Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Drumheller – Please Don’t Feed the Dinosaurs

I didn’t expect to have such an emotional experience in a place like Drumheller. We spent the day at the Royal Tyrell Museum, which houses one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaurs. I found myself inspired by the minds that were able to piece together their discoveries. These paleontologists are able to define the history of life on earth mostly by squatting on their haunches, ripping their jeans, being bitten by no-see-ums, while digging holes in large rocks using a toothbrush. The museum itself inspires their visitors to think. Parents teach their kids, the kids teach their parents. Everyone is thinking and asking questions: How did this dinosaur eat? Why were their front arms so small? Do you think it ate meat? How did they make this model? Is this really bone or is it petrified? Do you think it’s a baby or just a small dinosaur? How long is a million years?

The Tyrell museum gives us the opportunity to see all this magic in the miracle of life forming before us. Seeing this, as well as our ability as humans to fathom millions of years of history, I couldn’t help but be horrified at our current blatant disregard of life on earth. Even in the museum itself the amount of waste created by the visitors is a bit depressing. It’s our one and only planet. The Tyrell covers the time since life took hold on this planet and that’s over 500 million years ago. According to Google, the earth is about 4.5 billion years old and the sun will turn into a pumpkin (red giant -whatever) when it’s about 5 billion years old. In other words, we don’t get do-overs. It’s particularly puzzling when you see one of the exhibits is sponsored by Esso, as climate change looms as one of the most threatening challenges to all species on our little blue sphere. (Although seeing them associated with dinosaurs has some relevance.)

The staff and messaging in the Tyrell kept emphasizing the importance of science, and how everything in the museum was science based. I thought it was a bit unnecessary and obvious until I realize the context of the location in Alberta. Rural communities hold close to their religious ties, and this seems to be true in Canada as well as the States.

Travelling thru Alberta during the greenest time of year, however, is a wonderful experience of birth and new life. The crops are going crazy. The calves are running around while they can before sedate steerdom sets in. If you can forget than most of that canola is Monsanto’s ‘Round-Up Ready’ seed, the yellow in the canola fields is dazzling. So my thoughts keep going from polar opposites that won’t come together any more than two magnets with the same charge. Now I know how there can be something called "bipolar" disorder.


  1. I haven't had a chance to read your blog; however, your note about wanting a shower. Go to Dinosaur Prov Park - an absolute must-see on its own. There are showers there!

    More comments to follow.

  2. To paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The mark of an intelligent woman is to hold two diametrically opposed ideas in mind at the same time, without going insane."

    Dynamic tension can lead to creating!

    Great post! Happy trails!

  3. Hey Lori, I love the idea of including kilometres traveled, fuel burned and carbon credits owing!

    As for being of two minds, Di and I had the same experience last summer as we drove across the prairies. The sensation was particularly strong for Di who didn't grow up close to agriculture as I did. She was deeply troubled by the massive conversion of the grasslands to grain fields, demanding so much energy and chemicals to maintain. Still, there is nothing like an expanse of yellow canola beneath a swelling prairie storm!

    Do you and Jack have a rough idea of where you going a few days in advance? If so, let us know, okay, b/c I can provide you with further tips on don't miss special places. Riding Mtn still on your hit list? I hope so!

  4. Rick - Re: Dinosaur Park
    You ain't kiddin' there's showers there. There's friggin' downpours!
    We only know maybe a day or two in advance of where we're going and the likelihood that we will be near internet to tell you is, well, uncertain.
    I know that our next stop is Buffalo Pond Prov Park, and then on to the Qu'appelle Valley.