The Wandering Tops

The Wandering Tops

25 June, 2015

Alberta's badlands - Drumheller

We were the only passengers who boarded at Cranbrook so sat up the front and had a good chat with the driver.  Was good for me to sit back and enjoy the scenery as we had not travelled between Radium Springs and Banff previously on our RV tour.  We took on another passenger at Kimberley and as we drove out of the town we noticed a number of police cars and the bus driver saw a fully armed personnel on the street path.  As it turned out we were lucky to drive through as a siege was commencing and the road was closed behind us!  Most of the trip to Calgary the discussion revolved around what we had seen and the passenger who boarded in Kimberley kept us informed via frequent updated phone calls to his wife!!  Both driver and passenger had never seen anything like this in the area before - how do you think we felt, as never seen this sort of fire power before in Australia!

After a pleasant ride arrived in Calgary mid afternoon and had a great reunion with Briony at the bus depot.  Caught taxi back to where she lives and looked forward to spending 3 weeks quality time with her.

Our first road trip was to Alberta's Badlands and Drumheller in the Red Deer valley, also known as the Dinosaur capital of the world.

On the morning of the road trip Briony and I headed to the car rental to pick up a vehicle and we were fortunate enough to be offered an upgrade which we couldn't refuse - a Mustang convertible!!  Only thing is, we forgot we had to go and pick up Helen and 3 into a convertible was cosy to say the least! Briony was entertained watching her Mum getting in and out of the convertible at every stop!

Hels checking out the stallion at Horse shoe Canyon

Not sure who was the most excited, I had to concentrate on the road

How cooooool is Hels

Quite different country side to what we have seen in Canada - lots of grain and canola crops

Drumheller and the Badlands are approximately 110 km northeast of Calgary in the Red Deer River Valley. The drive in this area is so different from the Rocky Mountains we had been traveling through. With open plains and a clear sunny day it was a great drive, especially topless in the convertible.  The Mustang was humming and responded well when I put the foot down however the story from the back seat was somewhat different.  Hels reckons she was getting a face lift and could not talk as the minute she opened her mouth the wind rolled her lips back as there was no windshield protection in the back!  Kept her quiet for a while anyway!

Dorothy Catholic Church, which is directly opposite the United church... oh yes just happened to capture the ride in the piccie.

Sunset at Dorothy B&B 

Inside the restored Catholic Church - the fittings have been donated by locals and other churches.
After passing through Drumheller and a quick look around checking out the information centre which housed the biggest dinosaur statue, we headed towards Dorothy to stay in a B&B about 25 km south of Drumheller.

The B&B cottage was built in1902 

The gate to the ranch and the B&B overlooking the Dorothy Grain conveyer.

Dorothy has a small population and two churches which have been restored by the local community. Linda who runs the B&B also took us for a tour of the town.

This cottage is one of the early settlers relocated to Dorothy, built from timber which floated down stream.

Inside the cottage Hels was impressed by the kettle

Catholic Church 

United Church 


For dinner that night we went into Wayne and had hamburgers at the Last Chance Saloon in the Rosedeer Hotel.

Rose Deer Hotel and Last Chance Saloon 

Ride'm cowboy at the outdor bar


On our journey back from the pub we passed the Hoodoos. The Hoodoos are eroded pillars of soft sandstone rock topped with a resilient cap. The cap protects the softer rock underneath from eroding as quickly as the surrounding rock. Once the cap deteriorates the pillar is more vulnerable to the elements and subjected to rapid deterioration.

Hoodoo pillars


Getting some helpful information from one of the local dinosaurs in Drumheller 

This is the biggest dinosaur I've ever seen .... find Hels and Briony 

Atlas Coal Mine
Drumheller was named in 1913 after Colonial Samuel Drumheller who brought land and started coal mining in 1911. Drumheller or the Red Deer Valley is also known for the dinosaurs. In 1884 while looking for coal deposits J.B.Tyrrell came across a dinosaur skull which today is known as the Albertasaurus. This was the beginning of what is known as the Dinosaur capital of the world. This is no surprise as when driving through Drumheller there is a dinosaur on every corner and the biggest one in front of the information Centre.

The Royal Tyrrell Museum


Horsetheif Canyon

The Little Church

Not big people, a little church.

Bleriot Ferry across the Red Deer River. The ferry has an elevated cable to stop you going downstream 

Picnic lunch near the ferry


Red Deer Valley looking south towards Drumheller 

The second day of our road trip was spent touring around the Dinosaur Trail enjoying the various lookouts before heading back to Drumheller where we stayed at another B&B and enjoyed a great meal at the Sub Lime restaurant.

I think Hels was happy when the Mustang slowed down!!!

20 June, 2015

Vancouver to Calgary - Road Trip

After having a great time venturing in and around Victoria, Garth was keen to stay at their Lake House (Moyie Lake) which worked well for us as it was only a short distance from Cranbrook where we could catch the Greyhound bus to Calgary where our daughter Briony lives.

Our road trip started very early as the total distance was more than 900kms and we wanted to get the early Ferry to Vancouver therefore avoiding much of the morning rush.

One of the many commuter ferry's' to Vancouver

From Vancouver we travelled east passing through Chilliwack, Hope, drove through E.C. Manning Provincial Park and stopped at Princeton for lunch on the banks of the Similkameen River. Continued onto Osoyoos where we stayed the night in a Hotel. Osoyoos is in the southern part of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia near the border with Washington state.  Went out to the Pub for dinner
where the specialty of the night was pork ribs!!  Luckily we ordered mini pork ribs as that was plentiful even to fill us up!!



As we sped up the hill I snapped this photo looking back over Osoyoos

One of the many accommodation choices on the Osoyoos Lake beach front

Our Hotel for the night on Osoyoos Lake

View from our balcony - note many wakeboard boats all waiting for the summer vacationers


Our Hotel in Osoyoos

After a great evening we were off again fairly early as Garth wanted to get to the Lake House in daylight as he needed to connect water etc - the Lake House had not been opened up since winter.  This is so foreign to us as prior to winter they have to drain the water pipes to stop freezing the lines.  Also with the Lake freezing over the dock needed to be pulled out and stored on dry land.

We weaved our way through the mountains and valleys seeing some beautiful scenery, arriving at Moyie Lake early afternoon allowing plenty of daylight to connect water, clean up and open up the Lake House for the first time this season.  The Lake House has a rustic theme and wonderful view of Moyie Lake from their balcony - we had a fantastic couple of days relaxing, eating & drinking!  One of the highlights was the camp fire at night on the edge of the lake and our introduction to s'mores which is a traditional nighttime campfire treat popular in the United States and Canada.  Janthea had some lattice biscuits, chocolate & marshmellows and with the squares of chocolate resting on the stones around the fire, we cooked up the marshmellow then took a lattice biscuit, put the slightly melted chocolate on, put the cooked marshmellow on top followed by another lattice biscuit.  From here you squeeze the biscuits together and then eat the best way you can without making too much of a mess!!!

We also met Moose one of the other Lake House owners dog and I made the mistake of throwing a stick into the lake for Moose to retrieve, much to Garth's amusement.  After what seemed hours at throwing the stick out, Moose was still eager - actually had to go and hide from him in order to get some "quiet time"!!


Lake Moyie - early morning

Janthea & Helen enjoying morning coffee on the balcony of the Lake House

Good old fashioned 'outhouse' with a lovely view if sitting with the door open!!

Janthea & Garth's Lake House

Campfire on the edge of Lake Moyie 
Meet Moose, he never tired of retrieving the stick!!

Cooking of marshmellows in making s'mores (note chocolate melting method)


In a sticky situation - struggling to eat s'mores

Does not matter what part of the world you are visiting it is always good to sit around a campfire


After a great few days, Janthea & Garth drove us into Cranbrook to catch the 9.30am bus to Calgary and after morning coffee we waved goodbye after having a wonderful visit.  We were the only passengers who boarded at Cranbrook so sat up the front and had a good chat with the driver.  Was good for me to sit back and enjoy the scenery as we had not travelled between Radium Springs and Banff previously on our RV tour.  We took on another passenger at Kimberley and as we drove out of the town we noticed a number of police cars and the bus driver saw a fully armed personnel on the street path.  As it turned out we were lucky to drive through as a siege was commencing and the road was closed behind us!  Most of the trip to Calgary the discussion revolved around what we had seen and the passenger who boarded in Kimberley kept us informed via frequent updated phone calls to his wife!!  Both driver and passenger had never seen anything like this in the area before - how do you think we felt, as never seen this sort of fire power before in Australia!

After a pleasant ride arrived in Calgary mid afternoon and had a great reunion with Briony at the bus depot.  Caught taxi back to where she lives and looked forward to spending 3 weeks quality time with her.


17 June, 2015

Vancouver Island

Our next adventure began with a bus ride to Vancouver Island where we were met by Helen's cousin Janthea and her husband Garth and taken back to their home in Oak Bay a suburb of Victoria.  The bus ride from Vancouver took about 2 1/2 hrs, and included a Ferry ride taking approx 1 1/2 hrs.  By the time we arrived in Victoria, Helen had come down with a cold so we called into a Chemist and bought some drugs then it was straight to bed for her however after dinner Garth took me to a Hot Tub Night at Rogers house - thank you Roger as he felt sorry and gave me a beanie (their summer time is a bit chilly for me!!)  After a couple of days rest Helen was good to go again and we had a fantastic time seeing the sights around this beautiful Island with Janthea and Garth .

Went for lovely walks to the beach (only approx 1km from their home) - Oak Bay and Willow Beach. Garth and I would sometimes go to the marina on the morning walk and have a coffee. We were chauffeured around downtown Victoria, introduced to 'pickleball' (a fun sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, ping-pong and is played both indoors and outdoors on a badminton-sized court and a slightly modified tennis net.  It is played with a paddle and a plastic ball - very interesting to watch). Visited Fisherman's Wharf where we had lunch and were fascinated in the colourful "float homes" where people live.


Oak Bay looking towards the Marina, on my morning walk

Willow Beach

Walking through the suburbs not the animals we're use to seeing!!

Oak Bay Marina resident Otter


Harbour Taxi

Truly a "house" boat

Float homes at Fisherman's Wharf

Also visited the famous Butchart Gardens - in 1904 Robin Butchart developed a quarry and built a cement plant at Tod inlet on Vancouver Island.  Jennie Butchart became the company's chemist and they established the family home close to the quarry complete with sweet peas and rose bushes.  As the limestone was extracted Jennie Butchart made plans to create something of beauty in the giant exhausted pit.  She had tonnes of top soil brought in by horse and cart from farmland nearby and little by little the quarry blossomed into the spectacular Sunken Garden. Between 1906 and 1929 they created a Japanese Garden on the seaside, an Italian Garden on their former tennis court and a Rose Garden.  Grandson Ian Ross was given The Gardens on his 21st birthday and after service in WW11 he worked hard to make his grandmother's garden self sustaining, transforming the mostly neglected home and gardens into an internationally famous destination.






Our wonderful hosts Janthea & Garth

Helen and I caught the local bus into downtown Victoria and walked around for most of the day taking in many sights.   Our first stop was Chinatown followed by Market Square.  I saw a Tilley Hat Store which seemed to beckon me inside and then all of a sudden I was the proud owner of one!  The Tilley Hat is a well known Canadian made hat which insures against loss and guaranteed for life (replaced free if ever wears out) - with that sort of guarantee I thought it would suit me down to the ground!!

Chinatown in Victoria


Now that's a bicycle built for 27

My new Tilley hat - you think I would look happier! **Hels comment: perhaps he just realised how much he spent!!
After lunching at "The Local" on Wharf Street we walked around Victoria Inner Harbour passing The Fairmont Empress Hotel, British Columbia Legislature before walking up to Beacon Hill Park where we saw quite a few horse drawn carriages for hire.
British Columbia Legislature - note the Coastal Redwood (Sequoia Tree) planted in the late 1800 and over 30 meters tall

The Fairmont Empress Hotel (1908)

Old Spagetti Factory Restaurant - note hanging baskets in full bloom


Beacon Hill Park - always ducks to feed in a park
Now that's a big watering can - in Beacon Hill Park
Helen's cousin and her husband are volunteers at Government House so we went with Janthea for a visit and walked around the gardens (unfortunately weren't allowed in the house!).  Government House is the office and official residence of the Lieutenant Governor and the ceremonial home of all British Columbians.  Since 1865 there have been 3 Government Houses on this site - the first official residence known as Cary Castle was built in 1859 and 6 years later it was purchased as the residence of the Governor of Vancouver Island.  When British Columbia entered Confederation in 1871 Cary Castle become Government House however in May 1899 it was destroyed by fire.  Renowned architects Francis Rattenbury and Samuel Maclure were hired to design a new house on the same site and was officially opened in 1903.  In April 1957 it once again succumbed to fire and construction on the new Government House began in December 1957 and closely matched the design of the previous building and was officially opened on May 1959.


Government House
The Cary Castle Mews is a cluster of 19th century wooden service buildings consisting of stables, a carriage house, a gaol, a root cellar, a wash house and a poultry house (part of which was later used as a gardener's cottage).  The onsite buildings have been used as support buildings to Government House since their construction in the 1870s and some of the buildings have been restored and are now opened for the public to enjoy.  The Costume Museum is located in the Carriage House and showcases a large variety of period pieces including former Lieutenant Governors' uniforms and Chatelaines' dresses.  If anyone has the opportunity this is well worth a visit.



Costume Museum located in the renovated Carriage House