Diane MacDonald


(posted on 14 Mar 2020)


A brief post-trip note - we crossed the border on Thursday just as our Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, announced that anyone returning from the US should self-isolate (that proviso has been extended to world-wide entries / returnees to Canada). After picking up groceries and flowers we returned feeling happy and fortunate.



Stay well.  Stay safe.  Find ways to laugh.






(posted on 7 Mar 2020)


The cartoon-like Leafy Sea Dragons at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla alone make this stop worthwhile - captivating and amusing underwater wonders!


La Jolla Cove is home to pelicans, cormorants, seals, and sea lions, each claiming a special spot and ignoring the tourists' cameras.  The cormorants guard nests; male and female parents taking turns brooding.


Just off the coast at San Juan Capistrano - the "jewel of the (Spanish) missions", a calming and sublime refuge in a distracted world.


The Mission gardens and pools are lovely; this one attracting a single-minded Green Heron.

In LA, the Getty Centre - home to J. Paul Getty's extensive art collection. The angular architecture is grand and imposing; the gardens a softly elegant counterbalance.


Finally, Sculpterra Winery and Sculpture Garden in Paso Robles; sculpture by various artists.  Magnificent!

We leave today to begin the trek north filled with a trove of uplifting images of some of the treasures to be found along this delightful coast.







First, some sculpted fun.  In 2008, Artist Ricardo Breceda was commissioned to create 
sculptures for placement in multiple locations around Borrego Springs.  These creations, 
sizeable in themselves, serve to highlight the astonishing scale of their desert surroundings. 


The five section giant serpent has the head of a dragon and the tail of a rattlesnake; the tail 
stretches under and across the well-travelled road.

Little Surprise Canyon is typical of many of the trails in Anza Borrego.  At this time of year, 
hikers are rewarded with glimpses of the desert gradually colouring into bloom.



Canyons carve the badlands into chasms, sculpting a dramatic and challenging landscape.
The terrain viewed from above:


and below.  Hiking "The Slot" requires deft manoeuvring and a degree of bravery!


Shadows in the foreground and the distant motorhome offer further clues to the colossal scale 
of the desert landscape.

Golf course oases provide welcome diversion from sand and sandstone.  Many visitors to 
Borrego are drawn by the game and the mostly benign weather - warm days, cool nights.


A four mile sandy road leads from the highway to Fonts Point - a viewpoint providing a 
breathtaking 360 degree view of the badlands and surrounding mountains. Sunlight and shadow
play tag throughout the day, spellbinding those lucky enough to witness the magic. At sunset 
the scene is sublime.



Now it's farewell to the desert as we head towards that magnetic Pacific Ocean.


(posted on 22 Feb 2020)
(posted on 13 Feb 2020)

This posting finds us heading south on what has become an annual snowbird adventure.  Let's
skip the I-5 nerve-wracking navigation with its overpopulation of single-minded big rigs.  Las
Vegas was our first adventure stop; over several years we have discovered the wonder of the
surrounding landscape (Valley of Fire) and, this time, Red Rock Canyon, a mecca for walkers,
hikers and climbers.

Two climbers below - the upper one hard to spot in blue.

We continue to be captivated by the wild and wonderful plants and trees that survive and
sometimes thrive in this harshest of environments.

For a change of pace, an oasis of sorts: Lake Pleasant, created by a dam on the outskirts of 
Phoenix.  Breaking the photographic rules, I had fun dividing the scene with the presiding
saguaro cactus, keeping steadfast watch over a variety of aquatic pursuits.

Now driving across the Sonoran Desert in Southern California on a 'cloudy' day. The road
traversed expansive sand dunes and kept us amused with multiple warning signs of "dips".  
More roller coaster than dips.




The desert environment here in Borrego Springs is spectacular - and very difficult to "capture" 
photographically.  Its magnificence arises largely from the colossal expanse; ironically too
from the sense of isolation and rugged unwelcome.  It is not a land for the faint of heart. But
the sun warms the surrounding mountains and even this lonely land invites delightful exploration.


(posted on 2 Dec 2019)

Having flown east over this expansive beautiful country, the romance of a return journey by train  - not quite
coast to coast, but from Toronto to Vancouver in four days and four nights - was too tempting to resist.


Leaving the skyscrapers of Toronto, The Canadian departs downtown from (normally bustling) Union Station.



Passengers are shown their respective sleeping quarters - tiny roomettes with seats that 
are replaced by bunk beds at night.


The challenge of photographing through windows covered with rain, snow, and ice was wonderful, 
and began as soon as we boarded on a soggy Toronto morning.


The Canadian is a well appointed, comfortable train operated by Via Rail. Shown below: the 
"caboose" club car, one of three dome cars - a place where coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and 
snacks are always available.



Meals are served in the elegant dining car - always on white table cloths, always with 
attentive service and excellent food.


So the journey begins - miles and miles and miles ! of Ontario with ample evidence of the rocky
outcroppings of the Canadian Shield - that is before blankets of snow conceal it's beauty.


For me, a highlight was attempting to catch glimpses of and through ice that accumulated
on the surfaces of the dome car front windows.


Another of the challenges of taking photos from the train was the inevitable presence of the
reflection of interior train lights - I tried to embrace rather than erase them!


Some random prairie shots - I hoped to catch the loneliness and chill of the frozen life of 
winter in much of Canada. 




Other photographic challenges included quick decision making, motion, and curved windows.



Snow accumulated between train cars, making transit from car to car a slippery venture.


Disembarkation in Winnipeg to stretch legs, catch a breath of air and see the remarkably 
modern station bedecked for Christmas:



Via employees wash windows as we head for the mountains - not an entirely successful endeavour
as (to my delight) ice forms quickly in the minus 20 degree temperatures.





Mt. Robson- the peak unusually visible in sunshine - the highest of the Rocky Moutains, reaching
a towering 9,760 feet:

We were fortunate to traverse the major mountain ranges in daylight; unfortunately the train
journeys through the Fraser Canyon in darkness and we awoke on the final morning to find
ourselves disembarking at Pacific Central in Vancouver.  Without a doubt, a journey to remember.



(posted on 15 Oct 2019)

Friday, Saturday, Sunday  http://www.sidneyfineartshow.ca



(posted on 4 Oct 2019)

The Sidney Fine Art Show opens two weeks from today at the Mary Winspear Centre.  I am delighted to have had one of my images, Because I Love You, juried into this year's show.  For more information including show times and location, go to http://www.SidneyFineArtShow.ca

(posted on 24 Sep 2019)

Chrome Island, one of the few remaining staffed lights on the BC Coast, as seen from Boyle Point
Provincial Park on Denman Island.

MV Kahloke bouncing across choppy seas, coming to take traffic across the channel from Denman
to Hornby Island.

Hornby retains an island vibe in its compact commercial core where psychedelic picnic tables
and store doors and windows welcome shoppers.  Stairs lead from the grocery store to a basement
hardware store and liquor corner.  Replying to the observation that, "You never have to leave Hornby",
the proprietor wryly answered, "That's the idea".


Exploring the island the first day in torrential rain, we discovered that we were not the only ones
seeking shelter.  Look closely, you may even see the drops.  Luckily the sun returned for our second

Hornby is rich in parks and trails.  Below a trail hugs the rocky headland bluffs in Helliwell
Provincial Park, a gem donated to the province in 1966.  The trail leads through Doulas fir
and Garry oak trees and offers views of Texada, Denman, and Vancouver Islands.


The crescent sand beach at Tribune Bay is anchored at the south end by unusual rock formations,
witness the "egg" below - fun to explore before a long barefoot walk on the sand along the bay. 
There's nature's art, and then there's another brand of art.


Near the Campbell River estuary we came across this Alex Witcombe driftwood wolf.  No whales -
maybe scared away by this fierce beast.

Walking alongside the Quatse River in Port Hardy in search of bears and eagles, we found instead
working fish plants and wonderful seine wharves.  Below, frozen tuna are being unloaded and



The docked ships were in varying states of disrepair:


Below, the Knight Dragon; it's former name -  Island Princess IV - almost obscured by the buildup of
rust on its hulk.  Daunting!


Tomorrow: home!  Happy fall...

(posted on 23 Sep 2019)
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