Canadian Rockies - Pre-Trip Planning

In two weeks time I set off for another adventure, this time back to the Canadian Rockies, a landscape that I dearly love. This time I’ll take my wife and 16-year old granddaughter (God help me!).

Right now I’m up to my eyeballs in prepping for the trip. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s about the journey, not the destination. Whoever thought that one up was definitely not a photojournalist.

Of course the hardest thing about this particular trip is knowing in advance that I’ll have a moody teen on my hands at various times. But Tonya is really a terrific traveler and is developing a traveler’s eye for details that I sometimes miss. She also keeps me in stitches half the time.

Lots of my colleagues … how do I say this delicately?… prefer not to travel with their wives. I admit that I’m that way, too, when I’m traveling to a dangerous or out of the way location. But Leslie is an asset, a true assistant when I’m working, readying a camera, scanning for interesting compositions, watching out for bears. She’s even carried a 25-pound backpack full of my gear when we hiked down one side of Maui’s Haleakala crater and up the other side, an amazing two-day trek to another world. Not bad for two 60-year olds - but that’s another story.

People ask me what kind of pre-trip planning it takes to do a 2-week (or 4-week) photo trip. Aside from the immense equipment and logistical issues, this one is more of a touristy trip. We’re flying to the other side of the continent to Vancouver. From there we board the Rocky Mountaineer for a two-day rail trip to Jasper, Alberta. We’ve got 4 days to explore Jasper and Banff National Parks (lots of early morning and late evening photo ops), then we’re headed back northwest on Canada’s ViaRail to Prince Rupert, a scenic city on the shores of the Inner Passage. From there we board a ferry for a 15-hour cruise along the Alaska Marine Highway and the eye candy of the Inner Passage to Port Hardy, at the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Hopefully we’ll see whales and bear and eagles along the route. We take a leisurely day to drive along the length of Vancouver Island and then ferry over to British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, where we’ll visit some very special friends and tour Gibsons and Sechelt, before ferrying back to Vancouver and a flight home. Sounds like the movie  “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.” I’m counting on our journey not being such a comedy of errors, though.

View Larger Map I hate making all the detailed arrangements that such a complex trip entails. Flights, hotels, motels, trains, car rentals, ferries, lodging. Between emails and phone tag, it can take weeks before the final pieces fall into place. In fact, I’ll make a note to blog about how I go about all this in a future post, so stay tuned!

Oh, yeah. And then there’s the equipment. Do I need extra batteries? Should I order that new lens now in order to get some field practice with it before the trip, or wait until the last minute when I have the money to pay for it and hope for the best?

Believe it or not, one of the biggest pains in the rear for me is deciding which bag to take. If I’m hiking into wilderness areas, I’ve got to travel light. Everything I need is on my 62-year old, increasingly fragile body. I used to think I was the Imelda Marcus of photo bags, until I saw the closet of one of my unnamed colleagues. In this case, I’ll need two bags; one for transporting onto planes, trains, automobiles and ferries and one for hiking once I get there.

Okay, back to work, sorting out which equipment to take. I’ll save that for my next blog.

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