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Canada Diary Part 13 – The Canadian Prairies

Canada Diary Part 13 – The Canadian Prairies

The beauty of staying in a lesser known destination is the adventure of discovering the hidden gems that the area has tucked away out of the regular tourist’s sights.

 

Many Canadians said we were nuts to spend a week in Lethbridge as they deemed it flat, ugly and boring. But we had an absolute ball proving them completely wrong!

We used our stylish Paradise Canyon condo as a base and ventured out in all different directions each day. First though, we enjoyed a bit of Lethbridge – heading to the nature reserve along the Old Man River under the very striking 107 year old railway bridge – quite a sight itself, being the longest and highest of its kind in the world. We enjoyed the Helen Schuler Nature Centre which had fabulous interactive displays of some of the nature in the area, followed by a picnic in the park.

Lethbridge bridge 4

The roof garden at Helen Shuler Nature Centre

Lethbridge bridge

Such a striking bridge

Lethbridge bridge 3

We also joined the local crowds at the Street Wheelers 100 yard drag racing dash – a fascinating display of burning rubber, throaty roars of pumped up engines and the most interesting collection of motor vehicles and full body tattoos we have ever seen. Every red neck in the area turned out and we joined them with gusto. A hundred yards isn’t very far at all and was actually quite a let-down after all the build-up. Each car started out with a dramatic screeching wheel spin billowing smoke as they warmed up their tyres. Most did the dash in around 2 seconds – what a lot of fuss for such a little burst of speed.

Streetwheelers1

The blackened tar is the 100 yards

Check these cool wheels

Check these cool wheels

We never realised that the Canadian prairies are just like the USA’s Wild West. There are loads of wooden forts and horse ranches and it seemed only fitting to embrace the cowboy way of life by attending a local rodeo that we saw advertised – What a treat! It was one of the most entertaining sports events we have ever been to. The cowboys competed on bucking broncos, lassoing of steers, and calf tie-downs. There was insanely fast barrel racing for the cowgirls who yeehah their mounts at the speed of light around three barrels in a clover formation. Even the kids took part with sheep riding during interval, which quire hysterical to watch. The cowboys kind of forced their kids to do it and as each one clung on for dear life before hitting the dirt as the sheep dashed for the rest of their herd, most kids ended up howling. The cleverer ones standing in the queue watching the mayhem and waiting their turn refused point blank to do it – much to their brave cowboy fathers’ disgust.

 

Hats off to the commentator who was super entertaining the whole way through – making clever and funny remarks and mixing the country western music to match what was happening in the arena.

 

The grand finale was the bull riding and there were only 4 men brave (or stupid) enough to give it a go. The first guy got his arm stuck in the rope on the bull’s back when he fell off and was dragged around like a rag doll until he came loose – frightening to watch and surely doing himself some serious injury. The sheer muscular power of the bulls was awesome to see and it took quite a team of cowboys to round up each bull and get it back safely in its enclosure after it had thrown its would-be rider off.

Check out the action-packed video clip we took of the rodeo:

(Click here to watch on YouTube if it does not display correctly on your device)

Our next day trip was to Waterton Lakes National Park which is right at the southern tip of the Canadian Rockies, on the border of USA’s Glacier National Park in Montana. This is a place where the prairies meet the mountains with no gradual transition in between. We went in search of trout and hit paydirt with an enormous wild brown trout on the Waterton River. We bundu-bashed our way into quite a few remote and breathtakingly scenic river locations with our bear spray at the ready and enjoyed a drive through the little holiday town of Waterton tucked between mountains and lakes and just wished we had more time to explore this magnificent park.

Waterton 4

Bundu bashing deep into the wilderness

waterton 6

What a great catch!

Waterton 3

Flower covered prairies meeting the Rocky mountains

Waterton Lake

The picturesque Waterton village

Lethbridge and its surrounds are incredibly culturally diverse and play host to many Amish and Mormon communities. It is the first time we have encountered these strictly primitive religious communities and it was really interesting to get a sneak peak into their way of life. We spent a day fishing near the Spring Valley Colony, which runs a surprisingly modern large-scale farming operation, while adhering to the traditionally simple and conservative lifestyle.

A somewhat alarming sign where we were fishing

A somewhat alarming sign

Spring Valley

Spectacular scenery and dramatic prairie skies

Spring valley 1

The prairie skies are something to behold. I will never forget driving through the farmlands towards and through storms that you can see from forever away. If you are planning a road trip to Canada, make sure to add the prairies to your list – you won’t be sorry!

 

Yours in travel

Signature

 

 

Did you miss any of our previous diary entries? Click below to catch up:

 

Canada Diary Part 12 – En Route to Lethbridge

Canada Diary Part 11 – Beautiful Banff

 

 

 

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