A trip across Alberta in August 2010 provided a chance to head north, and we couldn't miss it. We arranged to join the official company tour of the sands, despite my concerns about that stern footnote in the tourist brochure: visitors were encouraged to take as many photographs as they'd like, but were required to sign a legal agreement that such photographs would not be shared with anyone, "including posting to any social-networking sites." If you can't share a photograph with anyone else, is it really a photograph at all?

As it happens, there was some mix-up, and the company's tour bus never stopped by our hotel to pick us up.

We turned to the couple next to us, and offered a solution: "We were planning to go up in a small plane after this: want to join us?" Off to the airport.

Oh, the joys of getting above it all, and taking photographs that no company can (yet) legally control.


Elizabeth Kolbert (2007). "Unconventional Crude." The New Yorker, November 12, 46-51, quote from p. 47." />

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