North America

Calgary, Drumheller, ER and getting to Vancouver

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Drumheller

Drumheller is about 70 miles northeast of Calgary and home to perhaps the most amazing dinosaur museum anywhere on earth, which is quite fitting really considering Drumheller sits within the Red Deer river Valley which is commonly known as Dinosaur Valley, a place where countless dino skeletons have been meticulously and painstakingly excavated from the ground. Drumheller proper is dino crazy and as you come into the town you are welcomed by the worlds tallest dinosaur structure which stands at some 84m in height. Keep on moving through the town and quickly notice that everything is milking dry the dinosaur tourism industry. Hotels with completely original names such as ‘T-Rex Motel’ and street names straight out of the Flintstones it is a strange place that exists off the back of fellow mammals millions of extinct.

We were in Drumheller for the fabulous and huge tourist draw – The Royal Tyrell museum, home to Canada’s largest collection of fossils and some 70+ dinosaur replicas, and countless dino bones. Entrance for a family is $40 which is about £20, and is worth every cent/penny. The museum has been curated in such a fashion that it displays the intricacies of paleontology that appeal to everyone, not just mac wearing mud hunters. The kids absolutely loved it, it is huge and took us a couple of hours to walk around before we relaxed outside in the Badlands. Charlie thought his luck was in as he did a feeble dig into the ground expecting to pull out a diplodocus. It didn’t happen.

The town itself is really nothing to write home about and though it is somewhat quaint, you are never more than a few minutes away from being exposed to some cheesy street name which is a sobering reminder of the fact that despite you are supposed to be in some historical town, you are in tourism central.

Calgary

It seems that Lisa has friends everywhere in Canada and Calgary was no different. Pulling up to her friends house I was surprised at how big and stunningly beautiful it looked “It’s worth over two million dollars” Lisa quipped nonchalantly. It wasn’t hard to believe either, with its own cinema and marble floors we spent our time there in a luxurious stupor.

Now, I would love to say we did all sorts of things in Calgary, but unfortunately I cannot. Things went wrong very quickly, and over pizza. Sitting in a park having dinner in the form of a pizza, Jack speaks up “dad, what is this”, I looked at him holding a syringe in his hand. Quite obviously from a scumbag drug addict who had simply dispersed his equipment on the ground in a public area. We were next to a hotel, I rushed in with Jack and went to the bathroom. Jack washed his hands 6 times, and I inspected them to the point that it took around 5 minutes per hand. Jack claimed he hadn’t been pricked, but I was paranoid that he may had jabbed himself without realizing. I called Gemma back in the UK who contacted the NHS and advised that we go to ER. Lisa gave me the keys to her car, Ruth gave me a key to her house and off we went.

Healthcare in Canada is free for citizens, but not for overseas visitors. And so as we pulled up at Alberta Children’s hospital I wondered how much this would all end up costing. The ER was empty and within minutes two nurses were inspecting Jacks hands, asking him questions and both ultimately coming to the same conclusion – He hadn’t jabbed himself. One nurse explained that had he stabbed his hand, he would definitely know about it and there would most certainly be a puncture wound. It would be $700 to see a Dr. and completely pointless. Relief flooded over me and Gemma, Jack had learnt a valuable lesson and thankfully come out of it unscathed.

The following morning we jumped in the car and headed West, it was to be a 14 hour day that took us through Banff and Glacier national parks. The photograph above and below show the sheer diversity of the Canadian landscape. Both taken around an hour apart, the scenery was spectacular.

We stopped off occasionally at various little Canadian towns including a mini excursion around the excellent Revelstoke Dam. We sang songs, laughed, told jokes and I drove at least 13 of the 14 hours. Pulling into Lisa’s village of Steveston, a small fishing town just south of Richmond was a relief, though we had had an amazing time thus far, we now had time to recharge, time to relax and time to make the most of our last stop in Canada.

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