Posts filed under ‘Alberta’
When we originally planned our road trip to Alberta, we agreed to visit only Banff and Edmonton. But a couple of weeks before our trip, my sister had related to me how people had been suggesting to her that we also stop over at Drumheller, which is only four hours away from Edmonton. We shouldn’t miss visiting Royal Tyrrell Museum, they said. And they had been raving about this place, which is actually a dinosaur museum. And so it got us all excited. BIL, hubby and mama had to ask for extra days off at work. I was on vacation that whole week anyway so I didn’t have to make extra arrangements at work.
We left Edmonton on Wednesday, at 5:20 a.m. It was raining when we reached Leduc and Camrose. By 9:00 a.m., we were entering Drumheller. We were delighted to see once again hills, but this time with flat tops. I don’t even know if that’s what you call them. They’re more of terrain and you could see how erosion has taken place there throughout the years.
The dinosaur on this welcome sign is the first one of Drumheller’s that we saw. That’s me behind its leg. Yes, that’s how big it was.
First thing we did was to try and check in at Travelodge. But as it turned out, they didn’t have a record of our reservations. The lady at the counter said that it was the third time that week that Expedia.ca screwed up their reservations. Or could it be because we only booked rooms at Travelodge the week before? Remember, we only decided to add Drumheller to our itinerary within the two weeks before our trip.
Well, anyway, the lady directed us to the Tourism Centre where she said somebody there could help us find vacant rooms at another hotel in town. As we drove there, we were amazed to see these two giant dinosaur structures. These were even bigger than the one we saw just in front of Travelodge. There was a sign that said, world’s largest dinosaur. It would be this one, which was right in front of the Tourism Centre. How big was it? Well, this was just the foot. So you can just imagine.
The receptionist at the Tourism Centre was able to help us book rooms at Drumheller Inn. But when we got there, there were no rooms ready yet. We would have to wait until after noon. So we decided to drive around town first. After seeing the world’s largest dinosaur, we were still amused to see the other dinosaur structures that were scattered all over town. I felt as if we walked into a filming of a dinosaur movie that has been temporarily abandoned.
I saw this big dinosaur mural just next to Reptile World. We thought of going inside, but I think it was I who suggested that we just pass that up and head to the Royal Tyrrell Museum already. I was too anxious to see the dinosaurs that these people had been raving about.
This is what the museum looks like outside. It is huge. 11,200 square meters. It is after all Canada’s largest dinosaur museum. My sister was told that it might take us four hours to cover the entire place. So we decided to eat lunch in the car and I changed to my flat shoes before we went in. I learned my lesson after our first shopping trip to West Edmonton Mall.
There are also dinosaur structures in front of the entrance. Reggie asked me to take this picture of him in that amusing pose. You should see our album. He took some pretty amusing and interesting pictures.
The museum was named after this guy, Joseph Burr Tyrrell. He discovered the skull of Albertosaurus near Drumheller in 1984. And the paleontology museum named after him opened in 1985 to instant acclaim.
Inside, there are interactive computers for both young and the not-so-young. There is also a preparation lab where you can watch museum staff prepare fossils for research and display through the glass windows. There are several galleries and exhibitions that bring you through geological time and the dinosaur ages. There are about 40 mounted larger than life skeletons of ancient dinosaurs. Some of the exhibits are die-cast but there are also fossils that are real.
It was quite an awesome experience but it didn’t take us four hours to explore the museum. Maybe for a dinosaur buff like Ross Geller, he’d be on cloud nine and he’d spend an entire day there, or probably sign up for one of the museum’s activities and programs. But for regular out-of-town visitors like us, two hours was enough. We were all beat after exploring the museum for a couple of hours. After all, we were up since 4:00 a.m., yours truly, since 3:00 a.m. And this was the fifth day of our trip. We couldn’t wait to get back home.
You can view our Drumheller album here.
As I’ve mentioned last time, my sister and her family planned to go swimming at the World Waterpark in West Edmonton Mall (WEM). But after learning about the exorbitant fees, they decided not to go. We could easily go swimming in Manitoba for a family fee of only $20.00.
So when we came back to Comfort Inn that night after our first trip to WEM, my very resourceful niece started calling around for other places we could go to around Edmonton. I was intent on going back to the mall the following day since I didn’t have enough time to explore the entire mall yet. But my sister and her family wanted to go to places other than the mall.
I decided to join them the following morning before I went back to the mall.
We first went to John Walter Museum. Admission is free. But we didn’t know that the museum is open only on Sunday afternoons. It was Tuesday when we went there.
Well, anyway, since we were already there, we just had a look around. We learned that John Walter was one of Edmonton’s early settlers and industrialists. The museum includes the three homes that John Walter built and lived in 1875, 1884 and 1901. The first house displays his life as a bachelor. The second one was built when he was starting to develop and prosper in his businesses. The third and largest one (the green one in the picture above) had the luxuries of the day including running water and telephone. He was already a millionaire by then. We didn’t get a chance to go inside the houses because they were all closed so we just took these pictures outside.
Next, we went to the Muttart Conservatory. The four glass pyramid-shaped greenhouses were a sight to see as we were driving down towards it. The Muttart Conservatory is a botanical garden and the greenhouses showcase plants from arid, tropical, and temperate climates, providing a welcome oasis of warmth during winter. The fourth pyramid hosts a theme that changes throughout the year.
Look at this banana plant. This must have been planted in one of the greenhouses.
There are admission fees ranging from $4.50 to $8.75, depending on age. And there is also a discount rate for families, but we opted not to pay. Are you seeing a trend here? Yes, if we could avoid it, we won’t pay. Well, we are one big group. And if you add it all up, it’s a lot. But we always have fun just taking pictures and we were all like kids going up that hill, posing beside the pyramid structures and just enjoying the view from up there.
After several pictures, we went back to the hotel to have lunch. Five of us – me, Ryland (my youngest), Reggie (my oldest), hubby and Mama – then headed back to WEM. My middle son Ryan, decided to go along with sis and family. While the five of us went our separate ways inside the mall, sis and her group went to Telus World of Science. It’s a space and science museum with IMAX, exhibit galleries, planetarium, computer lab, etc. But they also didn’t go inside. Yes, there are also entrance fees.
They also went to Fort Edmonton Park, one of Edmonton’s premier attractions and represents four distinct time periods, exploring Edmonton’s development from a fur trade post in the vast Northwest, to a booming metropolitan centre after the First World War.
Before we leave Edmonton, here are just a few things I noticed about the capital of Alberta as compared to Winnipeg:
1. License plates on their vehicles are attached only at the back. Here in Winnipeg, license plates are attached at the front and back of vehicles.
2. License plates in Alberta bear the motto: Wild Rose Country. Here in Manitoba, it’s Friendly Manitoba.
3. I noticed that garbage bins, not only in Edmonton, but also in Banff are slanted. Here in Winnipeg, they’re upright.
4. Traffic lights in Edmonton are horizontal. Here in Winnipeg, they are vertical. I also noticed that they do have a lot of cable wires on the streets. I found out later on it’s because they have cable cars.
5. Transit buses in Edmonton are blue. Here in Winnipeg, they’re usually orange.
6. Their bus route numbers go up to three digits, i.e. 109, 120. Here in Winnipeg, they only go up to 98. (Note: Except for this four special DART routes 101, 102, 109, 110, which I didn’t know until I checked out the Winnipeg Transit website for accurate information. He he he. Who takes the DART routes anyway? ).
7. I didn’t see a single mosquito in Edmonton while we were there. The hotel rooms at Comfort Inn have sliding doors at the back so you can go to the parking lot easily, but they don’t have screened doors, unlike here in Winnipeg.
8. Legal working age in Alberta is 14. Here in Manitoba, it’s 16. Just look at this sign in front of the hotel. When we had lunch at the Food Court of WEM on our first day there, I sent Reggie and Ryan to buy their own food at A&W. They said that it took them a long while to get their orders because there was this kid at the till serving them. Ryan said he looked like he was only 12 years old. But I guess he must be at least 14, if that’s the legal working age there.
You can view my Edmonton album here.
We left Banff at 4:49 p.m. that Sunday, after our breathtaking trip on top of Sulphur Mountain and exciting ride on the gondolas. We arrrived in Edmonton at 9:03 p.m and by 9:22, we were checked in at Comfort Inn. That’s Comfort Inn, my dear folks, not to be confused with comfort room, as we call the washrooms in the Philippines.
We were all excited when we saw the banner that said, free hi speed internet access. We thought that there would be computers in the rooms or someplace in the building. But BIL later on explained to us, that it only means that you can hook up your laptop, if you have one, and avail of free internet access. We’ve only been gone away from home for two days and we were already missing the internet. He he he.
There was a Superstore just a stone’s throw away from the hotel. So that was a good thing. We packed rice and canned goods with us, but I had wanted to buy milk and some fresh food since there was no fridge in the hotel rooms. This Superstore also has hot freshly baked pizzas so it was good to have something like that. We wanted to avoid eating out as much as possible because the bills could really add up.
The next morning, we headed to WEM. It was only a six-minute drive from the hotel. I didn’t even realize that we were already there after a few minutes. I was expecting a huge sign or huge globe or something like the one I see in the pictures of SM Mall of Asia, but there was none of that. Well, there was this sign, but I just thought it was pointing in the direction of the hotel, which I learned later on was inside the mall. That is not my picture on the link. But we had this one taken on the rooftop of the mall. You’ll see the WEM sign in the background.
Well, what can I say? The mall is really huge.
According to Wikipedia: (WEM) covers a gross area of 570,000 m² (5.3 million ft²) and cost C$1.2 billion to build. There are over 800 stores and services and parking for more than 20,000 vehicles. More than 23,000 people are employed at the property. The mall receives 33.5 million visitors per year and between 60,000 and 150,000 shoppers daily depending on the day and season. The mall is currently valued at $926 million.
Here are just some of the major attractions of WEM:
Deep Sea Adventure. There is this huge replica of Christopher Columbus’ Santa Maria. The theme is Pirates of the Mall, obviously inspired by the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. The Sea Lions’ Rock is also in this area. We spent a good amount of time here on our first day at the mall because the kids loved watching the sea lions perform their tricks.
Europa Boulevard. Located on the second floor. This part of the mall has a themed street inspired by the art and architecture of Europe’s oldest and best-loved cities. There is a huge Christmas tree right in the centre of Europa Boulevard. Apparently, the movie Christmas in Wonderland, which will come out later this year, was shot here. We took pictures by the Christmas tree. We got our Christmas card pictures early this year.
Bourbon Street. Located on level one, this part of the mall has a theme of New Orleans – dazzling colour and delectable treats.
World Waterpark. This is the main reason why my sister and her family wanted to go to WEM – to go swimming at this indoor wave pool. (As for me, I wanted to check out the shops in the mall.) This is North America’s largest indoor waterpark with a size of over two hectares. They planned to go swimming the following day but when they found out that the fee was $39.00 per head, they backed out. There were nine of them. Nine times $39.00 was just way too much.
Galaxyland Amusement Park. We just mostly looked at the rides, games and amusements. The kids knew that we parents weren’t willing to pay for the rides. But sis and I put in two dollar coins in this dance thingy where we have to follow the arrows on the floor to dance along to the tune.
Chinatown. Another themed street on the second floor. There was a huge long dragon hanging from the ceiling. There’s also an Asian grocery store.
Ice Palace. There is a huge skating rink at the centre of the mall and a skylight right on top. My husband says that there is also a skating rink like this in SM Mall of Asia. Is that right folks back there in Manila? A skating rink in hot Manila? And there are people there who skate?
Some of the stores:
There are the major department stores, such as Sears, The Bay and Zellers, which I didn’t see until our second day there when we all went on our separate ways. Ryland stayed with me. Yes, my baby still wants his mommy.
This HMV is on two floors. It took me two days to browse through their movie racks and also Reggie who browsed through their CDs. I got myself my very own copy of Brokeback Mountain. I just watched it the other night and I got to experience the breathtaking views of the mountains of Alberta once again.
We were looking at the Santa Maria when my oldest son, Reggie, pointed out this shoe store to me. “Isn’t that a Filipino word?” he asked me. Of course it is, Sapatos. Although it’s derived from the Spanish word, zapatos, which means shoes.
There are also stores for the small children, like B Sweet, which sells an assortment of candies; the Disney Store, which sells everything Disney; Build-A-Bear Workshop, where you can create your own personalized stuffed Teddy bear.
My boys went inside this game store called Play Me. My middle son, Ryan, checked out the games but he said they were a lot more expensive as compared to Winnipeg. That’s what we parents also noticed. Even without the 6% GST (goods and services tax) in Alberta, the items sold at Edmonton Mall are still pricey. Well, what can you expect? It is after all a tourist spot. When Ryland and I went back to this store the next day, he also checked out the games. He pointed out to a game that was on sale. It doesn’t have its original box and he thought he’d get it for the discounted price. But I asked him first, “Do you really want it, or you just want to buy something here? Because you could save your money and buy something you really want in Winnipeg.” In the end, he decided not to buy it.
And of course, I had to visit the bookstores. We first went to Coles. They had a poster of the new Harry Potter book that was to be released in three day’s time. I saw this magazine where Daniel Radcliffe was on the cover and I read part of his interview. Ryland got tired of waiting for me to finish reading. But he’s been patient.
So I promised to buy him ice cream once we get to an ice cream store. We went downstairs to Baskin Robbins and we both had a cup of delicious ice cream, Pink Bubblegum for him and Mango Tango for me.
Then we went to Chapters where they had a Harry Potter theme. There were paper candles hanging from the ceiling, just like there are candles floating at the Great Hall of Hogwarts. They were going to have a book reading event and/or party on the midnight of July 20, the release date of the book.
Are you finding my shopping trip boring yet? You see, I’m not really big on shopping because I don’t have a lot to spend on things. I’m quite content with just browsing the stores. But if I do find something that I really like, I buy it. And I tell you this. The most valuable purchase I made was from this store called the Rocky Mountain Soap Co. One of my boys has stubborn eczema that won’t go away even with prescription cream. I went to this store hoping to find soap that he could use. And sure enough, I spotted this Pumpkin Patch soap for dry/eczema skin, made with natural ingredients. I bought three bars. And I also bought this body butter, which he could apply on the rough patches of his skin instead of lotion. He used the soap and body butter right away once we got back home and it’s working. So I just have to find a distributor of these products here in Winnipeg since Rocky Mountain Soap Co. doesn’t have a branch here. Or I could always order on-line.
You can view my West Edmonton Mall album here.
More of Edmonton next time.
July 14, 2007, Saturday
3:00 a.m. I wake up. My family is going on a road trip to Alberta. This is our first family trip ever, first for me actually. We are going with my sister’s family and my mother. We decided to leave at 5:00 a.m. since it’s a 14-hour drive from Winnipeg to Alberta.
4:00 a.m. I wake hubby and kids up so they can start taking turns in the washroom. Reggie alone takes half an hour in the bathroom. We also have a quick breakfast of cereal and toast.
5:00 a.m. We start loading our luggage and bags in the car. Mama’s already here. We load some of our bags in her trunk. I think we have too many stuff. But we are going to be there for six days.
5:15 a.m. Sis and family are still loading their van.
5:22 a.m. The three cars finally pull out of the driveway. Reggie and Agnus (Ah-nyus), my oldest niece, are riding with Mama. Our two youngest kids are with hubby and me in the second car. Sis and BIL have six kids in their van. We have three walkie-talkies, one in each car. The van is at the front. BIL is navigating us since he’s the experienced traveler. Mama in the middle and us at the back.
Around 6:00 a.m. We encounter dark heavy clouds and then it rains. Ryland has his blanket over his head. After we pass the rains and as we are driving under the clear skies, Ryland says, “Mommy, I was scared of the rain.” I say, “Oh, is that why you were hiding under your blanket?” He replies, “Yeah.” I say, “That’s okay, it’s behind us now.”
6:33 a.m. We stop at Tim Horton’s at Portage La Prairie, still in Manitoba. Mama needs a washroom break. Some of us also go.
8:00 a.m. We stop at Brandon (Manitoba) to fill up the cars. Washroom break, too.
11:30 a.m. Gas fill up and lunch break at Regina, Saskatchewan. We eat inside our cars.
12:00 noon. We leave Regina.
1:00 p.m. We pull over to the roadside to switch drivers because Mama is falling behind. The speed limit on the highway is 100-110 kmh, but the speedometer reading of Mama’s Toyota Corolla is not right. She has to drive at 120 kmh to catch up with the other two vehicles but she insists on driving at only 110 on her speedometer. We have five drivers by the way: hubby, Mama, sis, BIL and my 19-year old niece, Agnus.
2:30 p.m. We pull over to switch drivers again. Sis is falling asleep on the wheel. Hubby also needs a break.
This is mostly the view on the prairie highways, flat lands and fields. Very boring and it will really make you feel sleepy. We do see cows, bisons, hay, haystacks, irrigation pipes sprinkling water on the fields, and once in a while trains. But that’s about it.
But doesn’t this canola field look so pretty? The yellow look so lovely against the green. We pass by a few of these fields. This picture is taken from a tinted glass window and doesn’t really give justice to how beautiful it is. But you can see much better pictures of canola fields here.
3:45 p.m. Gas fill up and washroom break near Medicine Hat.
4:23 p.m. We reach Alberta. We finally see hills and horses.
7:27 p.m. We arrive in Calgary. We see mountains here and there. We are enjoying the view in Calgary. We see houses built on top of the mountains and also more horses. I imagine Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger filming Brokeback Mountain here and I have the sudden urge to watch this movie again which I’ve seen twice already. We see the mountains in the horizon and we think that’s Banff.
As we enter Banff, we are driving in winding roads in between The Rocky Mountains. The view is so breath taking!
9:05 p.m. We enter Banff National Park. We pay $17.80 per family/vehicle. It’s only 8:05 p.m. in Alberta.
9:40 p.m. We check in at Banff International Hotel.
July 15, 2007, Sunday (Alberta time)
9:00 a.m. We hear mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
11:00 a.m. We check out of the hotel and then we go sightseeing around downtown Banff. And then we head to the Banff Gondola (lift car) ride. Fees: Adult – $24.95, Children (6-15 years old) – $12.50. Sis is having second thoughts since she has an equivalent of four adults and 5 children. I tell her that since we’re already there, why not take advantage of this opportunity to take the ride and anyway it looks like the fee is all worth it. And it is. The ride and the view on top of the mountains are so cool and awesome!
Let the pictures and videos speak for themselves. Enjoy!
Banff Gondola ride