Thursday, November 13, 2008

Drumheller, Alberta...Dinosaurs and Hoodoos!

Drumheller is about two hours south of Edmonton. During the coal era in the 1920s, the population would have been about 30,000. It was western Canada's largest coal producer, and today contains Alberta's second largest natural gas deposit.

I wish I could post 1,000 pictures. Sure, Drumheller is kitschy in the town, but the surroundings are oh so beautiful. Here we are driving into the valley...

The first of many dinosaurs!
We headed to the Royal Tyrrell Museum when we got to town...

The museum is huge...

The museum is a leading center of palaeontological research and has a collection of more than 120,000 dinosaur fossils.

Here is Jim standing beside the leg of a centrasaurus. He only comes up to the knee joint!

I can't remember all the names of the dinosaurs, but they were impressive...

This is a triceratops. It had a large skull up to 10 feet long, and its total length was about 30 feet. It weighed in at 6-12 tons!

This is the mighty tyrannosaurus rex. It was a fierce predator that walked on its two hind legs and had two tiny front arms. Its body was solidly built, but its bones were hollow. It was up to 40 feet long and 15 to 20 feet high! It weighed in at 5 to 7 tons.

The dinosaurs didn't only exist on land. Here are some that lived in the water. This is a mosasaur, one of the largest lizards ever that used its flattened tail to propel itself through the water.

They would have been up to 15 feet long...

This is an albertosaurus. It was a relative of the tyrannosaurus rex and lived a few million(!) years earlier. Its long tail provided for balance and quick turning.

This was pretty interesting. This is a pachycephalosaur braincase. They thought because they had such large skulls that they must surely be very intelligent, but in the cross section on the left, they saw that the brain was actually very small.

This is a stegosaurus with a narrow body and a heavy spiked tail. Its back legs were almost twice as long as its front legs, and it is thought that this planteater would have reared on its hind legs to reach tall vegetation.

This is a chasmosaurus belli. The large frill or frame on the back of its head would have been covered with skin and was very fragile. However, the size of it made this dinosaur look very ferocious.

Here we are outside the museum with our heads full of dinosaur facts! The museum is extremely well done and showcases many of the fossils found in Alberta.

The town of Drumheller is pretty small. We stayed at the Best Western which was quite nice and ate at the restaurant next door. The receptionist at the hotel assured us it was the best restaurant in town. Now that is was the first time I had ever been served a glass of wine with a head of bubbles on it!

The next morning we headed out to see the hoodoos. Hoodoos are tall, thin spires of rock that protrude from the bottom of the badlands. They are composed of soft sedimentary rock and capped with a piece of harder, less easily-eroded stone that protects the column from the elements.

It was a stunningly gorgeous day. Just look at how blue the sky was! It eventually reached 16 degrees and was a perfect day.

Here you can see the hoodoos at the bottom of the hills. Look at how blue the sky is! I just couldn't get over it.

Isn't this just spectacular!

The hoodoos are slowly disappearing as the weather wears them down, and I am sure someday you won't be able to walk around them.

The tiny white speck at the top of the hill is a person! Crazy! The rocks are very smooth and there is nothing to keep you from falling off. I was more nervous than on the swinging bridge, so we didn't walk up too far!

This picture is really interesting. In the photo at the bottom of the picture is what the hoodoos looked like in the early 1900s. You can see how some of them have lost their caps and are much smaller today. It was great to be able to stand there and compare what they looked like over a 100 years ago.

The white speck is now being joined by the rest of his family part way up the hill.

I thought this rock looked like a frog. Can you see it?

We were just in awe of the beauty that day and made us realize again what a beautiful country Canada is!

I didn't realize Jim was playing peek-a-boo until I saw the photo later!

It was really hard to pull ourselves away. An absolutely amazing day....

On the way back to town, we saw a sign for the town(?) of Wayne. Wayne was booming during the coal era. Its claim to fame now is that you cross 11 bridges in 4 miles as you make your way to the town.
The sign says "Population then 2490, now 27." It was once a bustling town.

We saw lots of old cars. Jim spotted two extremely rare Kaisers in a field.

At last you make it to town and here it is...the Last Chance Saloon!

We headed back to Drumheller for lunch. Here is the world's largest dinosaur. It is 86 feet high and you can climb up inside to a viewing platform in its mouth. It is 105 steps to the top (we felt it in our legs the next day!).

Here is the view of town from the dinosaur's mouth, complete with the dinosaur teeth in the top of the picture!

It was such a beautiful day, we ate lunch outside. I love this kind of November weather!

On our way to Calgary, we stopped at this tiny church. It seats only 6 people! Here is Jim in the doorway.

Just when we were on scenery overload, we stopped at Horseshoe Canyon. This picture doesn't do the canyon justice, and I could tell that when we were standing there. It is just magnificent but with the grass, sand and hills all the same colour, it was hard to bring it to life.

This was the end to a perfect day. It was one of our best days ever, no matter where we have travelled. Our memories of Drumheller are fantastic...

We're moving on to Calgary....

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