On my way, I happened upon a lovely field of sunflowers, so I stopped for a few photos. None of them turned out, because I neglected to turn on the autofocus on my lens. But that’s OK, because I went back today (Friday) to scout the spot for a possible round of star trails later tonight, and I got this photo:
And then, after visiting with some friends in Winnipeg (thanks for the iced tea, Mike & Michelle!), I stopped in at the abandoned house near Erickson, and got about a half-hour’s worth of star trails.
It was about 2:30AM when I got back to the cabin (hmm, I seem to have an affinity for that time…), so I started the star-trail GIMP plugin whose eventual output you see above, then went to bed.
Monday morning I got my 1,250 words done quickly, then rewarded myself with a couple more episodes of Carnivàle. (Aside: I don’t know what’s up with the à in Carnivàle, any more than I know what’s up with my friend that insisted on pronouncing it Carnivalé.)
In the afternoon I headed into town on a couple missions: I wanted to get some supplies for the cabin (milk for my morning coffee, for instance, and peanut butter for my toast), and I wanted to upload Sunday’s photos, if possible. I took my laptop to the coffee shop for the second mission, and got permission to plug it in. (The battery no longer charges, and it’s time for a new laptop, or at least a new battery.) I sat down at a table near the outlet, pulled out my laptop, and discovered that I’d left the cord back at the cabin.
At least I managed to get milk and peanut butter.
Later in the day I went for a bike ride, and snapped photos of a bush full of red berries (I think they’re probably chokecherries, but I’m not sure enough that I’m going to taste them) and some of the bison in the bison enclosure (see up top).
In the evening, after supper, I did my 1,250 words, then went to bed fairly early. I had a plan, you see: I set my alarm for 2:30AM, with the intent of getting to the abandoned house (see Sunday’s post) to get a longer set of star trails. I wanted to get there before moonset, so that the moon would partly light the house, and then stay till after the moon had gone down.
Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate. Clouds started rolling in to the north (to shoot the house, I’m shooting to the northeast), meaning that my star trail plan would be nixed. Also, I miscalculated how much moon I’d have; it had nearly set by the time I got halfway to the house.
Sighing, longing for bed, I turned around and started home. Something made me stop, though, about halfway back, at the top of a valley on the road between Minnedosa and Erickson.
The aurora were putting on a bit of a light show. I’d checked Space Weather earlier in the day, and found that there was a chance of a mild geomagnetic storm, so I kind of halfway expected it.
I stopped, and got some photos. I’m happy with what I got. At least I didn’t get up at 2:30AM and drive 45 minutes round-trip for nothing.
This week is my writing retreat at Minnedosa. I’ve set myself a goal of 2,500 words a day, split between a morning and an evening writing sprint. I’m also taking advantage of the clear(ish) skies to do some astrophotography.
On Sunday, I arrived in the early afternoon. I went for a visit with my landlords (whose cabin I’m borrowing for the week), then settled in at the cabin. In the evening I did my 1,250 words, then hit the road. There’s an old, abandoned house that I got a geotagged photo of last year, and I wanted to see if I could find it. I thought it’d be a great location for some night photos: the Milky Way, perhaps, or some star trails.
(The moon is closing in on full right now, and it tends to wash out the fainter stars, so if I want Milky Way, I have to wait till after moonset. That’s… difficult, since it sets somewhere around 3 or 4AM these days. (More on that in Monday’s post.))
I wanted to find the old house while it was still light, so I left the cabin around 9PM and drove the half-hour north, up a highway that went from pavement to gravel about ⅓ of my way to my destination. (There was another route, possibly a little longer, but I knew it’d be paved the whole way. I decided I’d take it when I returned, after dark.)
I found the house, and then, since the sun was just barely setting, went for a tour. I drove down to Neepawa, stopping at the side of the road when I saw a particularly spectacular cloud lit by the sunset (above). From there I drove back to the cabin, where I watched a couple episodes of Carnivàle, waiting for full dark.
Just around midnight I set out again. I found the house in the dark, and snapped a few photos. I’m planning to head back for more another night.
And then I went back to my home for the week, and crawled into bed around 2AM.
I stopped in at Co-op to get some groceries, and got in the shortest line I could find. The guy in front of me, man, he was a story.
He had a thin beard, grey eyes, and wore a basketball tank-top and a ball cap. His arms were tattooed with numbers and designs: a 12 on his left forearm, an ankh on one wrist, the word SATAN’S crawling down the inside of his right forearm.
He had a 2-litre bottle of store-brand cream soda, violently pink, and four packages of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. He paid his bill—$7.86—with a double fistful of dimes, and got 15¢ change back.
He’s got a story to tell. Probably quite a few of them, really. I just have no idea if I’m tough enough to hear them.
I shot this photo from my deck, on a chilly night at the end of March 2018. Then I went inside and ordered Michael Swanwick’s chapbook/objet d’art Blue Moon, helping to ensure it would sell out instead of being burned.
With some of the money I inherited from my dad, last year, I bought an 11–16mm f/2.8 lens for my camera. In plain English, it’s a nice fast lens with a nice wide field of view, which means that it’s great for astrophotography.
Tonight, the stars aligned for me, as it were. There was almost a 50/50 chance of some aurora sightings, per SpaceWeather. The temperature was a balmy -1°C, which was a pleasant change from the -25°C and -35°C nights we’ve had for the last couple weeks.
Long story short, there was a faint haze to the north. Editing with Gimp brings out quite a bit more than the naked eye could see.