Dinosaur Provincial Park

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I rode this. Just kidding.

This was probably the coolest thing we saw on the whole trip to Alberta. The landscape around the museum was a fossil hunters fantasy. My now-husband and I went into this huge museum filled with every cool and nice fossil you could imagine.

My favorite part was this room full of blown glass sculptures of the Cambrian Explosion, but blown way up. Much like the glass was. I guess there was a lot of tiny but extremely diverse species on the planet at that point, so they decided to magnify them for show.

And boy, let me tell you, these things were like giant sea bugs and plants that looks like something from an LSD trip. Well, I haven’t taken LSD. But I imagine it’s something like that Cambrian Explosion room.

The whole time everybody was looking for the T-Rex. I don’t know why T-Rex is king, but he is. And the woman dinosaurs too. I would tell you more about the T-Rex but I don’t really remember it.

A little funny thing that happened was I was outside and I had my husband take pictures of me in front of all the garbage cans. Well little did I know, a little kid was watching us and decided to take pictures in front of the garbage cans too! What a funny little kid!

 

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

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I fell off this and died. Just kidding.

The buffalo jump is possible due to the Rocky Mountains rising from prairie. The buffalo would think the prairie continued on when they were scared by the people, dressed as wolves. Then there’s a cliff. So they would jump off the cliff and fall to their death.

We went to outside to the buffalo jump and it was windy as fuck. I kept holding onto the railing and hanging on for dear life screaming, “Help me, Jesus!”

The other tourists seemed distracted by that for some reason.

 

Banff National Park

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I climbed to the top of each one of these mountains. Just kidding.

Banff National Park was badass. First of all, the mountains? Huge. And they take up a good portion of the sky. Actually there’s no sky. It’s all hidden behind these dang mountains. That’s how big they are.

We actually went camping there. For a long time. We got firewood and made a fire. I told ghost stories until my husband begged me to stop. Telling me things like, “Please stop telling your stories and telling me they’re true. They are not true!”

I don’t know why he said that. I really was a mummy before.

There’s also a little town that was packed full of people and cars. It was definitely a traffic jam. I figured that out really quick. So I don’t recommend going there in August when all the tourists are on vacation. STupid tourists.

 

Jasper National Park

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Um, hi.

We went to a waterfall there. That’s right. There’s waterfalls there. Also glaciers, hot springs, lakes, and mountains. Also waterfalls but we already covered that.

The waterfall carved a huge canyon out of the rock. Then there were all these plaques of people who died going over the railings to get a closer look. It was sad. But also wouldn’t that be kind of a cool way to die? In a beautiful waterfall? I don’t know. Sounds pretty nice to me.

Oh right, and we saw 2 bears!!! The host of the campground didn’t see too impressed by that. “Oh yeah, they like to hang around the entrance of the park.” Probably because that’s where the garbage was. They could eat the garbage so they just kind of hang out. I know I did.

 

Yoho National Park

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This could be Emerald Lake. Yeah, it’s Emerald Lake.

We hiked up a steep but pretty easy trail to see Emerald Lake. But it was summer and it was dried up a lot. The cool part is the turquoise water that’s caused by rock flour and the light spectrum somehow. I don’t know. I wasn’t really listening to the tour guide.

Anyway, it’s beautiful blah blah blah.

 

Canmore Cave Tours

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This person is having a great time in a cave.

 

I have a lot to say about this caving tour of Rat’s Nest Cave. We get to this place that looks like of like a dance studio, but full of caving equipment and rocks.

We put on our special suits and brought our helmets and gloves. Before we left, we signed a form that means you won’t sue anyone for having a bad body and getting hurt.

I actually almost backed out of this one because the website said you should be able to do moderate exercise. For me, that means walking fast. Apparently that means something different in Canadian.

We get in our cars and follow the tour guide to the hiking trail to get to the cave. The views on the hike were beautiful, we went up a dirt and rock trail. It could get steep so watch out. My weak ass had to stop a lot and be the caboose.

I took a solemn swear right then and there that I would be in perfect shape from then on.

I closed my eyes and whispered the swear under my breath. The tour guide and other people with us on the hike felt pretty weird in their bodies at that point. But I opened my eyes and stopped mouthing my oath after a while and we went on with the hike.

We put on our special space suits and climbed into the spooooky cave. And guess. what. We saw a rat and its nest! In Rat’s Nest Cave! Apparently those are super rare. But guess what else? We saw another one! That’s 2 rats!!!! That’s so many rats!!!

We go deeper into the cave, which has small crevices to go through, some of which you have to go head first into. This is not for claustrophobic people. So beware! *shakes you*

We get to the bottom of the cave, and well, there was lots more of the cave that was unmapped because it’s so hard to navigate, but we get to this grotto, this beautiful rainbow and turquoise water that’s supposed to have fish in it but I didn’t see any so I demanded a refund.

We turned off our headlamps (oh, we were wearing headlamps). It was the darkest place I’ve ever been. You could just hear the water dripping from those cone things that are in a cave ceiling or floor or sides.

We eventually turned on our headlamps because I screamed and cried. Just kidding. I was a big girl.

On the way back, we had to climb through a steep crevice and climb up a rope with no knots in it. Here’s the problem: I have zero core strength so I made a huge mistake: I used my lower back muscles to pull myself up. Yikes! As we left and started the hike down the hill, I started to feel pain all around my lower back. Uh…

We came back and I was the most exhausted I’ve been in my life. It was a workout the whole time. My back was getting more painful while I was sitting driving and I was pretty sure something was wrong.

Then we got to our shitty motel and I couldn’t bend over at all. Not even a little bit. I laid on my stomach and used all the ice in the cooler to put on my back and then I took a hot shower. You know, doing that ice heat ice heat ice heat ice heat ice heat ice heat thing.

When I got back I had to go to physical therapy so take them seriously when they say it’s moderate exercise and you shouldn’t use your back to get out of a cave!

 

Icefields Parkway

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There’s ice in there. Trust me.

This road was constructed during the Great Depression as a relief project, and because the government wanted to employ as many people as possible, they had 600 men make the road by hand! That sounds pretty inefficient to me but, I believe the government was acting in everybody’s best interest.

This drive had such a variety of nature. There were also mountain goats and bears on the side of the road. Everyone was going nuts trying to get a close picture with the wild animal.

By the way, that’s a bad idea and people get gored that way. “Gored” means stabbed with a horn. So… don’t do that unless you’re ready for death/injury. I just sped right the fuck past at 100 mph and flew off a cliff and my car caught on fire and rolled down the mountain once. Then we all thought it was over. But the cliff below us gave out! And we fell off the cliff and the car caught on fire again and we rolled down the mountain again!!

After that, I was fine and it was on to the next attraction.

 

Moraine Lake

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Blue lake. Wow. What a big surprise.

Surreal. Picturesque. Those are some words.

This lake is glacier fed which gives it its distinctive blue color. Something, something refraction of light.

 


 

The end? Nope. Here’s one last story.

Look, I enjoy some fine legal cannabis in the state I live. A lot. But I was not about to cross the border with drugs. So I left all my “stuff” behind at home. Here’s the problem though.

Let’s just say, I did not accidentally bring drugs across the border. We did not have to throw it in a garbage conspicuously. There is not a bag of edibles in some random garbage in Alberta, Canada.

 

Literally signing off,

Shannon O’Brien