From there to here
The concept for this website and venture (Artrophy) began when I was still in prison. (That’s right, prison…if this is news to you and comes as a surprise, then keep following along as there are many more surprises in store) During our visits, Kupu and I would talk about LAP (life after prison) and how we could move forward. We didn’t know when that would be or what it would look like but the idea of taking some time to dream about a future driven by our passions served as a great escape, no pun intended. It also helped us get through some long dismal days when the situation seemed hopeless.
One of our great passions was traveling to parts unknown and immersing ourselves in new cultures. Ironically, this is sort of how we ended up in the situation where I (Bhuddi) ended up ‘locked up abroad’. Despite the craziness, we didn’t want one horrible situation to ruin all the fun we had up until that point.
During our previous travels, we took a lot of photos and thought it might be fun to share some of our experiences through images we captured. We also wanted to look back at all the positive experiences we were fortunate enough to have had and show gratitude for them. So we decided to set up an Instagram account. Kupu would put images on an SD card and smuggle them into the prison. I would style and edit the images while Kupu wrote a poetic description for each image. It was a collective creation done in separate spaces. If you want to know how I was able to post something from prison, well that is another story for another time.
So that is how it all started. It gave us great pleasure to relive some of our past travels evoking feelings of joy and freedom. A time when we were free to do what we wanted, when we wanted, within the bounds of a full-time job of course. We knew we would get back to this way of life someday, as I wasn’t going to be in jail forever. We weren’t exactly sure when it would end, but it would, so we took the time to plan for an uncertain future. The plan when I was set free was to take time to heal, surround ourselves with family and friends, and reconnect after all the time away. We wanted to travel, buy a Sprinter van, throw our camping gear and camera in the back and explore our home country with the aim to try our hand at travel writing. We had to stick to Canada because when you have been convicted of the crimes I had been convicted of, no matter how obvious it was that I was innocent, there are issues with international travel. The fact remains that you still have a criminal record and travel restrictions must be taken into consideration. For the time being, we were okay with it, Canada is a big place and we had a lot of places we wanted to explore. We were free to roam just like the buffalo!
We set off in early September 2019 on our road trip. We didn’t have the cash for a Sprinter van so we settled for an extra-long SUV that we could sleep inside (if completely necessary). When we went to test drive the SUV I hopped in the back to lie down, the salesperson looked at us curiously. I told him I needed to see if I could lie out in the back which is a feat for someone well over 6 feet tall.
We hit the road the day after we picked up the vehicle. We bought roof and bike racks, packed up, and headed….west! Some of you may be thinking “you are going the wrong way” that is true but we wanted to spend our first night in the mountains before we headed across the prairies. So we headed west on the TransCanada, destination Banff. We spent a glorious evening checking out one of our favourite areas, Cascade Pond, Two Jack Lake, and Lake Minnewanka which were all busy with families enjoying a spectacular late summer evening. We met up with friends who run a B&B in Banff, stayed the night, and caught up. It was a great first day, with not too much driving and beautiful weather.
We woke up the next morning and the lovely weather from the previous day had disappeared. Here is the first lesson we re-learned, weather in Canada is unpredictable and can turn on a dime. By the time we made it to Moose Jaw, we had to give up our campsite for a hotel room in order to dry out our gear. The second lesson noted; sleeping in the car is only an option when there is nothing else inside the car. When you are traveling across the country that typically isn’t the case. So a Super 8 along the TransCanada was our choice. It was ideally located right next to the statue of a massive Moose.
When I was younger and could drive I wanted to road trip across Canada to photograph statues of large things. If you are from Canada you may know what I mean, there is the previously mentioned Moose, a Canadian goose in Kenora, a nickel in Sudbury, an Easter Egg in Vegreville, a giant dump truck in Sparwood. You get the idea. I wanted to title the book Big Things Small Places. If you have any other examples please leave a comment so I can add to this by no means exhaustive list.
Have I mentioned yet that I can’t see well enough to drive so all the driving was up to Kupu? I was in charge of music and balanced coffee consumption. It was a new car to us, and we didn’t want to get it all messy with crunchy snacks so we opted for cereal snacks. We did try to choose some childhood favourites keeping in mind the sugar content. So Corn Pops, Golden Grahams, and Oat Squares were on the menu. Third lesson; Fruit Loops and Captain Crunch have way too much sugar. I know you only live once and prison didn’t kill me so what’s a little extra sugar? However, being on a sugar high while traveling across the Prairies quickly gives one the shakes. So balancing sugar intake with strong coffee was key. Even though there are 4286 Tim Horton’s in Canada – the distance between them varies greatly! So sometimes we were more concerned about our next coffee stop than gassing up the SUV.
If you haven’t done it before, just note that driving across the Prairies can be somewhat tedious, it can be quietly beautiful but due to howling winds and driving rain, it was not on this occasion. We kept the forecast in check to see if we were heading towards warmer weather but we just seemed to be keeping pace with the same miserable weather pattern that we woke up with on our second day.
We aren’t going to bore you with a day-by-day account of our travels so we will gloss over some of the long hours of driving some very straight roads and move on with the story and how we arrived at this point, the website.
This may be a good jumping-off point to come back to. You probably already know by now how the website was born and what we would like to accomplish from it. This blog could go in many different directions. It could be studio notes, it could be travel stories, or perhaps tidbits of information about the case. We will just have to see how things go. One thing we do know is there are plenty of stories to share. We hope you will follow along.