Sunday, July 4, 2010

Woke up in time for a last Ramada breakfast before getting ready to check-out. Squeezed in a few waterslide runs and a swim before heading off to Starbucks and then the 90 minute drive to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Just outside Drumheller, we followed signs on the highway to the Suspension Bridge. We had no idea what this was but it sounded interesting. Turned out to be the Star Mine Suspension Bridge in Rosedale. We walked across the bridge and explored the old mine workings in the badlands on the other side. After scrambling up and down some sandstone slopes, we headed back across the bridge and finished the drive to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. The Museum is really well done and is a world class tourist attraction. The dinosaur fossils they have here are outstanding specimens and it is particularly interesting to see the museum after visiting the dinosaur excavation sites in Dinosaur Provincial Park the day before. We recommend seeing the provincial park before the museum so that you have a better appreciation for the exhibits. After the obligatory stop at the gift shop, we grabbed a bite to eat and then headed back to Calgary. A fabulous weekend!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

An early morning wake-up to watch Germany advance to the World Cup soccer semi-finals at the expense of Argentina followed by breakfast at the Ramada and a trip to Starbucks. With coffee and tea in hand, it was time to head to Dinosaur Provincial Park, one of a handful of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Alberta, about 35 minutes from Brooks. As we entered the Park, the Alberta prairie gave way to the badlands, where the earth opens up into sculptured canyons and bizarre landscapes. The vistas from the top were stunning and we descended into the canyons to the Field Station visitor centre. After a quick lunch, we checked in for our two-hour bus tour, which we had reserved a few weeks ago. This is highly recommended since you can’t get to the most interesting sites unaccompanied. The bus headed into the badlands and we made several stops to explore the natural surroundings and look for dinosaur bones. We were amazed at how many bones we found scattered all over the place. This place is treasure trove for palaeontologists. One of the highlights was a stop at a site where we able to see an entire hadrosaurus that had been excavated. A very impressive and worthwhile tour. We learned a lot. After the bus tour, we visited the Field Station and looked at some of the exhibits, then headed off for a self-guided tour of the badlands. We stopped on the way to try some of the mini-hikes. While these hikes were good, they were no match for the sites we saw on the bus tour. We visited dinosaur houses on the self-guided tour. These are houses built on top of uncovered dinosaur skeletons that have been left for the public to view. As we headed off on our last mini-hike to see the cottonwood trees along the banks of the Red Deer River, we were attacked by mosquitoes who did not care about the deet repellent we were wearing. We decided the hike wasn’t worth the hassle so we ran back to the sanctuary of the car and headed back to Brooks. We rewarded our strenuous day with a visit to the hot tub and pool, and then it was off to O’Sheas for a bite to eat. This was followed by the daily ice cream competition. Today’s contenders were a caramel Aero McFlurry, a mint Aero McFlurry, an Oreo McFlurry and a Smartie McFlurry. The winner was Smartie McFlurry with last place going to mint Aero. And so ends another great day in the badlands!

Friday, July 2, 2010

A quick drive from Canmore to Calgary to pack and get ready to head out to Brooks. After a two hour drive, we arrived and checked in to our hotel, the Ramada. Very impressed with the hotel, the room and the facilities. We unpacked our gear, grabbed some free popcorn and went out exploring. All the usual fast food joints - Tim Hortons and Wendy’s right next to the hotel, McDonalds across the road - but we went to find the only Starbucks in town. We found it three minutes later - in the local Safeway. With that achievement duly noted, we headed back down the main road and stopped in at Pizza Hut for dinner. Fully fueled we went back to the hotel to check out the pool and waterslide. A fabulous pool area - hot tub, waterslide and steam room. We checked them all out and confirmed they worked well. Given that this was very hard work, we decided we needed a treat. Off to Wendy’s for frostys - between the four of us we nailed a chocolate frosty, a vanilla oreo frosty, a toffee coffee chocolate frosty and a root beer float. First place went to the oreo special, last place was awarded to the float! With our bellys full, it was time to go back to our room to rest up for our trip to Dinosaur Provincial Park in the morning.