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Raptors Up Close and Personal

No, not the Jurassic Park variant, but the majestic eagles, hawks, falcons and owls that frequent the skies of many parts of the world.

Living in Western Canada is a fantastic location to spot these birds in their natural settings, and observe them at their best. For those of you who don't have the time or inclination, there are a number of raptor rehabilitation centres in Western Canada that offer a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with a number of these bird species. For those fortunate to live in Southern Alberta, we have one of these centres that is open to the general public.

The Birds of Prey Centre, located in Coaldale, Alberta is home to one of the largest private collection of raptors in the world. The centre is a rehabilitation centre for birds who have injuries that without the centres help, would have most likely not survived in the wild. Many of the birds are returned to their natural habitat    after being treated at the centre, but unfortunately for some, their injuries will never allow them to survive in the wild, and they have fond a new home at the centre.

The centre offers educational programs for schools, clubs and organizations to come and spend some time with these wonderful birds, and take home a unique experience and better understanding of their fine feathered friends. It is also open to the general public during certain times of the year. Please check with the centre before arriving.  

 

Corn Mazes & Pumpkin Patches

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The arrival of the fall season not only brings the changing of the leaves on trees, but also the time honoured tradition of the Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch.

Both of these popular pastimes have a long history dating back as old as 4000 years.  The minotaur (half man - half bull beast) and the maze story is from Classical Greek Mythology and is still read in classrooms today. Labyrinths and mazes were often carved into walls and floors in homes and public buildings during the     Classical period of Ancient Greece and Rome. During the Renaissance Period in Europe, they became the rage with wealthy land owners and royalty.

The Pumpkin Patch is equated with the fall celebration of Halloween, or the Samhain Holiday from which it evolved from. The Jack o'Lantern candle was  originally carved from a turnip, but evolved into a elaborately carved pumpkin with a candle placed inside. It was intended to ward off spirits and ghosts, but now the            celebration is more about costumes and candy.

 

Most Amazing Sunsets

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The eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains have the most amazing sunsets. There is a saying amongst the lucky people who call this area home,  'if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes, something different will come along'. So true!

 

The New Edmonton Skyline

This assignment was a bit self directed, and was a result of another project that required some images of the province of Alberta's capital city - Edmonton. There was so little available through the various stock agencies and city offices that we decided to do it ourself.

The city of Edmonton has experienced a building frenzy in both the downtown core, and through much of the housing and commercial districts. In the core alone, several new mixed office/residential towers have been built that surpass all the older buildings in height and technology. There is even a rumour that a 95 story tower is on the drawing board for the downtown district. 

 

Unforgettable Characters

It's often not the scenery or activities on a road trip that create the lasting memories. The people you meet will fill your head with stories and tales that will last a lifetime. On our last trip into British Columbia we came home with footage and images of the gorgeous scenery and wonderful people we met. Best of all were the stories that they entertained us with!

Climate Change

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For those who need a bit more convincing that climate change is upon us, take a trip into any of the western states of the USA, or British Columbia, Canada. The drought conditions and forest fires have created a situation reminiscent of Dante’s Inferno or a Hollywood apocalyptic film - heavy dark smoke floating through the forests, or communities, reducing visibility from a few meters to, at best a kilometre. Where once sunshine and blue skies prevailed, an ominous blanket of dark orange - brown clouds sits, occasionally stirred by a warm, smoke smelling wind. Closer to the fires the winds are being created by the heat from the flames, blowing a hot, particle laden cloud into your face, making breathing a very difficult task without aid from a mask or breathing apparatus.
Experiencing this reminded us of how important our choices are in doing our part to right the wrong.

 

Fresh Water

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Fresh water! It’s quite possible that in the not so distant future that human conflict will arise over access to drinking water. We unfortunately seem to be diverging in our solutions to this problem - our population is growing and available drinking water is shrinking. We all need to do our part in finding a solution.
This was one of our latest assignments.

 

An Engineering Marvel

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Anybody who has had a chance to walk through an oil refinery would probably marvel at the enormous size and complexity of the project. Put it simply, it's a bloody miracle that it works!

The sheer size alone would put even the most trusting in doubt that something useful would come out of the taps at the 'other end'. From the perspective of an engineer, or anybody who understands the processes involved, it's really just a series of smaller processes all attached to each other with the same goal in mind - produce various refined products from their raw source - oil.

We had an opportunity to spend some time at two different refineries - one in Sarnia, and the other in Denver. Both were unique in their own way, and similar in size - enormous!

Pond hockey – Truly Canadian

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Winter got you down? Stuck indoors for too long! This is definitely a solution to that - Pond Hockey!

Every winter at just about the coldest, darkest time of the year a migration occurs in Northern Alberta, to the little known community of Peace River. Hockey crazy Canadians from Western Canada come to play and watch teams compete for the honour of top Pond Hockey spot.

The venue takes place on nearby Cardinal Lake and Queen Elizabeth Provincial Park. The conditions are harsh, a wind blasted frozen lake is turned into a series of hockey arenas where teams compete over the course of a weekend. This year was particularly harsh, the temperatures at the lake were hovering around - 35C for most of the weekend, with a slight breeze for those who worked up a sweat.

The hardest part was being a spectator, standing or sitting through the cold, whilst cheering your favourite team on!

Some Assembly Required!

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As with most things in life, assembling a wind generator, let alone several of them, requires a lot more work than most people realize, or can even imagine. Every time one of these massive wind generators shows up in the landscape, the usual reaction is - "wow that sure went up quickly". If only they realized the amount of planning, logistics and assembly that goes into completing one of these towers, let alone a whole series of them.

The Southern Alberta landscape is being forever altered by these towers and 'Wind Farms', a popular local name for the groups of towers that dot the landscape.