The Badlands. Friday 28th Feb

We got up, briefly examined some shops, and then headed north.  Once out of Calgary, it was straight roads and flat, flat, plains for a couple of hours drive.   Flat As!  The road you could see stretching out in front of you for ages and ages…..  Flat plains, very little in the way of trees or fences, just flat snow covered flatness.

Acme!  Should see the road runner soon
Acme! Should see the road runner soon
Blowing snow
Blowing snow

Cruise control was a great thing here.  As we were driving, the wind was pushing snow across the road in a thin veil, it looked pretty cool, but kinda crazy driving through a horizontal snow curtain.

We saw a few oil wells, just pumping away in the middle of nowhere, in peoples paddocks.  We travelled over the prairie until we came suddenly to a gorge, where the road dropped down to a river valley.   We stopped in a town called Drumheller for lunch.  The town is filled with model dinosaurs, in varying shades of paint. The whole Badlands area is in a valley, carved out of sedimentary rock by rivers.  You can see the layers in the rock on the walls of the canyons, and for the most part, they are striped and vividly coloured.  Reds, browns, black layers of coal.  The area was known for its coal mining, and we checked out a river and a suspension bridge. From the looks of it, people had been driving up and down on the river on their snowmobiles.

No swaying!
No swaying!
River becomes snowmobile trail
River becomes snowmobile trail
So. Cold.
So. Cold.
A bridge, used in the mining days
A bridge, used in the mining days

It was lovely weather in terms of sun and blue skies, but the temperature was a bit chilly, and we were reluctant at times, to get out of the car.  Dale didn’t want to be in any photos, he mostly wanted to stay in the car.  Which is fair enough, in -25 with windchill (I think a windchill warning was issued, in some places, something silly like 10 mins till frostbite in exposed places). It was a: jump out of the car, run to the place, take a quick photo, run back to the car, turn the heater up High).

There are formations called Hoodoos, pillars that have formed, usually topped by harder sandstone, where the earth around it has been eroded away, leaving a flat topped pillar.   The area is also rife with dinosaur bones, and I think they have pulled the most intact dinosaur bones from that area than any other in the world.

A hoodoo
A hoodoo
More
More
Chilly hoodoos
Chilly hoodoos

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Formations
Formations

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We checked out some hoodoos, and then the massive fiberglass t-rex that they have at the info centre.  You can walk up inside it and look out over the town.  We also went to check out horse thief canyon, which is very pretty, and then horseshoe Canyon just before the sun went down, then we drove back to Banff.

Dale is bravely standing on the foot of The Biggest Dinosaur
Dale is bravely standing on the foot of The Biggest Dinosaur
Rawr
Rawr

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oh hai!
oh hai!
Alberta seems to be flat.
Alberta seems to be flat.
Horse Thief Canyon
Horse Thief Canyon

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Sunset over the plains, such delicate pastel colours, so cold and pretty.  It is currently -28 out, but windchill is a ***, I’m sure it makes it more like -40, which is just ridiculous, and just popping outside the car to take a couple of pictures is an ordeal!

We are travelling directly west, the sun set in a fiery golden ball.  The sky behind is turning blue-grey, the snow covered fields stretch out in all directions, flat as far as the eye can see. They seem to glow, reflecting the aqua of the sky above.  IN front,the sky descends from dusky blue through aqua, pale teal, blue-green, a touch of yellow, orange, and then salmon and coral at the horizon.  I love this time of night in Canada, just after the sun has set, the light seems to linger for such a long time, everything looks just a little bit softer.  In Field, with the mountains, the sun would set, and there would be a mix of blue and yellow lights reflected off the sky and surrounding mountains.

Sun going down across the plains
Sun going down across the plains
Wind driven snow
Wind driven snow
More plains
More plains
Squirrel pary
Squirrel pary

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On the road again… 26th Feb

Wednesday we woke up pretty sore, but rolled out of bed, and proceeded to pack and fully clean the house.  It was still freezing out, but by lunchtime and packing the car it was pretty warm in the sunshine.

We said goodbye to everyone, took a last walk to the hostel, a last hug of Yogi, and headed out of town via dropping off the recycling and rubbish (on the way to Revelstoke, we had our rubbish in the car to drop at the bin on the way, so it wouldn’t be sitting in the house for 3 days, but it was early in the morning, and we forgot, and ended up taking it to Revelstoke, not ideal!).   A last view of the elk by the railroad tracks, then our final wait for the train to finish crossing the tracks.

A very sunny last day!
A very sunny last day!
Of course, a train, and elk to see us off.
Of course, a train, and elk to see us off.

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It wouldn’t have been the same, leaving Field without having to wait for the train…the trains are kilometers long, and travel slowly through Field, usually stopping for a bit – I think it is a place where they switch shifts/drivers etc, and if you need to cross the road, you just have to wait till the train has passed.  It usually takes 10-15 minutes for the whole train to pass, and so many times in or out of the town, we have encounterd the train.  They also toot a lot if the elk won’t move off the tracks.

Anyway, after the train had finally left, we zoomed our way out of Field, and headed down to Banff.   The day was amazing, clear blue skies, and not even the thought of a cloud.

Mt Rundle, Banff
Mt Rundle, Banff
Mt Rundle, Banff
Mt Rundle, Banff

We drove to Banff, where we stopped at the hot pools, and soaked until we were thoroughly warm, then drove on to Canmore, where we had delishuz curry for dinner (we haven’t had curry in many weeks, gasp!).

A snow baer!
A snow baer!
Hot pools
Hot pools
Cascade Mountain, Banff
Cascade Mountain, Banff

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Then on to Calgary in the Very Dark, on the 110km max roads.  The road was pretty straight from when it left the Rockies until it arrived in Calgary, and it was quite pretty to come up over the last rise and see the lights all spread out on the plains.   It was a little scary to drive in a big city at night!   Especially as the biggest towns we’ve seen in the last 6 weeks have less than 8000 people.

We made it to our backpackers – we are staying at Wicked Hostel, and it’s pretty good for a hostel.  The only bad thing really is the noise, otherwise, they supply breakfast (pancakes!), towels, comfortable beds, free internet, nice showers, and good shower mats.  Important things, these.

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We have two irish room-mates, arrived from Ireland 2 days ago, who seem lovely, but one has the most broad accent, and it is fun talking to him, but I think I need a translator…

 

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