Entry 2: Prairies, and Gophers, and Dinos, Oh My!

Loading into Winnie with coffee and breakfast sandwiches, we left at the crack of dawn and immediately hopped on the southbound QE2! I think what I’ve enjoyed the most so far is the camaraderie with other campers and RVs on the road. We’ve gotten a lot of waves from others and it makes Meg laugh every time I almost dislocate my arm waving back whether I’m in the driver’s seat or not. 

When we were planning this trip our original plan was to go from Edmonton to Banff basically non-stop, but a couple nights ago we started making a list of things we’d never experienced or visited in Alberta and, well, we won’t be leaving Alberta for a while with everything we want to see. We’ve both lived here our entire lives and I feel like I’ve barely seen half of the province! And really, 80% of that was from a car window on Highway 2. 

It’s really weird to look out at the canola fields and farmland I’ve driven by my entire life and think about seeing it through someone else’s eyes. I try to view it from an outsider’s perspective: the rolling sea of yellow and green canola fields, the wonder of cattle and horses just a few feet away from the edge of the highway. You don’t get those things in other provinces. If we were to take a turn down a range road and drive a few kilometers we would feel like the only people in the world! 

It makes spending more time in our home province worthwhile; originally, we were just going to go straight south following H2, but when we started thinking about roadside attractions and museums, we made a note for a different turn off. As I write this, we are at a rest stop not far from Camrose. 

I think this is going to be a delightfully inefficient trip when I look at our route, there is definitely no straight path to be seen. The number one bit of advice I got when I started planning was take your time. I know that they probably mostly meant when setting up and tearing down camp, but I think it should apply to the destinations themselves. It’s super corny, but it can be about the journey and not just the destination. Also, taking these side roads helps both of us get used to driving Winnie. Every vehicle has its own quirks to get used to while driving, an RV compounds that thanks to its weight and size! 

Did you know there’s a tiny town in Alberta called Torrington, with a small museum dedicated to the town’s history and that it’s all depicted through lovingly made dioramas? 

And that the diorama subjects are stuffed gophers?

Gophers. Gophers in hats, gophers fishing, gophers playing hockey. Absolutely incredible. Every diorama has some kind of story linked to the town’s history. I asked and apparently each of the little guys were dressed by someone in the town a while ago. It was really an act of love showing parts of the town that no longer exist, people’s personal stories for people to peek into. It was pretty quiet so we were able to take our time inspecting each scene. Some of them were really funny (I’m pretty sure one was a play on Grease? But I might be wrong) and it was a nice place to stretch our legs for a bit and get a serotonin boost. 

Now, with a Timmie’s stop under our belt (we did have to park nearby and walk, no drive-thrus for us) we’re off on our next leg!

We got into Drumheller late and only had the energy to set up Winnie before dinner. It’s really clear tonight so we didn’t make a fire and just wrapped ourselves in blankets outside to eat. Tomorrow we’re thinking we’ll take a hike, maybe visit the museum. This place is incredible and honestly feels like a different planet. One second you’re in the prairies with nothing around for miles, and the next you’re back in time in the badlands. Can’t wait to see it in the light of day.

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