Arrival at the Kent Farm: only the sound of the wind in the high grass
So here we go! Photos and the tale of the first stop on our movie location trip, 'The Farm, The Field & The Tower'! As mentioned, I've decided to write separate posts for each location because there's just SO MUCH to tell!!!
On Saturday, July 7 we flew out of LAX, heading to Calgary, Alberta Canada and the Kent Farm filming site from "Superman, The Movie"! As I spoke of earlier, I had a flurry of e-mails the day before we left from several contacts / fellow fans of the movie in regard to visiting and shooting at this location, which is privately owned. There's a very long and complex story behind all of it that reached some rather inflated heights. At this point and out of respect for those involved, I don't think it's that crucial to elaborate...not to mention the fact that the it would take forever to transpose here!
After flying over the beautifully snowcapped Canadian Rockies, we landed at the Calgary Airport where I began to experience my first time time outside the US. But from the very first moment we were inundated with why everyone else seemed to be in the area; The Calgary Stampede! An annual rodeo, exhibition and festival held every July. We were completely unaware of this event but right away noticed that a lot of men were wearing cowboy hats and every eatery and hotel was decked out with some type of western motif....like hay bales in the lobby!
"Are you going to The Stampede?", we were asked by everyone. "No, we're just going to the Kent Farm." Believe it or not we actually said that a few times just for a laugh.
Our first night in Calgary was a bit of a revelation; it stays light for a very long time in the evening. How late? Try 11pm before the sun actually sets!! Crazy!
The hotel we stayed in was really nice and just over an hour from the Kent Farm. To our surprise, the pool area (which we'd hoped to enjoy) actually housed a THREE STORY water slide!! Saturday night was pretty packed, but on Sunday when we made our way down to see if we could try it out...the place was a ghost town! For the simple reason that everyone and his brother staying there was attending The Stampede! Yay!!
Smiling broadly as we walked in to discover the space void of people, the water slide appeared to be off. One of the attendants came by and we asked if maybe it might not be working. Nope, we were told. They'd just shut it down because no one was there. At which point the switch was happily thrown and we had a couple of hours all to ourselves! It was A-MAZING!!
Midday was turning into afternoon and I knew it was time for us to get ready to head to the farm. I'd also planned for us to visit a couple of other Smallville filming locations from "Superman, The Movie" while we were in the area; the Smallville Cemetary, Smalville High School and the tracks where young Clark jumps in front of the train.
The weather predicted 80 degress and clear skies all day. But as dark clouds surprisingly appeared to the south, we wondered what things would be like when we arrived at these locations.
As we started our drive south from Calgary to Blackie, I began thinking about how much time we'd want to spend at each stop. Surely the Kent Farm would be the center piece of our trip and I knew I'd want to spend the most amount of time there possible. So I made an executive decision; if we travelled the additional hour south to two of the three additional locations (over two hours total from the hotel), took all the photos and absorption time we desired, then back tracked to the farm, we could be in serious jeopardy of missing the best light possible for enjoying the site as well as taking great photos. Not to mention actually savoring the prime time of the day there!
Verdict: this trip we'd pass on the additional locations.
It was a tough decision but one I was fine with almost immediately. The farm held the most amount of emotion for me and what with the flight only being three hours to Calgary from LA, I knew it'd be easy to take even a weekend trip and return in the future.
Clouds continued to close in as I monitored the situation while guiding Rebecca (who drove everywhere during this entire trip...her election) with directions.
I had Google map coordinates for the farm on my iPhone (provided by someone who'd posted a couple of photos he'd snapped of the farm online), even though we were trying stay away from incurring roaming rates which were astronomical! Having shunned usage from the moment we arrived in Canada, I really felt the need to just shuck it and use the best tool we had in the car for navigation and communication.
As we arrived in Blackie a few drops began hitting the wind shield. This was NOT good as Sunday was pretty much our one day to make this trip before heading off on Monday afternoon for South Dakota and Devils Tower. Somehow we got turned around a bit from where I knew the farm had to be, heading down a road that actually turned out to be two roads to the west. It was now around 5pm. I wasn't worried about day light...just how those rain clouds would pan out.
Suddenly we found ourselves coming up cold on where the farm was actually located. I began scratching my head because according to what I had in front of me on the phone, we were in the right place. But with a little road assistance and perseverance, we at last found ourselves heading down the right road.
Within a few kilometers the barn of the Kent Farm started to peak over the horizon. A wonderful chill came over me as we began to recognize and grow closer to those iconic structures.
THERE IT WAS!!!
Yes, it was a bit overgrown some 34 years on. But still beautiful to behold!!
We drove down to the house just next door to turn around. At that moment, and quite miraculously, the sun started to peak out below the dark crowds, shining glowing afternoon light onto the farm and surrounding area. My fears of a darkened visit had lifted and an underlying back-up plan that we might have to return early the next day before our departure was swept away!
I can't tell you how much of an emotional moment it was to stand there on the road and see the place where the Kents and their special adopted son live in "Superman, The Movie"! The road in front of the farm where Clark surprises a group of school mates, claiming he'd ran home ahead of them. The barn where young Clark discovers the crystal that would change his life. And the field where Ma Kent found Clark looking off in the distance, realizing it was time for him to leave.
As Rebecca parked the car by the side of the road, I immediately reached for my iPod and did the first thing I was waiting to do the moment we arrived; play "Leaving Home" from the soundtrack.
At the end of the opening, foreboding crescendo of discovering the green crystal, the low strings started and began to grow...
...and I just wept.
I couldn't believe we were there. I couldn't believe we were standing at that very place. It just took my breathe right away.
I predicted to Rebecca long before we made this trip that because this place was so far away from everything, even down a very long dirt road, that the only sound we'd hear would be the wind in the grass. And that's exactly what we experienced as we got out of the car. It was so peaceful...so gentle. I'll never forget that sound.
The entire time we were there only three cars passed by. This is a giant swath of farming land and residents were far and few between.
It was time to take photos and we took A LOT! It may seem like there are only a handful in the set, but in fact we had multiple angles of everything in our camera lenses. The pics you see are the best of the best of the best.
I knew there was only one thing to wear to the Kent Farm and it became my mission to find it no matter what. I just knew that someone out there online had to be selling a Christopher Reeve Superman 'S' T-shirt. It didn't take long to find a seller on eBay and shortly thereafter the 1978 shield was in my possession. I proudly donned it after we arrived and now everything was right and perfect. BTW, I even purchased a black one with white 'S' as well which represents Jor-El's robes from the movie.
We were there for probably close to two hours as we brought snacks to enjoy in the car just to give us some extra time enjoying the scenery.
I plugged in my laptop so we could watch the entire Smallville sequence from the movie, much of which takes place right where we were standing. This is something I've enjoyed doing at every single movie location visit and trip. There on the screen were Glenn Ford and Jeff East talking about not showing off and that young Clark was here for a reason. We watched intently, occasionally gazing up at the farm in wonder with only the dialog in our ears. We ended with the crane shot over Ma Kent and young Clark into the wheat fields.
With one last very long look and some more photos, it was time to go. 8pm and the sun was still up and bathing the Kent Farm in it's continual glow.
You can view the entire set of photos from 'The Farm, The Field & The Tower' on Flickr which begins with this location...RIGHT HERE! I'll be posting specific photos to this set from each of the next two stops as I write the story of Devils Tower and the Kinsella Baseball Field, respectively.
I was now in a wonderful buzz of where we'd just been, continuing to listen to John Williams sweeping score as we drove away and back to our hotel. But not before having some well deserved dinner.
Ultimately we were very lucky to have made the decision to not go to the other locations. I really, REALLY want to see them at some point! Hopefully sooner rather than later. But we truly arrived at the Kent Farm when we were suppose to....and I took the sun coming out at that precise moment as a true sign of that.
The next morning we got up and ran a couple of errands; I forgot to bring my car adapter for the iPod so we had to pick one up at a local electronics store. Then it was off to the Calgary International Airport just 2 miles away to head to destination #2...
Next trip post: Devils Tower!