Campfire Club

Ahhhh… outdoor campfire season is upon us once again. I do try to get outside and warm myself by some flickering flames year-round, but from May through October it is always a little more favourable to casually cooking and gathering around a pit of hot embers.

So I did last night.

Sadly alone….?

Or maybe…advantageously alone.

Reluctant to waste a great opportunity to enjoy a perfect Monday evening in spring, I rather took it as an opportunity to indulge in two of my pastimes. Not only did I light a fire and enjoy a small outdoor cookout, but I tried my hand at recording some more video footage of the whole experience.

I hardly need an excuse to set up a grill experience on my firepit. I mean, it helps immensely to have someone to share it all with, but even our small family seems to struggle to converge our precious free time with great weather and perfect opportunity. Sometimes you just gotta get out there and do your thing, even on a lonely evening. All that said, it never hurts to add another reason to break down those barriers (and create a positive space to fill in my over-planned life) by planning to share those lonely backyard fires with someone… anyone, and if I can’t convince my family, friends, or neighbours to wander by for reals why can’t that “anyone” be with my internet friends?

I’m gelling this whole multimedia creation process, the effort to make more videos and record a podcast to accompany this blog, and part of that gelling means turning sparks of inspiration into creative opportunity.

So, a new video series… a series of one so far… called the Campfire Club:

And if nothing more, I think a good chance for me to break out my firecraft skills at least once per month, record some grilled eats over those hot coals, and share the fun here in a format that transcends words.

If only I could let you taste it, too.

Glass

About a week and a half ago I wrote a post about trail stewardship.

Maybe you recall. Or maybe you just clicked here because of the headline and sassy thumbnail. But the gist of the aforementioned article was that after spending a few hours marshalling a trail race one weekend (and during that time noting how much man-made mess was there, including shattered glass all over the path) I made a plan to go back and do some cleanup.

So… I did.

And I recorded a bunch of it.

Because as I wrote in another post I’ve been dabbling in the idea of kicking off a YouTube channel. The little mini film that result from this effort was more about testing my toe in the waters with something simple and obvious, but the result is an eight minute short film about trail stewardship and taking responsibility for the spaces we all use.

And I actually did a little bit of good in the process, I think.

I’ve uploaded it here:

Enjoy!

On Visual Storytelling

As the summer draws nearer, I’ve got it into my head to make some movies.

Well… filmmaking. Video production. Out in the wilds with a camera and an idea, at least.

I initially set up a Youtube channel for this blog over a year ago with dual intentions.

First, I needed a place to upload little video clips to accompany my posts. My cheap little hosting setup is pretty flexible, but streaming video directly from a discount blog host doesn’t make much sense when there are free services like Youtube.

Second, I had this crazy idea of trying to make some short films. Not a vlog. Not ranting into a camera lens. Not just reading my posts either. But putting together a little script, gathering A-roll and B-roll and mixing it all into a little short film about a very particular topic.

There are plenty of examples of this already on Youtube and my subscription list provides me plenty of inspiration.

So…

I’m finally jumping in with both feet and I’m going to make it happen.

I’m working on the first two films right now, gathering footage and writing the scripts, and this morning I finished editing and recording a short introduction and trailer for my new project:

To be clear, there’s not going to be any regularity, routine or schedule to this new thing.

It’s just a thing for now. It’s sporadic … and an effort I’ll pick away at until I can make that thing at a quality I’m happy with. Uploading as I find time and inspiration to make more of those things.

But stay tuned.

Oh, and I’m supposed to say something like “please like and subscribe” right?

Hiking: Mountain Bunkers

Back in March of this year, 2022, we made yet another long weekend into a family adventure getaway to the mountains. With few plans besides a booked hotel suite and our hiking gear, we landed in the town of Canmore after a four hour spring drive.

A year earlier we had zipped off to the same general area (but a different side of the mountain and a different set of plans) and had done some fun, easy hikes but then had a crazy winter drive back home at the end of it all.

While the forecast turned out to be more cooperative this trip, we were a lot less prepared for what to do with our relatively pleasant weather. So when I suggested a short hike to try and find the mysterious nuclear fallout bunker on the side of a nearby mountain, there were few objections.

for whatever one photo is worth:

If you stand at the mouth of the Heart Creek Bunker and look North (and down) you can easily see the Trans-Canada Highway snaking by in the valley below, rounding the corner of Lac des Arcs and disappearing around the far end of the same mountain upon which you are standing.

The bunker is not difficult to find, though the route is not clearly marked as to what you will see when you embark on the short two kilometer trail part way up the side of a cliff face.

In fact, if it wasn’t for various social media and independent hiking guide sites I doubt many people beside the locals who live in nearby Canmore would know about this odd little gem.

As the story goes, the bunker was started (but never finished) in the late 1960s as “part of a Cold War-era plan to keep important government records safe in the event of a disaster, up to and including a nuclear bomb.”

But it leaked, water dripping through the porous rock, and then too political tides changed and I’m sure the whole endeavor became financially unfeasible so… now there is a cave dug out a couple hundred meters into the side of a mountain, and a narrow, unmarked trail through the forest leading to its entrance.

There were three other hiking parties there when we arrived in the mid-morning, and also about a half dozen other dogs. We chatted and let the dogs play and took each other’s photos at the mouth of the cave.

Then we went in.

It was pitch black inside save for the lights we carried with us.

I took as many pictures as I could in the dim light and recorded some video:

The walls were marked with graffiti and messages from past visitors as the site is apparently popular with locals for parties and late night fun and light painting and boondocking.

The dog was spooked by the whole experience and she needed to be carried out after less than ten minutes in the pitch black and eerily quiet cave.

And then … we turned our back and returned down the mountain path to our car. On the ride home, spotty mountain internet service stretched to the limit, my wife who is usually a planning and research guru for our travels took the chance to finally look up the weird history of the strange mountain bunker we’d just visited. Even our server at dinner later that evening perked his ears and seemed curious that a trio of tourists had made their way up to the secret Canmore bunker.

Off-the-beaten path sights are not necessarily rare, but they are always weird and magical and mysterious when you find them… especially if you didn’t even plan on looking in the first place.