Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I Survived the Coke & Roger's Pass...Where's My T-shirt?!

Leaving Vancouver...

Fortune favours the brave...

I am back from the prairies and oh what a trip that was! I did manage to get every last thing I needed into my car which I have to say was quite satisfying. Kind of like when you pile/organize every last supper dish you washed to perfectly balance onto the dish rack..or solving the Rubik's Cube? 

I got away way later than I had hoped and just accepted the fact that I would be driving in the dark for a good portion of the trip. Everything was pretty smooth sailing til I hit the Coquihalla of course...but still nothing compared to what was to come. The last opportunity to take a hotel for the night for a long stretch was in Valemount..but at that point I hadn't even considered it. Five minutes past the town, it turned into a complete whiteout. 

It had been years, if not decades since I experienced this kind of storm and I had forgotten how terrifying...and LONELY it could be. I seemed to be the only car on the highway with a smattering of big trucks. This did not comfort me. Eventually I got behind a grater, a blessing and a curse. Its lights helped to act as a guide to stay on the road but the blinding gusts of snow were not so helpful. I had moments of complete delusion...not knowing where I was on the road or where I was headed. I promised myself that if I made it to Jasper, I would go no further! 

The grater finally pulled over and stopped on the side of the road so I could pass him and the conditions did get a little better after that and so of course questioned if I should keep going. I thought...what would my Mom or Dad tell me to do? Yeah. Left turn into Jasper. 

I Hotwired a room for $69 at The Lobstick Lodge. Just me and two King Size Beds! I lazily went through my emails and ALMOST deleted one that said, 2012 WORLD OPEN FINALISTS. I had entered the contest several months ago and had gotten daily emails from them showcasing other photographer's entries...did I really want to know who made the final cut? Sure. Why not. But I was too tired so just shut down my laptop and went to bed,

The next morn I headed back out onto the highway. I met with a mountain goat, saw an overturned truck and a dead deer in the ditch. Staying over in Jasper...excellent choice!  

I pulled up to Sue and Gar's house in Millet (just outside of Edmonton) and could already feel the warmth from the lights of the Christmas Tree. I made it! Sue and Gar are very dear friends, if not like family. I lived with them in university when I was working at their resto and then again when I did my practicum and also for a spell while I was working in Edmonton. They also housed Pusskin, Sigurd and I for the first few months of Mom's illness. It is my happy place. A home constantly full of love, hugs and laughter (and soul food). 

The next day it was off to the races! All I had to do was pull into the loading docks and some very nice gentleman helped me unload the contents of my car onto this wondrous dolly! Lickety split. Finit! Done.

I wheeled it into the showroom and POOF! This happened...

OK that's a huge lie/wish! Another 4-5 hour set-up...how do I not get FASTER at this?!

I had bought another shelf at IKEA on my way into Edmonton to display the wood blocks but didn't have to use it thanks to April from Yapes Paints who had the booth beside me. She let me use the outside of her wicked mesh wall which I also utilized for my wall prints! TOO awesome. If you like fanciful fish, offbeat owls, big birds and twirling tree trunks, you will LOVE her work! 

The show was definitely busy and in a beauty venue! So many of my AB peeps stopped by! I couldn't get pics of everybody so would like to extend my deepest thanks to each and everyone of you who took the time to pop by! Also a shout out to Jesse and Shad for the wonderful hospitality and letting me stay at their place in Edmonton for the duration of the show. We had a bad ass good time watching movies in our jams:) 

And 4 days later...it was all over. As per usual, I met a tonne of great people...10,000  came through! Not too shabby. Definitely worth the trip:) It took me just 2.5 hours to dismantle and get it all back into my car. A record! Also was 2nd last out the door just by a hair! Again..thanks to Jenna and Chandler Herbut for putting on another wicked successful show:) 

After that, it was all about merry making and fellowship with friends! You have all heard me talk about Tash and her book, 'Story of Q' (like a million times now). Well, she just so happened to be back in Edmonton to do a book signing. Her and Jono were making a little pit stop before they move back to South Africa (they had been living in NZ/AUS prior to this). Not only was she signing her book, but she was also selling prints from Mzet's Hope, an organization that her and Jono started to help grandmothers who are left to care for their grandchildren in AIDS ravaged families. Please check it out - the artists are pretty spectacular!
Various friends popped by and it was a cozy warm eve filled with hugs and goodness and hot bevvies! 

I spent a large chunk of my time soaking up Christmas and togetherness with Sue and Gar after that. It had been exactly a year since Mom passed away, December 2nd. So I didn't feel like it was the greatest time to be exactly where I was last year going through the worst time of my life. But I think it was also good to face it head on. We had a lovely seafood supper that evening and I quietly remembered her, as I do each and every day. She would not want us to dwell on the ending...but all the oo-ey goo-ey good stuff in between. 

I left Edmonton/Millet feeling bittersweet. It was so much fun to see so many good friends but it made it even harder to leave...especially with Christmas coming! Alas, I was grateful for the time spent and headed to Calgary for more! 
I got to see my cousin Liane on the way in Red Deer and then stayed with my friend of many, many years (16!!), Erika and her dog Sid. We hadn't seen each other in far too long but it felt like we picked up right where we left off. And I felt exactly the same when I saw Donna, Tanya and Kristi. You know you have a good friendship when it feels like no time has passed between you at all. All these reunions came at such a good time after being rather hermit-like working away in my apt for much of the last several months and being rather immobile prior to that. My heart needed a fill-up, and I certainly felt like it was brimming with warm n' fuzzies when I left!

Amongst all the visiting came a very big Christmas present for me! A lady had emailed me on Etsy the week prior to leaving and said she loved all of my wares and wanted to buy EVERYTHING. Yeah.....OK. As an artist, you learn that it's best not to get too excited about these things...as to not be disappointed. But she DID end up buying EVERYTHING I had left over from the show for a retail store she is opening in Calgary....making my trip even MORE fortunate than I had ever imagined! 

I headed out on Hiway 1 a couple days later, not very excited about driving through Roger's Pass. I was on my way to stay in Kelowna for the night with one of my best friend's parents (from growing up in SK). Before I was about to cross Roger's Pass, an officer stopped me to see if I had winter tires and warm clothes. Um. Not comforting. He said the roads were really bad and to 'be careful'. The roads WERE really bad but I just tried to relax into it and go as slow as possible. Once I got past Golden, it was well, GOLDEN! 

I had a wonderful eve with Ron and Peggy...we hadn't seen each other in...decades?? Anyway, a long time! One really must make time to see the people you love. I have been acutely aware of this especially as of late. Relationships need nurturing...and nothing should trump that. 

When I was getting ready to leave the next day, their neighbour yelled across the street, 'She's not driving on the Coke today is she?!'...oh no. 

As soon as I left the city limits of Kelowna it turned to...shit. I was white knuckling it WAY before I even hit the Coquihalla. I heard on the radio that a meter of snow had fallen the past few days and the graters were not able to keep up. Awesome. 

My speed went down to about 30 and no one even tried to pass me. I really feel like there should be some kind of air ferry that picks vehicles up over this area and brings them safely to the other side. Once I got past it, I had never been so happy to drive in rain in all my life!  What a breeze! I get the 'Highway Thru Hell' nickname now. Also, am I the only one that thinks you should get a t-shirt anytime you drive either Roger's Pass or the Coquihalla in the winter saying that you SURVIVED!?! 

It was a joyful homecoming being back in Vancouver. It had been 2 in a half weeks since I saw the little ones (my cats) and I was good and ready for the milder weather...I have definitely become a pansy when it comes to cold temps! 

I got 4 Etsy orders the following week which was awesomely good, along with some re-orders from locals. YAY! 

I gave the sea a big hug and breathed a huge sigh of gratitude for the past several weeks. Life is grand. 

The addict hides from the pain of life; the artist uses the pain of life to make something beautiful. 
- Steven Pressfield

Oh I almost forgot! I finally opened that email:

The images that made it were 'Stubby the Pigeon' and the elderly couple in NY, 'Short Walk, Long Journey'. I did not win but I was super amped to have been a finalist considering who I was up against! Fist pumps. Check out all the 2012 World Open of Photography finalists here!


Anonymous said...

TT you are such a rockstar. I cannot believe you did that whiteknuckle drive.

Audaces fortuna iuvat

I'm so proud of you. It was such a blessing to see you .. it's been 5 years? 7 years? I can't keep track.


Tracey Tomtene said...

Neither can I!! lol...prob won't be doing that again anytime soon.

SO proud of you TOO..and amazing to have an in person jam sesh:) Next time will not be 5 years!



Natalie Grono said...

Congratulations tracey...and have a awesome christmas xxx

Tracey Tomtene said...

Thanks Natalie! Merry Christmas to you too...hope to see you again soon:)