Dinosaurs? Sort of! Dinosaur Provincial Park!

“I was born upon the prairie, where the wind blew free, and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures, and where everything drew a free breath.” the Great Comanche war chief, Ten Bears”

There are truly those places you stumble upon and know, you have to go back. We had thought of going North to the Royal Tyrrell Museum but in the end decided we really wanted to go back to Dinosaur Provincial Park. We had fallen in love with it last year, the hikes right from the trailer, scrambling through the hoodoos with the cats, fabulous wildlife and when we pulled in, well, very quiet! One of three trailers there. And the power worked, and there was park WiFi, usable park WiFi…Oh my God…there will be no whining here on my part since last blog I did go on about the electric;) We’d called ahead about water and a lovely young lady said to pull up by the registration area and the water was turned on by the store to fill, complete with a long hose to do so! I’m not sure an American Park would have left an unattended hose there;) Problem one solved, we had water, now, I don’t think we had any others! Spoke too soon. The front landing jacks stopped before we were level and after fiddling with them for 20 minutes we were somewhat level…what to do, what to do…go for a walk!

…and pose the question online, wait for answers, cross our fingers it would work better when we went to leave….start reading the manual:)

What I like is being able to put on my shoes and wander off down a spectacular path! The longest walk is about an hour, if you stop to photograph, well, double that;) The Badlands trail takes you past hoodoos and lunar type landscape. Small yellow flowers were starting to bloom and the trails were quiet.

The leaves were not yet out on the Cottonwoods that line the camping areas. The very handsome Black Billed Magpie followed us about as we walked the cats absolutely fascinated by them. He’d sit on the beams of the the shade buildings and hop from one to the other watching their every move, occasionally coming up with a croak or quack at them quietly…the excitement for the day:) 

Down by the river, the muddy waters of the Red Deer ambled by slowly. Full of dirt from melt water. Geese honked and landed and a Robin was searching for worms in the debris. We had a mix of sun and clouds, it would be overcast then clear, the whole weather gamut! The Red Deer River runs through Dinosaur Provincial Park Unesco World Heritage Site. It has slowly carved away the terrain, along with melting glaciers to expose the amazing collection of more than 500 fossils. Truly astounding plant, animal and fish life then, and now.

…and it was warm! Abnormally so, in the 20’s celsius. We skedaddled when we did as an incoming weather front was threatening to drop 25-30 cm of snow on the park and surrounding area. Hard to believe as we walked about in T-Shirts! Even Beezil came out it was so warm! The old hermit cat!

There were deer dropping everywhere, literally covering the campground…but no deer. So I decided to go looking for them. Behind the campground a steep hill leads up to a narrow path with steps. It overlooks the valley and a small creek that joins up with the Red Deer River.
Little Sandhill Creek from up high, what a view. 18,000 years ago the glaciers started to melt forming immense meltwater lakes. The lakes continued to grow blocked by kilometer high chunks of ice and sediment. When the dams burst, floodwaters raged across the land. Below is an example of what the floodwaters can do. This is the coulee of Little Sandhill River where it flows to meet The Red Deer River. Fascinating geology here:)

And there were deer down there by the creek, I could make them out from my perch on high so down I went and started to follow the creek from the end of the campground. They said there were both Mule and White Tailed deer so I was curious as to what they were. Along the path a Canada Goose perched high in a cave honked at me. I was hoping she wasn’t nesting up there, it would be a 50′ drop for the goslings if she did! Swallow nests lined the undersides of the rocks.

…and there were the Mule Deer. Those ears! With the black tipped tail I believe it is a mule deer. Beautiful creatures, not too shy, obviously used to living around some human company!

Behind the trailer when the sun came out some amazing purple flowers were blooming. It was the Prairie Crocus. I read that Pulsatilla is highly toxic, and produces cardiogenic toxins and oxytocin which slow the heart in humans. Excess use can lead to diarrhoea, vomiting and convulsions, hypotension (LOW blood pressure) and coma. It has been used as a medicine by Native Americans for centuries. Blackfoot Indians used it to induce abortions and childbirth. Pulsatilla should not be taken during pregnancy nor during lactation. Additional applications of plant extracts include uses as a sedative and for treating coughs. It is also used as an initial ingredient in homeopathic remedies.

Not as friendly fuzzy as I had thought. Won’t be eating any of these;)

A wonderful variety of flowers and birds scattered about the park, shuddered to think what they might think of the incoming snowstorm!

Our last evening there we drove up to the viewpoint that overlooks the park. The clouds had been moving in so I thought we might be treated to a spectacular sunset. It is amazing as it is totally flat once you get up on the mesa, you would never think this area exists until you stumble upon it!

I was hoping for that late day light to brighten up the hoodoos and stripes in the rocks below but it faded into the clouds. But I did notice below me a pair of Mule Deer slowly walking towards me. I was upwind and in the shadow so they did not see me until the last minute!

A wonderful way to finish the day. By morning we were packed up and ready to go early started to hook up and pressed the up button on the auto level…nothing…heart sinking…oh no! Stop, breathe, think…what to do, what to do. With a bit of help pushing up on the trailer it seemed to be able to hold once it went up, but wouldn’t budge by itself. We lowered the tailgate and got out the truck jack, placing it in the bed of the truck next to the 5th wheel hitch. With a few blocks of wood we raised it up bit by bit, the jacks would hold it once we got it there but were unable to push it up themselves. First time using the jack, that worked well. When we had it high enough to hook up we took the jack away and slowly backed up and attached the 5th wheel, it was close but we got it hooked on! Yeah! We won’t be stuck in a snowstorm and we can head East to Swift Current, Saskatchewan, our next stop, but that my friends is..another story! Stay tuned for the hows and whys of all those small bits where things can go wrong, how we can learn to fix them and where the buffalo roam!

“Once, in another lifetime, there was an ocean here, and if you plant your feet in the soil you can almost feel the ancients rising and falling like the tides of old as the storm gathers strength.” 
― Heidi Barr, Woodland Manitou: To Be on Earth

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