Category Archives: Posts

Hoover Dam

On our way to Needles, California, we stopped for a tour of Hoover Dam. It’s a very impressive Art Deco monument glorifying American ingenuity, but raises a whole raft of issues related to our relationship with nature. Lake Mead is drying up and the Colorado River is drained of its water before it reaches the sea. A cautionary tale!

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Moapa Valley

We stayed in the Moapa Valley, Nevada, while day-tripping into the Valley of Fire (see my previous post), but we also explored and photographed other features in the area. One was the ghost town of St Thomas, flooded when Lake Mead rose behind Hoover Dam, and since exposed as the lake receded. Another was “Double Negative”, a piece of art (a trench actually) carved out of two facing sides of Mormon Mesa.

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Valley of Fire

Nevada’s Valley of Fire is a place of extraordinary, colourful rock formations – A beautiful place to hike and reflect upon the powerful and relentless forces that build up and erode the geological landscape.

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Cuba

Jennifer and I spent over a week in Cuba, dividing our time between Havana and the Vinales Valley. The Cuban people were very friendly, though always looking for ways to make a few dollars to supplement their meagre incomes. Havana is a visually rich city, though so poor that this once grand city is falling apart. It has a tragic post-apocalyptic feel to it, providing some amazing photographic opportunities. Despite the paucity of funds, heroic efforts are being made to restore Old Havana before it’s too late. I would also add that we felt perfectly safe roaming the streets of Old Havana at night. 

The Vinales Valley is a spectacularly beautiful region of karst formations, rich red soil, and crops of sugar cane, tobacco, and many tropical fruits. Most of the technology we saw was so basic we felt as if we were in a time warp going back a hundred years.

Cuba is complex and inscrutable; filled with contradictions and ironies, and causes the thoughtful visitor to reflect on how we impact, and are perceived by, our Cuban hosts.

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Writing-On-Stone

Writing-On-Stone, now an Alberta provincial park, is an especially spiritual place in Blackfoot tradition. And it was a place that we found powerful for giving us a sense of wonder and thankfulness.  This is the centre of the Blackfoot ancestral territory, where they recorded their stories in petroglyphs and pictographs from very early times.

The second gallery in this post (below) reproduces some of the rock art. Some may be several thousand years old. Many certainly predate 1730, when horses and firearms were introduced to the area, and the large round shields in many of the pictures became useless and were no longer used.

There is an interesting story about one of the pictures: No one knew the age or source of a carving of what could be covered wagons. The mystery was solved when a photograph was found showing Bird Rattle, a Piegan elder, carving Model-T Fords, which represented his trip to Writing-On-Stone. For much of his life, Bird Rattle had been barred by Indian agents from visiting this place he had known in his youth.

Here are two links to more information:
Writing-On-Stone Archaeological Site
Bird Rattles Petroglyphs at Writing-On-Stone

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