Two years ago this past August, my mother and I ventured on a cross country trek in my brother’s Jeep across Canada. We drove west from southwestern Ontario to Vancouver, BC over the course of two weeks, and then down to northern California to meet up with the men in our family. The following are taken from emails I wrote to family and friends.
Day 7: Monday, August 6, 2012
Before I go on, I must mention, that yesterday I learned what an ‘erratic’ is. Er-rat-ic /i’ratik noun: A rock or boulder that differs from the surrounding rock is believed to have been brought from a distance by glacial action. We drove through Okotok to get to Strathmore for the night yesterday, and I didn’t have my camera ready fast enough, but in the middle of a plain/ field – no other rocks, or mountains – there were these two large boulders just chillin’. Knowing that a glacier in fact brought them all this way and deposited them is pretty cool. Oh the puns!
Anyway, back to today:
My fellows, today was a hot, skin searing day, and we ventured out to Drumheller and into the desert. My skin is quite peeved with me and almost up and left my bones. Thank the heavens it didn’t, because that look flatters no one. Truth.
Drumheller, the dinosaur capital of the world, is a fantastic must-see. Plastic dinosaurs sit on every corner of every block. We booked it quickly to the information centre of the town to take a pic with the world’s largest dinosaur sculpture thing-a-ma-jig. A T-Rex weighing in at a hefty 145,000 pounds of mostly steel… you can climb up a staircase inside it up to its mouth which also acts as a viewing deck. I just sat on his foot posing for the camera.
Ventured to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Such a large and expansive collection – named after J.B. Tyrell who first found the bones of an Albertosaurus in 1884. We made record time snapping pics, and ooh-ing and ah-ing over their collection. The museum houses 3 T-Rexes, one of which, I believe, named Rexy, was in the movie, Night at the Museum and the other was a magnesium infused skeleton, nicknamed Black Beauty (because the magnesium turned her bones black).
At the stroke of one, we went on a “Dinosite” tour. An educational on site 1.5 km walk out behind the museum to prospect for fossils and investigate real dinosaur remains. Alex was our amazing tour guide and brought us to a designated area with various rocks, which I learned as being: sandstone; mudstone; ironstone; and erratic, as well as showed us what dinosaur bone, plant and wood impressions, and fossilized wood looked like. We had a brief lesson on them all and then were left to our own devices and a metal tray to collect and figure out what was what. I found some ironstone with a whole lot of plant impressions. A lot of the kiddies found oodles of dino bones… you can tell they’re bones by the fact that they look like they’re composed of a lot of bubbles (this is where the marrow would be). Tiny bubbles = herbivore, larger bubbles = carnivore (larger bubbles makes the bone less dense and therefore lighter which allowed for the larger dino to be quite quick in a hunt). Next, Alex took us to an insitu “duckbilled” dino, dubbed ‘Rusty’ (because of all the ironstone). All that remains unfortunately is some tail, vertebrae, and parts of a leg – foolish peeps came
illegally into the park and stole a lot of him. His bone is locked in with the ironstone and therefore making it difficult to separate. Because he’s also not intact and there are a ton of other better specimens, the paleontologists don’t mind leaving Rusty where he is for our educational purposes. Interesting mention: if you’re caught stealing ANYTHING – a cubic centimetre of mudstone (worthless) you can be fined up to $50,000 and/or one year in prison. How do you like them apples?
Next we picked up the Hoodoo Trail, 25 km east of Drumheller, through some of Canada’s very own badlands, to the hoodoos site preserved by the museum (they’re actually all over, but this one cluster was large and impressive and tourist friendly). I learned that a hoodoo (also known as a fairy chimney, I love this) is a sandstone pillar formed over millions of years and rests on a thick base of shale and is capped by a large stone. Interesting mention: “Hoodoo” comes from “voodoo” via the Europeans, but in First Nation traditions (Cree and Blackfoot) they were believed to be petrified giants who come alive at night to throw stones at people.
Moving on, we drove to Rosedale (what up Toronto!) to check out their suspension bridge. Definitely not as cool as that 600 ft one moms and I did back in Ontario. Then onwards to Wayne, a small community with 11 single lane bridges, one after another – we only did 8 because we wanted to stop at The Last Chance Saloon, established in 1913. I ordered the Buffalo Burger and beans – we’re in ranch country, so why not have some beans? Twas delicious, even though if you told me it was beef, I’d believe you.
We’re back in Strathmore now, at Leroy’s Motor Inn. A real classy joint. I am sun drained and in need of sleep. Tomorrow we’ll have a sampling of Calgary and then on to Canmore and Kananaskis country.
Kilometres achieved: ~500