It was early in the morning when we said goodbye to cousin Lorron and continued our journey east. We remarked that it felt like we were really heading “home” since we no longer had any friends or family to visit. We didn’t want to keep Lorron from work so we opted for a McDonald’s breakfast. The drive was through the prairies but they were no longer yellow and green but brown and dying – even the harvesting seemed complete. The landscape changed to badlands as we approached Drumheller. At Drumheller, you kind of descend into the town (felt like a valley) and then the dinosaur marketing hits you. There is a colossal T-rex at the tourist information centre which the kids noticed first from the backseat of the jeep. After that, there are dinosaur statues everywhere leading to the Royal Tyrrell Museum.
We have really lucked out with the museums we have opted to visit and the Royal Tyrell Museum kept that streak alive. Julie and I did a scavenger hunt together while Izzy did her school assignment poorly (there were so many arguments about what constituted “completion”). There were some fantastic hands-on displays and the kids opted to assemble a dinosaur puzzle. It was frustrating to watch but we let them complete it even though it took them fifteen minutes and resulted in a queue forming for other children to try. The actual dinosaur displays were spectacular. Paigey pretty much took the kids, leaving me to read all the information placards at my leisure.
Outside of the museum, there are trails through the badlands that further teach you about dinosaur excavation. The kids were “dinosaured” out so we spent most of the hike looking for wild cacti which we had never seen before. We saw one, then another and then another. The kids made a song: “Cactus cactus, come to us” (you just repeat that verse pretty much whenever you are looking for a cactus) which annoyed not just mom, but other families on the path. Pretty sure we sang it for forty minutes straight and discovered north of a hundred cacti. Each cactus was individually inspected by Julie and then shown to me. “Look Dad, do you see this one? Is it a nice one?”. After the hike, we were famished (nothing new there) so we decided to double up and have McDonald’s again. I am not sure we got any parenting points for that decision, but the “Old Grouch” restaurant in Drumheller didn’t seem like a better option.
Back in the car, we zoomed past the coal museum and the hoodoos which were not that impressive (Somehow I thought that they were taller). We got to our campsite at Dinosaur Provincial Park, bought some wood and checked out the prospector tent which was our home for the evening. It was similar to an Otentik but did not have the same “je ne sais quoi”. We still had some daylight so we opted for the 3km scenic drive which ran through part of the park. This turned out to be one of the best decisions of the day. The campground was kind of empty and it was late in the season so the areas on the drive were completely deserted. What that really means is the kids got to go off the paths and explore caves, mini cliffs and run up the badlands. There was absolutely no one around. Not a person. We saw a bunch of deer and Paige shot a great video of the deer surprising Julie. Izzy was like a mountain goat running every which way and giggling the entire time. Even Paige enjoyed the hike (yep, you read that correctly). We got back to the campsite for a fire which Isabella is now the master at starting. She’s great at it. While sitting by the fire, a couple deer came within a couple feet of us. Eventually, we went to bed but heard coyotes howling which was quite magical.
Where we stayed (five words or less)
- Dinosaur Provincial Park: Badlands Scenery, Glamping Queen Bed
By the numbers:
- Rodents seen in our tent: 0 (despite many signs warning of them)
- Times Michael mentioned missing the coal mine museum: at least 8
- Attempts it took Izzie to make the fire: 1