Saturday, September 13, 2014

Writing to My-se-elf...

Remember that Billy Idol song Dancing with Myself ("My-se-elf")? No? Okay then, here it is! Now that you've established my approximate age, be reassured I have, for the most part, moved beyond dancing with myself. Instead, I'm writing to myself. Not so very punk, but so be it. 

I try to keep a journal when I'm travelling, but on this year's summer vacation I decided to make a collage every day and mail it to myself. It was a way to keep the collage bug alive (no worries there, really), but I was also curious to see how these collages make it through the mail and whether they'd all arrived. I'm pleased to report that they all made it home fully intact. Yeah for glue sticks (UHU rules) and invisible Scotch tape.

Honestly? I was getting a bit bored at the end because I was trying to use materials at hand that had something to do with where I was. Tourist brochures start to look a lot alike after awhile. I had a bit of washi tape with me, but other than that, used what I had at hand (primarily maps and brochures).

Here's the result:

You might notice that I added a blood pressure test here? I was "optimal!" I wish I'd taken one at the end of the trip!
Fun  day. I hadn't been to Telegraph Cove for a lot of years. Very busy, but still charming. 
Our cushy ferry from Port Hardy to Bella Bella. The next ferry was about 1/20th the size. ..
The card above had a cool cancellation. Our ferry up the snaking fjord from the coast to Bella Coola stopped briefly in Ocean Falls, "home of the rain people," which is a coastal town far from its heyday. Apparently about 18 people live there full-time, but they have a post office, so of course I had to mail a card. Here's the cancellation (and a crazy "Haunted Canada" stamp):

Yes, I did bring that postage stamp from home. Nice to juxtapose the petroglyphs of the Nuxalk people with the rock carving of an explorer, Alexander MacKenzie who perhaps left the first graffiti in Canada on a rock on the Pacific coast in 1793.

Here's a close-up of the stamp:

I was really hoping to get some interesting cancellations along the route. Somewhat by chance I read that the post office in Bella Coola has its own unique cancellation. I'm over 50 and pretty much beyond worrying about people think about me, so I marched into the post office and asked the nice lady to stamp my journal. Good thing I did, because the franking on the actual stamp was hard to see. Here is the cancellation with art by a Nuxalk artist:

I had my first ever job in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. I was about 16 or 17 and was part of BC Park's "youth crew," a program that had unsuspecting youth volunteering (I honestly can't recall if I was paid) in provincial parks, painting outhouses, grubbing trail, washing stacks of awful pots, tubing down rivers, raking the sand of volleyball courts…". I had brought a few letters I wrote home (thanks Mom, for being a pack rat) and read them out to my husband and daughter (who happens to be 17). Hilarious and slightly embarrassing.  
The background here was actually from a large glossy tourist magazine promoting the Chilcotin area, but the art was done by a Tofino artist, Mark Hobson. We watched fishermen use these large nets (beside very swift moving water) for quite awhile. The pictographs were a bit tough to find (poorly written directions; bah), but worth it. 
I haven't been to Barkerville for over 17 years, so I was worried it might have become too much of a tourist trap. It was busy, but we were pleasantly surprised. And, yes, there was a historic post office. 

The PO boxes were quite lovely and it looked like the boxes were actually being used. I thought they might have an interesting frank, but it was a fairly plain frank, much as you would have expected from the era (1800s). We watched the postmistress use her long metal "wand" to whack the cards I sent from there.

I have a soft spot for Barkerville because my parents went there on their honeymoon, back in 1958, just around the time it became a provincial park and historic site.  I do have one BIG beef though. There were no good cards - not even good postcards - that you could pick up there. Craziness. With all of that historic fodder you think someone would come up with something! I did pick up this photo of one of the famous Cariboo camels that were part of the BC gold rush. Not exactly Barkerville, but perhaps they were were on their way there when this photo was snapped.

A little travel tip if you go to this area: stop in Wells first, especially if you like to write letters and send postcards. It a similar era as Barkerville, but people actually live there today and many of the historic buildings are restored and painted in fairly funky colours. There are several excellent artists in town and lots of options for picking up from art and cards (and great coffee, too). We had a great visit at two churches converted into galleries: Amazing Space and St. George Gallery.

One very cool thing about the Wells-Barkerville area is that they have an annual Sled Dog Mail Run. The last weekend of January, they re-create the the Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Mail Run and mail is cancelled with a unique cancellation at Quesnel, Wells, and Barkerville. Every year there is also a artist-designed envelope. You never know. I might get it together to get some envelopes in next year's run!
We visited friends in Valemount who have just opened a new brewery, Three Ranges. Thus began about five days of visiting with old friends from our mountain days.  
My old office in the lower left. Maligne Canyon everywhere else. Parks Canada? Your "Proper Awesome" slogan is dumb. 

I was starting to lose steam here and the materials were not "proper awesome." We did see a wolf one day though (not this one exactly) and the next day saw six bears - a grizzly and her two cubs and a black bear and her two cubs. Okay, maybe that was proper awesome.

Miette Hot Springs day. And the goofy guys in costume? Just watch this and you'll understand.  (Thank you to my little buddy Keeley for introducing me to that.)

Okay, I'm tired and so are you (if you've lasted this long). We DID have a great time #exploringBC! Hope you had a wonderful summer as well.


Penny said...

I love all your collage postcards and the narrative you provided with them, Adrienne. How nice to come home from vacation and have all those fabulous cards waiting for you. My sister and brother-in-laws lived in Ocean Falls for a few years back in the late 60's/early 70's, and I think it's very cool you got your journal postmarked in Bella Coola. A lovely, creative way to document your trip.

mim said...

I often go off on vacation planning to use only what I find for my collage cards but it's tough sometimes. I know leave home with some scraps and some punched out circles, just in case I find no brochures or maps. We're off to the beach for a week. I hope that my cards are half as good as your's. Thanks for sharing.

Adrienne Mason said...

Hi Penny and Mim, Thanks for writing. Yes, it was fun, Penny, to see them altogether. When we went into Ocean Falls it was really socked in, which is too bad because it's really in a stunning location. Isolated though, but when your sister was there it was probably still booming. Have fun creating your journal cards, Mim!

Karen Isaacson said...

I love this post.
Next summer I think we need to organize a "Mail Artists on Holiday" blog-hop. There just aren't that many people in the world who work visiting post offices into their vacation plans. We need to stick together!

Adrienne Mason said...

Thanks, Karen. Great idea! I got so excited when I saw little one room post offices on the side of country roads and felt it was my duty to send something through them! I am still kicking myself for not taking photos of this fabulous historic post office in Toppenish, Washington when we passed through last spring. Everything was original including rows of stunning wooden PO boxes. Gorgeous.