Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hot Tea and Dinosaurs

(image from

This afternoon, I became a bit chilled and decided to brew a cup of hot tea. I use the term “brew” loosely; what I really mean is that I heated some water, placed a tea bag in a cup and poured the just-under-a-boil water over the tea bag. A few up and down dunks and, voilá, I had a cup of tea.

“What has tea to do with dinosaurs? “ a reader reasonably might inquire. I’m glad you asked (otherwise I could end this post right here.)

The cup I selected for brewing my tea was a cup I acquired in July, 1991, from the gift shop of a wonderful museum in Alberta, Canada. The cup, made of white porcelain and emblazoned with a small silhouette of an Albertosaurus and the name and location of the museum, used to have a bright gold rim, now mostly worn away from frequent use. Every time I use this cup, I recall with delight my visit to this unique place.

My youngest sister and I had spent the previous night in a hotel in Calgary, and were awaiting the late afternoon arrival of her husband from Washington, D.C.  An Arkansas friend, who knew I was going to Calgary, had strongly urged me to take the time to visit a museum in Drumheller, about 70 miles east of Calgary. “You won’t be disappointed,” is all he would tell me.

After assuring my sister that we would return in plenty of time to meet her husband’s plane, we checked out of the hotel and drove east over the flat wheat-lands of Alberta. Tall, waving wheat, hundreds and thousands of acres of it, was a beautiful sight to behold, and we were enjoying our drive. Suddenly, the terrain, and the highway, took a steep downward slope. It was not quite like driving down into the Grand Canyon, as the cuts in the earth from eons of erosion were not so deep, but similar. However, unlike the magnificent colors of the Grand Canyon, the earth could be described only as a cool gray-white, with a few colored sedimentary bands, as shown in the photo below.

(Horseshoe Canyon near Drumheller - image from Internet)

 (I've since learned to recognize this earth color as having the possibility of containing dinosaur fossils. Similar-colored earth can be found near Dinosaur National Monument, on the Colorado/Utah border.  I visited that site several days after my Alberta trip. That's a story for another telling.)

Drumheller, just outside of which was our primary destination, is located in the valley of the Red Deer River, which is responsible for carving the remarkable canyons, much like the Colorado River created the Grand Canyon. There are many places of interest in Drumheller but, as the time we had to explore was short, we headed directly toward the object of our journey.

I was thoroughly intrigued by the surrounding topography, the wonderful museum and the fabulous exhibits, but disappointed that we did not have more time to spend in the area since we had to be back in Calgary by 4 p.m. to meet my brother-in-law's plane.  I won’t recount here the many attractions of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology because, if you’re interested, you can read about it here.  If you’re not interested ---.

Fodder for another post is how this Arkie came to be in Alberta at all. It’s a multi-stage story. For the time being, I’ll just tell you that it was because of a dream.

Tomorrow is also a day.


Janie B said...

Looks like an interesting museum. How nice to relive that trip with each cup of tea.

Arkansas Patti said...

That was some hole in the ground. Would loved to have gone fossil hunting.
Too bad you couldn't spend more time at the museum. They are fascinating.
That was quite a teaser at the end.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Oh My, Pat.. You need to tell us more... I'd love to go to Canada sometime --and Alberta looks like a fabulous place to visit... WOW!!!!!!

Thanks for the memories!!!!! Hope you enjoyed your tea.

Kay said...

Wow! That does sound like a fabulous museum to visit. We're planning to be in Canada this spring. I've bought mugs as souvenirs, too. I love drinking from it and remembering the adventures we had there.

George said...

Okay, you've got me hooked. I would like to hear more about your trip to Alberta. This part of your trip sounds fascinating.

Reader Wil said...

Are all the Pattis from Arkansas such good writers? This dinosaur post is fabulous!

rhymeswithplague said...

Is that picture a skeleton of an Albertosaurus or a Tyrannosaurus rex?

Your posts become more fascinating every day. As you have sped up, I have slowed down a little.

rhymeswithplague said...

Okay, I went back and actually clicked (split infinitive again) on the word "Albertosaurus" least I was in the right family!

Mimi Foxmorton said...

Now that's a proper brewing! :)

Brit Gal Sarah said...

That really is amazing landscape, I love canyons like that, they fascinate me. I fossil hunted as a child and found a few bits.

Marvin said...

Looking forward to reading about your "quest" in Alberta.