We were up and at 'em and after a hearty breakfast, we were on the road to Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump. We got there shortly after it opened, and it was still pretty quiet. We were scooped up by the world's most awesome interpreter, Edwin. He started chatting with us about the information and artifacts and then suddenly said, "Come with me!" He took us to what looked like an education room, used for school groups and the like. But here was a buffalo robe we could try on!
|Poor Avery was nearly squat by the buffalo hide.|
|Boo! He emerges from the snow-covered trees and gets ready to... tell a joke?|
|Mountains of buffalo skulls- a sad reminder of what was lost to greed, malice and ignorance.|
|Learned many interesting things- and bought a beautiful necklace... made in China!|
We headed off to our packed sandwiches and anticipation of our next destination: Frank Slide. We cracked the cooler, distributed lunch and readied ourselves for the hour's drive. And then, the car didn't start. Nothing. No whine. Not a rumble. Not even a weak gasp. We reviewed our options (was it an alternator, or battery?) and decided step #1 would be to get a boost. If that didn't pan out, we'd pull out our good old AMA card, which has only been used on one other occasion (the time we locked the keys in the van).
The interpretive center's parking lot is down the hill a little so as to not disrupt historically sensitive land. They provide a good-humored driver for those who don't want to trek up the hill. He noticed we were having trouble and when I asked if he had booster cables he immediately went in search of them. We settled in to eat our sandwiches and in short order he returned with cables and back-up in the form of Edwin and another staff member. We pushed the car into position and sure enough, the boost did the trick! Off we went!
Pointed to Frank Slide, elation slipped away as reality creeped in, we decided to detour into Pincher Creek and get the car checked out. We were scared to turn it off in case it didn't start again! A Fountain Tire said they could see us in a half hour, so we quickly scouted out options for all outcomes- walking distance to places to eat, sleep and buy books and magazines.
The news was as good as could be expected! We needed a new battery, and they had one to put in. In the end, our detour lasted less than an hour. Onward ho!
|At a roadside pullout sits the "Burmis Tree", which is old. And dead. Apparently it fell over some years ago and the good people of the area rigged it up into a standing position again. I felt totally safe standing under it....|
|Ah! Frank Slide. Avery prepared herself for a video reenacting the event, and Mark followed suit.|
|They say it is not a matter of if, but when, more of Turtle Mountain will come sliding down that slippery slope.|
And with that discovery, we were off to visit Bellevue Mine! It was just up the road, but darn near impossible to get to as there was a street festival in the middle of town. After skirting the crowds this way and that, we made it to the mine at 5:29. The last tour left at 5:30. I bet they were happy to see us!
|They warned us it was cold, and gave out ponchos to help. I was struck by the thought that they could have skipped this kindness in retaliation of our underthewire arrival. Good people found at Bellevue Mine!|
|What an awful place to work. Miners were remarkable people to endure such conditions day in and day out.|
After eating, it had started to rain a little. Our plan was to stop at the Leitch Collieries and/or Lundbreck Falls on our way back. As we passed the Colliery, it really started to pour, and tours were over for the day anyway so we decided to move on by. The falls would be a better bet, we hoped. We got less than a half kilometre up the road when we ran into a traffic block. The road was closed due to an accident. We were only about the 5th or 6th vehicle to get stopped, so it had just happened. We decided to turn around and check out the colliery after all. It seemed a better option to get wet doing something interesting over sitting in traffic wondering how long you were going to sit there.
|This is for my dad- it's the power house!|
|It's a wet power house.|
Heater blasting, we sat in the car and looked at the lineup of vehicles still waiting for the road to open. We settled in with books and joined the waiting.
9pm. Still waiting. Ambulances have left the accident scene.
9:30pm. Still waiting. Sun is gone, and there is not enough light to read by. We sent a delighted Avery to squirrel through the folding back seat into the trunk for snacks. And the pair of jeans Mark brought in case he got cold during the day. I put those on and give up on my own ever getting dry.
10pm. Still waiting. A few RV's have joined us in the Colliery parking lot and look like they are settling in for the night. I text the people whose farmyard we are staying in; I don't want to freak them out when we come driving in in the middle of the night.
10:30pm. Still waiting. We are all trying to nap. Not so easy in a civic. I am grateful to have dry pants.
11pm. Still waiting. I have given up on playing scrabble on my phone. There are only 2 bars of service here, and about 1000 waiting people are all trying to use them.
11:30pm. Still waiting. We drive to a new spot in the parking lot for fun. It looks like Avery might have fallen asleep. She has the comfiest option in the backseat. No lights are on in any of the RVs.
12am. Hark! What light in yonder window breaks? Do my eyes deceive me, or are they starting to let traffic move? We sing the hallelujah chorus and join the snaking turtle. Or turtling snake, if you prefer.
We made it home about 1:30am. Just think, in my college days, that was calling it an early night!