Drumheller

Last week we had our first snowfall of the season. Although it didn’t amount to much and melted quickly it was like receiving a letter from Winter’s lawyer instructing us to Cease and Desist all summer activities.  Never fear, the cycling will continue as it is an all-season activity. Winter may disagree with me on that point, but the growing numbers of cold weather cyclists will soon convince him otherwise. However, this little snowfall has given me the motivation to finish up my backlist of summer blog posts.

MEC Dahon Origami in Drumheller

The Labour Day long weekend saw most members of the Tuckamoredew household visiting the town of Drumheller in the Alberta badlands. Originally established as a coal mining town, the town is now famous for the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, a center of research that hosts a collection of more than 130,000 fossils.  Here’s a friendly word of advice dear readers: If you ever visit the museum (and you should, it’s excellent) try not to do it on a long weekend along with hundreds of other visitors, and most definitely try to avoid dragging a cranky 4 year old boy through aforementioned crowd.

The town sits in the valley cut by the Red Deer river, and as you drop down from the prairie above you enter a fantastic arid landscape, a 360 degree geology lesson. This terrain has been used to good effect in television and movies, notably Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven”.  I would like to have spent a good deal of time exploring the area by bike but the family nature of the trip meant a lot automotive tourist activities. Also, the logistics of this trip meant I was only able to bring my wife’s MEC Origami folding bike. I did get to ride it some and tested it out on some badlands trails. I am pleased to report that it performed quite well, even when pulling my boy through rough terrain in a Chariot trailer. The first major stop was of course the museum.

The usual suspects were present in the museum.

My daughter providing a comparison of scale.

In addition to the Paleontology museum we checked out the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site, an interesting window into the industrial past. The tour guides were lively and entertaining, regaling us with tales of scurrilous coal marketing, flatulent miners and hard working wild west type antics. I was interested to see the staff gliding about their business on a number of old bicycles.

Tuckamoredew will spot the bikes anywhere…

This is the last remaining wooden coal tipple in North America. The tipple was used to store, sort and deliver the coal to the freight trains. Our guide for the tour through the tipple provided a vivid description of the difficult working conditions for the workers of the time.

A graveyard of old coal mine carts.

Finally, no trip to the badlands is complete without seeing the hoodoos. These striking spires are formed when a cap of hard rock somewhat protects the softer rock underneath from erosion. My daughter showed her paternal genetic heritage by scampering to the top of the valley in my more cautious company. The rough trail to the top was somewhat alarming, with precipitous drops completely lacking any safety railing. I was acutely aware of my transmogrification into concerned parent as it would not have bothered me in the slightest when I was a youth.  I was aghast at the young children being allowed to crawl around the perilous terrain. Yes, I am but a shadow of my cliff-crawling, rock-hopping childhood self.

Hoodoos! These formations were protected from destructive idiot tourists by a fence.

However, there was no shortage of fools climbing about the surrounding terrain. I was one of them and it was the most fun I had on the trip.

Spectacular.

At the end of this busy day I managed to squeeze in a solo sunset ride on the Dahon. The ride was short but lovely and I’d like to visit the area again with more time to pedal. Someday…

TuckamoreDew saying farewell to Drumheller.

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6 thoughts on “Drumheller

  1. I had no idea such a place existed – a great name, cool terrain, with interesting museums and train grave yards. I noticed there weren’t any mountain bikes on the Hoodoos. Something for next time, eh?

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  2. I went to Drumheller with a sister and her family from Toronto. We enjoyed ourselves. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to discover and scamper the Hoodoos.

    Drumheller is a serious research facility –I had no idea! And they continue to make discoveries.

    Like

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