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  • Jennifer Dowd

Chasing Adventure and Finding Peace: A Journey Through Gold River, Courtenay, and Comox - June 28-29, 2024

My recent trip to the Gold River, Courtenay, and Comox area was supposed to be a grand photographic adventure. Armed with my camera and a spirit of exploration, I set off in search of stunning landscapes and captivating wildlife. Little did I know, the universe had a different kind of adventure planned for me.

From the moment I hit the road, my GPS seemed to have a mind of its own. It led me down winding logging roads that were strictly forbidden, taunting me with promises of hidden gems just beyond the "No Trespassing" signs. Each wrong turn felt like a step further from my photographic dreams. As if the GPS wasn't enough, I encountered construction at every turn. Many of the locations I had meticulously planned to visit were blocked off, forcing me to reroute time and time again. Frustration mounted as I spent more hours driving than actually photographing.

Just when I thought things couldn't get worse, the skies opened up, drenching the landscape and my spirits. The rain ruined my focus, making it nearly impossible to capture the shots I had envisioned. It felt like nature itself was conspiring against my photographic ambitions.

In the midst of all the chaos, there were moments of serendipity. I spotted a majestic turkey vulture and a bald eagle by the side of a high-speed highway. Despite the danger, I managed to stop and capture these magnificent creatures. These quick stops, though brief, infused a glimmer of hope into my weekend.

Whoooohooooo! Thank goodness for my 600mm lens! While it's not the best shot—given the bright mid-day sun, which isn't ideal for capturing the sky—it does capture the majesty of the bald eagle.

The first stop, Elk Falls in Campbell River. With my aunt and my dog it was a picturesque outing, though not without its quirks. Our goal was to capture stunning waterfall photos, but alas, I discovered I was missing a crucial piece to my tripod, foiling my plans for silky water shots. Despite this setback, the area was bustling with visitors, which slightly interrupted the serenity we had hoped for. Nonetheless, the falls themselves were a sight to behold, cascading gracefully amidst lush greenery, and Baylee's playful antics added a touch of joy to our adventure.

On our way home, we decided to take a small detour to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. Seeing the majestic creatures receiving the care they needed was a powerful reminder of the importance of wildlife conservation.

My favorite sight was the bald eagles, awe-inspiring in their grace and strength. Watching them in recovery, knowing they were getting a second chance, was both humbling and uplifting. The center's efforts to educate people about the need to protect wild animals and marvel at their amazingness left a lasting impression on me.

Despite the setbacks and missed photo opportunities, the trip turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I realized that being present in the moment, enjoying the company of my aunt and my dog, and sharing laughter along the way was far more rewarding than any perfect photograph could be.

The constant challenges forced me to shift my focus from the result to the experience. I discovered that I could accomplish more than I thought, navigating unexpected obstacles and finding beauty in the journey itself.

Although I didn't come away with the stunning photos I had envisioned, I captured a series of images that tell a story of adventure, resilience, and unexpected joy. As a self-proclaimed documentary photographer, this was the perfect result for me. My photos may not be perfect, but they are a testament to focusing on the present moment.

In the end, my trip to Gold River, Courtenay, and Comox wasn't about the photos I took, but about the experiences I had. It reminded me that sometimes, the best adventures are the ones that don't go as planned.

"Photography helps me stay in the present moment, capturing fleeting beauty and preserving memories that might otherwise slip away."

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