We were going to go to Kananaskis. To attempt a modest hike. But then the professor got a phone call from a friend who said the weather forecast didn’t look particularly great for that area and yada yada yada we were on our way to Drumheller instead.
We last visited the area four years ago, soon after we landed on Canadian soil – when the Hen was one and the Gort was in preschool and there was no Percy… and no minivan. And we had no idea what This Canadian Life would hold. How time flies……
We got a bit of a late start so we had a ‘car picnic’ en route, which is a glorified way of saying we ate cheese buns with salami, and cookies while the car inched towards Drumheller. The Hen fell asleep right after eating his cheese bun and when he woke up he was rather perturbed that he’d missed ‘the car picnic’.
Despite our most ardent attempts to explain that he hadn’t missed much of anything.
We’d been in the car for about 45 minutes, just past the Cross Iron Mills Mall, when I thought to myself: ‘this is going pretty well, maybe we are ready for car-trips again.’ And then my thoughts were interrupted by the Gort: ‘can we go home now? We’re just sitting here doing nothing,’ and I realized we weren’t ready. Also I couldn’t get my hand out of the popcorn bag – my car-induced emotional overeating was back, with a vengeance.
Eventually we made it to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Along with the rain. Apparently the forecast for Drumheller was no better than the forecast for Kananaskis.
No matter, just before we went inside the museum, a stranger handed us a ticket for free entry. A sign of good things to come, I decided. And the boys’ excitement when they saw the first ‘dinosaur’ was palpable. ‘Whoa!’ the Hen exclaimed.
It really is a fun museum for kids. They even have a 90 minute-long ‘dig experience’ for young paleontologists-in-training when it’s not raining or excessively wet outside.
Cue the outing’s first instance of tears.
But nothing thirty minutes in the cramped gift shop couldn’t cure. If only they would banish the dinosaur sweatshirts that [surely] no one buys, there would be enough room for everyone to gaze leisurely at the enormous pencils and plastic dinosaurs.
I’d read in a guidebook that there was a nice trail for hiking behind the museum, so I asked one of the employees. ‘The guided walk is cancelled because the clay absorbs so much water and gets really slippery when it rains, but you can do the hike on your own,’ and she directed me to the start of the trail.
So we moseyed over and began the whopping 1.4km walk. It was all going swimmingly until I asked the boys to pose for a picture. Something I, ironically, almost never do; preferring to capture them in their natural states sans forced smiles. ‘Stand over there,’ I directed the Gort, pointing to a slight hill of clay. He placed one foot on the bulge and bam! fell down like a sack of potatoes.
Cue the outing’s second instance of tears. And, minutes later, the Hen fell down too. Two boys with mud-covered jeans.
‘This is the worst day of my life!’ the Gort despaired. And I did my running-out-of-patience best to explain that I would clean the jeans and shoes and jackets when we got home. ‘You don’t even have a barrel to soak them in,’ he lamented. And I had to suppress a giggle at his Little House on the Prairie notion that I needed a special ‘barrel’ for soaking mud-covered clothes.
When we got home, many hours later, the Gort said to me: ‘when can we go back to the Dinosaur Museum?’ And I gave him the look of a battle-weary soldier. ‘You said it was the worst day of your life,’ I reminded; his words fresh in my mind, anyway.
‘I changed my mind.’