Part X – Chapter 5 – 2010

Manyberries Arch

For the time being, since I can’t find out anything about this cloud formation, I’m going to call it a Manyberries arch. You’ll see why toward the end of this post.


When you dine on steak and lobster at Ric’s Water Tower Bar and Grill, you’re a 102 feet above the ground. Needless to say, it’s a great 360 view.

Ric's Water Tower Bar and Grill

Ric’s is where Charlie and Bobby Jo took Roz and Jillian for dinner, and because they were sitting on the west side so they could see the mountains, they were able to enjoy a spectacular view of Chief Mountain, as well as one of the most amazing Chinook arches Charlie’d ever seen.

Chinooks are warm, wet winds that come in from the Pacific Ocean. They lose their moisture as they rise up over the Continental Divide, and when they drop down on the lee side of the Divide, they are dry and even warmer.

Our local winds come through the Crowsnest Pass, which is the warmest and windiest spot in Alberta, and then they continue east through Pincher Creek, and Lethbridge, and a bit beyond.

Lethbridge, which gets over thirty of these winds every year, claims it’s the Chinook capital of North America because the Chinooks become fewer and less-powerful the further north and south of Lethbridge you go.

The wind gusts often exceed hurricane force, which is 119 km/h (74 mph). In 1962, for example, gusts in Lethbridge exceeded 171 km/h (106 mph).

Today (181213), as I work on this post, we have a Chinook. The strongest wind gusts, which are out at Waterton Lakes National Park, are 167 km/h (104 mph). And Lundbreck, northeast of Waterton, has gusts of 154 km/h (96 mph).

Meanwhile, all through southwestern Alberta, gusts of at least 130 km/h (81 mph) are wreaking havoc. They’re blowing small cars off the road, and blowing vehicles into each other, and toppling empty tractor-trailer units.

But often these units aren’t empty, and it’s especially sad when the trailers that are toppled are loaded with livestock, although that doesn’t seem to have happened so far today.

As well, after multiple accidents, the RCMP have closed Hwy. 22. They’ve also closed a few other roads.

And around Fort Macleod the winds are knocking down trees and power lines. Needless to say, the whole area is sustaining significant property damage.

As a result of all this, an AB EmergencyAlert has been issued.

In the past, those winds have even derailed trains out by Pincer Creek.

Chinooks can also cause really dramatic temperature changes.

Temperatures often rise by 30 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit) in a few hours.

However, here are some of the most extreme changes.

In Spearfish, South Dakota, in 1943, the temperature rose by 27 degrees Celsius (49 degrees Fahrenheit) in two minutes (that’s TWO minutes). And a short while later, in just twenty-seven minutes, the temperature dropped back to where it started out. That is still a world record.

The greatest rise in temperature within a twenty-four-hour period was 57 degrees Celsius (103 degrees Fahrenheit) in 1972 in Loma, Montana: -48°C (-54°F) to 9.5°C (49°F).

And in Pincher Creek, Alberta, in 1962, the temperature rose by 41 degrees Celsius (74 degrees Fahrenheit) in one hour. I repeat, in one hour. From -19°C (-2°F) to 22°C (71.6°F). Apparently that, too, is still a record.

So obviously, the claim that Chinooks can make all the ground snow disappear within twenty-four hours is totally credible. Chinook is actually an indigenous word that means snow-eater.

And accompanying these winds is usually a Chinook arch, a solid band of stratus cloud that seems to touch the ground at the north and south ends and that arches up in the middle.

At Ric’s, while the four of them were dining and visiting, they got to enjoy what Charlie described as a near-perfect arch. The one below is certainly not perfect, but it does give an idea of what an arch over Chief Mountain might look like.

Notice the sleeping chief. Going from left to right at the bottom of the photo, you have the chief’s feet, his body, his head, and his headdress. But more about him in a minute or two.

This next shot is the north end of a Chinook arch. Unfortunately, Charlie only had his 50 mm lens with him. It would have been great to get the whole arch. But that would have required an ultra-wide-angle lens, perhaps a 9 mm, or even wider.

Chinook Arch

Here’s an arch I photographed last spring. These three photos were shot with a 14 mm lens, but even with a lens that wide, it was still impossible to capture the whole arch in one shot.

And I saw the Chinook arch below last week just west of Lethbridge.

The next arch was east of Lethbridge on the very same day as the one above, December 11, 2018, and at the very same time, midafternoon. But apparently it doesn’t have a name. And I’m not sure what to call it. Manyberries arch?

You have a Chinook and a Chinook arch. And you have a Manyberries Chinook. So why not a Manyberries arch?

But I can’t find Manyberries arch anywhere on the Internet, and the locals I talked with have never heard it called that. Actually, none of the locals were even aware that there can be arches both to the east and to the west of Lethbridge at the same time.

So for now, let’s call it a Manyberries arch until someone corrects us.

By the way, that CPR train bridge over the Old Man River to the left of the first Manyberries arch photo took two years to build, starting in 1907, and it cost $1.3 million. It is 1.6 kilometers long and 96 meters high, which makes it the longest and the highest trestle bridge in the world. (Remember to scroll down to View full size to see the details.)

And finally, a closer look at Chief Mountain before we go on to Henderson Lake where Charlie and Jillian went for a walk and discussed the similarities between Plato’s “The Cave” and the Wachowskis’ Matrix trilogy.

In the second and third photos, you begin to see that the chief’s body is quite separate from his head. His body is, in fact, a different mountain.

The photo below clearly shows that separation because it’s shot from a different angle than the ones above.

Chief Mountain

You saw lots of photos of Henderson Lake in Part V, Chapter 1, but here are a couple as a quick reminder.

Doesn’t this look like a wonderful place to discuss “The Cave” and the Matrix trilogy, especially after a stop at the clubhouse for a Labatt 50, and a Hennessy Privilege VSOP, and a bowl of peanuts, which Jillian, as usual, just nibbled at?



To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

Click on the first photo in groups of photos to start a slideshow.

To see one of those group shots at full size, click on it, then scroll down to its bottom right where it says, View full size.


(© 2017 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

Return to the Post Index

But before returning to the Post Index, why not scroll down and leave a comment or a question? And you might also want to check the boxes for “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” and “Notify me of new posts by email.”

Thanks for visiting my website.

Part VIII – Chapter 10 – 2010


This is one of Charlie’s favorite abstracts, and he often makes up stories to go with them. This story is about Daphne, a naiad associated with freshwater (remember the freshwater part), who was turned into a Laurel tree by her father Peneus at the last second to keep her from being ravished by Apollo.

(Another time, Charlie can tell us the whole story, including how this resulted in Laurel wreaths being used to crown champions.)

Yet here, centuries later, we see Daphne finally emerging from an Arbutus tree, which is a distant cousin of the Laurel. And hopefully, she’s just in time to help save our planet’s freshwater from being as mindlessly ravished as she nearly was.

“But I digress,” as a friend of mine in Moncton often said.

So it’s time now for a few of Charlie’s abstracts, which he talked about in the last chapter.


Before the abstracts, however, let’s check out the one sign that really caught his attention big time when BJ read it to him.

Scorpions, Rattlesnakes, and Spiders

And a sign beside it said that the rattlesnakes, and black widow spiders, and scorpions were all along the Old Man River Valley, as well.

He knew about the rattlesnakes, but he had no idea there were black widow spiders and scorpions in the park, and he was especially disconcerted to learn they were also on the banks of the Old Man River in Lethbridge, most likely lurking alongside the very trails that he and BJ often walked.

Knowing all that, though, didn’t keep him from trying to come up with some interesting abstracts of the rock formations. He’d just have to be a tad more careful.

But later on, he found out that black widows were rare in Lethbridge and the scorpions were mostly wind scorpions and pseudoscorpions, which weren’t any more dangerous than bees and wasps, although he wasn’t a big fan of bees and wasps, either.

For Charlie, abstract photography meant zeroing in on the most interesting parts of a subject, rather than on the subject as a whole. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes people might not even be able to guess what the subject was.

He loved playing with shadows, textures, shapes, and lines, especially lines.

Here are some of his photos. But because these are photographs, most of them are, in fact, semi-abstract. It’s far easier to go fully abstract with a paint brush than with a camera.

But he did try to make some really abstract abstracts.

When he showed them to BJ, however, she hesitated for a moment, then said, “They’re interesting.” He knew about that hesitation, and he knew about her vague, noncommittal comments. And he knew neither was a good sign.

But he wasn’t really surprised. He wasn’t even sure he liked them, himself.

At least she didn’t roll her eyes this time. So maybe there was some hope.

He wondered if they would look better as black-and-whites. And since he was red-green color blind, he thought that might be worth a try. He’d have much better control.

He’d been told a number of times that he couldn’t see some colors or that he would confuse them. He couldn’t see magenta, for example, and he definitely confused darker colors. Sometimes even lighter ones.

He’d worn a light blue Harris Tweed sports jacket for a number of years, with color-matched accessories, until a secretary at work told him one day that the jacket was gray. So immediately, out with the old and in with the blue gray accessories.

But he had no idea how to convert color photos to black and white.

The answer to that? The usual, of course. YouTube. YouTube has the answer to every possible question.

And this is what he came up with on his first try.

He decided not to show them to BJ for a while. He wanted to learn more about the process of conversion.

So far, though, he was not convinced that the effort of going black-and-white was worth the hassle. Maybe b&w was an acquired taste. Or maybe b&w processed properly would be more exciting.

And then, bang on, he remembered that B&H in New York, where he often bought camera stuff, had a whole library of free, first-rate videos.

Yet, no matter how carefully he followed the suggestions in those videos, his new b&w’s didn’t look any better than the ones above, which he thought were iffy, and which reinforced his notion, of course, that converting to b&w might not be worth the hassle.

But this whole process of playing around with black-and-white reminded him of a discussion he and BJ’d had a couple weeks earlier. And that made him feel a lot better.

I’m having a conversation with myself. Right? he thought. And that’s all that really matters. I’m a verb. I’m becoming.

And he smiled.

They’d been on the patio out at the back having their morning coffee and watching a pair of Northern Flickers hunting for things in the grass.

“BJ, new idea. I’m going to stop using the word art. And the word artist, too. The way we use them today, they don’t mean anything. Everybody’s an artist. And everything’s art.

“I’m going to use the word conversation, instead. And I’m going to think in terms of verbs, not nouns.

“I’m going to think of a person, whether he’s photographing, sculpting, painting, composing, or writing, as having a conversation with himself.”

He looked over at her. She was still watching the Flickers.

“See? Verbs. That person is seeking to understand more about himself.

“But to make it simple for now, let’s just talk about someone who’s writing, and even more specifically, writing a novel.

“If he were a noun, a writer, he’d be off to a writing group, and to the library for each new speaker, and to conferences and retreats. And he’d be pandering to the media, and he’d become a writer-in-residence, or a mentor, or both.

“However, my dear, there’s a universe of difference, between I am a writer and I love writing.

“Simply put, if you want to write, stay in your room and write.

“Sit quietly and have a conversation with yourself.

“Seek to know, not to be known.

“Ask yourself: Who am I deep down? Why am I alive? What do I really value? What kinds of goals do I need to pursue if I’m going to have a good life?

“And as you ask those kinds of questions, you will slowly begin to understand more and more about Life, with a capital L.

“And you will slowly begin to realize that the answers are coming to you from within, from your own unconscious mind.

“And that the ideas for your novel are also coming to you from deep within.”

(But rather than repeat myself here, I’ve already talked about how I think this process works in Post 3b, How I Suspect My Writing Takes Care of Itself.)

“Charlie, are you saying that all novels are conversations? Pop and literary? And that they all come from deep within? If you are, I’m not sure I buy it. That would make everyone an artist. And you said you’re trying to avoid that.”

“I am, BJ. A literary novel is written only by someone who seeks to know and who writes down, in story form, the conversation he’s having with himself.

“A pop novel, on the other hand, is a commercial product designed to match marketplace demands and to make money. And it’s especially suited to doctors’ offices and airports. It’s light entertainment.

“But a literary novel is not light. It’s usually hard work. You, too, begin to ask yourself: Who am I deep down? Why am I alive? How can I create a life that is worth living?

“The examined life. Right? Socrates.”

He looked over, and she was fiddling her left earlobe. That meant he had her thinking.

“And what makes reading a literary novel even harder, BJ, is you have to understand the language the seeker-to-know is speaking. This is even more important when he is not a writer, but instead is a painter, or a composer, or a choreographer, or a sculptor, or an architect.

“If you don’t know the language, you have to learn it. And that takes effort. Otherwise, it would be a lot like listening to a lecture on quantum field theory by a Tibetan who is speaking in his mother tongue.

“You can only understand the insights in paintings by a Jackson Pollock or a Picasso, for example, if you know the language of abstract painting.

“And the same’s true of a Philip Glass, or a Twyla Tharp, or an August Rodin, or an I.M. Pei.

“Those people took years to master their language.

“And unless you, too, know that language, their stuff will just be gibberish.”

But for Charlie, this was not a simple case of dropping the words art and artist, and of realizing that he’d have to learn the language of black-and-white.

Over the next few years, he would decide that he was tired of photographing clichés such as sunrises, sunsets, creamy waterfalls, and double rainbows.

And he would no longer photograph people or their property and have to worry about model releases.

And he would even begin to wonder if he’d merely been using his camera as a photocopier. He’d see something, like it, and photocopy it. Simple. And mindless.

But if he stopped photocopying, and if he excluded all those clichéd subjects, what would be left?

And eventually, as he tumbled down this rabbit hole, he would even decide to sell all his lenses, and he had a number of them, including some world-class telephotos.

Instead, he’d only use a 55 mm prime lens, fully manual. He’d also have a 25 mm prime for the wide-angle stuff, again fully manual, but his main lens would be the 55.

Those decisions, of course, would take him into a whole new universe of conversations with himself about himself and about Life.

And in Charlie’s case, about his next Life, as well.

Schoolhouse Earth. Remember? You read about it earlier.

And finally, in 2014, three years after his last hike, Jillian would find him sitting quietly, Zen-like, on a metaphorical log beside a metaphorical pond in Walden, holding that 55.

And he’d be smiling. And she’d sit down beside him.



To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

Click on the first photo in groups of photos to start a slideshow. 

Usually I would say, To see one of those group shots at full size, click on it, then scroll down to its bottom right where it says, View full size. You can click on it a second time, if you wish, to zoom in for details.

 But in this post, the group photos are cropped really tightly, and they hardly zoom in at all.


(© 2018 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

Return to the Post Index

But before returning to the Post Index, why not scroll down and leave a comment or a question? And you might also want to check the boxes for “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” and “Notify me of new posts by email.”

Thanks for visiting my website.

Part VI – Chapter 7 – 2010

Turtle Mountain

Above is what Turtle Mountain, in the Crowsnest Pass, looks like today after ninety-million tons of rock broke off in 1903 and slid down into the valley below.


In Waterton Lakes National Park, the hike around Linnet Lake was closed in the fall of 2017 because of the Kenow wildfire, which destroyed thirty-eight percent of the park, 190 square kilometers, including fifty percent of the vegetation and eighty percent of the popular hiking trails.

Linnet is where Charlie intended to begin his hiking project in mid-July of 2011 as a symbolic gesture.

He wanted to see if he could somehow connect the spirit or feel of his hiking with the sense of freedom he’d known as a hippie in Montreal in his university days, and also with the freedom he’d known in his more recent Harley Davidson days, both of which he’d absolutely loved. And still missed. A lot.

Starting back in 1992, in mid-July, he’d fire up his Harley, an FLHTCU, and head down to Sturgis, North Dakota, the home of the biggest bike rally west of the Mississippi. And he wanted to imbue his hiking with that same feeling, that same sense of freedom.

Linnet is a unique lake as explained in the two signs below.

BJ really liked all this biology and geology stuff. Especially the geology. But Charlie wasn’t that keen on it. So, in a sense, BJ is responsible for the inclusion of the following signs. Charlie, at best, would simply skim-read a sign or two to please her. So you have Charlie’s permission to do the same if you wish.

I did have a longish passage in my novel about the three-toed salamanders in Linnet Lake, but I took it out. Unfortunately, they’re verging on extinction in Alberta. If you’re interested, though, you could Google them to find out more.

The second hike, if you can call it that, was the Buffalo Paddock Trail.

One of the other signs claims that sixty-million bison were slaughtered during a one-hundred-year period, mostly in the nineteenth century. Only one thousand survived out of all those sixty million. That tidbit was, for Charlie, the most interesting part of this so-called hike.

He and BJ often drove around on the road inside the compound, especially at calving time, to see the newborns.

Red Rock Canyon, the third of his three easy hikes, had lots of things that fascinated BJ, but left Charlie mostly disinterested and confused. He did love the colours of the rocks, though, especially when they were wet.

Linnet Lake
Charlie, illegally, picked up a number of these argillite rocks and took them home. He especially liked the red ones.

But signs like “NICKELS DEEP” didn’t interest him at all.

Charlie tended to skip stuff like this.

The two of them usually walked along the left side of the canyon, crossed over a bridge in the trees up ahead, then came back along the right side.

Red Rock Creek
The most popular part of the creek. People often wade in the water down below and sit on the rocks and picnic.

A better look at the redness of the argillite rocks. There may be some green argillite in the last two photos, but I’m not sure.

On the right side, coming back from the bridge in the trees, they walked over lots of examples of mud cracks and ripple marks in the sedimentary rock from when Alberta was on the very edge of the North American Plate and often under the Belt Sea, which was one of the many inland seas that kept flooding North America.

This was all before British Columbia even existed.

And ripples turning into the rock formation below simply didn’t make sense to him. But then, he’d never spent any time reading about all that stuff.

But he did think the claims about the mud cracks sounded more credible.

They’d intended to go to Frank after they completed his practice hikes, but it was too late, so they went to Twin Butte for Mexican.

That’s the town of Frank a way over there as seen from the parking lot at the Interpretive Center.

The Town of Frank, AB
Frank, Alberta

Too bad they were so late with the hikes, though. Charlie had been really looking forward to the all-you-can-eat Sunday buffet at the Grizzly Bear Grill.

And if they had gone to Frank, they would have driven past Turtle Mountain and the Interpretive Center. Frank had been located at the base of Turtle until they moved it after the slide.

Turtle Mountain
It has an elevation of over 7,000 feet.

At 4:10 a.m. on April 29, 1903, ninety-million tons of rock slid off the mountain, buried the Old Man River and the train tracks, as well as part of Frank, then blasted across the valley at seventy mile an hour and climbed 500 feet up the mountains on the other side.

Approximately seventy to ninety people were killed, making the Frank Slide the deadliest landslide in Canada. And up until a few years ago, the largest. Most of the dead are still under the rubble. The dead may or may not include a camp of migrants at the base of the mountain who were looking for work. Some say they’d left. But no one knows for sure.

The Base of Turtle Mountain
The debris from Turtle Mountain

In the recent photo above, looking down from the Interpretive Center, you can see the Old Man River and the train tracks on the other side of the highway.

And from the highway, looking north, this is what you see.

But as far as Charlie was concerned, Mexican at Twin Butte would be every bit as good as the buffet at the Grizzly Bear Grill. And he’d have his usual. Two enchiladas, one chicken and one pulled pork, Spanish rice, and refried beans. And, of course, two Labatt 50s.

The Twin Butte General Store
First opened in the 1930s, then refurbished and reopened in 1996

Anyway, those are the three shortest and easiest of the seventeen trails listed in the park’s hiking guide, which Charlie would hike in 2011, the year he’d turn seventy. Nothing like the Akamina at 18.3 kilometers with an elevation gain of 950 meters, just under a kilometer, of course. But a good start.



To enlarge a single photo in a post, click on it. To zoom in for details, click on it a second time.

Click on the first photo in groups of photos to start a slideshow.

To see one of those group shots at full size, click on it, then scroll down to its bottom right where it says, View full size. You can click on it a second time, if you wish, to zoom in for details.


(© 2018 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

Return to the Post Index

But before returning to the Post Index, why not scroll down and leave a comment or a question? And you might also want to check the boxes for “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” and “Notify me of new posts by email.”

Thanks for visiting my website.