Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Badlands

I met up with some of my friends from Edmonton: Jocelyn, Amanda, Anna, and Ross in Drumheller, Alberta. We were camping for the weekend, so we spent the Friday afternoon/evening setting up, cooking over the campfire (Ross is a good campfire cook) and just hanging out.

The farming plains of southern Alberta:

Saturday morning, Ross went golfing while the rest of us went to the Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleotology which has a great collection of dinosaur skeletons, skeletons of other prehistoric creatures and loads of fossils. My favourite was this little guy, who clearly looks like a pre-historic Ey-ore and its name is even Erysis?

We met up with Ross in the afternoon and all piled in one car to go see the hoodoos (the pillars in the picture below). They're formed by erosion, so of course they're also changing due to erosion, getting smaller but then new ones can form as well. The hills in the background are typical of the Badlands with the sedimentary layers forming stripes.

Then we visited the old Atlas coal mine (there's still coal in Drumheller, but it's not being mined any more because it's more the household cooking type so not in demand anymore - although with the price of other fuels going up, who knows?) and we got to ride on the restored, battery-powered (so it didn't produce any source of ignition) coal/man train and climb up the tipple.

Then, on the recommendation of our tour guide, we went down a gravel road to check out the ghost town of West Monarch (once had 500-1000 people living in it). This is what it looks like now.

Anyway, the road was fine except to where there was some puddles, which when trying to avoid we fell into a grass-concealed ditch-of-sorts (perhaps created by spinning tires before?) from which we tried valently to extricate ourselves, but to no avail. Here you can see our attempts to build up height and traction under one wheel (there was conveniently a scrap heap nearby so I scuttled under the barbed wire fence to bring back useful things).

So we ended up stuck out in the heat waiting for a tow truck, after I had said earlier in the day "Wouldn't it be terrible to be stuck out here in this heat?" (thinking of all the old cowboy films). And after having wondered whilst on the bus the day before if cactus plants did grow in the Alberta Badlands, I discovered first-hand (literally) that they do when I got this fellow stuck in my forearm and then hand:

Anyway, the getting stuck was an unexpected adventure, but dinner that night, once we got back to the campsite, never tasted better.

On the Sunday after we broke camp, I went up to Edmonton with Ross and Anna, and I stayed with Anna's welcoming house until I flew back. Anna and I wandered around Edmonton and the university campus, both of which have become massive construction sites since the days when I was there.

Then it was time to fly back to Charlottetown and end my holiday to prepare to move to St. John's (and find a new place to live, but that's another story).

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