So far our road trip has taken us from Kelowna through Vernon, Revelstoke and onto a rainy night in Golden, and from there to Canmore, Edmonton and Calgary.
The epic highlight of day one was to find Bartholomew the grizzly bear pop out of the trees to mosey along next to the high way without a care in the world. When nature appears in this way so starkly contrasted to us humans dashing along in our metal boxes on wheels, I find it deeply humbling. We humans rush around and worry about this and that, who we are, what we should do, what others are doing, what others think of us and then the rest of the natural world just steps out as it is. Unashamedly, without explanation or seeking acceptance. Humbling, inspiring and thought provoking stuff if you take time to think on it. So make no mistake, for all that humanity may think it is top dog, only one guy owned that piece of mountain and it was that hairy bear right there.
Later that evening the tippity tap of the rain on the roof of Bessie was the perfect accompaniment to a Harry Styles sleep story on Calm in order to drift off into a happy sleep.
Until 1am that is, when the drip drip drip got a little too up close and personal as it created a growing puddle on our duvet. A little early morning mopping and manoeuvring and we were back to sleep once more.
In the morning we found a bumble bee looking worse for wear on our truck bed. Old and dying? Soaked through? In need of food? We weren’t sure so we invited Bella the Bumble to come stay in Bessie for a while with an offering of a little sugar water if needed. We hope it serves them well.
For our daily drive rather than waste time arguing over what music to listen to we United on that disturbingly unifying topic of true crime. Murder. And listened to the podcast Serial for the day, which was disconcertingly intriguing and extremely well done.
Our plan had been to travel up via Jasper National Park, however at the time there was around 120 active wildfires in Alberta, several of which were classed as ‘out of control’, and a number of which caused the routes between Jasper and Edmonton to have closures. On top of that we also figured the emergency services had enough on their plate without some tourists ‘giving it a go’, and the people who were evacuating their homes deserved all available facilities more than us. So I shall have to visit Jasper another day, and we took the change of route as opportunity to hang out in a different place.
We stopped for a short walk in Canmore where I ventured into the woods wearing my ‘happy coat’ disguising myself as a tiger or perhaps more like Pat Butcher, either of which would surely deter any local bears from mixing us up with snack time. We stopped into some local stores and I bought a print by one of my favourite photographers and wildlife advocate Jason Leo Bantle, of ‘The Boss’ the biggest bear in Banff heading into hibernation. This particular bear is famous for multiple reasons including surviving being hit by a train and fathering approximately 70% of the Grizzly bear cubs in the Banff area.
From Canmore we bypassed the main highway in favour of an older route to Pigeon Lake where D’s Mum lives. The reason being there is allegedly a higher chance of spotting wildlife, and indeed we saw about 30 or so Big Horn Sheep. And I took that to be success.
Late afternoon we arrived at D’s Mums house in Pigeon Lake for a few days of rest mixed with visiting. Whilst there we took a walk to the lake which only a few months ago was so frozen you could drive a truck on it and now was so blissfully serene it resembled a mirror.
With the Edmonton Oilers (D’s and now my (ice) hockey team*) in round two of the Stanley Cup playoffs we are also, where possible, incorporating watching hockey games into our travels. Whilst in Edmonton area, on the schedule was to watch game 4 of their 7 game series against the Las Vegas. Golden Knights. And I am pleased to confirm on this occasion they won 4-1. *in canada there is only ice hockey, so you’d only ever call it hockey without need to reference the ‘ice’, unless you want to receive a look of scorn and judgement, which I have received enough times to understand how to speak of it!
After our catch ups in Edmonton and Calgary we headed on to Drumheller for the road trip proper and the land of the dinosaurs! We were amazed by the ‘tallest dinosaur in the world’ purpose built at what must be 100ft tall, watching us as we drove along the highway on route to see the real deal at the Tyrell Museum.
The Tyrell museum has one of the largest collections in the world of fossils and dinosaur remains. It is a fantastic review of the history of our planet and the mighty species that survived for 160 million years, many surviving multiple mass extinction events that the natural world and perhaps even the universe threw at them. To add some context to that, humans have been around approximately 1.5 millions years and scientists indicate that we are arguably the cause of the sixth mass extinction event, taking place right now. Worrying. Yes. And also humbling to realise we are but a blot on the paper of this planets story book. It puts many of our worries and focuses into perspective. It is a strong and purposeful invitation to consider what we as a individuals and as a collective species can do to support the planet we are so privileged to call home. I do what I can and then these moments make me want to do more.
I havé a deep belief that to solve the challenge of the planets future we must learn to get beyond our differences, and instead work together in celebration of what our differences can offer to the bigger picture. Perhaps the focus on saving the planet and natural world could be the focus to bring people together?
On our walk through the museums interpretive walk way of the Badlands of Alberta, we think we may have found a fossil, and accordingly reported it to the museum. Sadly not an entire leg of a T Rex nor the horn of a Triceratops, more likely a slug or perhaps even the fossilised poop of a small mammal. Exciting to find all the same!
Chatting with many people on our travels so far we started to hear about lesser known and off the beaten track locations to visit. As a person with a high level of curiosity and a penchant for the odd over the normal a new concept came to mind. We should be taking this opportunity to find the places that are on route, and will not be easily accessible by flights/ reasonable drive time from our future home. Sure we’ll take in some main sights and yet if we can discover them we’d rather take in the weird and wonderful. The little gem that gets lost in the great expanse that is Canada. So let’s see!
Tomorrow we head into Saskatchewan and the adventure begins anew!
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