Last week I was telling a group of friends about what it's like in Armstrong. They had never been and they were curious about what I had discovered.
If you went to the IPE last week, may you will understand when I say, Armstrong is like taking a trip back in time.
The town is small and quaint, unique and bright. It's a good vibe.
If I walk out the front door of the Advertiser I generally go right because up the road is a small consignment store and coffee shop. I really enjoy seeing the ladies that work there. They are always kind to me and the store has a little deck where I can sit outside and watch the world go by.
Across the street from Frugal Frocks is a pub called Branding Iron Pub. There is ALWAYS a mobility scooter outside the doors of the pub, once I saw two of them and I believe that speaks to the character of the town.
In my mind, if you did that anywhere else, the scooter or rather I should say shaggin’ wagon, would not be there when you returned.
Up the road from the pub is the Armstrong Saloon. Yes, you read right. It’s a freaking saloon. The Armstrong Saloon looks like a restaurant and bar, I have yet to go into it but I have seen some seriously interesting people leaving it that I am keen to meet in hopes of grabbing their photograph someday.
Everyone that I have met around town has been friendly to me. Armstrong is the kind of town where people say hello or smile to you as you walk past them. In fact, I haven’t met a single sour person yet and I think that’s saying something.
The town has some more modern and contemporary looking shops on the main road but this particular story isn’t about those places.
Recently I found myself a bit lost while on the hunt for a stand-alone for the paper. I travelled ten minutes outside of town and somehow ended up looping back into town and stopping only two blocks away from the office. What could have been a two-minute walk, was a fifteen-minute drive and I honestly had no idea I was two blocks from the paper until I left to go back and realized I was basically across the street.
I ended up parking across from the post office because at the time, the man standing there was eating his chocolate ice cream against that red wall and I couldn't help but see a photo-worthy moment.
The Armstrong Post Office, as a general rule, has the most people surrounding it so I go there if I need to chat with someone for a quote or carve out a feature story. I have to produce about 12 to 15 stories per issue, which is great for me.
To prove my earlier point, as I was taking these photos a woman approached me from behind and said to me while gesturing to the nearby car, “take photos of my husband, he is sitting in the car over there, it’ll really freak him out.”
She walked away laughing to herself and I decided I would let the man enjoy his peaceful moment alone as he waited in the car for her to return. The interaction startled me for sure but it also left me with a smile that stretched cheek to cheek.
During my shift I am to take about an hour break, at minimum a half hour. During that time I am generally parked at Frugal Frocks, or I take a walk around downtown.
The editor Wilma is very persistent about taking breaks during work hours. She very firmly told me the first day I met her that I am not to work a day without taking a break and I thought that was an interesting rule. She also checks on me to ensure I go daily.
Wilma, and Will are married and the editors of the paper. I work with another man named Preston, he is the developer and Emily, the reporter training me left this week to go back to school in the UK. There are other employees at the paper that I haven't met but overall it is very small.
For those of you that have me on Snapchat, you will know by now that the Advertiser also has a resident cat named Abeni, every week the paper releases a picture of her. She has her own small segment that’s called ‘Abeni says’ and if your interested, here is what she said last week.
Back to the Armstrong Post Office was a pay phone with the word FUCK carved into it. So yes, I took a picture.
Despite the vulgar language carved by some angsty teenager, I am sure, it sat next to a small tree with flowers and other greenery. I took these photos for three reasons:
It’s 2018 and this town still has a pay phone.
The pay phone has it’s own small garden to comfort its users which I find humorous.
I picked it up and there was actually a dial tone.
Down the road from the Post Office is a more few things, the museum, city hall, a pizza place and if you go a little further you will find the IPE grounds and the recreation centre where I took the photo of the child swimming.
This month all of my favourite photos came from the IPE grounds. I met a man named James Gilowski who is the new IPE Rodeo Director, in his interview with me he dropped the F bomb twice and he also spat a lot due to the chewing tobacco in his mouth. When he spat it actually made the kind of cartoonish sound that happens when you force air out of your mouth kinda like a fart and I couldn’t tell if he was trying to make funny noises or that was just how he spat.
James allowed me special access during the Rodeo on Friday. Another time the smile on my face was bigger than imaginable. The opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes glance at the IPE and all it's opportunities was one for the books.
The more time I spent here, the more I realize how opportunities do not come to you or anyone. Opportunities are what you make of them and when you find yourself in front of an opportunity, it’s up to you to take hold and go along for the ride.
Maybe the cowboys that ride these bucking broncos can vouch for that?
For a better look at all the moments and faces I captured at this year's IPE, click this link. Thanks for reading.