After a hardy breakfast the day started with a trip to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. It was a 6km ride out of my way but definitely worth it. On the way the I discovered a bike path that took me right through the Badlands. They look like piles of mud that have been washed out. The hoodoos are basically a flat rock on a mound of mud.
Cycling through the Badlands
The Royal Tyrrell Museum was incredible. To be honest I hadn’t expected that much, but it was absolutely fabulous and the specimens they have in the museum are second to none. These are the fossils that you see in text books, not plaster casts but the real thing. And the museum is extremely modern and well put together. The badlands around the area are rich in fossils and they tell the stories of the people that discovered them, sometimes professionals, sometimes amateurs, sometimes kids out fishing like the one below
What a catch!
One of the most amazing exhibits for me was the famous fossil of a giant fish with another fossilized fish in its stomach. I remember seeing pictures of this as a child. There’s something about it that just brings the whole era to life.
What I did find interesting from a people perspective was how excited the kids were and how generally frantic the parents were. It’s easy for me as an observer, and when my kids were younger I probably acted the same, but this is just one place where you have to let the kids be kids. It was overwhelming even for me. I think this museum is probably the equivalent of giving your kids a coke, ice cream and a bag of jelly beans all at once. Sit back and let them run around until they drop. Then get a baby sitter and come back by yourself.
I started out for Hanna by 1:15. There’s a fun climb out of the valley. On the way up I was passed by a dozen or so triathletes. Every single one of them waved and said hi as they whizzed down the hill. I was really impressed and it looked like they were having a good time.
Cycling was easy with more rolling hills. Who said the Prairies were flat? Not in these parts anyway. If I understand correctly the mounds were caused by churning melt water under the 800m thick glaciers that once covered this land (yes, 800m, almost a kilometre thick).
You see these big round rocks everywhere. They don’t belong here. They were actually transported by the glaciers from the Northwest Territories. Besides leaving behind rocks, the melting glaciers created new valleys and diverted existing rivers.
I’m still having problems with my rear tire going flat. It was flat coming out of the museum and tried re-inflating it which worked for about 30km until I decided to change it. Then the new tire started losing air a few kms down the road. I changed it again and the valve stem burst as I was inflating the second tube. Ok, now I’m running out of spares: only one left. I changed it a third time, being extra careful to make sure there was nothing pokey inside the tire or on the rim, and gently inflated tire. So far so good. I’m crossing my fingers for tomorrow and the next Canadian Tire I’m buying more spares.
One good thing that came out of this is that I realized that I can turn my bike upside down with all the packs still on it to change the tire, or do other adjustments, which makes things a little easier and quicker.
Cycling through the Prairies is very relaxing, maybe too relaxing. At one point I started to feel very sleepy. Not a problem: I pulled over and lay down on the grass and had a snooze. It’s very relaxing with the wind blowing through the fields, and the birds singing, with only the odd truck passing to disturb your slumber. I’ll have to try some more of that tomorrow.
Palliser – responsible for surveying most of southern Alberta in the 1800s
I arrived in Hanna by about 6:30pm and spent the next 30 mins searching for the campsite. It was at an address that didn’t exist in my Garmin (what else is new). Hanna is the home of Nickelback, but don’t hold that against me. I had imagined a pretty town with a river running through it. But there’s no river and it was kind of dead, maybe because it’s a Sunday night. I headed back to the main drag near the highway to the only restaurant that was open, Nicks, and the food and service, and the beer, was very good.
I plan to dig out the bare minimum to camp tonight because I want to get off really early. Maybe have a quick bite to eat and a hardy breakfast in Youngstown. I plan a big, big day tomorrow. I’m going to try to cross the border into Saskatchewan and stay in a place called Kindersly. But we’ll see how the wind and the weather and the bike cooperate.
Distance travelled today – 98kms
Moving avg – 19.2kms
Elevation – 814m
Moving time – 5 hours and 4 mins