One grain at a time.

Malinge Canyon, Jasper, Alberta. Picture by Andrew Mackay

Malinge Canyon, Jasper, Alberta.
Picture by Andrew Mackay

Tall cliffs were once asleep
in monotony, before their
position was carved by
newly-melted snow
one
grain
at
a
time
so they could survey
surging chaos
pearly blue flows by
on a whirlwind tour
of all that high places
have to offer.

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Animals and oil refineries

A beaver on Hwy 77, northern British Columbia. Photo by Steven Mackay

A beaver on Hwy 77, northern British Columbia.
Photo by Steven Mackay

After hundreds of miles of signs telling us of possible wildlife, we finally saw some yesterday and today. The beaver was spotted just short of the British Columbia-Northwest Territories border on Hwy 77. The bears were seen around Prophet River, going north to Fort Nelson, B.C.

Though mostly associated with Alberta, northern and eastern British Columbia are heavily impacted by the oil and gas trade. Fort Nelson, where we are staying tonight, is a boomtown of sorts. Though there is plenty of forest, it is filled with service roads. Often the trees are a thin layer disguising wells or, in a pretty obvious case, a pipeline.

Because the oil infrastructure doesn’t require a lot of personnel after it’s set up and running, B.C. and Alberta have are unusual in that there are still very few large towns, but these small settlements are surrounded with billions of dollars of technology.

A black bear, spotted near Prophet River, B.C. Photo by Andrew Mackay

A black bear, spotted near Prophet River, B.C.
Photo by Andrew Mackay

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A trip through two states, two provinces, and two territories

Spahats Falls, Wells Gray Provincial Park Taken by Andrew Mackay

Spahats Falls, Wells Gray Provincial Park
Taken by Andrew Mackay

In an ambitious journey, the past four days has seen my dad and I head from Seattle to Grande Prairie, Alberta. That’s about 800 miles, not including detours. Still to come are northern British Columbia, including Fort Liard in the Northwestern Territories and Watson Lake in the Yukon. Coming down on the western coast of BC, we will enter Alaska at the tiny ghost town of Hyder (which is for all practical purposes a Canadian town), and end up in Vancouver on the 30th.

While the first two days were gorgeous, including the pictured falls at Wells Gray north of Kamloops, B.C., and the narrowest point on the Fraser River at Hell’s Gate, since then it has been rather bleak. Western Canada is facing huge forest fires all, with hundreds added in the past couple days. All the smoke made the usually great views from Jasper not worth much, and it has been getting worse as we’ve worked out way north on the eastern side of the Canadian Rockies.

We hope to eventually get past the fires and return to clear weather. I have gotten used to the driving conditions of rural Canada, and find it if anything rather exciting.

Photos will continue to trickle in. I will be combining my iPhone 5S photos (like the pictured one, shot using the panoramic feature), and my dad’s work on a DLSR camera that takes rubbish pictures whenever I try to use it.

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Yet fated, ever forward

Dawson Falls, British Columbia Taken by Steven Mackay

Dawson Falls, British Columbia
Taken by Steven Mackay

Where waters end, I do not know
only at this rupture, where streams shed their
dark overcoats, and fly
pure
like down from geese
untouched by mankind’s grime

liberated
patterns of shifting, sliding glass
each drop flies, free
yet fated
ever forward
soon, the wonder
childlike
regains  a somber character;
the journey is not yet done.

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Through firs grown tall

BCForestWells

Forests of British Columbia, at Wells Gray. Taken by Andrew Mackay

Tendrils, grey
they slowly creep
deep through firs grown tall
pall, now dark descends
rends forests, long standing
branding hills with ashen scars
mars, once pristine, leaving,
grieving, wasteland borne
torn now asunder

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American Revolution: Against imperialism, but for it as well?

I attended a Socialist Alternative branch meeting in Oakland today. At the end there is the technical business, including future topics and who is to present on them.

One was a historical dilemma that is essential to the United States: how can the American Revolution be seen as a struggle for freedom, if it was forwarded by slaveholders, who by the end had even more authority over the people they owned? Even a middle school history class tackles with that. Of course, when you bring in ideas of capital, imperialism, and white supremacy, there are more nuances to explore and consider.

Since I’m headed on a journey through western Canada tomorrow, I can’t write out in full the thought I had.

Wasn’t the American Revolution a fight both for and against imperialism? The colonists fought against British colonialism. Their victory allowed for a more complete imperialism of western Africa; both current slaves, and those to be taken from their homeland, were subject to imperial control. And because there was a 32 year gap between British abolition of slavery and US abolition, the colonies gaining independence brought decades more oppression.

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Sliding slowly out of control

Brilliantly, our motherly star
shines unobstructed
dwarfed by an epic endless azure
landscape, free of clouds
those oft humorless chaperones,
holding the sun and soil
a proper distance apart
not unlike young couples
during black-tie formals
sliding slowly out of control

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