Alberta, Canada
August, 2001
Our next stop is across the border into beautiful Alberta, Canada.  Here's our trailer parked in front of Janet and Denny's Cruise America motorhome.  (Janet is Cheryl's youngest sister and Denny is her husband.)

Gosh, this looks like the parking lot of the "Mystery Location".  But first, we'll journey north from Glacier National Park, to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in Alberta, to the small town of Drumheller, and to Banff, Alberta.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is both a World Heritage Site and a very interesting place.  It's a place that for thousands of years native people drove herds of buffalo over the edge of a cliff and then carved up the carcasses.  There is now a debris pile of bones that is amazingly deep.  We also learned that it was not an easy task to trick the buffalo over a cliff.  A few mistakes and the tribe could go hungry for the winter.
We had never heard of Drumheller until last year while camping in Edmonton, when a local told us about a "must see" museum that was about 180 miles south of Edmonton.  It is the world famous Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology, discovery site and research center of the "Albertasaurous."  We were so impressed with the museum that we talked Janet and Denny into making a stop here.
Denny, took this photo of one of the dinosaurs exhibited here.  We've been to lots of museums with impressive dinosaur exhibits, but this one is by far the best we've ever seen.
Max and his cousin, Cooper, are holding plaster dino molds they made during a kid's day camp at the museum.  They were really thrilled when they found an actual dino vertebrae during a hike on a trail through the rocks and cliffs in back of the museum.
To get to Drumheller we drove miles and miles through wheat fields; (actually, someone told us it was mostly canola fields.)  At one point, Denny got on the walkie talkie we were communicating with and said, "any dinosaur that lived way out here deserves to be extinct."
So why are there so many dinosaur remains way out in the middle of all this flat land?  Well, during the ice age this area was covered with a thick glacier.  A river formed beneath the ice and made a large cut in the earth.  When the glacier melted, a deep gap was left in the earth, exposing the remains of thousands of prehistoric creatures. 

Our next stop is Banff, Alberta.
We took these pictures from the top of the gondola lift, 2000 feet above the town of Banff.  You can see the town below in the picture of Janet, Denny, Cooper and Jody.
Did you know that the gondola ride down the mountain is free?  And here's another interesting fact -- if you walk up the mountain you can save $50 on the price of a family ticket and you won't have to go to the gym for a week.

We were told it would take from 2 to 4 hours to walk to the top.  Well, Mitch made it to the top in just 55 minutes and the rest of us made it in 1 hour 45 minutes, (which included carrying Jody part of the way.)

This trail is the only one I've ever hiked that not only didn't have a single downgrade, but also never had a single stretch of level ground either.  There were no trail markers so we never really knew how close to the top we were.  We were surprised how fast we made it to the top. Our motivation to get to the top was for the gondola ride down -- not because it was free, but because the last ride down was just three hours after we started up and we weren't sure how long it would take us to get to the top with the younger kids.  If we didn't make it to the top before the gondola closed, we'd have to walk all the way back down -- in the dark.  It's a great hike.  Try it if you're in the area.
Just 40 miles from Banff is beautiful Lac Louise.
 

Lac?  That's French for Lake.

Now this looks familiar.

From this point the water drops about 100 to 150 feet into a 20 to 30 foot wide canyon.  Maybe gorge is a more accurate word.  The water then flows through the gorge for about a quarter mile before it levels out with the terrain again.  The trail crosses back and forth across the gorge providing many picturesque view points. 

Could these be last month's mystery location?  They sure are.  This place is known as the Paint Pots.  The water has a high concentration of iron-oxide.  The water rises to the surface and over time, the iron oxide precipitates from the water to form a solid rim.  This rim grows, and as the water flows over it, it slowly grows into a mound of solid iron-oxide.  The common name for iron oxide is "rust".

Here's Jody checking the water.

Here's a close-up.  The consistency of the "Rust" deposit can be seen.
Here's my next challenge.  Our first two mystery locations were solved by the same person, our daughter-in-law, Melissa, (Mel).  In both cases Mel solved the mystery by using the Internet.  The last challenge was very difficult to solve by using the Internet, but still she did it.  My next challenge is to come up with a location that someone else can solve before Mel does.  I call for your help.

Here's what it will take to beat her.  Mel's on the Internet often and is usually one of the first to open our e-mail.  She is driven to solve these mysteries and is extremely proficient at using the Web as a research tool.  (She's now even an expert on iron-oxide.)  I will try to pick a recognizable location that is difficult to solve by using the Internet.

We've got over 100 people on our distribution list -- we have people all over the country and even in Japan and England that regularly check our webpage.  Someone else should be able to win.  Together we can beat Mel! 

But beware, Mel is a driven person -- she doesn't give up.  One night she called and asked for a clue -- she said she couldn't sleep at night -- she kept waking up thinking about the Mystery Location.  First thing in the morning she'd be back on the Internet.  Our son, Brady, would come in at night, see her on the computer and say "Ed is killing you."  I told Cheryl that maybe we should disqualify her, but Cheryl disagreed with me and said we should hire her for some kind of research project.

Please, somebody out there -- identify our next mystery location quickly.  We're not sure she can stand another long duration mystery, and Brady will thank you.  She told me that she reviewed every National Park webpage in the country trying to solve our last location.  (Ha Ha, it was in Canada.)   How's that for a challange Mel?  I bet Mel won't be able to sleep nights just anticipating the next mystery location.

I'll send out our next mystery location in about a week.  P.S. to Mel: your prize for the Paint Pots mystery will be in the mail within the next few days.
Well, back to traveling.

This is Radium Hot Springs.  It is located in eastern British Columbia, where the south end of Highway 93 joins Highway 95 going into Northern Idaho. The north end of  Highway 93 joins into the Transcanada Highway between Lac Louise and Banff, Alberta. Both the gorge and the Paint Pots are along Highway 93, (which was the correct answer to the Mystery Location.)

This is a public pool that's open year-round.  It's heated by the thermal springs.

Jody found a large grasshopper at Radium Hot Springs
On our way back to Seattle we stopped at the Thousand Trails Resort near Spokane, Washington.  In the morning we enjoyed a game of baseball and followed it with a swim in the pool.
Is he safe?  Try sliding with your feet out Cooper?
Upon returning to Everett, Washington we cruised 18 acres of forest land that our daughter, Bridget, was considering to purchase.  Here, I am trying to get a large log to jam in place in order to form a bridge across the Pilchuck River.  The property had 300 feet of river front, but was mostly wetlands.  The EPA is just too tough on wetlands these days to warrant this purchase, but we had a nice day in the woods.  As for the bridge? It floated away. 

 
 
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