Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 4 - Moose Jaw, SK to Calgary, AB

Okay so I didn't blog yesterday, I stayed at relatives in Calgary, had delicious food from them and went out for a tour of Calgary and a drink with my friend Doug. So sorry, they were more important than me blogging the actual day of.

On with the show.

View Day 4 - Moose Jaw to Calgary in a larger map

Finally sun! It had been so long. And with the sun came a slew of animal sightings. I learned that prairie dogs are smaller than our black squirrels, and that Canada has antelope!!!  I don't know why I never realized it before but it makes sense if you sing "Home on the Range". I'm certain it's a reasonable source material right? Oh and coyotes apparently live IN Calgary.

Off-Roading in a Ford Fusion in Waterlogged Saskatchewan

Certainly not one of my brightest ideas, but I had goals to fulfill while driving though the prairies.

I wanted to take a photo of an abandoned homestead that wasn't from a shaky car...

Check, plus bonus debilitated barn.

I needed to frolic in the prairie grass...

Shelley also thought this was definite to do.

I also needed to see a prairie dog...

and at the time, Dante was my only luck.

I also really really wanted to climb on a hay bail. I mean, who wouldn't want to climb a hay bail in the prairies.

I also took a bonus shot of me and my friend Moldy Hay a la facebook/myspace profile style. 
Hand sanitizer required
The great thing about Saskatchewan is that there is a lot of unattended, old hay that is easily accessible, well as long as you drive down a side road.  Doesn't look that threatening does it?

However, there is a reason the locals drive big trucks, especially after days upon days of rain. We almost ditched Shelley's car in the process and after a few close calls of being trapped in the deep mud (Shelley used the rocking technique as if we were stuck in snow - it worked well), we persevered and all goals were achieved.

In the end, we blended with the locals better, mud chunks in door handles and all. At the Welcome Centre in Alberta we kicked mud off the wheel wells as one would kick off slush in the winter. (you will notice some mud splatters through the window of some of the following photos due to our off-road prairie adventure.)

Prairie Lakes and Saskatchewan Boarder

A lake in the prairies wasn't nearly as scenic or exciting as one in Ontario or Manitoba. But I thought I should document it regardless.
This is Reed Lake
 To me it looks like a flooded field.

Saskatchewan morphed into some rolling hills as we entered Alberta.

It really made me crave riding a horse at insane speeds.

Alberta Loves It's Oil
 We entered Alberta at 11:30 AM, it was rolling hills, with huge cattle fields, and in some cattle fields were these oil pumps that I learned later from Doug are called Pumpjacks.

Slightly Naughty Lands

When we were planning the route of our trip we could not resist driving up through The Badlands, well to what we thought were known as The Badlands. You know, the place they find dinosaur bones? Well apparently The Badlands begin at Medicine Hat. But there was nothing really "Badland" about them. They were farmer's fields. 

They grew wheat. 
 Now for me, wheat is bad but I don't think that's what they mean.

We unanimously decided that these are not "The Badlands" at all, especially not with a "The" in front of it's name. No, we renamed them "The Slightly Naughty Lands"

While attempting to find the real Badlands, I made my first navigator's error so far on our route. I had us turn a road too early and we became trapped on a dry, dusty, sparsely populated, and surrounded by "Slightly Naughty Lands" road.  We started to despair we would never find the true Badlands, and I craved Hoo Doos (located in the real Badlands).  We took a scary steep turn on a hill...

and as we rounded the corner look what we found

Now these lands are so naughty, one can't help but to call them bad.
 We had found the Hoo Doo Trail!

The Badlands
When I think of The Badlands of Alberta I think of what we found in the Red Deer River Valley. This valley formed as glaciers melted rapidly at the end of the last ice age 10,000 -15,000 years ago.

 Each layer of rock in the valley walls is a page in the geological story of the region. 

The bands of black seen in the valley walls are coal seems. This region was a major coal producer in the early to mid 20th century.

Hoodoo? - You do!
This is a Hoodoo.

Hoodoos  are eroded pillars of soft sandstone rock, topped with a resilient cap stone.  The cap protects the softer rock underneath from eroding as quickly as the surrounding rock. Once the cap deteriorates, the pillar rapidly deteriorates.

Hence why the Hoodoos are fenced off and protected from people looking to touch and climb them. Knock off the cap stone and you've destroyed my beautiful Hoodoos.

Me and my little baby Hoodoo friends still not yet formed. 

 The word "Hoodoo" is from the Haus (a West African) language meaning "arouse resentment, produce retribution" Hoodoo, a magic practice not to be confused with Voodoo was introduced to North America in the 18th century.
 Some believed Hoodoos were giants turned to stone by the Great Spirit due to their evil deeds.

I love my Hoodoos and was excited about them our whole trip.

Wayne - The Not-So Ghost Town
Wayne, Alberta is south of Drumheller and is coined a "real ghost town" so Shelley and I were excited to do some Wild West theme adventures in it. It turned out to be a terrible disappointment and tourist trap.

But I did escape with a beautiful photo.
I managed to take the shot without the very lived in, modern, non-ghost town house appearing in it.

Bunking in Calgary with Relatives
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I did not blog last night because Shelley and I stayed at our relative's house in Calgary. We were served deliciously epic food that meets my dietary needs (and I'm not just saying that because they read this blog). Breakfast this morning was just as epic. 

Thanks for the great company, beds, and gypsy loot!

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