The light was bad.

It was bright red, glowing against a field of yellowish black and it had appeared suddenly in front of me as was headed east. Moments before, looking between the cracks in the windshield, the world was bathed in soft, post-dawn pastel light, the kind I was hoping to see.

But just below the horizon of the Toyota FJ’s dashboard, a flash of light appeared. It blinked on between the fuel gauge and the heat gauge, a backlit icon in the rectangular shape of a car battery.

It was red. And it was bad.

But it wasn’t the first red light of the day. The first red light came just before dawn.

I’d been watching the eastern horizon glow for a half hour or so as I rolled toward Lyalta and Keoma, passing sloughs and meadows shrouded in blue mist. The morning was a bit chilly, cooler than we’ve become accustomed to over the last few months, and the exhalations of the cattle and horses in the dark pastures hung condensed around their faces in the still air.

I rolled on as the eastern sky brightened until I came across a canal flowing through a misty coulee just north of Keoma. There was enough light for pictures now so I stopped and aimed my camera down the bends in the canal where the mist rose from the tumbling water.

red light, green light: photographing rural alberta from the fj cruiser

A misty irrigation canal near Keoma, Ab., on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Mike Drew/Postmedia

I could hear traffic rumbling by over on the highway, geese calling, a dog barking, the water splashing down the coulee. The sky overhead was a deep, dawn blue while the eastern horizon was turning various shades of pink.

And then, just before the sun came into view, scarlet light swept across the fields and pastures, catching in the rising mist and scattering red light everywhere. It was over in a matter of minutes but the brightness remained, now more orange and fading to yellow. The sky above brightened to a robin-egg blue, the colour softened by the mist around me.

red light, green light: photographing rural alberta from the fj cruiser

Ducks and wading birds in the morning mist at a lake east of Irricana, Ab., on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Mike Drew/Postmedia

I kept going east for a bit and then turned north, the FJ’s tires kicking up bits of gravel that tinked on the undercarriage. I haven’t been driving the FJ much these last few months deferring to the Rav — the trucklet — since gas prices went stratospheric. Much as I love to be going down the road wrapped in the brick-like confines of my dear old pal, at over a hundred dollars for a tank of gas, I was forced to opt for the more fuel-efficient Rav instead.

But now that the prices have backed down a bit — but not far enough yet — I can finally afford to drive the FJ again. So, at just a little past seven in the morning, the FJ and I were rattling along east of Innisfail, dust flying behind, morning mist ahead.

red light, green light: photographing rural alberta from the fj cruiser

Morning mist at a lake east of Irricana, Ab., on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Mike Drew/Postmedia

The first big slough we came to was roiling with it. With the sun now higher in the sky it was skimming across the tops of the fog banks, a soft orange where light scattered among the billions of tiny water drops, blue where the mist was shadowed. The air was unmoving here, too, and sound carried from every direction. There were shorebirds peeping in the shallows, ducks gabbling on the open water. Geese were feeding in the harvested fields along the banks.

red light, green light: photographing rural alberta from the fj cruiser

White-fronted geese fly over a harvested field near a lake east of Irricana, Ab., on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Mike Drew/Postmedia

There were hawks were flying overhead having left their perches in the nearby trees for their morning hunt. Some already on the prowl were relaxing on rolled up straw bales, watching for mice and voles.

red light, green light: photographing rural alberta from the fj cruiser

A Swainson’s hawk relaxes on a straw bale near a lake east of Irricana, Ab., on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Mike Drew/Postmedia

A flock of white-fronted geese, here from further north, took off from a field and flew into the mist with their peeping, un-gooselike calls echoing behind them. They, in turn, spooked a bunch of blackbirds that flew up and spun away. A silly whitetail doe that had been lying in the stubble jumped up with the birds and fled with tail flying for no reason at all.

red light, green light: photographing rural alberta from the fj cruiser

White-fronted geese fly over a harvested field near a lake east of Irricana, Ab., on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Mike Drew/Postmedia

The day was brightening quickly now but the mist was still lingering. Cattle were exhaling their own mist, now backlit by the morning sun, while blue herons squawked and flew off across a nearby pond. Here there were gulls as well as the other water birds I’d seen, hundreds of ring-billed and Franklin’s gulls, many still with their baby feathers. They drifted across the sky on their way to hunt for grasshoppers in the fields while cattle grazed and lazed in the pastures below them.

red light, green light: photographing rural alberta from the fj cruiser

A blue heron flies over a pond east of Irricana, Ab., on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Mike Drew/Postmedia

The light was lovely and soft as I continued east. My plan was to drop into the Rosebud River valley and follow it along until the mist had all dissipated and then cut north toward Three Hills and that gorgeous rolling landscape between there and Delburne.

red light, green light: photographing rural alberta from the fj cruiser

Cattle graze in a haze of their own breath east of Irricana, Ab., on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Mike Drew/Postmedia

But suddenly, the plan hit a red light. In the shape of a battery.

I’d slowed down to try for a picture of a coyote that had bounced across the road in front of me — didn’t get it — and then hit the gas to roll on. But as I reached up to flip down my sun visor my eyes swept across the gauge cluster on the dash.

The yellow warning lights on the FJ, some for brakes, others for airbags, that pesky “check engine” thing, have been on for years. I’m truly surprised that the bulbs haven’t burned out yet.

But those ones are yellow. Just like with traffic lights, yellow means proceed with caution. So, for the last quarter-million kilometres or so, that’s what I’ve done.

But this red one was something new, something I’ve only ever seen once before. With a knot forming in the pit of my stomach I realized that my alternator had quit working and the battery wasn’t charging. The reason why was unimportant. Chances are that if I had shut off the motor to check what the problem was, I wouldn’t be able to get going again. And given where I was, that would not be good.

So there was only one thing to do.

I turned around and started heading back to town, hoping — and praying — that I would have enough battery power to keep the spark plugs firing until I got somewhere that I could more easily get help. And the FJ made it.

A little over an hour later, I was parked in front of the house. The red light was still on but the motor hadn’t missed a beat on battery power so I left it running while I popped the hood for a look.

Everything looked fine until I wiggled the battery cables and one of them seemed loose so I grabbed a pair of pliers and snugged it down a bit. That didn’t help but as I was torquing on it I saw a wire move on the outside of the alternator so I reached down to see if it was loose.

It wasn’t loose. It was broken.

That had to be the problem. It would be a simple fix but I needed to get parts to do it so I shut off the FJ and dug out the keys for the Rav to go get them.

Yes, I know, quite a luxury to have two vehicles. Together, they’re worth about the price of a set of new tires, but they’re both pretty good and, generally, reliable.

So I fired up the Rav and then thought, well, it’s barely 10 in the morning on a lovely day and there’s half a tank of gas in the Rav so, maybe, I don’t have to fix the FJ right away. I could just grab the cameras and head back out into the country. The FJ would forgive me if I waited a day or two to get it rolling again.

An hour later, with the sun now high overhead and the wind blowing, I was eastward bound again.

red light, green light: photographing rural alberta from the fj cruiser

Geese and ducks on a pond west of Langdon, Ab., on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Mike Drew/Postmedia

The mist was all gone now and the light was harsh but southern Alberta is lovely no matter what the conditions so I rolled on. Out by Namaka now, I found sloughs full of ducks and more white-fronted geese as well as gulls and herons. A group of horses wandered over to see what I was up to so I took a few pictures of them.

red light, green light: photographing rural alberta from the fj cruiser

Curious horses in the wind near Namaka, Ab., on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Mike Drew/Postmedia

On another slough close by, clouds of white alkali were blowing around while Namaka Lake was choppy with whitecaps. From the top of Hammer Hill I looked down across fields of grain to the combines churning down below in the valley. Stopping to fly my tiny copter — way too windy for it — over an irrigation canal I used to swim in half a century ago, I had a lively conversation with a farmer who lived close by.

red light, green light: photographing rural alberta from the fj cruiser

Looking down across the fields from the height of Hammer Hill east of Namaka, Ab., on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Mike Drew/Postmedia

World problems sorted, I continued on, stopping to take pictures of a mulie buck vaulting a fence and a doe in the tall grass by Meadowbrook Hall. The fields were studded with round straw bales in every direction and young hawks not yet wary of vehicles posed on fenceposts.

red light, green light: photographing rural alberta from the fj cruiser

A mule deer buck clears a fence north of Gleichen, Ab., on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Mike Drew/Postmedia

Combines were kicking up dust everywhere, some chewing through canola and wheat while the dustiest ones were knocking down barley. I know the cabs on these machines are thoroughly climate controlled and dust proof but just seeing all that barley chaff swirling in the wind made me itch. Nasty stuff.

red light, green light: photographing rural alberta from the fj cruiser

A combine unloads in a cloud of barley chaff south of Chancellor, Ab., on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Mike Drew/Postmedia

The sloughs out this way, around Chancellor, Hussar and Standard are mostly dry but the big cattail marsh over in the Parfleche Creek valley always has a bit of water in it. Even though I knew there would be no mist and no soft, orange light, I figured I’d go by and have a look anyway.

There were yellow-legs and willets wading around on the alkali-rimmed ponds and I caught a glimpse of a marsh wren — first one I’ve seen this year — and a young teal that swam deeper into the cattails. And as I was shooting the tall, rattling leaves, dozens of dragonflies blew by me, a whole squadron of cherry-faced meadow hawks — my faves — fighting the gusts with their cellophane wings.

red light, green light: photographing rural alberta from the fj cruiser

Yellowlegs forage in a drying slough near Standard, Ab., on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Mike Drew/Postmedia

It was getting late in the afternoon so I was contemplating staying out to watch the sun set but to tell you the truth, lovely warm and windy though the day had become, between the panic with the FJ and the psychosomatic barley itch, I was pretty much done for the day.

So I put the Rav in gear and started back to town.

Got maybe a kilometre when I glanced down at the dash. And a red light was on.

This couldn’t have been happening, not twice in the same day! But the light was on so I stopped. When I wiped the road dust off the gauge cluster I could see that this one said “brake.” And relief swept over me.

What I had done was snag a camera strap on the parking brake lever so when I picked up the camera to shoot the cattails, I must have accidentally pulled up the lever a couple of clicks. It wasn’t enough to engage the brake but it was enough to turn on the warning light.

red light, green light: photographing rural alberta from the fj cruiser

Mature cattails ready to pop into fluff near Standard, Ab., on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Mike Drew/Postmedia

So I took the strap off the lever, pushed in the button to release it and snugged it back down where it belonged. The light went off.

I was back home by seven, twelve hours after the first red light of the day, eleven hours after the second and barely a single hour after the third. Of the three, only one of them was good.

In wide open spaces of southern Alberta, there’s almost never any bad light.

But every once in a while, there is.

red light, green light: photographing rural alberta from the fj cruiser

Wind-beaten cattail leaves near Standard, Ab., on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Mike Drew/Postmedia

Keyword: Red light, green light: Photographing rural Alberta from the FJ Cruiser

CAR'S NEWS RELATED

Best cars for a 'Love Bug' remake

Tennessee’s Yard Art The Thorndyke Special The Hot Rod The Hippie Van Jim’s Lamborghini Growing up, it’s safe to say my absolute favorite movie was Disney’s “The Love Bug.” As a kid living in a world before Pixar’s “Cars,” it was pretty much the best car movie. I loved ...

View more: Best cars for a 'Love Bug' remake

Audi timing belt tensioner prompts Utah bomb squad visit

An aftermarket timing belt tensioner found in a Salt Lake City apartment prompted a visit from the bomb squad this week after it was mistaken for a potential explosive device. Police partially evacuated the apartment complex in which it was found “out of an abundance of caution” and called ...

View more: Audi timing belt tensioner prompts Utah bomb squad visit

2023 GMC Sierra HD 2500 and 3500 will get more expensive

GMC Sierra HD pickups are about to get more expensive again after recently becoming more expensive, according to GM Authority. In July, GMC and Buick raised the prices on certain vehicles in their lineups anywhere from $975 to $1,675 by making the previously optional OnStar a standard feature. Next ...

View more: 2023 GMC Sierra HD 2500 and 3500 will get more expensive

Our week with EVs: Recapping the diverse collection of electric cars we tested

Mercedes-Benz EQB First Drive Review: Next electric Benz is a little different 2022 Chevy Bolt EV Road Test Review: Time to play EV, gas or airplane 2023 Genesis GV60 Road Test Review: The third of Hyundai Group’s E-GMP EVs is the fastest, but softest It may be hard to ...

View more: Our week with EVs: Recapping the diverse collection of electric cars we tested

Europe car sales lowest since 1996 after 12-month decline

BERLIN – Europe registered the lowest number of new passenger cars in the month of June this year since 1996 at just over 1.06 million vehicles, with some carmakers seeing sales drop by nearly 50%, data from Europe’s automobile association showed on Friday. Volkswagen Group was the hardest-hit major ...

View more: Europe car sales lowest since 1996 after 12-month decline

More Than Just A Carmaker: Toyota Motor PH Launches Toyota Mobility Solutions

Automotive industry leader, Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation (TMP) inaugurated today Toyota Mobility Solutions Philippines, Inc. (TMSPH), a wholly owned subsidiary that will be a provider of mobility-related services. TMSPH ventures into the development and offering of a range of ‘new mobility solutions’ that will enhance Toyota as a brand ...

View more: More Than Just A Carmaker: Toyota Motor PH Launches Toyota Mobility Solutions

'F1 22' feels fast and familiar | Gaming Roundup

‘F1 22’ impressions ‘Construction Simulator’ is launching Sept. 20 Autoblog may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change. This week in racing game news: ‘F1 22’ impressions At its core, “F1 22,” the latest installment in the F1 ...

View more: 'F1 22' feels fast and familiar | Gaming Roundup

Watch a single-engine plane crash-land on 91 Freeway in California

A single-engine Piper Cherokee airplane was forced to crash land on the 91 Freeway in California after losing power about 45 minutes outside of Los Angeles. Yes, that means this was a very busy highway, practically bursting at the seams with traffic. No, amazingly nobody died, either in the ...

View more: Watch a single-engine plane crash-land on 91 Freeway in California

Ford files 'Mustang Dark Horse' trademark application

Make adventures more comfortable with high-quality Jeep grab handles

New Lucid Air variant to debut & Stealth Look to be on display during Monetary Car Week

Chevy offers incentives to prevent Corvette Z06 flipping

Average U.S. gas price falls below $4/gallon

German court: SUV driver must pay more than a car for running red light

Australian vehicle crash tests to include underwater performance

Toyota C-HR rumored to get revamp next year and an EV version

Geely's electric Zeekr 009 is an EV Alphard we never had; 700 km, 542 PS, top speed 190 km/h

A Newey, Brawn and Anderson row that shows F1 doesn’t change

Sorry, EV buyers, you won't get to pick your own pedestrian safety sounds

There won't be enough copper to meet climate goals, study indicates

OTHER CAR NEWS

;
Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network