Saturday, May 15, 2010

The middle of the bald-ash prairie!

Well as always, my parents are good sports I must say! I'm in Medicine Hat right now, and since the weather is completely GORGEOUS here, I insisted we get out and do some prairie sightseeing. I only lived here for, oh, a third of my life... so I was surprised when I read about all the neat places (I've never seen!) listed in the 'Explore Southern Alberta' guidebook. I rattled off the day's itinerary, packed a cooler, and shooed Mom, Dad and baby poochie Barney into the truck, and away we went.

We started off by driving to one of the strangest anomalies I've yet to see... Red Rock Coulee, south of Seven Persons. The book describes it as "like you've time-warped to another planet"... and it's totally true!

The giant red orbs dotting the coulee are 'concretions' - I'll have to let you read up on their interesting formation on your own - and they are amazing and weird and some are solid and some have broken apart. They are spread over an area that's at least 1.5 km long.

Next we zipped over to Manyberries, where we stopped at the old train station. The railroad track was taken out several years ago, but some caring folks restored the station and a caboose. I think there is a teahouse in the train station, but it wasn't open today. We may have been too early in the season for it.

Our last stop was at the great little Etzikom Museum. The place is celebrating their 20th year next week, and I've never heard of it until this weekend! Tsk tsk! The museum exhibits are wonderful and there is a quaint little soda shop offering ice cream and home-made baking. Outside is a display of windmills and some antique farming equipment. I loved the windmills!

As we were rolling along in the Expedition, the Sweet Grass Hills were visible far to the south. And with all the snow the area had received recently, the hills looked quite pristine and almost mountainous! They aren't really 'mountains' per se (uh oh, is that the Rockies snob in me?? hee hee), but seeing as how nothing else is around them, the remaining snow cover made their 2500 feet of relief look impressive!

We stopped on the way home at a quiet, abandoned, roadside churchyard and ate our lunch. Then we headed back to town. In total, we covered almost 230km and spent nearly 6 hours enjoying the bald-ash prairie - it was a fantastic day!


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