Day 3: Monday, September 16

Driving the Dinosaur Trail

We both awoke waaaaaaaay earlier than we would have liked this morning (i.e. 4:00AM; our bodies still on the Eastern Time zone). We got up around 7:00, showered and dressed, and got an early start to our day.

We planned to drive the Dinosaur Trail loop this morning, so for a hearty breakfast we stopped at a place called WHIFS (Waffles, Hamburgers, Ice Cream, Flapjacks, Salads) for a very hearty breakfast at an economic $7.45. Great hostess too! Loved the train in the ceiling which chugged around the restaurant:

We left WHIFS and started out on the North Dinosaur Trail. Lots to see on this loop around Drumheller. Our next stop was at the Long Branch Saloon so that Vince could get some good shots of this authentic-looking western saloon:

We moved on to the Little Church and marvelled at its, well, littleness! The Little Church is, by the way, the world’s smallest functioning church and seats only 6 people at a time:

Continuing on the Dinosaur Trail we made our way to Horsethief Canyon. Amazing views there, and we were the only souls there – very quiet. What a view!:

From Horsethief Canyon we continued on the Dinosaur Trail to the Bleriot Ferry on which we crossed the Red Deer River. We were the only vehicle on the ferry that morning so things were very peaceful:

The next stop on the Dinosaur Trail was the Orkney Viewpoint, where we sat for quite a while admiring the stunning view of the Red Deer River and Badlands:

We lingered here as it was so soothing and restful. As we were drinking in the calm while sitting on the bench, I suddenly heard an unusual sound behind me. We turned around just in time to see an ENORMOUS moose run across the parking lot and down the other side of the embankment. He/she went so fast we didn’t even have time to get a camera up to our faces.

Leaving the Orkney Viewpoint we followed the Dinosaur Trail back into Drumheller. We decided to return to the hotel to regroup and plan our next steps but Housekeeping was cleaning the room. To kill some time we went down the #10 highway to the Star Mine Suspension Bridge in a small town outside of Drumheller called Rosedale. This bridge was how the coal miners crossed the Red Deer River in the 1930s and 1940s to get to the mines on the other side. The Star Mine was shut down in 1957.

Following in the miners footsteps we crossed the swaying bridge then explored a bit at the other side of the river. We got chatting with a friendly man visiting from Edmonton whose Dad had worked at the Star Mine back in its heyday, so he had lots of mining stories to pass on to us.

Leaving the swaying bridge behind us we returned to Drumheller for lunch. After that we hit the road to visit a tiny hamlet called Dorothy, which is touted as one of Alberta’s ghost towns. We walked around getting shots of the old churches, the crumbling buildings and a very decrepit grain elevator (which looked ready to fall down at any moment). Interesting and kind of eerie place, this.

Leaving Dorothy behind, we made our way to another little hamlet called Wayne.

To reach Wayne you must drive across what is known as the “Eleven Bridges of Wayne” (you literally cross 11 bridges to get to the hamlet). Finally reaching the hamlet we found the Last Chance Saloon and “hotel” was closed on Monday and Tuesday, so we were out of luck for any more scenery. We went through the little hamlet of Wayne, then returned over the 11 bridges to Drumheller.

We got back to the hotel about 3:15. It was an awkward time as it was too late to go anywhere major, and too early to call it a day. We set out walking to downtown Drumheller, went into a couple of stores, then found a beautiful park just under the Drumheller water tower:

We then continued down the street to the World’s Biggest Dinosaur and took some shots of a nice area there with a water spray park and, yes, more dinosaurs!:

From there we headed back to the hotel to rest for a short time. At about 6:00PM we left to walk to Boston Pizza (we were foiled in yesterday’s attempts as they were closed for a staff function). Had an excellent meal there: Vince had the Fettuccini Primavera and I had the Jambalaya (very spicy but good).

At about 8:30 we went back to the park by the water tower to see if the big dinosaur there was illuminated for the nighttime (earlier we seen that it had lights mounted on it so we assumed that it switched on at night) – it was indeed lit up:

We then walked back down to the splash park and World’s Biggest Dinosaur to see if they were floodlit at night. The smaller of the two dinos was not floodlit but the World’s Biggest was. I took a few shots of her (yes, it’s a female dino, as we were so informed by the good folks at the Drumheller Tourist Information office) and we then walked back to the hotel via a very quiet Centre Street. They really roll up the sidewalks early here in Drumheller.

Exhaustion set in around 10:00 so we went to bed – it had been a very big day. Time to rest up for another active day in Drumheller tomorrow.

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