The sun is shining and the strawberries are ripening! We’ve had a beautiful and very dry spring and now that summer has hit, so have summer thunderstorms. I’m thankful for adventures that have already happened this month. Every time we go out adventuring, I get to add to my life experiences and my paintings get richer. The trick is deciding what to paint!

A couple of weeks ago, we loaded up some ATV’s and met my sister and family for an off roading adventure about 3 hours from home. We were able to drive into the northern Rocky Mountains and explore along the Red Deer River. I’m not a rugged outdoorsy type, but I do love nature and beautiful scenery, and there was plenty of both!

red deer 1

We stopped for lunch at the beginning of the trail, surrounded by mountains.

red deer 2

Everywhere along the trail you could see traces of wildfire destruction. Most wildfires in our region are caused by lightning, and the skeletal trees lend an extra sense of the power of nature in the raw.

red deer river

The river curved beneath us, glacier blue.

red deer 3

When I wasn’t driving quad, I was crouched along the trail, catching photos of the wildflowers. I could identify many; columbine (shown), wild forget-me-nots, lupines, wild roses, paintbrush in neon hues, and many more I wasn’t familiar with.

red deer 4

Were it not for my brother-in-law, we might have missed the trail branching off to the falls, a short walk and we were there. Water cascading, fire-stripped trees right up the river’s edge on the south side of the river, and a whole micro-system of flowers and mosses thriving in the misty air. We scrambled down to the base of the falls;

red deer 5

The misty coldness felt fantastic on our dusty faces after our 10 km trail ride. One of the things we love most about living up north is the solitude. Throughout the day we were the only ones at the falls and saw only a few signs of other humans around. We did scare away a grizzly sow and cub, but otherwise we felt like the only people in a hundred miles. It’s one of the things that is disillusioning about travel; going to a famous park or landmark and being just one of the crowd. It’s pretty fun to feel like you are part of a beautiful secret; a gem of nature that few people get to experience.

red deer 6

The long drive home (we got home at midnight!) was pretty painful; we were all so tired and grubby. The glorious sunset made it better, and we counted wildlife as we drove, watching carefully we saw moose, elk and a grizzly bear along the road. That grizzly was pretty confident of his position as king of the forest; we stopped the truck to look at him in the darkening night and he ignored us as he foraged in the weeds. Nature is pretty amazing, and it always inspires me. I’m so thankful I get to enjoy the beauty of the world where I live. As much as I’d love to travel, there’s so much to see here that I haven’t experienced yet!