A River Runs Through It – Gaspe Peninsula, Quebec, Canada

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I tell you this with hesitation. And I tell it happily, too. It is about a place I know well; one that is full of curious equivocations; somewhere half serene, half rugged, on the lip of a body of water that is half river, half sea. I think everyone should know about it for it holds so much beauty, so much Canadian history, but then again, another part of me wishes people might stay away, so it will remain a secret.

And yet it’s a secret only to the modern world, because in an older one, it was well known; famous, even. It was where many in the 19th and early 20th centuries went to find their recreation and traditions of summer, partly because the river – in this case, the St. Lawrence River – was nature’s easy, wide-open highway that took passengers to hundreds of special places along its shores. I often think of the St. Lawrence as a deep incision into the body of the land, exposing its innards, all its idiosyncrasies and unexpected treasures. But that description is only half-right – true geographically, but not in its suggestion of violence. In this part of the province of Quebec, bounded by the St. Lawrence, where it is wide like the sea, there is only tranquility.

– Sarah Hampson in The Globe and Mail

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The Gaspe Peninsula has an extraordinary mountain environment. The Chic-Chocs and McGerrigle Mountains cross the region. Among them, Mont Jacques Cartier is the second highest peak in Québec. The altitude of these mountains deeply influences the climate that moulds the landscape and creates a diversity of species unique to Québec, and even the world. Arctic-alpine plants and tundra landscapes form a habitat for a herd of woodland caribou, the last representatives of this species south of the St. Lawrence.

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“Rivers and the inhabitants of the watery elements are made for wise men to contemplate and for fools to pass by without consideration.”

– Isaac Walton

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“What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn’t have any doubt – it is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else.”

– Hal Boyle

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“I thought how lovely and how strange a river is. A river is a river, always there, and yet the water flowing through it is never the same water and is never still. It’s always changing and is always on the move. And over time the river itself changes too. It widens and deepens as it rubs and scours, gnaws and kneads, eats and bores its way through the land. Even the greatest rivers- the Nile and the Ganges, the Yangtze and he Mississippi, the Amazon and the great grey-green greasy Limpopo all set about with fever trees-must have been no more than trickles and flickering streams before they grew into mighty rivers.”

– Aidan Chambers, This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn

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“Eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world´s great floods and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”

– Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It 1976

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“A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.”

― Laura Gilpin

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“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.”

– Henry David Thoreau

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“Fly fishing is the most fun you can have standing up.”

– Arnold Gingrich, 1969

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“For the supreme test of a fisherman is not how many fish he caught, nor even how he has caught them, but what he has caught when he has caught no fish!”

– John H. Bradley, “Farewell Thou Busy World”, 1935

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“There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.”

– Steven Wright

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“Some act and talk as though casting were the entire art of fly fishing, and grade an angler solely by the distance he can cover with his flies. This is a great mistake and pernicious in it´s influence. Casting is but a method of placing a fly before the trout without alarming it and within it´s reach. It is merely placing food before a guest. The selection of such food as will suit, and so serving it as to pleasure a fastidious and fickle taste, still remain indispensably necessary to induce it´s acceptance.”

– Henry P Wells “Fly-Rods and Fly Tackle” 1885

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“A bad day’s fishing is better than a good day at work.”

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“Fly-fishers are usually brain-workers in society. Along the banks of purling streams, beneath the shadows of umbrageous trees, or in the secluded nooks of charming lakes, they have ever been found, drinking deep of the invigorating forces of nature – giving rest and tone to over-taxed brains and wearied nerves – while gracefully wielding the supple rod, the invisible leader, and the fairy-like fly.”

– James A. Hensall, MD, 1855

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“Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.“

– Marcus Aurelius

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“There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process.”

– Paul O’Neil, 1965

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Sit by a river. Find peace and meaning in the rhythm of the lifeblood of the Earth.

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“There is certainly something in fishing that tends to produce a gentleness of spirit, a pure serenity of mind.”

– Washington Irvin

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Australia – The Sunshine Coast

Balina SunriseThe Sunshine Coast stretches along the Coral Sea in Australia’s Queensland state., starting roughly 50 miles north of Brisbane. The area is famous for its unbelievably gorgeous beaches, surfing culture, eco-parks and nature reserves. We found a virtual treasure trove of sculpted sand dunes, mangrove forests and rivers, magnificent coastal scenery, rare birds, critters, and quaint towns and villages to explore and photograph.

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Local Wildlife.

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Heading to Noosa!

Heading to Noosa!

More Sunshine Coast on the next post.

 

 

Australia – The Great Barrier Reef

83 GBR 1The Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland in northeastern Australia, is the largest living thing on Earth, and even visible from outer space. The 2,300km-long ecosystem comprises thousands of reefs and hundreds of islands made of over 600 types of hard and soft coral. It’s home to countless species of colourful fish, molluscs and starfish, plus turtles, dolphins and sharks.

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The breathtaking array of marine creatures includes 600 types of soft and hard corals, more than 100 species of jellyfish, 3000 varieties of molluscs, 500 species of worms, 1625 types of fish, 133 varieties of sharks and rays, and more than 30 species of whales and dolphins.

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Healthy coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse and economically valuable ecosystems on earth, providing valuable and vital ecosystem services. Coral ecosystems are a source of food for millions; protect coastlines from storms and erosion; provide habitat, spawning and nursery grounds for economically important fish species; provide jobs and income to local economies from fishing, recreation, and tourism; are a source of new medicines, and are hotspots of marine biodiversity.

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Yoho National Park, BC – Takakkaw Falls & Emerald Lake

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Yoho, named for a Cree word expressing awe, is a park of rock walls, waterfalls and glacial lakes. It’s a park with snow-topped mountain peaks, roaring rivers and silent forests.

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Yoho’s craggy peaks and steep rock faces posed an enormous challenge for Canada’s early explorers. The mountains that were the curse of railway builders are responsible for the park’s many waterfalls including Laughing Falls, Twin Falls, Wapta Falls and one of Canada’s highest at 254 m (833 ft.), Takakkaw Falls. Silt carried by streams from melting glaciers high on the mountains is responsible for the deep, rich turquoise colour of Emerald Lake and Lake O’Hara.

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Many of British Columbia’s plants and animals reach their eastern extension in Yoho. The high peaks of the Continental Divide wring out the precipitation remaining in clouds moving eastward from the Pacific Ocean. This creates pockets of wet belt forest where coastal species such as devil’s club, western red cedar and western hemlock thrive.

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Takakkaw Falls can be seen from kilometres away, but its loud roar is the first thing you notice as you approach. It is 384 metres from its base, making it the second highest officially measured waterfall in Western Canada after Della Falls on Vancouver Island. However, its true “free fall” is only 254 metres.

“Takakkaw” translates from Cree as “it is magnificent.”

The falls are fed by the Daly Glacier, which is part of the Waputik Icefield. The meltwater keeps the volume of the falls up during the warm summer months, particularly in late spring after the heavy snow melts, when the falls are at peak condition.

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Here in the shadow of the Great Divide are the secrets of ancient ocean life, the power of ice and water, and the stories of plants and animals that continue to evolve today.
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Emerald Lake is the largest of Yoho’s 61 lakes and ponds. The lake is enclosed by mountains of the President Range, as well as Mount Burgess and Wapta Mountain. This basin traps storms, causing frequent rain in summer and heavy snowfalls in winter. 

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Emerald Lake CanoeingSilt carried by streams from melting glaciers is responsible for the deep and rich turquoise colour of Emerald Lake.
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Due to its high altitude, the lake is frozen from November until June. The vivid turquoise color of the water, caused by the powdered limestone silt, is most spectacular in July as the snow melts from the surrounding mountains.

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There was no better way than to end the day at the exquisite Tschurtschenthaler Lodge! What a great B&B to relax and unwind at. (Located near Golden, BC). We lucked out and got a mountainside view room for our brief stay.

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Great view from our room!

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Road Trip Photographs

Alaska – America’s Final Frontier

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“Historically, Alaska is a place that has attracted those fed up with conventionality.”

-Bill O’Reilly

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“This was one of the places people told me to go, it was one the big trips that you should see: Alaska.”

-Jeff Goldblum

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“For sheer majestic geography and sublime scale, nothing beats Alaska and the Yukon”

-Sam Abell

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“To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.”

-John Muir

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“Nature is man’s teacher. She unfolds her treasures to his search, unseals his eye, illumes his mind, and purifies his heart; an influence breathes from all the sights and sounds of her existence.”

-Alfred Bernhard Nobel

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“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”

-Henry David Thoreau

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“Motorcycling in the lower 48 states seems relatively easy in comparison to riding to Alaska. I always knew that there would be gas somewhere up the road, that there would some place to stop for the night. I rested easy knowing that if I had a problem with the motorcycle, I was never too far away from a service shop. But when traveling to Alaska, a feeling of uncertainty abounds as one ventures into miles of uninhabited territory. And that’s exactly what makes the idea of this journey so exciting; the unpredictable nature of travel and the feeling of adventure that lay further up the road.”

– Daniel Cohen – The Reports: 2 Wheels to Alaska

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There are lots of grizzlies in Alaska, but this actually is a hard place to live for someone who loves them.  Everywhere you look you can see the bears struggling to coexist with humans.  Some of the greatest threats include gun toting fishermen, bears shot because they were attracted to garbage at homes, trophy hunting, poaching,  mines that threaten to destroy some of Alaska’s most precious bear habitat,bears being provoked to attack by ignorant humans, predator control and poor management initiated by our selfish, corrupt and misguided State Government Regime…. the list goes on and on and on.Bear 2A

I believe that putting a value on these animals living in their natural habitat is one of the best ways to support their conservation, and the best way to do this is through carefully controlled,responsible ecotourism.  I pray that Alaska will eventually follow the models of Botswana, Costa Rica, and other nations who treat their wildlife resources as if they were gold or oil deposits.  Unfortunately, I fear that we are too tied to our 19th century roots of manifest destiny which drive us to conquer the land, rid the forest of evil creatures, and to kill what scares us rather than to embrace it. The grizzly bear is always destined to lose in the end.Bear 4A

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The best time to watch for bears is in spring and summer during the dawn and dusk hours when they are actively searching for food. The shoreline is a common place to see bears beachcombing for dead animals, foraging on shellfish or grazing on sedges. In late July through early September, look for them at streams feeding on spawning salmon.

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“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”

-Henry David Thoreau

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“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

-John Muir

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The 48-inch diameter trans-Alaska oil pipeline is truly the man-made wonder of the Last Frontier, traversing 800 miles (or 1300 km) of frozen tundra, boreal forest, 800 rivers and streams, three major earthquake faults and three rugged mountain ranges. The corridor includes more than 550 wildlife crossings for moose, caribou and other wildlife. Alyeska Pipeline Service Company completed the pipeline in 1977 at a cost of $8 billion.

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“I have traveled all over the world by motorcycle and still find riding to Alaska an unparalleled experience.”

– Dr. Gregory Frazier: Alaska by Motorcycle

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“The climate of Barrow is Arctic. Temperatures range from cold as shit to fucking freezing.”

― Steve Niles, 30 Days of Night

 

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Help me…I’m MELTING!!!

Weathered siding of an Arctic home.

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“If you are old, go by all means, but if you are young — wait! The scenery of Alaska is much grander than anything else of the kind in the world. And it is not well to dull one’s capacity for enjoyment by seeking the finest first.”

-Henry Gannett of the US Geological Survey in 1899