FTLComm - Kinistino - March 26, 2001
As I was coming home from Prince Albert Sunday night the setting sun was streaming down the highway right into the eyes of the on coming traffic. Besides making it uncomfortable for Northwest bound drivers it really illuminated the scene and It struck me that it would be interesting to attempt to photograph each vehicle as I met it. Who know what I might find out from such an exercise.

The first thing I learned was that the built in delay between the time you hit the button and the time the electronics of the digital camera get into action means that many cars are long gone by the time it has made it through its cycle. The second and related thing I learned was that if there were several cars in a group I would only get a shot at the first one as the camera would not get around in time for successive shots. (Sony and Olympus both have solved this problem with being able to shot bursts of frames in a row.)

The third thing I learned is that though this is interesting it used up the memory available so that when I came upon a pair of geese at Melfort and an unusual tracked vehicle I was out of memory and you won't see pictures of either of those subjects.

However, what you do see is a succession of squinting drivers and even by recording each vehicle you have a sample of the sort of traffic found on the highway from Birch Hills to West of Melfort on a Sunday evening in March.

There are several observations that you can make about the kind of vehicles on the road as to the mix of cars, vans, SUVs and pickups. In most cases you can also see the number of people in each vehicle which also tells you something about travel on a Sunday evening. It is clear that few of the vehicles are very old and all appear to be well maintained and clean.

These pictures are taken in sequence beginning East of Birch Hills and progressing to just West of Melfort. In the back ground of each picture you can see the kind of countryside and the condition of the snow cover on this the twenty-fifth of March 2001.

In general this is a good piece of highway, smooth and well looked after. Though it is subjected to a lot of heavy truck traffic this piece of road is not broken up or sunken from overloading. On a Sunday night none of the traffic includes commercial haullers

The thirteenth car in this row of pictures is an older maroon Oldsmobile with a number of people, you will notice it is well off to the right hand side of its lane. The passengers like I had just seen a huge coyote cross the road and head South across an open field and the driver had pulled off to the side and slowed to see this predator out looking for supper.

Another interesting factor is that these pictures are taken around six-thirty in the evening and among them there are no RCMP vehicles even though I photographed every vehicle I met except where there was more than one car in a group. This isn't unusual, not to see a police car on the road on a Sunday night, especially at supper time. This road is patrolled by highway patrol units stationed in Prince Albert with some vehicles in the unit working out of Melfort.

These pictures are taken through the car's windshield and almost all traffic was moving at the same speed, right around the one hundred kilometres per hour so that I was neither being passed nor was I overtaking other traffic.

In the stretch of road where these pictures were being taken only one instance of a vehicle passing another was noted and took place far ahead of me.

You will notice that in many cases the shutter delay caught a vehicle quite close to me and within that fifty-foot zone they are blurred.

There is a limit on the number of pictures you can take with a digital camera and the first set of images are at the better quality, then some are at the poorer quality and then I had switched to the poorest quality yet only near the bottom do you notice the pixelation as some of those pictures are enlarged and look rough.

For many miles West of Kinistino there are a series of marches which host a huge number of water fowl each year.

Kinistino is a vigourous market town with two huge agricultural machinery dealers. The Ford/New Holland dealer, Ag-World is one of the largest dealerships in Western Canada. This dealership handles large quantities of farm implements and in the pictures shown below you can see these rows and rows of equipment lined up facing the highway.

The large grain terminal development has not yet moved into this part of the province with small wood elevators still operating in Kinistino.

There is a 80 KPH speed zone as you pass through Kinistino.
This picture is taken within the short speed zone at Kinistino and shows the main intersection with the town's main street and on the South Side of the highway Ag-world.
The image above shows the line up of new New Holland combines and a row of new and used tractors in the Ag-World lot.
Just out of Kinistino I met this Saskatchewan Government Transportation company van and trailer This is in fact a bus, when there are light loads on this route the bus company replaces the regular bus with a van pulling a trailer handling freight.
This picture shows the degradation of quality caused by a low setting on the digital Epson PhotoPC 650.
Trucks are suprisingly common, here we see three in a row as manufacturers have increased the features of these utility vehicles to the point that they really are just big, expensive to operate cars.
The mini-van continues to be a popular family vehicle these General Motors Astro vans and Safaris are based on the S-10 pickup chassis and are rear wheel drive. Most people expect them to disappear as people buy the
far more elaborate Montana type front wheel drive van which has many more features and is lower in price.
As you drive along and in this case photograph each vehicle we see the enormous difference in size and weight between vehicles that meet each other on the road. With the capabilities of technology today it surprises me to no end that we continue to manually operate our vehicles. We have relied upon automated speed control since the early seventies, more than a quarter of a century yet we still are guiding and braking these things on our own.

Automated guidance systems are well within out technological capability and would all but completely eliminate traffic accidents yet only some modest experiments have been carried out by auto makers.

Computer systems to monitor speed, direction control, obstacle avoidance, controlled acceleration and deceleration are not complex issues. Simple radar and laser technology could handle lane control and proximity safety. When you consider the expense these machines represent in terms of the total income of most individuals making them run safely and in an automated way would be such a small step in relation to their total cost.

Speaking of cost, fuel prices in Melfort and Prince Albert are now 68.9¢ per litre while the lowest price in Tisdale is 71.3¢. Clearly, we need to get the cost of operation down and somehow quit using nonrenewable hydrocarbons for fuel.

Going by the electric substation makes one wonder why it is that we have not seen electric, and hybrid vehicles on our roads in substantial numbers even though we have been well aware of the limited quantities of oil on the planet.