We awoke early again, subwayed into town, checking out some of the local street art on the way. It was another cool day, but I think rain was scheduled, so a good day to do inside stuff.
We headed straight up to the American Museum of Natural History. Then we spent all day there. It is Huge. 4 floors of massive displays. We didn’t get around it all. The dinosaurs were great, you only comprehend how big they actually are when standing next to the skeletons. Imagine a land where those things are wandering around. Crazy. Many of the intact skeletons they have there are from Alberta, in Canada, likely from near the badlands area.
So many of the displays were done well, like little windows into other parts of the world. The background is painted to blend in with the exhibit, they use the substrates that match – sand, dirt, bushes etc, they even make footprints and groom the ground to make it look natural.
The forest displays were pretty neat, as were the animals,….. The ocean displays were very cool, you entered a room with dim lighting, looking down from the upper tier, to the floor below. The roof has displays overhead, blue and ripply, like you are underwater. Hanging from the roof, diving into the room, is a massive model of a blue whale (life size, I assume). You wander around and check out the animals, my favourite of which was, in a dark corner, a sperm whale and a giant squid restling. Well, all that fits in the window is the head of the whale.
The day ended with us walking back through the Rockefeller Center and getting amazing Ben and Jerry’s icecream in a chocolate coated and chocolate hail dipped waffle cone.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.