Day 8 – Dinosaurs, Bridges and Road Rash

Mr. Reid called Drumheller an “ecological free-fall” and quite truly, it is. One minute you’re driving amongst prairie fields, and then you plummet deep into a valley that seems like the setting of a post-apocalypse movie! The hills rise up on either side of the town, marbled and striped with the different sediment that formed this valley. Within the hills, are the carved mini rivers of erosion-laden ground. It’s all quite spectacular and as parent-tweeter @ gerber1973 commented, “Love Drumheller and the Hoodoos….brings back fond memories.”

Our first stop was at the hoo doos. Now, as many of you know, this is a favorite stop for our students. It lets them get out and stretch their legs (also allows the opportunity for stretched calves, scraped hands and sore tailbones!). Every time we pull up here , I remember the free falling of our former students who took on the hill and lived to tell the tale! It is one of my scariest trip moments and without fail always makes want to say, “let’s just look at it.” or “isn’t it pretty, too bad there’s so many rattlesnakes”.

After a quick chaperone + students photo, off they went! Mr. Peloquin and Mrs. Amell led the pack to the top where Mrs. Amell promptly removed Mr. Amell’s flag of discovery and planted her own (one step further than his of course!). The kids scaled that hillside like nobody’s business, basically pacing themselves up a huge hill at a jogging pace. Being a bit of a mother duck, I planted myself at the bottom of the hill, ready for any free-fallers! There weren’t any, and I’m thinking that Mr. Reid has finally achieved the impossible – a trip without any injuries! (awww, shucks, sure am proud of that guy!).

We wanted to make room in our stomachs for THE BIG SUPPER so we just had a snack at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and then we were on to our next activities. At the museum, we split into two groups to do two activities. The first group went to the museum classrooms where they learned about plastering and molds. Each student got to make a mold of one of the bones that is featured in the museum AND they will be bringing this home as a souvenir! Which, I think is a slight bit more relevant than the three squeeze-the-bear-and-poo-comes-out-of-it’s-rear-end-keychains that were purchased in Jasper!

The other group toured the museum, wandering through time and marveling at the different animals that have roamed our earth. One of the highlights of this museum is a large scale that can weigh several people at one time. In addition to showing the weight, it has a corresponding photo of the animal that weighs that amount! Apparently, Hughie, Phil, Douglas, Alexia, Jocelyn, Rebecca and Troy weigh more than a moose! Another highlight of this museum (which incidentally is commissioned with the name “Royal” by the British Monarchy for it’s significant importance to the world) was its gift shop. By running quickly through the 3000+ square foot museum, you were able to spend more time at the gift shop! Although, I should note that several students did pause at the dinosaur poop (you can actually hold it!) exhibit on their way to the gift shop! (I’m sensing a theme here!)

The two groups switched places mid way through, allowing a bit more time in the gift shop (more stuffed teddies, a few more key chains and some large wooden pencils that will never get used).

After the museum, we went to check into the hotel. (see Special Feature blog post for details).

Then…….the feast! Every trip, we go to Fred and Barney’s – a superb Chinese buffet here in Drumheller. They treat us like gold! We have a private dining room, unlimited pop and an awesome supper! The waiter even played top 40 music in the background – with some of Troy’s favorite songs (our little supper paradise, really it was!). Some of our students even tried using chopsticks (I feel a little bad for not vacuuming before we left!).

Filled to the gills, we were soon on our way to the Suspension Bridge. A fair number of students hadn’t been on a suspension bridge before so this stop ended up being a pretty good experience. And by pretty good experience, I’m not including the two students who pretty much crawled across the Bridge (think fear-filled eyes, clenched fists and quivering lips). With a not-as-repeated-or-stressed-as-much-as-I-and-our-insurance-company-would-like reminder, Jim let them know that they could climb the hills on the other side of the bridge, but they should, “keep an eye out for snakes, and don’t pick it up if you find one”. Anyone hearing the word “disclaimer”…..

So, in my usual over-mothering role, I watched with anxious anticipation as they tiptoed through cacti (think of fairies running through the meadow), and ascended the hill (think of prisoners escaping). If you following my twitter feed, you know that one chaperone pushed several kids from the top of the hill before pounding his chest and yelling, “King of the Castle”. (so embarrassing…..)

Much to my surprise, (much, much, MUCH to my surprise!), a few students returned to the bus with news of an injury. And by the expressions, I knew it was going to be a doozy! Apparently, Josh took the quickest route down the hill, and didn’t even have to use his feet to get down! Choosing instead to tube roll down (think bingo balls in the bingo ball bin!), he achieved a new record for fastest descent at the Suspension bridge hills. I didn’t see it, but I have heard that it involved a head over heels flip, a vertical rotation, 360 degree sumersault and a cartwheel with a roundoff’. Apparently, as he came to a stop, the world came to a stop, the watching chaperones’ hearts stopped and the air was sucked from the hills. Suddenly, his hand came up and a feeble wiper emerged for his lips…..

“I’m okay.”

Well, it was quite a fall, and he has impressive road rash (hill rash?) to prove it. Pierre and I were thinking about Josh’s road rash this evening and we were giving him some advice on how to optimize his tough guy cool factor! We told him Daisy Dukes, a midriff-revealing shirt and random patches of shaved skull would really do it. (he seemed game, so it MIGHT happen!).

Well, after that outing we had a couple of stops to make. Jim, off to Walmart to get Medical supplies; me, off to Coldstone Creamery to get my medical supplies – ice cream!

An evening of swimming, watching tv, playing on iPods and finishing up journals was just what the kids needed. They relaxed and hung out, the chaperones did the same. There’s a feeling of winding down a bit, which is okay because we have lots of kids with colds, several homesick ones and lots with no money (biggest concern of all!).

So, goodnight to Day 8. It’s all home bound from here!

Trip Bylaw Appendix G

1. Book hotels later so we can luck out and get suites.
2. Talk to the student about keychains that poop (not sure what to say, but I’ve got two years to think about it!)
3. Pack more medical supplies. Bring doctor or nurse if possible.


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