There’s no actual direct route from Calgary to Drumheller, but prairie lands were fresh for Linda, so we kind of drove down back roads for a while. It’s flat. We saw a row of grain silos far in the distance, but when we approached them, we found they were nearby! And really small; it was all an optical illusion. We had quite the laugh over that. (I mention this as a literary device called foreshadowing, the relevance I think, will come clear when we get to the hoodoos).
The Alberta Badlands, where soft earth deposits have eroded away and you can actually see the geological bands of the ages, look like the terrain where the coyote and roadrunner play. It was like we had been picked up and thrown into the Wild West. It was incredibly beautiful and I can’t believe I had been ignorant that such a place existed in the province right next door to where we live.
Drumheller is famous for having the most dinosaur fossils of anywhere, so Drumheller is all about dinosaurs. It’s a sweet town but too touristy for us. We didn’t go to the dinosaur museum, although we did climb up the gigantic fibreglass dinosaur and take pictures from it’s mouth. We were able to get a pretty good organic espresso at a downtown cafe, but the lunch we had at Sizzling House was merely mediocre.
Hoodoos are hard rock formations that have sort of flat mushroom heads that stop the rock below them from eroding entirely. They take millions of years to form. All visitors guides to the Badlands show pictures of their majestic, towering hoodoos, often with the sun setting behind them. We needed to go. Drumheller gives out all kinds of free tourist maps, and we saw the hoodoos were only 16 kilometres away. It was fun to drive through the Badlands. I looked for tumbleweeds and we stopped at a lone butcher called Riverside Packers—-ha! Sounds like a sports team— and bought steaks (in case you don’t know, Alberta beef is famous for it’s fine quality).
There were a lot of people there, and when we arrived we laughed and laughed. We had expected these sky scraping rock formations, but the hoodoos were shorter than we were! For some reason, people are allowed to climb all over them and some people have even scratched their initials in. It was hard to get pictures that weren’t full of tourists. You can climb high up the hill side, if you want to, but I didn’t.
From the hoodoos we decided to check out the Last Chance Saloon. It’s in Wayne, but it’s a really short drive. To get there, you have to cross 11 (that’s eleven) one way bridges. In ye olde days, when miners hung out there, you could only get to the saloon by rail, but since then this bridge rich road was built. It’s an interesting place. The saloon has a hotel, a second hand store, and a little campground. There’s still bullet holes in the wall of the saloon from some long-ago cowboy incident. A tour bus was just leaving when we got there, so inside the saloon there were only 3 other customers. We started talking to the other customers, and one of them told us he had been instrumental to bringing Expo 86 to Vancouver. He was proud of that and said he made a lot of money. Eventually I politely admitted I thought Expo 86 had really ruined everything nice about Vancouver (I have lived in Vancouver since 1984), and he said he thought so, too, which was why he moved. Thanks a lot, buddy.
We liked it there so we decided to spend the night in the campground. The grounds were pleasant and grassy, with the badland hills all around, and sometimes there are music festivals there. The only thing that didn’t really work was the wood we bought at the second hand store was so dry it burned super fast, and the fire pit was so deep you couldn’t really see or feel the fire. After the first $10 bag was gone, we debated on buying another one, but just went to bed instead.