Alaska Highway Road Trip, Muncho Lake & Liard Hot Springs

I consider myself very fortunate to live where I do. Canada is a vast and beautiful nation, and British Columbia one of its most varied and awe-inspiring provinces. This Labour Day weekend my husband and I drove our family north, far past the limits of our sadly American atlas (which cuts British Columbia off somewhere past Fort St. John, less than 100km north of home) to mile 463 of the Alaska Highway for a weekend camping adventure.

family photo at Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

Our ultimate destination: Liard Hot Springs. I had been there once before, on my eighteenth birthday, which was nineteen years ago. Did I mention that my birthday is in February? Though it was -30C that day (-22F) my parents, siblings and I bathed comfortably in the natural hotsprings, framed by frost-rimed trees. I had never visited the hot springs in summer, and Wade had never been north of Fort Nelson.

The eight-hour drive became much more scenic after leaving the oil & gas fields of Fort St. John and Fort Nelson. The trees thickened, the mountains emerged and the highway wound, nearly empty of traffic. Just the way we like it; tons of scenery and no one to share it with!

into the north | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

I promised myself I wouldn’t take photos through the windshield. Promises like that can’t help but be broken when the scenery is so spectacular around every bend.

northern BC rainbows | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

We were prepared for rain, but saw little – our camping was chilly; tenting in the north requires lots of layers as even at the end of August, frost is a definite possibility. We were fortunate and it didn’t freeze at night. We pitched our tent on the shores of Muncho Lake, and I went out several times a day to photograph the jade-green waters and moody skies.

Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com sky over Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

The lake makes no claims to warmth; the estimated summer temperature is 10C (50F) but we just had to take a dip anyhow. Brrrr! It was gaspingly cold!

swimming at Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

From cold to hot; we achieved our main objective when we arrived at Liard Hotsprings. This beautiful spot is a true gem on the Alaska Highway and it was wonderful to see it in summer. The hot springs have been maintained as naturally as possible. One side of the springs holds the change rooms, stairs and benches for entering the water, and the other three sides are natural, banked by rock and clay, ferns and green plants and trees. The bottom of the springs is pebbled with black & grey and the springs flow into a lower pool of cooler water, and then out a narrow, twisting channel until the water justs trickles away.

Liard hot springs | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

The pool was enjoyed by about twenty other people – we overheard conversations with both locals and tourists, and many who, like us, live a few hours’ drive away and were visiting for the weekend.

boardwalk at Liard Hot Springs | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

Though the day was brisk and cool, we were heated through and stayed warm through even after changing and drying off in the unheated change rooms and walking a quarter mile along the boardwalk back to the truck.

I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed our weekend! I took so many photos with future paintings in mind. I spend way too much time thinking, “How would I paint that?” and I can’t wait to start trying to answer that question and painting some of my impressions of beautiful northern British Columbia.

cloud break at Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

bison at Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

bisonstone sheep at Muncho Lake | Angela Fehr http://angelafehr.com

We saw stone sheep, bison and caribou along the edge of the highway. 

 

Wild Berry Bounty

This country is heaven for wild berries.

wild raspberries | Angela Fehr

The wild raspberries are smaller and tarter than the ones that grow in my garden; I think they’re prettier too.

huckleberries | Angela Fehr

Huckleberries, when ripe, are almost black. Berry picking is a sensory feast for me; I would go just for the beauty of it.

Saskatoon berries | Angela Fehr

Saskatoon berries, also known as serviceberries, are seedy and a bit bland in the wild. But I love the blush of dusky violet.

 

Other Things.

I try not to feel guilty when I get too busy to paint during a week. Life goes on, and I do so many other wonderful things that are important.

My children take a lot of my time. Homeschooling has always claimed our mornings. I love history, and sometimes other subjects feel a little neglected while we immerse ourselves in an adventure, discovering Canada with David Thompson, or crossing the Rockies with Lewis & Clark. The kids are also in swimming lessons and piano, and we cherish our time together at home as well.

My oldest daughter turned eleven last week, and we celebrated by going downhill skiing as a family. It was a perfect Saturday, and finally gave us a reason to be happy we couldn’t afford to go somewhere hot on vacation this winter! You can’t downhill ski in Hawaii, after all.birthday girl

I finally learned how to take a decent sunset photo. Our days are getting longer; the sun rises around 9 am and sets around 5:30 pm, and so around those times of day, I can be found looking out the window, hoping to see something like this: Peace Region sunset | Angela Fehr

The large studio space in the house faces west, and the view is fantastic. You can see a little black dot in the sky – a plane heading to the Dawson Creek airport just a few miles from our house. And the lights of town glitter at us and remind us that we are not alone on our hill.Peace Region sunset | Angela Fehr

Truthfully, beauty like this is so effortless for our Creator and I could never hope to come close to capturing it in a painting. Funny how my response when I see something like this is a desire to paint it, to do SOMETHING with the incredible view I’m seeing. I guess that’s how God made me!

A Relic.

grain truck | Angela Fehr

Every week when I bring my girls to piano lessons, we pass this old grain truck and while it’s painting-worthy in any season, I think I’m almost ready to paint it in autumn. A nostalgic reminder of bygone days, while local farmers now haul their grain to town in shiny semi trucks, I can still remember the smell of mice living in the workings of Grandpa’s grain truck, the clash of gears and bounce over rutted back roads.

Textured with Kim Klassen’s “Kristin” layer and linked up to Texture Tuesday.

Enter my watercolor giclée print giveaway here.

The Beauty of the Muskeg

On Sunday afternoon we celebrated a nephew’s birthday. Cake and piñata and a walk through the muskeg.
hikers | Angela Fehr

The muskeg swamp is why I love September. It just might be my favourite month for the beauty of autumn. The black flies and mosquitoes that pester are gone, and the air is crisp. Even though cedar doesn’t grow here, that is the scent I was reminded of as our feet sank into spongy moss and we drank in the colours of the cranberries, tamarack, birches and spruce trees, arching out of their mossy bed, crisscrossed with trails made by moose and deer. Squirrels scold from the branches, little caches of pine cones discovered beneath the boughs of the evergreens.

berries | Angela Fehr

The cranberries were pretty sparse this year. But as much as I love cranberry muffins with tiny bog cranberries, I don’t really go to the swamp for the berries.branches | angela fehr

I go for the colours. forest | Angela FehrThe smell of the air.
tamarack | Angela Fehr

The texture of feathery tamarack trees.muskeg | Angela Fehr

The sunlight on the spruces.in the muskeg | Angela Fehr

It’s a wonderful place. Photo above textured with Kim Klassen’s Grunged Up 1 & 2. Linking up to Texture Tuesday.

On Friday the Dawson Creek Art Gallery’s 30th Anniversary Exhibit opens. I have one painting in this show, my award winning “Withered.” And on Sunday I’ll be in Fairview, Alberta with the Peace Watercolour Society for our annual fall show. I have seven paintings in the show, including this one:

Huckleberry Hill | Angela Fehr watercolour

If you’re in the Peace River region, why don’t you come out to one of these great events and enjoy some amazing art?watercolour exhibit 2013 invite2

 

Texture Tuesday: Leaves & Berries

leaf quote 72dpi | Angela Fehr

Have a lovely Tuesday! A friend of mine saw this photo and said, “I can see that’s going to be an Angela painting.” I’m told the berries are wild currants, but they are covered in little spiky bristles and don’t look too tasty. With all the blueberries and huckleberries on the hill surrounding them, they are not at all tempting.

I love using Kim Klassen’s free textures to add an artistic look to my photographs. This photo uses Minus 43 and Pourvous. Here’s the original:wild currants | angela fehr

And I do love painting leaves and berries!

"Withered" watercolour painting (rose hips) | Angela Fehr

green fungus moss | Angela Fehr mossy niche | watercolour, Angela Fehr

Linking up to Texture Tuesday and Tuesday Muse.

Under the Bridge

2008June 290

Last week I painted at the historic curved Kiskatinaw bridge. It was ridiculously hot for mid-September, and the rock I sat on was uncomfortable, and the sun glare washed out the colours from the steep river banks, and the water was a murky brown, but even so I came home with an appreciation for the beauty of the Peace River country where I live, and a bunch of ideas for a new painting.

Kiskatinaw curved bridge | Angela Fehr

The Kiskatinaw curved bridge is historic because it was built during the building of the Alaska Highway in 1942. American soldiers built the highway, originating in my hometown of Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and winding its way up to Alaska, in defense of an World War II attack via the Bering Strait.

2008June 299

The Kiskatinaw bridge is a little off the main highway now, which has protected this all-wooden bridge from destruction by heavy traffic. Its pronounced curve is picturesque and creative, and the small camp site at the base of the bridge is a favourite of locals. And if it hadn’t been our van we drove there, my husband likely would have been the one laying a little rubber along its 534 foot length!

These photos were taken a few years ago during a camping trip near the bridge. My camera broke recently and I’m awaiting a new lens anxiously!

A Glorious View: Berry Picking in the Pine Pass

I always say I love picking berries, but I think that berry picking is just a vehicle for me to be totally inspired by the landscape. Yesterday my sister and I and three of our children drove into the mountains (3 hours from home) to pick blueberries and huckleberries. We postponed the first day of homeschool so we could go (I love being able to do that)!

trees

Huckleberries are elusive out here – most years we’ll get a few, some years there won’t be any and then there’s 2013, which has become The Year of the Berry. A perfect growing season resulted in an incredible harvest of berries and I think we’ll  never be able to enjoy an “average” harvest again, we were so spoiled this year! I picked 4 gallons in as many hours, and took a ton of wonderful photos to enrich my paintings this winter.

landscape600w

We stayed close together – the bushes were tall and thick and we are wary of grizzly bears.

berrypicker

Wild blueberries – usually we only get low-bush, BB-sized berries but these were almost as large as domestic berries, on waist-high bushes. There is a rich scent of crushed ferns as we walk through the underbrush, and the birds scolded us as we interrupted their buffet.

blueberries600wThe huckleberry in the rear is the average size, but I found many much larger! I stood in one spot for over an hour and didn’t run out of berries to pick. My fingers are still stained purple from picking yesterday.Huckleberry Picking in northern British Columbia | AngelaFehr.com Huckleberries have a strong flavour and are wonderful in baking. I love to make a sauce to serve on pancakes. I am a pancake gourmet – true story! No pancake supper occurs without homemade sauce or syrup and buttermilk pancakes made from scratch.berries600w2 I made my sister hold an empty bucket for this quick photo! She’s actually a faster picker than I am.
me and al

On the way home, we were nearly at my sister’s house when we reached tiny Sundance Lake and saw a familiar vehicle. Her husband and son were just launching a canoe and we stopped for a few minutes to paddle too!canoe600w

A perfect day. Sunshine, good company and the most beautiful country to wonder over. I couldn’t help but think of how God creates this abundance in the middle of nowhere, just for his own pleasure. How privileged I feel to be able to enjoy it too!currantwild

Bearing Fruit in Season

Best Fruit | AngelaFehr.com

I need this quote on days when the kids seem to need parental intervention every few minutes, when a painting just won’t “flow”, when I’m passed over for a juried exhibition, or feel more envy than genuine joy at a fellow artist’s well-deserved recognition.

I believe that things will happen in their own time, that patience is rewarded far more than fighting to the top of the heap will be. Let authenticity drive the wheels of creativity and the fruit will be good in time.