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!

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