Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Canada Day Long Weekend

I managed to get an extra day off work and we were able to turn the Canada Day Long Weekend into a four day weekend.  The mountain parks and the lakes are always too busy at this time of year so like in past summers, we headed south towards the badlands.  We left the city on Thursday morning, heading south for the Red Deer River Badlands.  Along the way we stopped for a drink of cold water at the Lowden Lake spring...

We continued south, passing through Drumheller and stopping briefly for fuel.  Showers had moved in by this time and it was starting to rain.  So, we kept moving south and east, eventually ending up along the Red Deer River just outside of Dinosaur Park.  We shared the small community campsite with one other trailer.  The Cottonwoods had gone to seed, and Margarit struggled with her allergies.  To make matters worse, the mosquitos were voracious...

That night and the next morning we wandered around a bit.  I photographed some of the majestic Cottonwoods in the area with my big camera. We also found some diamond willow growing along the banks of the river, and I made some walking sticks for the girls.  As we returned back to our trailer after photographing some of the trees, we were startled by a loud buzzing sound coming from the Texas gate we were stepping over.  To our surprise there was a good sized Prairie Rattlesnake coiled up in the corner, and the girls thought he was pretty cool!

The next day we headed further south and east, with a pit stop in Medicine Hat for more fuel and a few supplies.  Turns out we had forgotten dish soap, dog food, and a few other things.  After stocking up we headed south to Red Rock Coulee.  There were a number of other hikers and photographers around during the day, but by evening we had the place to ourselves.  This is such a wonderful place to be out in as the sun sets over the prairie.  The badlands were more green and lush than I have seen them in decades with sweet clover and green grass all over the place.  The Gumbo Evening Primroses, among other wildflowers, were in bloom.

We all hiked down the coulee into some of the areas of badlands exposure.  This is well below the big spheroid concretions up near the parking area.  Once again I took some photographs with my big camera and the girls and I enjoyed the day exploring.  We found some wildflowers, some cool rocks, took some photographs, and found a couple of shell impressions to boot.

By Saturday afternoon we packed up and wanted to make it part way back home.  It is just too far to drive from Red Rock Coulee all the way back home in one day, with three little girls.  So we split the trip in half and headed back towards the Drumheller area.  We stopped in Dorothy, and once again had the campsite to ourselves.  The ghost town used to be a lot more photographically interesting.  Now it has become too popular, and the two old churches are almost completely restored.  The old United Church, where I proposed to Margarit over a decade ago, was in ruin at that time, and is now completely restored.  The Catholic Church is nearly completed now too.
On Sunday afternoon, as we were packing up to head for home, we could see a large thunderstorm building in the west.  As we put the last of our gear in the trailer and hit the road, it was still sunny, and +31C.  As we drove towards Drumheller we were hit by strong winds, a wall of dust, and eventually heavy rain.  By the time we drove up out of the valley, north of Drumheller, about a half hour later, the temperature had dropped to +13C.  What a difference...!!   We dropped our trailer off out at my brothers cabin at Pigeon Lake and headed for home with just the truck.  The girls were planning to spend the week out at the lake with my brother, and their cousins and would head back out there on their own the next day.  I of course had to return to work!!

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