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December 2017
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Rockies pt 1 – The dinosaurs

At last the vacation could begin, somewhat more stressfully than expected as the pool sprang a leak the night before we were to fly.  After half the pool had emptied and we had turned off the pump, we could finish the packing. Camera – check, passports – check, cowboy boots – not check (must remember to buy them during vacation).

It was another of those early morning starts, a sure sign that the holiday was starting. Sleep rubbed from our eyes as we watched for the taxi. Then a quick 4.5 hour flight to Calgary and on to the hotel to get a room and hire car. We spent the first afternoon wandering around Calgary. At first we thought it was smoggy in Calgary, but then realised later that the haze was actually from all the forest fires burning in BC (British Columbia to non-Canadians!). The girls were tired so we restricted it to lunch , a coffee, and a quick look along the Stephen Avenue Mall. I think we might have tower snobs as daughters, as once they knew the Calgary tower (190m high) was approx third of the height of the Toronto tower (553m high), it was quickly dismissed as too small to bother going up.

We ended our first day with a meal in Montana’s – to make up for the fact that they closed the one in Quebec. The staff and manager were so helpful with Jo’s allergy to soy and eggs, something that would be repeated time and time again throughout the vacation.

The next day we headed to the Alberta Badlands and Drumheller. After driving through miles of rolling pastures, we reached the surreal landscape of canyons, scrubby grass, unstable rocky slopes and hoodoos. We headed for the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology – a museum full of dinosaurs! Jo wasn’t too sure what to expect but along with the rest of us, was overwhelmed by the displays. There are over 50 full size dinosaur skeletons, including the daddy of them all – T-Rex! Many of the fossils were found within a short distance of the museum. The museum guides you through the geology, the effects of time, to the meticulous work excavating and preparing the fossils that are found in the surrounding area. Did you know that there was once a sea between the Rockies and the eastern half of Canada? It was definately one of the best museums we’ve ever visited, and we could have spent even longer with the dinosaurs.

A quick trip down the valley, took us to the Hoodoos. A Hoodoo is a natural stone tower, capped with a harder rock. The hard rock slowing down the erosion so a weak tower remains. When the rock eventually falls off, the tower quickly erodes and disappears.

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