A Canadian long weekend, camping, canoeing, running

Long weekends are an important time to spend with family, friends, teams, and clubs. Highways around the province are very busy as everyone tries to get away to enjoy their time off work.  This year, Canada Day fell on a Tuesday, so the holiday didn’t automatically create a long weekend, but many people took the opportunity to spend the weekend out of town.  I joined my canoe club at Dinosaur Provincial Park, in Southeast Alberta for the weekend.  There were a total of 27 participants from the club, so we had plenty of opportunity to socialize with each other.  Several people stayed at the group campsite, where there was a shelter for cooking, and the rest of us stayed in the campground.  The area is quite isolated, north of Brooks, Alberta.  It is a bit of a trip if a camper needs to pick up groceries or gasoline while camping.  There was no phone signal or data down in the campground, but there was WiFi, so it was possible to stay connected with the rest of the world.  Because there was no motorized boating and most sites had power, it was a very quiet campground.  No generators or partiers disturbed our stay at the park.  The park is in the Alberta Badlands, with very interesting geology, flora and fauna, and history.  It’s a Unesco Heritage Site.

I arrived late the first night and missed our group meeting, but we learned that the plan was to take a trip down the Red Deer River at 10 am.  We drove all of our vehicles and canoes and kayaks to Steveville Bridge, where we trudged through the mud to get into the water.  It was a pretty quick trip back to the campground (about 2 hours, with a floating lunch break), and it took almost as long to drive back to the put-in and get gas afterwards.

On Sunday, rain and wind was predicted for the day, and it arrived as predicted.  Starting as an easy drizzle, it developed into a heavy rain, and very strong wind, later in the day.  A group returned to do the same trip in the big canoes that day, but I chose to stay at camp and see all of the different features.  There are quite a few trails with excellent views of the hoodoos and rock formations, as well as wildflowers, birds, and cottontail rabbits.  I visited the interpretive centre, with a lot of information about the dinosaurs that have been discovered in the area, as well as about the geology and natural features.  The original home of John Ware, a cowboy who was a former slave was maintained in the campground.  Saturday evening, we had a fantastic potluck dinner, with a great assortment of dishes prepared by all of the group members.  We didn’t leave many leftovers behind.  The group made plans for a long and scenic paddle through the badlands in the morning, while I made plans to return home by way of Calgary.

The wind and rain began to move my tent around and fill it with water.  I didn’t want to risk sleeping in a lake, so I moved into the back of my car, where I stayed warm  and dry for the night.  I moved slowly in the morning, returning all of my wet gear to the car.  Soon after driving away from the campsite, I met 2 French hitchhikers, who were couchsurfing their way across Canada.  Although my car was pretty full, they managed to fit in the car to travel as far as Bassano, where they had a host waiting for them to show them Canada Day in a small town.  I had wanted to visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, to see the life-size dinosaur skeletons and sculptures, but I realized that I didn’t have time, since I was meeting a good friend for supper in Airdrie.  Instead, I visited the Crossiron Mills Mall in Calgary.  The museum would have been much more interesting!  I had a wonderful visit with 2 long-term friends over dinner in Airdrie.  One of them had travelled north from near Fort Macleod.  Both friends spent time in Spain and Italy over the winter, so they had great stories to tell!

I returned to Edmonton late on Monday evening, but Canada Day was the next morning, so I joined in the Canada Day Race.  The main distance is 15K, but I chose the 5K for a change.  It went well for me, and my friend and I went out for an excellent breakfast afterwards.  I had plenty of time during the day to do all of my laundry, grocery shopping, and reorganizing of all of my camping gear.  I went to watch the fireworks at 11 pm, so it was a long day.  The show was one of the best that I’ve seen in Edmonton and area, and it was a great celebration of this wonderful country.

 

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