about Rick, friends, travel

Saskatchewhat?

Sept. 1990

rick_mugWhen I wrote this I had just moved from Calgary to Saskatoon, the summer of 1990 — expecting to stay 1 year.  I ended up staying 10 years. 

I was a tourist in Saskatchewan.

I drive home alone from Saskatoon to Calgary, in September, in the late afternoon. I take the smaller, stair-casing highways, speeding with impunity. There seems to be no R.C.M.P. left in Saskatchewan.

I drive through towns with great names like Bounty, Wartime and Conquest. Who got to name these places?


The prairies are a never ending stream of checkerboard fields, barns, churches, cows, dust-devils, road kill and ponderous, overloaded farm trucks. The heat rises off the roadway and seems to evaporate the mirage pools of water before I can enjoy splashing through them. The smells are … well, unique to the Prairies. And I never knew there were so many hawks in all of the world.

Grand daddy grasshoppers wing by as big as birds. Slower, less experienced insects splatter my windshield. The freshly oiled gravel roads splatters my car as well, but I don’t care.

I stop at Outlook, Saskatchewan and sit out in the middle of a sandbar in the middle of the Old Man River. The air is calm, the sun is smoking and the song in my head is called …

I never believed that I’d grow old.

The sandbar is the highlight of the drive. Glorious. The last day of the longest summer of my life. I wish it would never end.

If I could make a wish,
I think I’d pass …

Like everyone else in Saskatchewan, I listen to CBC AM radio constantly. The weather is updated every 15 minutes. They report that the canola is too dry to reap. It will shatter if harvested. But the wheat is still too moist to take off the field. Saskatchewan weather is one big Catch-22.

Driving West into the setting sun, I find myself alone with my thoughts. I dream a grand scheme.

As night falls, I approach Drumheller and the badlands. The warmth from my big mug of tea is comforting.

It’s harvest here. Dusty farmers take dinner on the tractor this evening and plan to work all night. I see the bright lights of combines bobbing along in the dark in every field.

I drive home alone from Saskatoon to Calgary in September.

cycling, hiking, photos, travel, video

DJI Mini SE Drone Test #1

I tried and failed to fly a DJI Spark drone when it was released 2017. Did not once get it off the ground. It was a dead weight on my Patagonia trip that year.

In 2021 the (Mavic) Mini SE is their entry level model. CAD $349. … How long before I break it? 😀

I’ve either gotten a lot smarter — or their drones are much easier to operate now.

Click PLAY or watch the 1st flight on YouTube.

cycling, hiking, travel, video

My video/photo editing workflow

Updated December 2021.

A #CovidGoal was to improve my video editing.

A secondary goal, to improve photos and start sharing them more. I started an Instagram account for my hiking pics – BestHikeVisuals.

Mostly I’ve been disappointed with the many limitations of Instagram. I’m not at all a fan of that platform.

After posting my French Creek tribute, I declared I was GOOD ENOUGH at video editing for my purposes. Approaching “Concious Competent“. I could sit down at a table with a professional video editor and understand 75% of what they were talking about. 😀

The remaining 25% has mostly to do with colour. Skin tone. Complicated stuff. Creators who can afford it often send their own work out to an expert for colour correction.

NEXT STAGE = STORY

Story. Story. Story.

Every edit should contribute to the STORY.

I threw this one together quickly as a teaser for upcoming West Coast Trail videos. But in some weird way, it’s evocative of that wild and challenging hike.

I’m particularly happy with the audio.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Mostly my videos are for outdoor recreation, but I also hope to get back indoor soon shooting Gymnastics.

  1. I’m usually shooting solo
  2. 3 cameras (Sony ZV-1, GoPro 7 and iPhone 13 Mini with-or-without DJI OM 4 gimbal)
  3. For video I’ve switched from 24fps to 30fps as it’s a little clearer, though less cinematic. 
  4. ZV-1 is primary A roll footage.   It has by far the best audio
  5. Ignoring advice of most experts, I mostly shoot Intelligent Auto Mode.  In fact, I shoot Intelligent Auto Photo Mode almost all the time — as it’s QUICK to take a 5472 × 3080 [16:9] photo and QUICK to take Intelligent Auto video 4K 30fps. With 4K I have plenty of room to crop or zoom to my final product in 1080p.
    1. Chris Brockhurst has different opinions on ZV-1 settings. Next time I change it up, I’ll use his advice.
  6. ZV-1 Memory Recall #3 = 1080p / 60fps for slow motion (60 is better math when slowing for 30fps output)
  7. ZV-1 Memory Recall #2 = 4K / 30fps
  8. ZV-1 Memory Recall #1 = is for Time Lapse  photos 5472 x 3648 [3:2].  This setting I use mainly for photos, choosing the best from the collection.  3:2 ratio as that works fairly well for Instagram
  9. PHOTOS
    1. Apple’s free Photos app on the Mac is not great, but I’m still using it for organization.  And quick edits.  It’s actually quite a good editor in 2022./ 
    2. I’ve switched to Pixelmator Pro for editing the best of the best photos for Instagram.  
    3. All photos are archived in my Flickr Pro account
  10. I quit trying Sony S-Log2, S-Log3, and other HLG profiles used by the cool kids as it was way too much hassle for dubious gains in quality.  I often shoot photos in RAW and JPG both but usually edit in RAW.  
  11. iPhone 13 Mini on the OM 4 gimbal for B roll: slow-mo, time lapse, special effects, etc. (always 4K and 60fps for slow mo or speed ramping.  30 fps normal. 24 fps low light).  I shoot HDR High Dynamic Range 10-bit as the better quality ProRES options are HUGE file sizes, very slow to transfer from phone to laptop. The 13 has less stabilization than 13 Pro or Max, so I’ll use it on the gimbal as much as possible.
    1. One great feature that only works intermittently is GESTURE CONTROL to start and track me.  Stopping the video with a gesture almost never works. 
    2. Space on the phone is not a worry as I’ll transfer photos and videos on the fly via a tiny SanDisk 256GB memory stick.  
    3. The 13 Mini will be a dedicated camera.  I’m currently using an S.E. mini as my phone phone. 
    4. When the Sony ZV-1 eventually dies, I’ll try to carry only GoPro and iPhone.  Light and durable.
  12. GoPro 7 is for B roll: action, water, fake drone, etc. (mostly 2.7K 60fps as 2.7 is the highest it can go with Superview (16:9 aspect ratio) enabled.  I’d only switch to 4K if on a tripod.)
    1. low light set on auto
    2. ISO min 100, max 400 (400 might be low)
    3. Protune off
    4. Head mount, chest mount, handlebar mount, selfie stick, or tripod, depending on the situation. 
  13. I’m planning to add drone footage in 2022.  The DJI Mini SE.   
  14. Editing video with Final Cut Pro X on a MacBook Pro 14″ 2021 with 16 GB internal memory.
  15. Export in 1080p
    1. master file using ProRes 422
    2. export ‘Computer’
    3. export H.264 Faster Encode
  16. Shoot 120 fps only for smoke, fire, fast moving sports, etc. 
  17. As little hand held video as possible.  Use tripods.  Handheld would only be used to show ACTION.  Close-up motion.  I don’t shoot much of that. 
  18. Shorter the better for my videos. 
  19. No ads

Keeping electronics powered while on the road is one of my bigger concerns.

For the iPhones, I’ll use a Anker 20W charger adapter as 20W is quickest.

For the GoPro, I’ll carry at least two 3.85 Volt batteries and a tiny charging case. I find these batteries die too quickly.

I’ll sometimes carry a solar panel in addition to a charging battery (or two).


The Sony is by far my favourite camera. But when it breaks I’m planning to continue using only an Action camera and iPhone on a gimbal. Both are small, light and durable. And — perhaps — a drone.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

cycling, hiking, travel

Cycling Norway, Faroes & Iceland

With my new touring bike, the trip I’d most like to take would include Norway, Faroe Islands, and Iceland.

Gorgeous. Expen$ive — unless you are camping most nights.

Ultimate plan is flying to Oslo July 2022. Connecting flight to Tromsø. Have my bike assembled there by a recommended bike shop.

Cycle about 3000km south to Langesund. In about 30 days. That includes close to 300km by ferry.

This route is the recommendation of a consultant I’ve hired. His name … Matthew Norway.

Matthew put together a map for me in the Komoot app. (If anything goes wrong, I’d cycle to the nearest train station. 😀 )

I’d cycle to the Island of Senja first. Then the Lofoten Islands.

That route includes about 30 ferries. Most of those free.

I’d be doing something like this.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Time allowing, I’d ALSO do some famous rides in the south of Norway as I worked my way to Oslo. Most interesting is Rena to Lillehammer, the Berkebeinerrittet route. It hosts the largest mountain bike race in the world. Or something even more challenging.

Click PLAY or watch some Norway cycling and hiking on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Weather is the BIG problem. I’m trying to put together a system that could handle the worst possible conditions. Matthew recommends the Yr.no app for making decisions based on weather.

Finally, I’d take the ferry from Langesund near Oslo to Hirtshals on Denmark’s Jutland peninsula. (5hrs)


I’d book the ferry from Hirtshals in Denmark to the Faroe Islands (30 hours). It runs twice a week during the summer.

Once I get to those remote islands, I’ll mainly focus on the most famous hikes. Many of them cost $30 or more as they are all on private land.


It’s another 18 hours by ferry to Iceland. I’m still deciding what to do there.

I’d arrive in Seyðisfjørður on the east coast. Depending on my time and enthusiasm, I MIGHT do one of the routes crossing inland.

Easier would be to find transportation to the most interesting cycling areas:

Click PLAY or watch some Iceland cycling and hiking on YouTube. #inspiration

Iceland is lowest priority of the three destinations as I’ve traveled and hiked there in the past.

cycling, hiking, photos, travel

Lisbon, Portugal in November

I arrived Lisbon Nov. 2nd, 2021my birthday. During a pandemic.

My excuse was ESSENTIAL TRAVEL 😶 to get a dental implant done. Expen$ive — but excellent. And finished within 2 weeks. A dental holiday.

Click PLAY or watch highlights on YouTube. (3min)

I avoided museums and restaurant because PLAGUE — but ordered out from famed Time Out Market at least 6 times.

Tourists love Lisbon.

Fantastic street art for pretentious influencers. 😀

I stayed at Sunset Destination. Not the best hostel in town, but definitely the best located. On top of a train station transportation hub. AND they have a great rooftop patio.

I walked more than on a typical hiking day. There’s much to see. Many viewpoints to visit.

Belém Tower
Monument to the Discoveries
Praça do Comércio and Rua Augusta Arch

Santa Justa elevator
Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology (MAAT)

I really liked climbing the Christ statue at sunset.

Cristo Rei

I’ll be back in Lisbon next Spring to get my implant installed.

travel

Tourists LOVE Seville

I’d been to Seville, Spain once before in 2015. Was happy to return to catch the high speed train to Madrid. It’s the largest city in lovely Andalusia.

Metropol Parasol – world’s largest wooden structure

It’s a great walking city.

One highlight is bridges.

The Plaza de España is fantastic.

I was there during a dusk rain storm, watching busking Flamenco dancers.

But it’s the Royal Alcázars (Palace) that is the biggest draw for tourists.

Sprawling gardens, minor palaces, regal salons, and dead end walks. A hodge podge of styles. Great for wandering.

My favourite spot was the “Baths of Lady María de Padilla” — rainwater tanks underground. Maria was mistress of Peter the Cruel.

Next door is Seville Cathedral. The largest Gothic cathedral in Christendom.

This is supposed to be the tomb of Christopher Columbus. There’s another in the Dominican Republic.

The Giralda tower was once highest in the world. You can still ride your horse to the top.

Personally, I quite like the riverside Torre del Oro (Tower of Gold).

Of course I stayed in the charming Barrio de Santa Cruz near the Cathedral. It was once the Jewish quarter. Now a labyrinth of cobblestone pedestrian lanes (too narrow for cars) where it’s easy to get lost.

I’d go back to Seville anytime.

I haven’t spent all that much time over the OTHER SIDE of the river.

cycling, travel

Cycling Portugal

I rode Portugal November 2021. November is considered off-season. There were very few tourists.

Click PLAY or get a glimpse on YouTube.

Cycling Alentejo and the Algarve is very popular, especially with German tourists.

For me Alentejo was much better. Very undeveloped. Low population density.

The Algarve is overdeveloped. And not in any way more scenic.

Weather was good. But I did have one BIG rainstorm.

I mostly followed the EuroVelo 1 Atlantic Coast Route using an app called Mapy.cz recommended to me by two Polish cyclists. Other cyclists recommended RideWithGPS. I’ll try that on my next trip.

It’s not much signed. Not clear. The EV1 in France — by comparison — is well signed and much better maintained.

I was quick to go off route if something looked interesting either left or right. Ended up getting lost and having to backtrack quite often.

With a week long touring bike rental from BikeIberia here’s what I ended up doing:

Lisbon > train to Setubal > ferry to Costa de Gale
Night 1 – Small room beside a small town bar in Comporta
Night 2 – Great hostel in Porto Covo
Night 3 – Tenting near Odeceixe
Night 4 – Great hostel in Sagres (huge rain storm)
Night 5 – Sagres
Night 6 – Hostel Portimao
Night 7 – Great hostel in Faro

Cost was about 30 EUR (US$33.85) / day for 7 days. Cost / day is less if you book for longer.

That included a good bike, well maintained. Helmet, handlebar bag, 2 waterproof panniers, toolkit, spare tube, pump and lock.

BEST of all — you can drop the bike anywhere you want in Portugal and Spain at no cost. The company picks it up on your last day. Brilliant.

Click PLAY or watch an EV1 promo video on YouTube.

I’m already considering riding one of the Camino de Santiago routes in future. Perhaps Lisbon to Santiago along the coast.

I slept most nights in a hostel, the best of which was MUTE in Porto Covo, where I had started my Fisherman’s Trail hike the week prior.

sunset from the MUTE hostel balcony

I would have slept in the tent more often, BUT nights are long in November. And it was colder than I expected.

In general, I took the scenic route closest to the Atlantic.

Beaches in November are deserted.

I ate one restaurant meal a day.

Free coffee at the hostels. Or on the trail.

I’d detour to tourist attractions.

I easily finished at Faro within my 7-day rental. Probably the least charming town en route.

Small coastal villages are best for me.

I’ll be back to Portugal / Spain to rent AGAIN from the same Lisbon based company. This is the easiest way in the world to do cycle touring.

Art and beauty, movies, sport - pro, travel, TV

Toronto HOLIDAY in December

Having traveled over 90 nations, IF you asked me where to go in December … near bottom of the list would be Toronto, OnTerrible. 😀

Yet for reasons I’m too embarrassed to relate, I ended up staying in a downtown hostel for 5 nights.

ON THE UPSIDE, the Planet Traveler Hostel in Kensington Market is excellent. I knew the eclectic Kensington neighbourhood from the  Canadian television sitcom which aired on CBC Television from 1975 to 1980.

The STAR of King of Kensington was Al Waxman, a household name in those days.

Waxman died in 2001 — but there’s a statue of him in a neighbourhood park. Crowded by homeless tents.

I really did enjoy funky Kensington, however. Weird shops, cafes, and restaurants.

I went looking for the #GardenCar. And found it.

There’s a lot of bad graffiti. And some excellent art.

My best meal was slow cooked ribs and brisket from Hogtown Smoke. I brought it back to the hostel where the wine was cheap. 😀

What do you do in a big city during wet, dark winter?

Photo by Vincent Albos on Pexels.com

MOVIES. MUSEUMS. STAGE PLAY. WALK. WALK. WALK.

First stop was an immersive van Gogh exhibit.

I attended my second NBA game ever. Toronto defeated the defending Champion Bucks — who were without their MVP Giannis that night.

My first visit to the Royal Ontario Museum was a surprise. Expensive. But excellent. The space compares well against the Prado in Madrid, for example.

My highlight? Light of the Desert, the world’s largest faceted cerussite gem, weighing 898 carats (179.6 g).

By Miranda1989

Next December? … Hawaii. 😀

My Name Is Rek” 
Art and beauty, travel

Visiting the Prado

Mike Sisson’s favourite work in the Prado Museum, Madrid, is Las Meninas (‘The Ladies-in-waiting‘) by Diego Velázquez, the leading artist of the Spanish Golden Age.

It’s one of the most widely analyzed works in Western painting.

5-year-old Infanta Margaret Theresa is surrounded by her entourage. The artist is stage left. I like how the entire top half of the painting is wall and ceiling. 😀

Margaret Theresa died age-21.

For some reason, the painting below by Antonio Fabrés jumped out at me.
The Slave Girl. Of course it seems to more be his  erotic fantasy — not anything to do with slavery.

El Greco moved to Toledo, Spain in 1577. So different than anything that had come before that he’s considered unique. Imaginative, colourful and … weird. So different than the endless portraits and dark religious paintings of the day.

Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta caught my eye.

The model for nearly all of the female figures in his genre paintings was Aline Masson, the daughter of the doorman at the Paris residence of the Marqués de Casa Riera.