountain backdrops. Nature is stunning from all angles.

View back in front of the Chateau. Different again as a rain shower just ended and the mountains shrouded in clouds.

View back in front of the Chateau. Different again as a rain shower just ended and the mountains shrouded in clouds.

Have you ever visited Lake Louise?

Stay tuned…



Categories: Canada, Tourist in My Own Town, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Canadian Crazy -Giant Marshmallows

Now back in Canada I cannot see the “Shanghai Sillies”, but driving the other day I saw a “Canadian Crazy”. From a distance it looked like a field of giant marshmallows.

Field of Giant Marshmallows

Field of Giant Marshmallows

Currently I am in Alberta, Canada a 3 day drive across country, from Southern Ontario. Stay tuned for some of our driving adventures.


Categories: Canada, Tourist in My Own Town, travel | Tags: , ,

Forces of Canadian Nature -Photo Challenge

I was lucky enough to escape the big city and head to Canada for a few days in search of a job. My contract is about to end and we have decided it is time to head home. Instead of heading back to Ontario we headed to Western Canada where the skies are so blue and mountains so big.

The snow-covered peaks are a force of Canadian nature.

Snow covered peaks year round

Snow covered peaks year round – just off the Trans Canada HWY

From Mt. Norquay the view back over Banff was stunning. More mountains in the distance, fragrant green pines and big horn sheep quietly grazing and enjoying the sun.


breath taking views and vistas

breath taking views and vistas


When people think of Canada they often think of nature. What image of Canada do you have?

Head over to WP and see other places around the world and what other bloggers feel shows their homes force of nature.

Stay tuned

Categories: Canada, travel, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , ,

Exchange of Views: Breathtaking

I came to Alberta for a few days to explore options once we leave Shanghai in a few short months. Sunday we went to Banff to enjoy the crisp mountain air and enjoy the view. The pines, snow-covered peaks and wildlife were all in front of our eyes.

A short drive up Norquay gave us a view of the river and Banff below. Canada  Parks has provided 2 large chairs to sit, relax and take it all in. Feeling the warmth of the sun on my face, the cool wind giving me the occasional shiver and a some Big Horn Sheep putting on a show I felt like this is home. I am ready to return after 5 years away. The Shanghai Skyline is spectacular, but could never compete with a view like this.

Banff OIL Effect

I played with an oil photo effect using ACDSeePro4 to create this image.


Here is the original….

Banff Orginal

Breathtaking Banff



What view will you never tire of?

Stay tuned…

Categories: Canada, Photography, travel | Tags: , , , , , , ,