When we arrived in Alberta, we went straight to Brooks to meet with my parents, my brother and my grandmother, who drove up from Salt Lake City, USA. We had a wonderful weekend with them. We all went to the Dinosaur Provincial Park for a day.
We were excited to discover this city! For a few days, we parked next to the Bow River. We were hocked on its azure color.
The first day we walked to town. We loved seeing all these people go down the river on boats, paddles or tubes. I was surprised by the pedestrian area of the city center, its shops, restaurants and bars. We also went for a walk on Prince Island, but it was partly closed due to a festival.
The next day we went to the Calgary Olympic Park, which was built for the 1988 Winter Olympics. It was that year that the Jamaicans first entered the Bobsleigh competition. This beautiful story is told in the movie Rasta Rocket which you have to see, if not already.
Drumheller and the Badlands of Canada
After the city, the Badlands! The Badlands of Canada are spectacular. This landscape is characterized by deep, narrow and sinuous ravines. There are also Hoodoos (it looks like rock chimneys). These territories show the strength of erosion associated with wind and water.
The Dinosaur Provincial Park is also part of the Badlands of Canada. It is in this type of landscape that you can find the traces of Jurassic creatures.
In Drumheller, capital of the Dinosaurs, there is the Royal Tyrell Museum which is a museum on dinosaurs, fossils and all other species which could be found during excavations and studies of these lands.
After visiting the museum, we followed the Dinausor Trail, a road leading from one ravine to another, to Canyon Horsethief. Arid landscapes, extreme temperatures, and no water. Except, at the end of this road which leads to a tiny ferry, the Bleriot Ferry, to cross a stream 50 meters wide.
Edmonton, capital of Alberta
In Edmonton, we went to visit my former roommate in Sligo. When I (Madeleine) lived in Ireland, I shared a house with Brian, a Canadian from Edmonton. Pierre-Adrien had met him when he came to visit me in Sligo. This time, we both went to visit Brian and his fiancé Elaine, in their house south of Edmonton, the capital of Alberta.
We parked the truck just in front of their house, it was perfect. We could even access their Wifi from outside. This break allowed us to rest and update the blog and social networks.
Our hosts took us to the mall, known as one of the largest shopping centers in the world. The West Edmonton Mall is the largest shopping center in North America. It has an amusement park, an ice rink, a lake, a wave pool, a pirate ship and even offers sea lion shows, everything inside. We took a ride on the roller-coaster!
The next day, we went golfing, an 18 hole in the city center. It was my second time golfing, the first being in Ireland with Brian. It was a first for Pierre-Adrien. We did not count the score, but we all did well.
Elk Island National Park
Before leaving the area, we stopped at Elk Island National Park, a few miles east of Edmonton. It is the only park in Canada that is fully fenced. This one is used to relocate wood bison from the north of the province to protect them. We could observe a dozen along the highway that leads to the park. There is a hike we would like to do to observe animals, but we did not take the time during the road trip. We will go back soon. 🙂
Our next destination was the Northwest Territories, a vast territory in northern Canada accessible by road from northern Alberta. On the way, we stopped in the town of Grande Prairie, to determine if we could live in this city, we saw that there were many job offers.
From the Edmonton, it took us three days to travel 1,000 km to join the 60th parallel, which marks the entrance to the Northwest Territories.
On the way, we stopped in the towns of Grimshaw for sleep, Manning for groceries and High Level for gas. Northern Alberta is really flat, we feel we’re still in the prairies except that agriculture gives way to the forest after a while and these forests are prone to fires.
When we were in northern Alberta, there were fires a few days before and the city of High Level was under smoke when we passed through.
On our way back from the Northwest Territories, we took the same road to High-Level, then we took another route to see different landscapes. This time it took us 2 days to go down to Edmonton and we saw many black bears on Highway 88.
Back in Edmonton, we spent an evening with our friends. Then, we went back to Calgary for 2 nights, where we had an appointment to get on the radio to talk about our working-holiday visa.
At the foot of the Rockies
Before going into the Rockies, we stopped south of Calgary to visit the Bar-U Ranch. It is the only national historic site in Canada to commemorate the importance of livestock. On this ranch, it’s not just cattle farming, as we’ve been used to seeing in between oil wells all over Alberta, but also the breeding of Percherons, the large horses.
During this visit, we learned about the lives of cowboys in Alberta, who had to travel many kilometers on horse to gather all the livestock scattered in the wild, on huge territories and plains in the south of the province. We tried to learn lasso throwing, but it was a failure for me. Pierre-Adrien was not doing too badly after many, many tries.
The Kananaskis region
Kananaskis Country or K-Country is the foot of the Rockies, west of Calgary. This is where the locals go for their outdoor activities. It is closer from the major cities and less touristy. We decided to stop there before joining the crowd in the Rocky Mountain National Parks. We spent one night at the edge of a river, alone in the forest. The next day, we enjoyed a short hike before heading to Canmore, our first hotspot for exploring the Rocky Mountain National Parks.