wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


20 Comments

Mystery Building – Church or House?

This church looks so old that it begged to be photographed. It sits on a lonely rise (to call it a hill would be exaggerating) in northern Montana. I don’t think it gets much use anymore, judging from the boarded up windows, but at one time it must have hosted a fair-sized congregation.

In eastern Washington, I saw another old church. I had noticed it on several other trips through this area. This building, too, has seen better days.

But what is different this year is the new structure that has been built beside the old one. At first I assumed that it was a church, because of the steeple and the wide stairs going into the double glass doors. Possibly my thinking was influenced by the wrought iron fencing.

I think now, that I was wrong about it being a new church (just because it was built next to an old one).

My reasoning?

Here is a close up of the sign (a bit blurry) that is attached to the right of the gate.

It can’t be a church and say: Private Property – No Trespassing.

And now I’m even questioning whether the second photo from the top is really of a church.

What do you think?

 


27 Comments

Endangered Missouri Sturgeon

In the tiny town of Fort Benton, Montana, we like to stay at an RV park that is close to the rodeo grounds beside the Missouri River. Last year, after a long day’s drive, we took a walk to the river. At this point, we are about 200 miles from its headwaters.

The sun was slowly setting, and so was the moon. See the evidence? The cliffs along the riverbank are warmed by the last rays of the sun and if you look hard, you may see the moon sinking  in the sky, amid the branches of the tree.

Geese are honking from the direction of the grassy islands in the river. Later that night we would hear the coyotes howling near the same place.

 

The Missouri is a powerful river in places. It is the longest river in the U. S. flowing for 2,341 miles before joining up with the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis, Missouri.

I had been so focused on the geese flying along the river, I hadn’t given much thought to what might be under the water. What a surprise to read on this poster, that there are sturgeon in the Missouri.

If you would like to read about the two kinds of sturgeon and how to tell them apart, you can click on the photo above and it will be easier to read.

I have to confess, I had known nothing about these sturgeon, not even their names (pallid and shovelnose). The pallid sturgeon is endangered and lives mainly in this river system. It grows to a length of five or six feet and can live to be about 40 years old.

On the picture I thought it looked a bit shark-like, but that mouth on its underside is mainly for feeding on the river bottom.  Whew! Otherwise I wouldn’t be putting my toes in that river.

Who knew that these creatures lurk in the depths of the river!?


16 Comments

In Another Time

In another time, pioneering farmers lived in these houses and kept them cozy and inviting.

Hard times and the elements have changed the sheltering homesteads to cold windswept shells. In some cases, after the original farmers eventually died, their children, having seen their parents’ hard work, opted for an easier life away from this lonely prairie.

On a previous trip to Montana, the Captain and I saw many old homesteads.

“Let’s skedaddle,” the pheasants cluck. “I think these might be hunters. The locals welcome them, but I find them downright annoying, if not dangerous.”

“Did I hear you say the ‘H’ word?” the white-tailed deer asks. Then he shakes his head and goes back to his browsing. “It’s birds they’re after. I don’t think they’re here for me …  are they? Hmm, maybe I’d better run too.”

“You’d do better to be careful, Whitey,” the Harris sparrow warbles. “And by the way, watch your step.”

“The prickly pear isn’t named for its smooth skin. Those spines can really hurt.”

“Oh, what a fuss,” the robin sings. “I was enjoying the last days of autumn sunshine in this Russian olive tree. Why did they have to talk about hunters? They don’t bother me! Mrs. Hunter just wanders around with her camera. I show her my best side, and she goes home happy.”


14 Comments

Mr. Lonely Pine

On our recent trip to Montana we saw nature at its fiercest; from fog to blizzards, rain and snow, to evidence of raging wildfires.

This region of eastern Washington is normally fairly dry, but a recent fire made it even drier. It may have been last year or longer ago that the fire went through here because the grass has had a chance to grow back.

A lucky few trees were left untouched by the fire. The rest were probably torches until their fuel burnt out.

Here is Mr. Lonely Pine, wondering where his friends have gone. Why, and how, was he spared?

What will happen to these acres of charred logs? It must take many years for them to fulfil the “ashes to ashes” ritual.

And someday the forest will regenerate and once again host insects, rodents, birds, reptiles, and small mammals (and a few big ones like these cattle).

But see how dry and long the grass is. The highway passes close by here. Be aware if you’re a smoker, and don’t toss out your cigarette butt, no matter how sure you are that it’s out.

 

They’ve named me Mr. Lonely Pine

And they are not so wrong,

I pine away and sometimes whine

If wind blows all day long.

 

I’m one of few surviving trees

Untouched by raging fire,

You should have seen it when the breeze

Whipped flames up even higher.

 

I stood in terror, trembling,

Of course I could not run,

So I began dissembling,

And twiddling my thumbs.

 

I squeezed my eyes shut, every branch

Was shivering in fright,

Next thing I knew, upon the ranch

The blaze burnt out that night.

 

And still alive I praised the gods

That spared me yet a while,

I wondered how I’d beat the odds,

I couldn’t help but smile.

 

I whispered like a pine must do

To coax the baby trees,

And soon they sprouted and they grew,

And now they’ve reached my knees.

 

I’m not so lonely anymore

These young ones chat with me,

And contrary to old folklore,

I talk, though I’m a tree.

 

I want to warn you if you drive,

A cigarette can kill,

To throw it out while it’s alive

Can burn the whole dang hill.

 

So let’s all take a bit of care

Bad endings you have seen,

If you are handling fire, beware

To keep our forests green.

 


22 Comments

The Poor Relation

The West Edmonton Mall is known as the largest shopping mall in North America. I have never seen it, but if I’m ever in Edmonton, Alberta, I will definitely visit it. Knowing that it is famous and amazing, I could not resist taking this picture of its distant poor relation as we passed through the tiny gold mining town of Hedley, BC. Someone had a good sense of humour when they named this run-down building “The West Hedley Mall.”

In fact the  building is so run down that, to the best of my knowledge, it is not there anymore. I took this picture last year after driving for many hours through dust and insects. The windshield tells the story. I thought it fit well with the contents of the photo, so I didn’t try to clean it up. This year I looked in vain for The West Hedley Mall to try for a better photo. It’s gone. Or, I might have blinked and missed it….

You can find wonderful images of the real West Edmonton Mall here.


23 Comments

Home Stretch

Once we left the blizzard belt behind and got into the lower mainland of BC, we could smell the salt water. More than ever, we had that “horse to the barn” feeling. It had been a long drive from Central Washington that day, and we were glad to be driving beside the industrial area along the Fraser River, if only because it meant we would soon be home.

The road was busy with tractor trailers and industrial vehicles, but it was the quickest route to the ferry terminal where we would connect to Vancouver Island. (At this point, we are near Surrey and New Westminster, suburbs of Vancouver, which is on the mainland of British Columbia. Our home town, though, is on Vancouver Island, a two-hour ferry ride from the mainland. The city of Vancouver is not on Vancouver Island.)

Here, with the Port Mann Bridge up ahead,  we were traveling at highway speed with trucks and vehicles on all sides. Ahead of us, a large piece of wood lay in our lane. It had fallen off a truck, and looked similar to a loading pallet, but bigger, more like a part of a wall for some pre-fab construction, about five feet by eight feet and about three inches thick. We had no room to go into another lane and no way to avoid it without causing an accident.

I imagined our freshly changed trailer tire exploding as we drove over the wood. The bumping and crunching noise was horrendous. We sucked in our breath through gritted teeth and waited for disaster to strike us.

But the angels were watching over us (maybe they thought we’d had enough trouble already), and we continued on, relatively unscathed.

I remembered earlier that day, pulling over at a stopping place by an auto wreckers’ near the U.S. border and seeing a nearly new trailer that had run out of luck. I also remember thinking that it still had pretty good tires and wondered if they wanted to sell them to us.

By some miracle, we arrived at the terminal with about half an hour to spare before the next ferry left. But the ferry was already full and we expected to have to wait for another sailing. Luck was in our favour for the second time that day. Yes, the car decks on the ferry were full, but there was room on the deck where only transport trucks and trailers were carried.

In the photo below, most of these cars did not get on that sailing, but we got on because of having the trailer. This was one of the first times it worked in our favour.

After a two-hour crossing and another two hours of driving, we arrived at our own “home, sweet home.”

It was not blowing a blizzard and actually was quite pleasant.


18 Comments

Keremeos

My apologies for a whole series of posts with photos taken as we whizzed past in the truck and trailer, but in this post, I hope to convey a feeling more than to show any particular fantastic photo.

Going through the little town of Keremeos in the South Okanagan, in spite of the chilly fall air, we are always warmed by the festive attitude of the residents. It’s harvest time, and rather than have scarecrows, they have straw people all through the downtown area. I wish I could have done them justice with less blurry shots, but you’ll get the idea of the fun on the streets of this fruit growing town.

Can you find the straw people? Two in this photo.

 

One here.

Two here.

Two here.

One here.

All seem to be pointing to the fruit markets that line the road farther along.

Did you know that pumpkins are a tasty vegetable when prepared as you would any other squash?

This is pumpkin time, as well as onions, garlic, and winter apple time.

Squashes and cauliflowers, melons and tomatoes.

And if you don’t feel like shopping but just want to stop for a bit and let the kids play in the park, the local quail welcomes you. He’s like the quail version of “Big Bird.” Can you see him there to the left of the big tree with the yellow leaves?

Here is a close up of him – although very blurry – to help you find him.

The Okanagan is full of quail, quite tiny wild chicken-like birds that have so many cute habits it’s a shame to kill them for food (although I must admit, they are SO tasty).

I love quail, dead (on my plate) or alive (in my backyard), but mostly alive.

This “Big Bird” put a long-lasting smile on my face as we drove through Keremeos.