Day Eleven – Rosetown SK to Drumheller AB (324.1km)

Grab a coffee, put your feet up (just tell your boss I said it's okay) and enjoy….

Great sleep last night. The weather was so cool that there was no need for the AC…good thing too because until we turned it off, we couldn't hear the horns on the trains that pass by just 500m away.

We figured out why the rooms are so clean. A community of Hutterites comes in and cleans. The women are beautiful in their lovely homespun clothing…like wildflowers. Funny enough we see men walking with them and they are in everyday, store-bought attire….hmmm, we wonder what that's all about

After packing up the room (not much work there for the Hutterites as, from habit, we clean it as if its one of our campsites), we drive off to re-visit Ali. Not hard to linger until eleven (his time of opening), just sleep longer and move slower. Oh well, it is a Sunday.

Ali greets us with a big smile. He sure looks happy here in Rosetown. We order bacon and eggs and we are surprised at how fresh everything is. Ali tells us that everything is made fresh. The home fried potatoes are peeled and cut, just before they hit the pan (and you can see and taste the difference). Ali says that he wanted to do it right and he learned from extensive service at various Toronto establishments what works and how things could be improved (imagine how things would be if that we're the norm in every business? Are you listening 'The Bay'?). Fresh cut potatoes and fresh cut fries…small things but boy, do they make a big difference.

Ali also tells us that he had no formal training in cooking when he bought this establishment. He can look at a meal and make it. In fact he tries to improve on it. We love this dude's passion for cooking excellence.

We ask him about the Hutterite men who wear normal attire and he tells us that those are men who live here in town after being shunned by their Hutterite community.

The restaurant is where many of the town's organizations meet (including the Chamber of Commerce) and Ali hosts monthly shindigs…like the Wine and Cheese party planned for July 25th…if you're in the neighbourhood, drop into the 'Highway Host' and partake (and don't forget to congratulate Ali on his new baby).

    Time 7pm.
    MENU App: Cold watermelon Soup with (Moet Champagne )
    Main: Prime Rib served with Truffle Mashed Potatoes & Veg Desserts : cheese, cheese.cheese
    Wines: Moet Champage, Two red wine, one dessert wine

After breakfast we hit the road again towards Drumheller. It's about a three hour drive across Hwy. 7W and Wendle is at the wheel, while I blog and take some pics.

Very soon we cross the border into Alberta. It certainly has a very different feel here. For one thing we notice the first Roadkill since leaving Southern Ontario (and lots of it). None in Northern Ontario. None in Manitoba and none in Saskatchewan. What makes this depressing is that a lot of it is birds. We saw recently where bird populations in Canada have dropped 20%…are they all from Alberta? We have learned from experience that birds will move quickly off the road with a toot of the horn. C'mon Albertans, lift and finger and toot (LOL).

We also notice how fast they drive here. They drive like gas is cheap (oh that's right it is…$1.19 per litre). The road (now Hwy. 9 West) is still one lane but there are few passing lanes and it isn't flat anymore…we have several close calls when oncoming cars try to pull out when they shouldn't. Once, Wendy is forced to swerve violently when one oncoming Albertan pulls into our lane right in front of us (they must have thought we were a bird).

We stop at The Cactus Rest Stop (on Hwy. 9) for a break and some of that cheap Alberta gas. I go into the men's room and it is packed (with men). I'm using one of the urinals when I suddenly hear a woman's voice say “Don't worry, I'm just here to clean the sink”. I turn (along with every other guy who is at a urinal) to see a woman barging through a crowd of guys, towards the sink, with some cleaning tools. She looks like Large Marge from 'Pee Wee's Big Adventure' (ah c'mon…surely you've seen 'Pee Wee's Big Adventure'…it's a classic). There is a little boy standing near the sink and very sweetly he says! “Yes, the sinks need to be cleaned”…to which Marge says gruffly, “Well they wouldn't if you didn't dirty 'em”. She is awesome. I tell Wendy about it and we agree…we are really beginning to appreciate how out there and honest Albertans really are. They are awesome. Lesson learned.

Gassed up, and chowing down (me on a really tasty mini-pizza and Wendy on an almond, date & nut bar) bought at the rest stop, we head back onto the road. It's not far now.

Turning left onto Hwy. into Drumheller, we finally see the Badlands. Fanfreakintastic. Otherworldly. Hauntingly beautiful. There is no way to accurately describe them in words and we're seeing just the very beginning of them

Drumheller is the home of the world famous Royal Tyrell Museum. We learn later that everything else in town is here because of the museum. Dinosaurs are everywhere…in all shapes, colours and sizes. There is even a T-Rex bursting through the wall of the local IGA.

We dodge the T-Rex long enough to buy dinner for the campfire. We are camping at the Kokopelli Kampground in Rosedale (5 minutes East of Drumheller on Hwy. 10 East). We are planning on staying two nights so we can be sure and have an entire day to see the museum and the hoodoos. It's good to be back outdoors and we're pretty excited to get to our site and cook up a hearty meal of chicken thighs and some mixed veggies.

The campsite is good. It's operated by a couple who are (once again) transplanted Torontonians. The cost is outstanding ($27.30 per night) and the firewood is $8.75 for a 40lb bag…and they'll lend you an axe to split it. There are very clean washrooms (Wendy's sure they clean them every hour), showers (a loonie gets you five minutes of clean, hot water) and everything is within a quick walk of your campsite. Our site is cozy and private and after splitting the wood, I have a shower. By the time I get back, dinner is ready and it's really good. Nothing makes you hungrier than…feeling clean (I bet you thought I was going to say…chopping wood).

After dinner Wendy and I go to the main area sinks to clean our dishes. I'm volunteered to carry our giant cast iron frying pan. It weighs a ton and the arm carrying it is six inches longer by the time we arrive at the sink (we think that the weight of that pan is responsible for a possibly weakened rear-end suspension).

The sinks here are great. They were liberated from Lake Louise when they had been tossed out (although perfectly serviceable and looking brand new). After the cleanup, we brush our teeth, clean our face and take a leisurely stroll back to camp.

The fire provides plenty of warmth on these cool Alberta evenings, which we enjoy until around midnight. Then, excited for tomorrow (and with visions of terrible lizards stalking our dreams), we turn in and fall immediately asleep.

Moose and Wendle



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