Scenes from A Southern Alberta Road Trip

The September long weekend loomed hot and dry and ergo was deemed (by me) the perfect excuse to get out into the wilds of rural, southern Alberta.

Naturally, I thought it would be fun to sing along to 90s pop songs with the windows down while forcing someone else to drive and ignore my lack of tone. I thought it would be incredible if that person happened to be a professional photographer and I could basically just stand a foot behind him and shoot all the same things while pretending I had totally seen that same shot too, duh. I figured I had devised the perfect evil plan.

I’d even found the guy WITH the car AND the camera AND figured out iTunes well in advance of the trip and downloaded not one, but two incredible 90s playlists (alternative AND pop, you guys).

So prepared.

So together.

We set out in the general direction of “east” and started weaving our way through back roads.

But it didn’t take long for my plan to go awry. Turns out said photographer/chauffeur/cutie has little to no interest in 90s music (how is this possible!? why is this happening to me!?) and kaiboshed my music after a paltry 40 minutes. I was crushed. BROKEN.

But we moved on, mild pouting aside ;-), and proceeded to have a very cool weekend (lack of Nirvana notwithstanding).

Meandering through the back roads of Southern Alberta is truly a relaxing and rewarding thing to do. I highly recommend it.

We rolled past abandoned homes aplenty, checked out ghost towns, got caught around some giant coal mine (who knew!?), and saw plenty of wheat blowing in the breeze and grain elevators in various states of use and…inuse…unuse? Abuse?

As dusk was rolling in we found our way to quite a cute little camping spot and – hurrah! – one of the only little oases across two provinces that was outside of the fire ban. Campfire! It was fantastic. Thanks Handhills HighCountry Hideaway for that gem (but definitely not your name because…it is A LOT).

Things just got better from there, folks. We ended up at Waynestock which – I don’t even know how to describe it, really – was fantastic. I wish I had MORE pictures because I feel the pictures can really speak louder than words in this instance.

But here are a few words anyway, to help the situation along: weird, delightful, hillbilly, boot-stomping, Canadian beer, banjo, overdressed, ghost town, DANCING DINOSAUR.

Oh what’s that you ask?

DANCING. DINOSAUR.

The Last Chance Saloon, where the festival is hosted, is in a ghost town but someone, at some point, renovated the saloon and brought it back to life as a tiny hotel and restaurant/bar.

How cool is that!? It was a fun time and I wish to go back next year for the entire glorious weekend instead of the few hours we managed.

The next day we headed to the Tyrrell Museum as they opened, with the general idea of avoiding giant queues of people and as many of the children as possible. Our plan worked perfectly and we got through most of the exhibit before I was done with the kids. It was fun, dinosaurs are cool, and science is great. If you haven’t been, you need to go.

The way home included more meandering and some unexpected highlights of the entire weekend.

Namely, the world’s cutest ferry ride ever! It’s a nearly jumpable distance, but with no bridge for kilometers around (I know the saying is ‘miles’ but we are being Canadian here, are we not?!), a small ferry was apparently (somehow!?) deemed a better idea than building a bridge. Why?! Weird!

We also rolled through a cute little ghost town with a small historical museum called Rowley, and it was there that I finally got to stand on the front porch of the house of my dreams – looks exactly like the Gilmore Girls house, doesn’t it!?

A few more stops and chats with delightfully quirky folk and we were back in Calgary. Long weekends go by too fast!

Alas, as much fun as the lollygagging weekend was, it was not until I returned home that I realized three very important things one should generally realize BEFORE embarking on a photo-taking weekend mission through unseen lands:

  1. Learning how to use your camera by, oh I don’t know – reading the manual – can be very useful.
  2. Cleaning your camera lens periodically can be very useful.
  3. Gleaning photo-taking tips from a professional can be better if you’ve already done #1 and #2 from above.

Sigh. There are, very occasionally, moments where I wish I was just slightly more anal/prepared/dedicated than I am. But then I remember how much happier being relaxed feels and I let it go 🙂

Guys, get to road tripping southern Alberta. I swear, it’s actually a really fun time and there’s a ton of unexpected beauty to see.

Talk to me, yo!