This is it for me. I’m out of here. I’m moving on.
But what a nice time I had.
And to think there was a time I thought I would never ever allow myself to be smitten by Innisfail. Well, consider me smitten. Honestly.
I leave the town after six and a half weeks with absolute confidence the Province will remain in great hands with new publisher Brent Spilak, new editor Patrick Teskey (a fine talented lad who hails from my old stomping grounds, north of 60), and along with the rest of the wonderful staff, including reporter and photographer Justina Contenti, whose bubbly non-stop chatter eventually grew on these very old bones of mine.
As for me, it is spring, pushing fast towards the wonders of summer. It is the time of year for me to hit the back roads, from the mountains of British Columbia to the dusty old flatland trails of rural Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
I am a ghost hunter. Not the paranormal ones that bump and boo in the night but the ones whose ancient doors and broken windows clatter and bang from eerie howling winds.
I chase and seek out ghost towns across western Canada. I have been doing it for more than 15 years. Although I have produced countless newspaper and magazine articles, along with books and photo shows, my passion is one I rarely talked about until about a few years ago. It was a past time that often drew hushed whispers and chuckles at socials. And if I did engage in the rare chat, hysterics would follow when I said I wanted to eventually retire in a ghost town.
That is still my goal, although my wife won’t have anything to do with it.
For now though there are new books to write, projects to finally start and new tails to explore.
Mostly, in this fine year of transition, ghost locales are sought out to find stillness and quiet. It is here where optimum moments of place and time will be realized, seized and held forever. It is what I have been waiting anxiously for months and months.
I begin this week. Each seasonal expedition is meticulously planned the same way. Maps are scoured for the best routes. My camera bag is packed. Food and water is prepared.
In the morning, my Live at Leeds Deluxe CDs are strategically placed in my SUV. They are ready to play when I hit the highway. When the first notes of The Who’s epic live version of My Generation explode from the speakers, there is an absolute feeling of knowing that I have arrived with spring, that the road into summer is blessed with its owns clues towards great undiscovered treasures, and that there is a greater unforeseen mystery out there just waiting to be found. This is the place I move to, that I will always aim for, but probably never find. And that is okay because it is the journey that really counts, not the destination.
We all have our own plans for the seasons of green, life, wonder and joy. Each of those has their own roads. At first glance there are destinations. A greater look suggests there is more to be found. For me, that is the better story, a greater mystery that is solved, and then solved again, and then again., and again. It never ends.
Life is like that. For me, it should always be like that.
If not, it can get quite mechanical, predictable.
And I have to admit I once held that view about Innisfail. But after six and a half weeks this wonderful vibrant town is anything but predictable. It, like life itself, is always changing, evolving.
How incredible is that? I think it’s just completely amazing.