Saturday September 2, 2017 (Canada)
When in Drumheller, you really don't have much choice but to get yourself to the Royal Tyrell Museum. It's a massive, amazing museum brimming with dinosaur skeletons. You really can't go too far wrong! On the way over, we stopped into downtown Drumheller to check out the massive T-Rex that dominates the skyline. You can walk up inside the thing if you want, but it'll cost ya! Although it appealed to me purely for the reason that it's strongly reminiscent of a scene from the formative film The Wizard, we didn't feel it was worth the $4 per person to walk up a few flights of stairs. We proceeded instead to the museum!
I was amazed with the Royal Tyrell. Whereas most museums with a paleontological bent will be chock full of casts, you can't walk far in this place without seeing another label with the words "Original" written in boldface next to a world-class fossil. There were an unbelievable number and variety of original fossils on display here. At a certain station you could watch an employee performing cleaning and excavation work on a small fossil, while her colleagues behind glass worked on larger, more sensitive specimens. They're not messing around here! As with almost all museums, there's way too much information on display to digest at once, but I found each little placard I encountered to be concise and readable. We definitely started wandering through at a quicker pace towards the end of our visit, but we both enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.
From Drumheller we proceeded directly to Calgary! On the way into town, we decided to check out WinSport – the Winter Sport Institute. We'd heard you could do cart luging: an activity Sandra and I first tried in New Zealand and which we can't get enough of! However, upon arrival we realized that it's not just the luge available. There's a huge zipline that runs from the ski jump tower used in the 1988 Calgary Olympics. But we've both done a fair bit of ziplining. What we haven't done that is also available is a galldang bobsleigh. Yes! You too can pay a bit of cash and find yourself careening down the actual Olympic bobsleigh track with a trained professional guiding the way. Granted, we're doing it in the summer so the bobsleigh runs on wheels and goes a bit slower… but come on. You don't pass up opportunities like that! It turned out that Sandra vaguely knew our bobsleigh driver – she was from Guelph and had competed against Sandra in a few sporting events! Her name was Heather, and she's now the driver for the Brazilian Women's Bobsleigh team. Very cool!
Don't expect photos. Suffice it to say that neither the luge nor bobsleigh were overly conducive to transporting an unwieldy DSLR camera. However, Sandra captured some great GoPro footage which will hopefully find its way into this post at some point in the distant future.
If I were to describe the luge, I would say: epic amounts of fun. It's like a gravity-powered go-kart whose speed is directly proportional to your willingness to die and/or throw yourself bodily from the track. It's hilarious. The most fun is if you get a bunch of slowpoke families in front of you and you get the opportunity to go ripping by them and show them how slidey-butt-car-racing really works. A dream come true. We rode it three times, with each successive run becoming increasingly wild as we flexed our collective daredevil muscles. Probably a good idea to stop at three before somebody gets seriously injured!
If I were to describe the bobsleigh, I would say: much more intense than anticipated. Yikes. I kind of imagined a goofy, bumpy little ride. Yayyy! Weee! This is fuuun! Far from it. I nearly puked! It became patently obvious that the velocity and G-forces were much more serious than I'd imagined about ten seconds into the ride when we hit the first corner at speed. I just held on and prayed I didn't throw up on Sandra's back. But your trusty hero made it through without incident. All this trouble I had, and that's only at about 3/4 of the speed you go on ice. Which you can also do here in the winter! Not sure I'll be lining up for that one, though. I got the idea.
In summary, WinSport is totally badass.
After a thrill-ride of an afternoon we made our way downtown for some MEC shopping (bladder hydration systems – no more hikes without enough water! ) and a meal with high school friends. Sandra's friend Patricia and my friend Lindsay are both living in the Calgary area, so we managed to corral them both to the same place so we could all hang out! The venue was a Mexican joint called Blanco. Food was reasonable, drinks were good, but the company was top-notch! It's always nice to meet up with people you know in unfamiliar places.
Off to bed! We booked two nights at a campground in Jasper National Park, but we've got three days of unbooked camping to wing before then. We're set to smash our previous record of two nights of camping in a row. Let's go for five!