As our time in Alberta comes to an end this summer, Kay and I are trying to see as much of this spectacular province as we can. Last weekend we took Appa The Volksbison to Dinosaur Provincial Park, a place of great interest to paleontologists, birdwatchers, geologists, and people who like strange, otherworldly landscapes.

Appa the Volksbison, our 1985 VW Westfalia camper, got us there and back safely, and was a welcome refuge when a storm blew in around dinnertime on Friday. Appa, as faithful readers of this blog may remember, was the faithful six-legged flying bison which was the faithful mount and companion of Aang from the Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender, and was the inspiration for our Westy’s name , and has since become the spirit or avatar of our camper.

A silly picture of me and friend at the lookout site at the park entrance, overlooking the badlands.

Much more sensible photos by Kay.

Prairie smoke (Erythrocoma triflora), one of the amazing plants that manages to survive in this harsh landscape. Kay has been doing some wonderful photo studies of plants and flowers, especially now that she has a macro lens.


Fragments of a a dinosaur fossil that we saw on a guided tour of the park’s protected area. These are part of the leg of a hadrosaur, a large plant eating Cretaceous era beast. Dinosaur Provincial Park was the equivalent of a goldrush for 19th and early 20th century fossil hunters, and contrbuted specimens to many famous museums. Our guide gave us several ways to recognize dinosaur fossils. 1) they look like bones, as you can see here. 2) (and I didn’t know this), if you lick your finger and touch it to what you think is a fossil, it will be sticky, unlike rocks. Who knew?

Kay took this picture of a camel-shaped hoodoo named (so said our guide), well, Fred. I love the pyramid shaped formation behind it.

It’s an amazing experience to drive through the prairies for miles and then to see the ground fall away, exposing this alien landscape as one approaches the park. Highly recommended if you have the time to travel through southern Alberta.

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