Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mega road trip - Day 25

We had to leave beautiful Banff today (I'd love to spend more time there but it's a bit expensive).  On the way out, we visited Lake Minnewanka and surprised to black bears feeding.

Road to Lake Minnewanka (typical road in Banff area)

Then it was out of the Rockies and down to the prairie.  As we passed north of Calgary it was very odd to see hundreds and hundreds of almost identical houses packed in literally six feet apart from each other and surrounded by thousands of acres of prairie.  It's like developers bought a few acres of land and then competed to see how many houses they could jam into the smallest area possible.  Here's a satellite view in Google Maps (zoom in to see how closes the homes are jammed in there and then zoom out to see Calgary and the surrounding farmland).  I found it very odd.

Our goal from the day was the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, AB.  Drumheller is in the Alberta Badlands, an area of primarily Cretaceous-aged rock (near the end of the time of the dinosaurs in the Mesozoic Era) chock full of dinosaur fossils.

Area behind the Royal Tyrrell museum

The exhibits at this museum were amazing in their preparation and presentation.  Here's an example of a T. rex fossil partially excavated from the rock slab in 3-D.

The information presented on the exhibit signs was excellend too.  A full page of information about each fossil interestingly written and informative.  Evolution was a central theme throughout the museum as well (some museums shy away from it since it offends some people).

I've visited the New York City Museum of Natural History, the Field Museum in Chicago, and the Smithsonian in D.C. (among others), but this museum in the middle of nowhere (over an hour north and east of Calgary, AB) ranks right up there with them in it's dinosaur and history of life exhibits.  Highly recommended, even if you have to drive many miles out of your way to see it.

Tomorrow morning we signed up with the kids for a program called DinoSite! - a 90 minute hike in the Badlands with museum staff (unfortunately, my kids are still too young for the actual dino digs).

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