On the Dinosaur Trail

Traveling by car from Shuswap Lake (BC) to Drumheller (AB)… adventures on the road!


June 5-6, 2017: Shuswap Lake Provincial Park (BC) to Drumheller (AB)

Driving Distance: 692 km

Driving Time (via google maps): 7 hours, 26 minutes

National Parks visited/driven through: Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Yoho, Banff

Driving Time (actual time spent in transit from one place to the other): 12 hours!

We had hoped to travel as far as Revelstoke on our first day of driving in order to make day 2 more manageable, but a late start meant that we only got as far as Shuswap Lake. We could have gone further but I’m very glad we stopped when we did and had a good evening together at a park we were familiar with. We’d camped here 2 summers ago and had a fantastic time with the people we’d met on that trip. The kids enjoyed biking around the park and having a campfire that night. We reminisced about our first summer camping there.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you choose to look at it…) I had a horrible night’s sleep, sandwiched between two restless boys who took turns hitting me in the face and snoring and teeth grinding in my ear. At 4 AM, 2 crows decided to have an argument over our tent and I called it a night. I got up and started packing up. By 6 AM, we were on the road again, 2 sleepy boys in the back seat. I stopped in Salmon Arm for a Starbucks coffee and all was well with the world!

About an hour down the highway, Mr. T was excited to see a sign pointing us to a historic landmark: “Last Spike on the Canadian Pacific Railway”. He’d learned all about the CPR in school this year and it had captured his interest… he was often telling us facts and stories about the CPR. Needless to say, we stopped. (In reading that wikipedia link above, I learned how controversial that last spike occasion was! Who knew?!)


T really wants his teacher Ms. K to see this!

As we were leaving this impromptu stop, I noticed a decorated garbage can with writing on it… The Garbage Gobbler!



The first Garbage Gobblers were designed and created by Len Shaw, for the B.C. Parks Branch in the 1950s. Originally made from concrete (and later with fiberglass), Gobblers were placed across the province in B.C. Parks and at information points along BC highways in order to “Keep Beautiful British Columbia Green and Clean”. Junior Garbage Gobbler car trash bags were also part of the provincial litter reduction strategy. Motorists were encouraged to feed the “Junior” bags to the roadside gobblers along the way.

Sadly, Garbage Gobblers proved to be as popular with bears as they were with people and eventually had to be replaced in favour of bear proof-cans (which were not as artsy, but much more practical).

It was a great start to the day and it wasn’t even 8 AM yet!

After many discussions, we all decided together that, even though it would mean a really long day in the car, we wanted to get to Drumheller tonight. We wanted to be able to just wake up in the morning and not have to pack up the car, but rather could just enjoy being in Drumheller! But being mindful that it is still about the journey, not the destination, we made ample stops along the route, enjoying the road, the mountain pass, and the tunes playing. T & H loved the last 2 hours where I let them just continue to play on the iPads because I was exhausted and couldn’t handle the constant chatter and arguments!

We stopped in Banff and had planned for lunch at Lake Louise but decided at the last minute to visit Moraine Lake instead. We got the bikes off the car and went for a little ride down to the lake. The boys climbed the big pile of rocks there… how could they not?! I marvelled at the scenery and was very glad I’d brought my sweatshirt… it was very chilly! There were many tourists shivering in t-shirts!


I can only imagine how busy the lake is in the summer with car and bus loads of tourists! It was pretty busy on this day and it’s not the height of the season yet.

Back in the car we got and we pushed it to Drumheller. I had to make a stop in Canmore for coffee and a break for my eyes, but otherwise we pushed it onwards. I started to second guess myself and truly considered stopping in Canmore for the night. After about an hour’s break, I was good to go though. And i’m glad we did.


It always amazes me how you are driving into the middle of nowhere on the Canadian badlands, when the road dips down into a deep ravine and all of a sudden you are in another world. In the case of Drumheller, hidden in the Red River Valley is everything you would imagine a tourist location to have: Walmart, McDonald’s, and kitschy tourist shops. Since Drumheller is also known as Dinosaur Valley, it also has the “World’s Largest Dinosaur”… which entertained the boys to no end.


We continued onto our campsite (River Grove Campground) and, after a half hour of mix ups and moving from one side of the site to the other, we found #23 site, set off by itself and surrounded by lovely bushes and trees.

Unfortunately, we have a large, difficult tent to put up and it’s been over a year since we’ve used this particular tent (we used the smaller one for the first night in Shuswap). We were all 3 tired, hungry and getting bitten extensively by mosquitoes. An hour later, the tent was up… though without the fly (we put that up later)… and we had abandoned the idea of cooking dinner. McDonald’s it was. It was a momentous occasion since Mr. H ate his first full Quarter Pounder with Cheese! This is the child who, 2 months ago, could barely finish a plain cheeseburger… bring on the growth spurt!!!

Big orange tent home!
Home Sweet Home (for 2 nights at least)


Today (June 6) was about relaxation and dinosaurs!

We slept in… hooray!

After a breakfast of pancakes, we set off for the World’s Largest Dinosaur (boys went up, I stayed down) and then the Royal Tyrell Museum. We bought a 2 day pass so we could take our time, not pushing ourselves to do it all in one day!

Great fun though sadly over run by school kids on a field trip.



And now… now we are all relaxing at this campsite. Modern camping, where there is a wifi signal available, but not a lot of kindling for campfires!

The journey so far has been good. We’ve covered a lot of ground geographically and I’m spending some time learning to slow down and be in the moment.

At the museum, there were many stories posted of workers and regular people who, by slowing down and being observant, had made great dinosaur fossil discoveries in their regular every day lives. There is a lesson here I’m sure. God has made for us a beautiful world, if we only remember to open our eyes and see it, truly see it, as we go about the tasks of daily living. There are many opportunities each day for me to make a choice: whether to be irritated by something someone says or does, or to take a deep breath and carry on with a cheerful disposition. Some days are harder than others to be cheerful! But, by pausing to take a deep breath, sometimes closing my eyes and counting to 3 or 5, I can turn the moment around.

There is a song I was listening to yesterday: How Mighty is the Silence. It is a song by little known duo Lowen and Navarro. They are speaking about when Eric Lowen was given the diagnosis of ALS (he succumbed to the disease in 2012). But silence is mighty, no matter the circumstances. In this song, they talk about how hearts break in the silence. But I believe that hearts can also be healed in moments of silence. We often rush to fill silence with words, noise, music, when silence would heal us.

And so, on this journey, I am learning to slow down and listen, to enjoy the moment rather than rushing to get to the next destination, to listen to my children in their excitement about a fossil or a computer game with equal enthusiasm which astounds me… Silence and my presence in the moment is mighty and is the source of memories.