I had four days staring me in the face, and almost nothing to do. So I did what any rambunctious outdoors photographer would do: got get lost in some beautiful place outside of the city
I packed up four peanut butter and jam sandwiches (if you know me you know that’s my main source of sustenance) and headed out the door to Saltspring Island just off Vancouver Island.
Having little to no plan other than my direction I quickly ran into my first snag missing the ferry by about 10 minutes. So I amused myself taking pictures near the ferry terminals that were quite eerily. The whole facility is designed to handle high volumes of traffic but there were very few cars passing.
I had the pleasure of working with my school’s Pentax 645 medium format again. Loving the colours and depth of the images from my previous roll of film I ensured that I would have a camera for my aimless wandering. All of the pictures in this entry are scanned from film except the next two images
After stepping foot onto Saltspring itself I didn’t really know where to know, I had heard about the larger town Ganges across the other side of the island. Knowing I didn’t have a place to lay my head for the night I wanted to have a town with more options for luxurious doorways to sleep in, and therefore Ganges was an obviously better choice.
I had never tried hitchhiking before, I tossed my thumb out and was disheartened as every car that was on my passed me on the road out of town. Two minuets after the last of the ferry’s cars had left a small old truck who had seen many years, backfiring and carrying too much weight sputtered up and pulled over.
A quick, pleasant, but bumpy, ride to the other side of the island I found myself in Ganges, again without a plan. Scanning my surroundings I spotted a big old dead tree standing twice as tall as the trees around it.
The tree was about a kilometer or two out of town, shortly after getting to a place to take pictures of the tree I met Mike Best who owned the tree and property surrounding it. A large amount of the land around that area had belonged to his family for several generations, and he now runs a Bed and Breakfast and Vacation Rentals. I spent an hour or so talking with Mike before making tracks to try to capture the sunset.
I walked to the other side of the harbor through Ganges attempting to find an outlook to catch the fading light above the now glowing town. As I wandered along the waters edge I found this old door which had washed up on the beach providing for a strange surreal subject
The stars didn’t align for me and I couldn’t find an unobstructed view of the town from the far side of the harbor. On the way back to town I tried photographing several night scenes but it was too dark to get much, except for this shot of a lonely little fire hydrant which I had to illuminate with my flashlight to get a picture.
Feeling a bit cold and slightly defeated as I couldn’t capture the sunset I treated myself to Halibut and Chips at a local restaurant which tasted a bit better than the squished PB and J’s I had in my pack.
After finishing my meal I found myself outside wandering the streets of Ganges not knowing what to do with my night. I knew I didn’t want to go to bed…. sleep in a doorway…. yet, so I looked up at the hill beside the town. Several lights poked dimly through the low ominous clouds up on the hills, and I knew where I would go next.
The human mind has an amazing capacity for imagination as well as terror. Walking out of town I had full intention of summating the 1000’+ mountain which lie to the south. However as I passed the end of the town’s streetlight, less and less homes with lights on, more and more bushes on the road suspect to be a bear’s house, and rose into the cloud and fog I started freaking out a bit. ‘I’m alone, do I have cell phone reception? could anyone hear me if I yelled? would people know where to look If I didn’t show up at home? could I get to help if I got injured…’
It was a cold night… very cold. I had to try sleeping at three different locations, each one I woke up shivering. Once I felt I should try a different place because the baker was in to make bread for the following morning. I woke up for the last time in a school’s doorway to find it had been raining just two feet to my right. Sure makes me happy for the bed I have at home, even if it is a futon that is more uncomfortable than your crazy aunt Betty’s lumpy couch.
I haven’t taken the time to appreciate how great a fresh peanut butter and jam sandwich really is. Or at least when compared to a day old, pack squished, and slightly mushy ball of dough. But I was happy to be up off the concrete, and the sunrise made the whole trip worth it for me
I thumbed my way back to the ferry and was quickly picked up by a photographer living on the island who now works photographing artwork, and she also used to teach darkroom at the Western Academy of Photography
Thanks for reading, don’t forget to comment
A special shout out to my cousin Aaron who is a bit of an inspiration when it comes to wandering. Check out his site for some great pictures and stories (his part of the site in the link I provided is ‘lba’)
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