Like most mornings these days we had a hearty breakfast and went in search of adventure, and we seem to be right in the heart of it here in Drumheller. We started off at a Tim Hortons, ‘cause that’s what you do, and headed up the valley. We arrived at our first destination, the Atlas Coal Mine. This valley once supported over 135 coal mines, which are all gone now. We wanted to tour this mine as it is the coal mines that Carol’s fathers’ family worked long ago in Pennsylvania.
Many suffered from black lung. So the history here is meaningful, and, as it turns out, a lot of the immigrants that came here were from Poland as well. It was powerful hard work, and they started the kids working in the mines at age 8. The Atlas was the last to close, 1979 was the last year in the area for coal and the industry dried up. It was a very good tour and we had an energetic young lady as the train driver, Shar was her name, and she knew her history - and was a pretty good storyteller as well. Here is a quick video of the day.
From the mine we made our way down the road where the Hoo Doos are. What are hoo doos you ask, well I’ll be damned if I know but they are darned cool. Just a very small grouping of strange rock formations. Only about 9 or 10 hoo doos are remaining - the Indians, sorry, First Nation Aborigine, believed that they were evil spirits turned to stone. Could be, but they looked a lot like just stone to me. It was fun hiking around this area as the landscape is just so strange. I met a young lady (mid 30’s I would guess) who was riding her bicycle from Toronto to Vancouver and then down to Portland - East to West is riding straight into the wind.. tough riding. I wished her and her husband good luck on their journey and turned away jealous of there youth and ambition.
Further down the road we came to a suspension bride across the Red Deer River, the river that forms this valley. Carol, who normally shies away from bridges of all kinds surprised me by walking out about halfway on this bridge. It even had just a grate for a floor, water clearly visible below, took me completely by surprise. It’s nice to still be surprised after 47 years of marriage.
From the bridge we found the road that leads to the Last Chance Saloon, which has been recommended for lunch. The route crossed eleven bridges to get to the pub, we only counted nine, but the sign clearly says 11 bridges, who am I to argue. The pub was super. For our late afternoon lunch/supper I had a Bison burger, Carol had pierogi salad… and of course I was served gravy with the fries. We had a couple of good chats with the waitresses then headed back down the road over how ever many bridges there, are and made our way back to town, stopping of course at the Dairy Queen for dessert.
We went just west of town to another Provincial Park, another old mining site, to do some hiking. As we climbed a hill, there was some barking, then howling, coming from just below us. We disturbed a coyote. The coyote walked right out onto a road, 50 or so yards away, howled once more, looked at us and trotted down the road. Of course I had a wide angle lens and not my telephoto so the shot here is a highly enlarged and grainy shot. Wildlife today, small green snake at the first mine, dead rattlesnake on the roadside (sure it was dead but it still counts), the coyote and beautiful large black and white bird with a long tail flew right across in from of the car as we were driving back… amazing. We had great clouds and a storm moved through just after sunset, which happens very late here - it's not dark until 11 PM. Here is a short time lapse of the clouds moving by.
Below are more images from today’s exploration.
Click any image for a larger view.