Tuesday, December 11, 2007


While keeping an eye on the eastern horizon I was enjoying my first coffee of the day at Tim Horton's in Chestermere while catching up on what was new in the Sun. Done with the paper it was time to go with good light approaching from the east. I headed east of Chestermere and turned on to secondary highway 564 off of highway 9. I planned on following it as far east as it would take me which would put me southeast of Drumheller near the ghost town of Dorothy. At the end of the 564 my map indicated that I could find my way north down a swithback road through the badlands to where there appeared to be a bridge to cross the Red Deer River. I have been down the 564 before but never beyond highway 21 and today was a great day with crystal blue skies to see what I have been missing out on. I got the impression from my map book that the country near the end of 564 would be desolate and for the record I was not disappointed. As I neared the end of the 564, I found myself on high ground with commanding views to the north down to the badlands of the Red Deer River valley and beyond to the Hand Hills far off on the northern horizon.

From time to time a glance at my truck thermometer was in order to see the variance in temperatures along the way. I had left Calgary in -16 Celsius temperatures and as I made my way east the temperature continued to drop. By the time I reached the end of the 564 my truck thermometer was indicating a outside temperature of -25 Celsius. From time to time I pulled over to shoot photos including this capture of my first Snowy Owl of the winter. This beautiful snowy owl is a female as indicated by the black barring on her feathers. Males tend to be almost pure white.

I made numerous stops for photo-ops and on several occasions after pulling over and shutting the engine off, I got out of my truck and went for a walk through the unbroken snow taking me back to my youth, only today I carry a camera instead of a .22 while looking for quarry. I marveled at the stillness beneath the big sky that surrounded me with the only witness besides myself to the splendor of it all, was this coyote checking me out to see if I was a threat before he went back to stalking a jackrabbit who was bedded in on a snowy hillside . I watched through my binoculars for some time and when the coyote got closer to the rabbit, the rabbit bounded away kicking snow in the coyotes face.

Enough with the coyote and the roadrunner-er rabbit and after making my way down to the river valley I made the stop at the ghost town of Dorothy. I have been here many times before over the years and never tire of visiting. Of course I usually arrive via Drumheller so today made the visit extra special with my approach via the 564. I have shown you photos of Dorothy before so I will refrain from going over old ground. I was pleased to notice that some effort has gone into replacing windows in the catholic church that lies abandoned at the foot of the badlands. The old elevator seems to be leaning over more each time I make the visit. With a final glance around the remaining old buildings of Dorothy and the sun indicating the approach of high noon, I decided to pack it in and make the drive into Drumheller for lunch in a favorite eatery, before heading on home after another great day out exploring the backroads of southern Alberta.

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