You know it’s a good vacation when you forget what day it is. What day is it again? I’m pretty sure it’s Wednesday, but I could be wrong. At any rate, we’re on Day 10 of our 20-ish day adventure through western Canada and like all great road trips, this one took an unexpected turn. At Banff, to be precise. To be fair, our van has made it across most of Canada and is still going pretty strong. But still, we figured it was best not to push it going through the mountains on the long drive to Vancouver with no big towns in between for emergency stops or last minute overnights.
Okay, so here’s how our last 5 days have gone:
Day 6: Drove from Echo Valley Provincial Park to Rouleau, Saskatchewan to visit the set of Corner Gas. The kids thought it was great that we were actually in Dog River. We were there just a few days after filming for the movie wrapped up, so the set was still being reorganized into the gift shop that is usually there. We got lots of pictures of the outside of it, and of course, of the infamous grain elevator that you can literally see from 10 miles away in any direction (because the land is sooo flat!).
Then we headed for the Super 8 at Three Hills, Alberta since the forecast called for thunderstorms and we didn’t want to tent in the rain.
Day 7: With the Super 8 as our home base, we drove to Drumheller to visit the the Royal Tyrell Museum, the Badlands, and to tour around Drumheller. We climbed the World’s Largest Dinosaur, played at the splash pad, visited the Fossil World Discovery Center, and went back to the hotel for swimming.
Day 8: Drove from Three Hills to Vulcan, a town dedicated to all things Spock-related.
The kids loved it, from the space ship Visitor’s Center to Trekcetera, the local Star Trek and other movie-themed museum, we all had a blast. We skipped over to High River to take a few pictures of the museum (used in the filming of Superman 3) and Maggie’s Diner, a regular filming location for Heartland. Unfortunately, the road Maggie’s Diner is on is completed destroyed by the recent flooding in High River, so we couldn’t get close enough to peek in the windows.
We then headed towards Banff to find a camping spot. Unfortunately, it was a Saturday. Yeah. So we headed back to the Visitor Center in Canmore and spent a delightful night in the van. Ugh. In the meantime, the van started acting up, so we decided not to push it through the mountains, and made Banff our western-most location of the trip.
Day 9: Woke up bright and early and headed back towards Calgary for coffee. And something to eat too. We made a reservation at a hotel in Calgary for the next two nights, figuring it would take at least that long for a mechanic to fix the van. We got some shopping in, visited the Aero Space Museum, and then some more swimming after checking in at the hotel.
Day 10: After dropping off the van the previous night, we hopped on the C-Train to visit the Telus Spark, a very fun science center across the city. One train ride, one missed stop, and three buses later we arrived. This place was so much fun we could have stayed for a looong time! But we did have to get back to pick up the van, now newly fixed and ready to go. Got some more swimming and tv-watching in.
Day 11: Headed for Dinosaur Provincial Park to camp for two nights. It was super hot, so besides setting up the tents we sat and played cards in the air conditioned concession for a bit until it cooled down enough to go exploring. We managed to find a ton of small bones, and got to see a 12 year old kid find a fossilized vertebra from a small dinosaur (shh! don’t tell anyone!). The Badlands are amazing for finding dino bones and fossils because of the rapid erosion that happens everytime it rains. The area is a hotbed for finds and if you know what to look for, you’ll find something pretty quickly.
So we’re now onto Day 12 – another day for exploring the Badlands (which of course, is my favourite part of coming out west anyway).