Day 3
Monday July 18th

Lazier start this morning as we have a short drive, by Canadian standards, to Drumheller. Another fine breakfast and long chat with Anne and husband before setting off to the local village to pick up some goodies. It was already boiling hot and the village was nearly deserted, a very pleasant, small, modern, tree lined affair with free parking down both sides. Jude and I popped into the local stores and post office leaving the kids in the car already engrossed in their gameboys, something that was to become the norm as we travelled about. When we arrived back at the car we discovered that Anne had dashed off after us since David had left his hat in the house, another indication of the quality of the B&B.

I'd been given directions to Drumheller back in England, though for a journey of a couple hundred miles I was somewhat dubious about "North from Calgary and take the first right". Canada however is a place of few roads and the directions couldn't have been more precise. Jude took the driving today, her first time on the wrong side of the road in a foreign country. In Canada driving is a doddle especially in the prarie states like Alberta, the roads are dead straight; you can easily travel 50 miles between bends and its absoloutely flat. We later heard that in Saskatchewan if your sitting on your porch and your dog runs away from home you can still see it running two days later.



Approaching Drumheller is an odd experience, you've been driving for hours in a dead straight line over extremely flat terrain when suddenly the ground drops away from you. Having got used to the the flat vastness the possibility of the ground disappearing doesn't occur to you. The last thing you see as the ground begins to undulate is a giant red lollipop, a water tower for the prison.

You then slide down a steep canyon to the river bed a mile or so across in which Drumheller nestles.

We arrived ready for lunch in the baking heat. Drumheller is neither large nor prosperous and famous only for the dinosaur museum up the road. They've cashed in on this by having statues of dinos on every street corner. Finding a cool pizza parlour we tucked in glad to be out of the heat; afterwards we walked down what appeared to be the main street but the only shop of interest was a second hand bookshop. We jumped back in the car seeking out both the B&B and a large dinosar that you could climb up inside of.

Drumheller in Red River Valley

World's largest dinosaur

The B&B, Taste the Past, was an old fashioned place run by an English couple and was apparently well known for its breakfasts. The giant dinosaurs were only a couple hundred yards down the road so we spent the afternoon climbing up them and sunning ourselves whilst David jumped into the free water park.

The stairs up the dinosaurs inside were set out as cave walls with fossils every now and then lit by ultra violet lamps to make them glow, we discovered that the suncream the boys used also glowed so they drew patterns on each others' heads with the cream.

The dinosaurs were higher than most of the buildings in Drumheller so you could see how the town sat on the valley floor, with the skyline dominated by the cliffs.

For tea we took advice from the B&B and went to a restaurant which was a cross between a Chinese and a Western, both menus were available. I had Chinese they had Western.



Rosedale suspension bridge

After tea we took a scenic tour south to the Rosedale suspension bridge and hoodoos. The bridge was only wide enough for a couple of pedestrians and swayed substantially. On the other shore it was private ground that used to be mined, a few old workings were still visible on the cliff tops and warnings were up telling people not to climb on the private porperty.

The view was well worth the climb which was steep, narrow and dried mud all the way. At the top it was too windy to go near the edge but that didn't stop Chris climbing everything in sight.



Chris atop the old mine workings



Further south we reached the hoodoos, an odd formation of rocks where the harder stone on top formed a cap protecting the soft stone underneath. Elsewhere the soft stone wore away leaving what appeared to be a set of hats on columns.

There was no protection for these from trampling hordes, just a simple path with red flags and a sign saying don't step over them. Most visitors followed the signs when they saw them but it was possible to approach the formation from many angles so inevitably people wandered among the stones. What was surprising was the lack of grafitti or deliberate damage given the absence of protective fences, walls or barbed wire. That also made it more appealing and let you feel it was actually real not just something to admire from a distance.



©2005 Rob Hayward