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A few years ago, when I first stumbled upon the eye-popping scenery before me, I knew instantly that few places lend themselves to postcard-perfect settings any better than Lake Louise, Alberta. Pristine, unspoiled terrain, with the steep, vertical face of the Rockies staring at you in the deep background. Punctuating the harmonious symmetry is a cleaving canyon screaming at you in the middleground. And what?s in the foreground but for hockey players skating on a lake. Talk about text-book composition ! You don?t get views like this in southwestern Ontario. Made me want to wake the hibernating grizzlies to all the bliss they?re missing. Yes, this is Lake Louise: nature?s ingenious masterstroke, a place whose stock in trade is sending tourists home with picturesque visuals in their cameras. Yes, this place is paradise ! If you brought a camera, then you really had something to sink your teeth into.

Okay, getting there was a bitch. When I landed at the Calgary airport, I asked for the cheapest car they could offer so it served me right that I ended up with a Ford Fiesta, a lil? compact car with front-wheel drive and tires only slightly thicker than the ones on my mountain bike. This decision makes Pepsi Clear execs look like geniuses because no sooner had I started driving up the mountain than the car started sliding and swerving on the snowy road. Soon it stopped moving altogether. Sooner yet, I was sliding down the road and thus down the mountain. Hmm, big problem. Should?ve rented an SUV with all-wheel drive, but instead I found myself sitting in a substandard piece of crap with no-wheel drive ? I think it was one of those new green, wind-powered cars. At least it felt like it. With options few, the only course correction now was to whip the car around and drive down to the village, leave it there, and wait for the next shuttle up to Lake Louise. My thinking that a Ford Fiesta would get me up the mountains through the snow wasn?t exactly bulletproof logic ? upon further reflection, I think I would have had better luck if I just borrowed Paul Blart?s segway.

I?m not a huge believer in karma, but if you stick it out and persevere through the struggles, odds are there will be a reward in it for you. That reward presented itself in spades at the top of the mountain drive where the setting described above awaited. And there it was. With my car problems the furthest thing from my mind, I was now able to revel in the sublime pictures of Canadians playing hockey outdoors and capture the scenes with my Mark 1DX. If you?re a person who knows how to appreciate what?s truly golden, then you have to fight your instincts so that you don?t turn into a teenage girl at the sight of a boy band. Watching hockey be played in this most natural of habitats had to be a bit like watching men during the Civil War playing vintage base ball with their twirly moustaches, fielding a hot smash with their bare hands. Or something like that. In any event, on this day, nice frames were easier to find than cretins in the studio audience of The View. This was hockey in its purest form, a sport distilled down to its bare essence ? no gimmicks, no mascots, no pyrotechnics, no scoreboards, no referees; just a puck and some guys chasing it up and down the ice for the joy and pride of it all.

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