Day 9: Drumheller, Alberta

The weather didn’t cooperate today, so we weren’t able to go down to the coulee (western talk for a ravine) to see what we could find on the surface in the way of dinosaur bones.  I was hoping to get a lot of pictures of fossils but it wasn’t to be.  This sign in the Tyrell Museum sums up appropriate behaviour around fossils and I don’t have the expertise to determine what we would be looking at but if I ever get back here, we’ll take another shot at looking in the coulee.

We did, however, get to Horseshoe Canyon in the Alberta Badlands where I got some good photos.  We didn’t venture down the trails as it was really quite cold and windy.  Ironically, my friends back home are enjoying the best summer weather of the year and here it feels like winter is on the way.  They’re calling for snow overnight and tomorrow so that will make the last leg of my trip west rather interesting.

After a lunch in Drumheller, we went to the Royal Tyrell Museum where the displays were amazing.  Alberta is certainly one of the dinosaur capitals of the world and the lab where they process the finds is absolutely phenomenal.

Many of the dinosaur finds have been discovered by industry activity and include the remains of marine life.

They had a rather neat Cretaceous Garden that was interesting, also.

After we left Drumheller, we went southeast to see the Hoodoos and that was really interesting as well.

Here are some extra photos from The Royal Tyrell Museum:

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One more day in Airdrie and then it’s off to Vernon, B.C.



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Day 8: Visiting in Airdrie, Alberta

Day 8 and it was nice to have a rather relaxing day in Airdrie and area.  My sister-in-law and I went shopping first thing as I didn’t bring a fall jacket with me and it was quite cold the last two days.  I didn’t bring one because I don’t have one so it was good to get out and find something reasonably priced and exactly what I wanted.  Do I fit in, do you think?

Afterwards, the three of us went to see various places my brother has lived in the Calgary area for the last 43 years.  We had tea and cakes with his most recent neighbours and went to Red Deer for lunch to La Casa Pergola.  This is a picture from the internet as I forgot to take one.  It is old and doesn’t show the lovely new patio in front of the restaurant.  We had a lovely meal which I will write up under Places to Eat on the Road later.

We drove by my nephew’s house (he wasn’t home but has a beautiful acreage west of Red Deer) and saw some other lovely homes.  We went to a Bible store where we had fun browsing and I bought two books by an author I really like, Mesu Andrews, because I don’t have enough books that I haven’t read yet. (Sarcasm intended!)

Tomorrow is the big day!  We’re heading to a coulee owned by a friend of my brother’s where we are assured we will see lots of dinosaur bones.  I will take lots of pictures, of course, and afterwards we are heading to Drumheller and the Royal Tyrell Dinosaur Museum.  It will be great to see the Alberta badlands and learn more about the digs related to it.  They used to take volunteers and so I may be able to find out if they still do and get the information on those opportunities.

Until tomorrow, cheers! from Airdrie, Alberta.


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Heading West: Day 7

Arrived safely in Airdrie, Alberta about 5:10 p.m. mountain time last night to stay with my brother and his wife for the next three days.  Stopped a few times along the way to take some pictures.  Before leaving Saskatchewan, the flat prairie land was left behind and turned into a more rolling hillside.

This is outside the little village of Chaplin where I sought gas without luck.  It was, however, a pleasant break from the drive which was rather bright and warm.  I was glad I’d had the air conditioning fixed before leaving.  The building off to the right is a nature centre with gift shop and picnic area — closed now for the season.




When I finally did find a place for gas, the price was fairly reasonable although not as good as Winnipeg/Headingley had been.  And here is another panorama just before entering Alberta. There is actually a lake in the distance, a bit of hillside, and Boomer in the foreground.  You can see the hills in the distance.  There was a nice little café here where I had a bite to eat and a bit of a rest before resuming my travels.

Here is a picture I took at a booth in The Forks Tourism Centre.  You had a choice of backgrounds but I chose to have my picture with my new pal, Whitey.  Alas, I had to leave him behind because he wouldn’t fit in my car.  He really wanted to come with me, though.

Funny thing along the way.  When I entered Saskatchewan on Sunday, my iphone and laptop both changed time because they take the local time and Saskatchewan, with the exception of Lloydminster which is on the border of Saskatchewan and Alberta, do not switch to Daylight Saving Time like the rest of Canada.  So even though they are in the same time zone as Winnipeg, Central Time, their time is different.  My GPS, however, only registers time zone changes and didn’t change so it was at odds with the time on my other devices until I reached the Saskatchewan/Alberta border when it changed to Mountain Time and finally synced with the phone and laptop.  Friday, when I enter British Columbia, I will be on Pacific Time and gain another hour on my trip.

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Heading West: Day 6

Easy drive today to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.  Speed limit is 110 k/h I guess because the road is pretty much straight and flat the whole way.  All of the photos and paintings you’ve ever seen of Saskatchewan are absolute fact:  the horizon makes a complete circle around you as you’re driving.  Looking through the rearview and side mirrors, of course!  I almost wished I had a passenger to shoot a panoramic picture but there are so many in existence already.  This is pretty much the way it looked today:

At one point between Brandon and Regina, I passed a woman on crutches running on the shoulder being followed by a car.  She only had one leg.  I hadn’t heard anything about her venture and am trying to find out more online.  She must be doing it to raise awareness but it doesn’t seem to be making the news.

Saw a lot of freight trains today.  My friend Paul would be jealous as he watches a web cam focused on a train station in the States quite a lot.  These trains had to be at least a kilometre long.  It would take at least 5 minutes to watch them go by.

Arrived at Knight’s Inn, Moose Jaw early and the pool was calling me.  I have a room that opens out onto the pool area where there is also a steamy whirlpool, a cool-down pool, and a sauna.  Great way to unwind after the day’s drive.

Tried a restaurant I’ve never heard of tonight — The Canadian Brewery.  What an incredible sports bar.  They had at least 15 TVs and a sports ticker across the back wall with all the final scores and stats.  Today’s special was an 8″ pizza with any two toppings of choice.  It was delicious and I ate the whole thing.

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Watching the Emmys tonight.  Can’t believe I’ll be in Airdrie, Alberta tomorrow night with my brother and his wife.  Cheers from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan!

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Day 5: Last Day in Winnipeg

Canadian Museum for Human Rights

They may call Chicago the Windy City but I’ve been there and it has nothing on Winnipeg.  It has been cold, wet, and really windy ever since I got here.  I spent the morning and part of the afternoon sight-seeing and making up for a bit of a debacle yesterday with the Canadian Museum For Human Rights but there was a constant smur when it wasn’t out and out raining and my biggest beef with Winnipeg has to be its parking.  Everything is pay parking and often it won’t take your card or your cash but wants you to use a phone app.  Pity the people who don’t have a phone.

So yesterday’s debacle.  Everything was fine when I started out.  I went to the basilica which I wrote about yesterday, took lots of pictures, and found a map of Winnipeg in a pamphlet of a walking tour of all the main sights in the downtown area.  The basilica was the only place I was able to find a map.  Then I put in the name of the museum I wanted to go to.  Mistake!  I should have put in the address because my GPS took me to a government building where the planning team for the museum had their offices on the 4th floor for two years.  I didn’t realize it until after I’d parked.  Hmm. . .  parking!

The parking lot I had hoped to park in proved to be completely reserved parking.  On the street, I found a spot and went to the parking — I don’t even know what you call it, one of those posts with a metal box on it where you’re supposed to type in your licence plate number — only to find that it wouldn’t let me type in my licence plate number but wanted me to use a phone app.  It took me 15 minutes to download the app, put in my information, add the number on the booth, take a picture of my car, and get my ticket.  In and out of the car, in the rain, putting it all in.  Then, I find I’m about 3 blocks from the museum.  Inside, I shot a little video (18 sec) and had no juice left on my phone which is my watch and was supposed to notify me when my parking time was almost up!  I only saw the second level of the museum and was impressed with what I saw so decided to come again today.

Using my map, I decided to park in the parkade positioned between The Forks (an indoor riverfront market area) and the museum.  Again, a parking machine that took all my information, did not take AmEx or debit, wouldn’t give change, and wanted me to use a different app to pay.  All I had were $20s for $8. worth of parking.  Fourth person I found had change for my 20.  The machine had timed out.  Of course.  Put in all my information again and it wouldn’t take my money.  Wouldn’t take 5s, wouldn’t take my ten.  Moved my car to a spot right beside The Forks.  Input all my info again and it wouldn’t take my money either.  A man came along and we discussed the problem.  He was going to have to pay also, so he used his Master Card and I paid him.  He even gave me change.

The Forks was a bit disappointing.  The restaurants were all open but lots of shops were closed (I guess I was a bit early) or empty.  Lots of fast food stops and a bit Smitty’s Pancake House but I had a great buffet breakfast included in my motel fee so I wasn’t hungry.  I felt the shops that were open were kind of expensive tourist traps and didn’t really see anything special.  So I headed over to the museum for day 2.

3D rendering of winning youth photo

Today I went through the National Human Rights Photography exhibit called Points of View first.  It is on the main level and is divided into four themes: Freedom of Expression, Reconciliation, Human Rights and the Environment, and Inclusion and Diversity.  There was information about the judges (this was a contest) and the winners in each section were highlighted as well as having their photos rendered in 3D representations on a low podium display where blind people could “feel” the photo.  I was impressed with the way every video presentation included a sign language interpretation in the bottom corner.

I’ll write more about the museum tomorrow and talk about the permanent exhibits.  Before I went to The Forks, I drove past the Manitoba Legislature where there was — you guessed it — permit parking only.  I got some good photos of the building and the grounds but never got out of the car.  Tomorrow, on to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan!

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Day 4: Seeing Winnipeg

First, let me say that the gas price where I’m staying in Headingley (a suburb of Winnipeg) is 94.4¢/litre.  Rest of the world — What’s your excuse?

My first stop this morning was the St. Boniface Cathedral where I took some great photos, enjoyed the sites and the quiet atmosphere of the Cathedral (very refreshing to find a church where you can just walk in any time and sit and pray and meditate; they also have washrooms near the entrance that people can use when the need arises), and met a lovely couple from just east of Montreal.

The church is imposing yet inviting.  It faces Taché Promenade and the Red River.  It has been rebuilt several times and there is a model inside of a previous version of the church built by Lucien Beaulieu (1900-1981) starting in 1967 to have it prepared for Manitoba’s centennial and donated it to the church.  The current basilica was built after the fire of 1968.

Inside the huge stone façade, is a large courtyard.  When you reach the church entrance, if you turn around and look up, you’ll see their bells.  I don’t know if they still ring them or not, but I’d love to hear them before I leave.  The actual entrance is rather plain but it just makes the inside all the more impressive in its simplicity and beauty.

The stained glass windows along the sides of the structure are very modern and different than anything I’ve seen before and, while the area behind the altar is very simple also, it conveys real meaning of the Catholic influence on and support of the French community in the area.

Across the street is a contemplative garden on the site of the residence of the Archbishop of St. Boniface and features a garden sculpture and tribute to the many religious women who came to the area (beginning with 4 Grey Nuns) and were involved in building, supporting, and caring for the community.

Outside the cathedral, on either side of the long approach, is a cemetery that holds many monuments to people of influence including early priests Father Aulneau and Father La Verendryé who were martyred along with 19 companions on an island in Lake of the Woods, the forerunners of missionaries and voyageurs who established the French civilization west of the Great Lakes.

I was surprised to find in the cemetery a grave marker for Louis Riel.  There is a lovely little garden around it ringed with stones.  It is just to the left close to the building and near the street.  There were many other interesting headstones, mostly in French, and a whole stone divider with marble and information about the different structures that have formed the basilica over the years.  From the front of the basilica, you can see the Red River, the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, and a restaurant, Mon Ami Louis, that is attached to a footbridge (Esplanade Riel) that crosses the Red River.

Cheers from Winnipeg!

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Heading West, Day 3

Another good day of driving despite brief sprinkles of rain from time to time.  The roads wound around quite a bit but not combined with steep up and down like they were yesterday between Marathon and Terrace Bay.  All in all, though, the drive through northern Ontario had nowhere near the tension involved in driving along the 401 between Oshawa and Hamilton and there has been no traffic to speak of except in Winnipeg which has proven to be huge and sprawling.  My family drove through Manitoba when I was about 8 years old but I don’t remember anything about it so it’s all new to me.

There have been some fun things along the road.  First day out, I saw a bicyclist coming the opposite way up a hill pulling a long trailer with about an 18 foot canoe on it.  Can’t imagine doing that.  Then I saw a girl biking up a mountain road and I tried to picture me doing that on my little orange bicycle.  Hmm — not so much!  Today I saw a licence plate that read |4ST GUMP| — thought that was pretty cute.  Something unexpected in Thunder Bay: although it’s in the same time zone as Ottawa, because it is so much further west it is lighter out later at night than in Ottawa and it was still very dark when I set out this morning at 7:20 a.m.

Somewhere along the highway between Dryden and Kenora, my ipod cut out, the system reverted to the CD player, and then a notification came up on my navigation system saying that we had just changed time zones and I gained an hour on my trip.  Also, there’s a sign on the highway about 30 km east of Winnipeg marking the central line of longitude of Canada:  96°48’35″W — I thought that was pretty cool as well.  (Photo not mine.)

Got to Winnipeg and found my downtown hotel by 3:30 pm.  Checked in and left my bags in the room and rather than parking my car, I found a McDonalds and got out my cell phone to find a different hotel.  The place I had booked was not in the best area to walk around and learn about downtown Winnipeg.  The pool was closed, the elevators were slow, and there was a high security presence inside the hotel.  I just didn’t feel safe.  To their credit, the hotel didn’t charge me even though I had booked ahead and had exceded the time to change my reservation.  So now I’m in a Best Western Plus on the western end of town near the race track with a heated pool, a Denny’s next door, and I know where several gas stations are that have it at 94.4¢/litre which is way better than I’ve seen it on this trip and even since Labour Day in Ottawa so I am definitely filling up in the morning.

A bit tired tonight so looking forward to relaxing and enjoying planning my day tomorrow and sleeping in!  Cheers from Winnipeg, Manitoba!

Winnipeg Skyline (photo not mine)

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