what’s so bad about the badlands?

It’s so hard to leave!! :’(

The bad­lands has become one of my favourite places on earth (grant­ed that I haven’t been to many places on earth, but still). Drumheller, par­tic­u­lar­ly, has the friend­liest peo­ple (and crea­tures, as you’ll see) and the most beau­ti­ful landscapes.

But let’s back­track a bit, because I don’t want to leave out Cal­gary! We were only going to pick up a rental car, but thought since we’re half way across the coun­try, we should at least walk around a bit. We saw a few of the many pieces of won­der­ful pub­lic art instal­la­tions in the city, and real­ly appre­ci­at­ed the free stretch of CTrain that brought us from one end of down­town to the oth­er. Imag­ine if we have this in Toron­to! It would be one less bar­ri­er for peo­ple to get to help­ful resources and appointments.

When we approached Drumheller on the high­way (it was maybe a few kilo­me­ters away), it looked like this, which pret­ty much looked the same the whole way we drove through the Prairies from Calgary. 

We left Cal­gary a bit lat­er than planned, so it was just about din­ner time, and I was look­ing for­ward to set­tling in with some fries and burg­er. Or maybe pas­ta. Or even just soup.

“It says it has 8000 peo­ple,” I said to Mike.

“Yes,” said Mike, eyes on the road.

“It says it has an A&W,” I looked at him, start­ing to pan­ic. “Where ARE all the peo­ple?” and the food? Are we lost?! 

“The sign says Drumheller,” said Mike.

 And then there it was.

Dri­ving into the val­ley, for some­one who has nev­er been to the val­ley, was quite a mind-blow­ing expe­ri­ence. It was­n’t just dri­ving into the val­ley, it was like drop­ping into a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent planet.

The land­scape was at once alien and mes­mer­iz­ing, formed by mil­lions of years of rich his­to­ry. There’s so much to explore!

1) The Hoodoos!

A vari­a­tion of the word “voodoo”, so named because of their ghost­ly appear­ance and they were thought to pos­sess super­nat­ur­al pow­ers. We first vis­it­ed the Hoodoo Trail on a rainy day, so we most­ly stayed on con­struct­ed paths and plat­forms, because the ben­tonite clay, which cov­ers much of the bad­lands, was very slip­pery to walk on when wet. (more on that later!)

Hoodoos are for­ma­tions of sand­stone with a cap­stone on top that pro­tects the pil­lar under­neath from ero­sion. They’re quite phe­nom­e­nal. Some­one described them as mush­rooms that appear over thou­sands of years in the bad­lands, which makes them all the more spe­cial to me :)

We could­n’t help but returned for a sec­ond vis­it at sun­rise, just before we left Drumheller.

Because it was­n’t rain­ing, we were able to get clos­er to these majes­tic, sculp­tur­al forms.


2) The East Coulee School Muse­um!

The val­ley was a trop­i­cal area mil­lions of years ago rich with plant life and dinosaurs, which means that it then also has a high con­cen­tra­tion of coal, from the fos­sils. Many towns in the region were built dur­ing the coal rush, East Coulee was one of these towns. Accord­ing to the very friend­ly muse­um staff, at its height the town has a pop­u­la­tion of over 3000, but after demands for coal dimin­ished in the 70s, pop­u­la­tion decreased to 160 cur­rent­ly, and the school, where the min­ers’ chil­dren attend­ed, became a muse­um and provin­cial his­toric site.


The muse­um is a trea­sure trove of arti­facts and sto­ries. Many of the orig­i­nal struc­tures and fur­nish­ing were kept (like child-size wash­room stalls and drink­ing foun­tains, sep­a­rate entrances for boys and girls, play­ground equip­ment and these com­pact desks!), and there are many pic­tures I could show you, but I’d leave it for you to explore your­self if you vis­it! :D Do chat with the muse­um staff about a tour of the base­ment and encoun­ters of the super­nat­ur­al kind if you’re a brave soul :S But if you’re like me, you’d prob­a­bly pre­fer sto­ries of the his­tor­i­cal kind, found at one end of the hall­way in a col­lec­tion of pho­tographs and quotes from min­ers about life and work in the val­ley, and in the diaries on each stu­den­t’s desk (about what they had for lunch on a day in 1938). And don’t for­get to vis­it the tea room for a pot of tea and treats!

3) Atlas Coal Mine

Not far from the school muse­um is the Atlas Coal Mine, the last to close in 1979, and now also a muse­um! The tip­ple is the last struc­ture of its kind in Cana­da. I found it both awe-inspir­ing and a bit men­ac­ing, and real­ly felt that my life is quite com­fort­able com­pared to the way it was.

We spent quite a bit of time explor­ing the grounds because we had a lot of time before our sched­uled train tour and because there was a lot to see and take inter­est­ing pic­tures of. Aban­doned trains and cars and weath­ered build­ings against the back­drop of the bad­lands were an aspir­ing pho­tog­ra­pher’s dream. And we were lucky enough to run into Rain­drop, or Lady Wild­fire, Atlas’ super affec­tion­ate res­i­dent cat!

We were watch­ing a video in one of the exhib­it rooms, oth­er vis­i­tors start­ed walk­ing by and smil­ing at us, think­ing that we brought our cat on the trip, and now set­tling in, in front of the TV, with the cat in our laps. “How cute,” one woman said. “It’s not our cat,” I said. “Oh! Can I pet it?” the woman exclaimed. Then Rain­drop ran away :(

We did see Rain­drop a few more times when we were on the train tour, I think she was roam­ing the grounds :) The friend­ly muse­um staff shared some inter­est­ing sto­ries of life in the coal mine, and we even got to meet a man who worked at the Atlas mine since he was 14, and he told a few sto­ries as well! We were very lucky indeed :D

4) The Last Chance Saloon

It is the only busi­ness left in the coal town, Wayne. A fun place to stop for lunch after tour­ing the muse­ums. Lots to see while wait­ing for food!

5) Roy­al Tyrrell Museum

I’ve been look­ing for­ward to vis­it­ing this muse­um of pale­on­tol­ogy since for­ev­er! I’ve nev­er seen spec­i­mens so amazing. 

There has actu­al­ly been a lot of press about this nodosaur. It is so well pre­served, you can see the tex­ture of its skin. To see it with my own eyes rather than a pic­ture on the screen is a remark­able experience.

We took a hik­ing tour led by a muse­um staff in the Mid­land Provin­cial Park, which is right next to the museum.

Here I took some close up pic­tures of the plants in the bad­lands. The flower of this plant is just a cou­ple of mil­lime­ters across.

And this is a super macro pic­ture of ben­tonite clay! Which is formed from vol­canic ash, and would puff up and become more slip­pery than soap when wet, mak­ing the bad­lands dif­fi­cult to trav­el through on rainy days.

6) Hik­ing in the canyons!

I con­sult­ed with this web­site before going to the Horse­shoe Canyon for a sun­rise hike (for good pic­tures) and was expect­ing easy paths, but was sad to see that the wood­en paths and stair­cas­es have all been torn down, with­out any sig­nage explain­ing what was going on. So we ven­tured down (a steep hill! com­ing back up was quite a work­out) and care­ful­ly walked around in a small area, it was worth the climb!

We then drove back on South Dinosaur Trail and stopped at Orkney Look­out to view the Red Deer Riv­er, which was high­ly rec­om­mend­ed by the friend­ly school muse­um staff. It was mag­nif­i­cent indeed!

We then crossed back to the North Dinosaur Trail by tak­ing the Ble­ri­ot Fer­ry, which was kind of like a sec­tion of a road that shifts from one shore of the Red Deer Riv­er to anoth­er. It was free, and the fer­ry staff was also very friend­ly. He told us a sto­ry about a Jeep that attempt­ed to jump onto the fer­ry after it had depart­ed from shore, like in the movies. It fell into the riv­er. No one was hurt though, I think. “Nev­er a dull moment out here,” he said :D

We then stopped at Horsethief Canyon, so named because 1) accord­ing to the Tyrrell Muse­um staff, peo­ple who stole hors­es would hide in this canyon and then acci­den­tal­ly fell into sink holes (to warn us about the dan­ger of hid­den sink holes when walk­ing in the bad­lands) or 2) accord­ing to the plaque at the canyon, hors­es would wan­der into the canyon, dis­ap­pear for a while, and come out car­ry­ing dif­fer­ent brand­ing. Either way, it was breath­tak­ing­ly beau­ti­ful from the look­out point.

We found a way to hike down, and even found some inuk­shuks! Mike made his own to add to the group :)

And we kept run­ning into this ground squir­rel, who tapped Mike’s hand with his paws! Mike insist­ed that he was hugged by the squir­rel. And I thought, I real­ly liked hik­ing in the bad­lands, there’re no bears, or coy­otes, just friend­ly ground squir­rels :) (I think maybe there are rat­tle snakes, but we did­n’t see any :S) 

7) Dinos, dinos, dinos

From the World’s Biggest Dinosaur to the dozens of fun dinosaur sculp­tures in town :D

This is my favourite shot of the World’s Biggest Dinosaur, across from the Red Deer Riv­er, all men­ac­ing, like it’s in its own nat­ur­al habi­tat :D

And this is my favourite of all the pic­tures we took with the friend­ly dinosaur sculp­tures, Mike spent quite a bit of time get­ting the light­ing perfect :)

We were very sad to leave, as you may guess :’( Dif­fi­cult as it was, we drove out of the val­ley for the last time, hop­ing that we will return one day.

And on our way back to Cal­gary for the flight home, we took a very short side trip to the Vil­lage of Beisek­er, to vis­it the world’s largest skunk! Its name is Squirt. It was on a camp­ground, and at its foot a Sat­ur­day morn­ing game of horse­shoes was going on, and a very friend­ly woman took this pic­ture of us :D

Thus con­cludes our wild west adven­tures! Thank you for vir­tu­al­ly jour­ney­ing with us, I hope you enjoy the pic­tures, and if you haven’t vis­it­ed these won­der­ful places, espe­cial­ly the Cana­di­an Bad­lands, I hope you will one day! :D


what i loved about the rockies

After say­ing good­bye to Van­cou­ver, we con­tin­ued on to the Rock­ies on a bus tour through Jasper, Banff and Lake Louise. We fig­ured it was an easy way for us to see as much of the Rock­ies as we could with the lit­tle time we had, plus we’ve always enjoyed learn­ing more about dif­fer­ent sites through the com­men­taries. In fact all the lit­tle fac­toids in this post most­ly come from what we learned from the knowl­edge­able tour guide! The com­pa­ny we went with was great, I would rec­om­mend it to anyone :)

What I loved about the Rock­ies… in one blog post? Let’s try.

1) The moun­tains, of course!

Even though we spent many hours on the bus, I did­n’t sleep as much as I usu­al­ly do, because every turn is a breath­tak­ing site of the moun­tains, just did­n’t want to miss any­thing. There were many pho­tos I took from the bus win­dow, here are a few of my favourites:

And this is Pyra­mid Moun­tain in Jasper, so named for its shape. And it has a red­dish colour because of the heav­ier con­cen­tra­tion of iron in its rocks. We vis­it­ed ear­ly in the morn­ing so there was also some fog hov­er­ing over the lake, quite mag­i­cal looking.

Here we climbed up a large pile of rocks to view Moraine Lake.

And from Sul­phur Moun­tain in Banff comes the hot spring! It did not smell like sul­phur, I was actu­al­ly a bit sur­prised. But then if a hot spring smells like sul­phur why would peo­ple want to sit in it…? Any­way. It was a his­tor­i­cal bath house, and the inte­ri­or real­ly looks like a san­i­tar­i­um from the movies (like this one)! Peo­ple did look to hot springs for cures of ill­ness­es. Not sure if it cured any­thing but, whether it was the min­er­als in the water or sim­ply sit­ting in warm water look­ing at the moun­tain, I did feel like I have more of a spring in my step afterwards :)

2) Mag­i­cal turquoise water

Appar­ent­ly tourists have asked what chem­i­cals are put in the waters in these regions to make the water this attrac­tive colour. Mag­i­cal rock pow­ders, of course! :D We learned that the turquoise came from water from the glac­i­er. When the glacial ice grind against the bedrocks, very fine “rock flour” results. This rock flour reflects only the blues and the greens in light, so we see turquoise.

This is Pey­to Lake, the most turquoise of them all (to my eyes, on that par­tic­u­lar day). 

And here’s Moraine Lake. It was once on the Cana­di­an $20 bill, so this view was referred to by our tour guide as the $20 view.

Greet­ed by the robot of Lake Louise :D

We were tak­ing a stroll at sun­set at bow riv­er in Banff. The water real­ly is turquoise! It’s almost surreal.

3) The canyons

Canyons are immense­ly inter­est­ing because of the dif­fer­ent rock for­ma­tions and exposed rock lay­ers due to ero­sion. I wish I know more about geol­o­gy so I could appre­ci­ate them more, but they’re beau­ti­ful to look at nonetheless.

This is Maligne Canyon, so named because a French explor­er found it dif­fi­cult to cross. I can see why.

And this is John­ston Canyon. It’s a bit of a longer hike to walk down into it, but the jour­ney itself is beau­ti­ful, the water crys­tal clear with a tinge of blue, and the rocks, and all the dif­fer­ent plants grow­ing on the rocks…

This is at Athabas­ca Falls. Very pow­er­ful surges of water.

4) Glac­i­ers!

One of the things that I looked for­ward to doing the most was explor­ing the ice field! It was like step­ping onto a frozen lake, in a mountain! 

An ice field is cre­at­ed by an over­flow­ing glac­i­er. Even the ice is a bit blue here. There was a defined area where it would be safe to walk with­out falling through thin­ner areas of ice. To the left of Mike in the pic­ture was a stream. We were encour­aged to take a drink from it. It was not as cold as I thought, and pret­ty sweet. 

Our tour guide let us know that we were now in the tun­dra region. So we’ve trav­eled from tem­per­ate rain for­est in Van­cou­ver to tun­dra in just a few days. So very cool.

Many more places to explore, def­i­nite­ly will return to the Rock­ies again.

Next stop — the Bad­lands! Until then, hope every­one is hav­ing a not-bad week! 


what i loved about vancouver

This month Mike and I took a trip out west, and it was pret­ty epic in our his­to­ry of trav­els! Our route went from Van­cou­ver, through the Rock­ies to Cal­gary, then a few days’ stay in Drumheller, Alberta.

What I loved about our first stop, Vancouver!

1) Peo­ple walk slower

That was first thing we noticed get­ting into the city from the air­port. While Mike and I saw the bus approach­ing at the stop across the street and ran to catch it (with our lug­gage and every­thing in true Toron­ton­ian pan­ic style), every­one else were just walk­ing casu­al­ly, then formed a neat line to board *blush* 

2) Logs on the beach!

We stayed in Eng­lish Bay, which I high­ly rec­om­mend if any­one is vis­it­ing Van­cou­ver. It’s so easy to get to down­town attrac­tions, Stan­ley Park and Grouse Moun­tain by bus, and the beau­ti­ful beach is just steps away, per­fect place to watch the sun­set every evening with an ice cream cone — and yes, many great food places just on the one street where our hotel was, includ­ing sushi, Kore­an food and ramen! It even has palm trees! There are quite a few hotels in the area but we stayed at this more afford­able one, which was owned by very friend­ly peo­ple and the room was spacious!

And the beach have logs that peo­ple can sit on and relax! I thought that was the most bril­liant thing. Every­one was so relaxed. It must be the ocean breeze. Peo­ple play­ing instru­ments, chat­ting in dif­fer­ent lan­guages, so lovely. 

At one end of the beach there is a giant inuk­shuk, and all around it along the sea wall we were hap­py to find that there were inuk­shuks of all dif­fer­ent shapes and sizes :D

3) The mag­nif­i­cent rain for­est 

We took a free shut­tle to the Capi­lano Sus­pen­sion Bridge Park. The main attrac­tion was the bridge, which I main­ly focused on cross­ing with­out faint­ing :S

I man­aged to snap one pho­to while on the bridge, it was stunning.

But I much more enjoyed walk­ing around in the rain for­est, mar­veling at the very, very tall trees, and the small­er sus­pen­sion bridges around the treetops. 

The air was hazy because of smoke from the wild fires. And the sun­light fil­tered through the haze paint­ed every­thing orange.

There was so much to look at on the for­est floor — dif­fer­ent kinds of moss, rocks, a stream flow­ing through, a nurse log with so much diver­si­ty and life grow­ing from it… I could explore forever.

4) The Van­cou­ver Aquar­i­um!

Has the most beau­ti­ful exhibits of jel­ly­fish! I could spend all day (well I kind of did) watch­ing them flow. 

And the gallery is dec­o­rat­ed with origa­mi jel­ly­fish! It’s an inter­ac­tive dis­play where one could con­trol the colours of light illu­mi­nat­ing the jel­ly­fish. Maybe I’ll dec­o­rate our apart­ment with lit up origa­mi jel­ly­fish too…

And sea otters! They’re the cutest crea­tures, so fluffy, float­ing on their backs. We learned that they were orphaned, and res­cued by the aquar­i­um staff, they some­times hold paws when swim­ming togeth­er so they don’t lose each oth­er (so sweet!), they tuck food in their armpit pock­ets to snack on lat­er (smart!), and they hold favourite stones in the same pock­ets to open clams! (“or for when they wor­ry,” says Mike)

5) LYS!

On Granville Island! There’s the love­ly Fibre Art Stu­dio, with a group of 5 artists who sell yarn that are hand spun and dyed by them­selves. It also sells weav­ing sup­plies. I could­n’t fit much yarn in the lug­gage (I wish I could bring back some hand-dyed yarn though!!), and just need­ed small amount of var­i­ous colours to make amigu­ru­mi dinosaurs (more on that lat­er! :D). The yarn for weav­ing was just perfect.

6) Chi­nese Garden

The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Clas­si­cal Chi­nese Gar­den. A re-cre­ation of a 15th cen­tu­ry Chi­nese gar­den, in the mid­dle of Chi­na­town! A very serene place. It has a bam­boo for­est and dif­fer­ent nooks and cran­nies with dif­fer­ent views of the lily pond. Also has a res­i­dent tur­tle and koi fish!

7) Mas­sive pub­lic library!

Must love a city with a library like a Roman Col­i­se­um! It’s def­i­nite­ly mas­sive, with kind of a street and shops inside, not to men­tion floors and floors of books!

8) Stan­ley Park

And of course, last but not least! A dear friend rec­om­mend­ed the hop-on-hop-off tour bus while in Van­cou­ver, which was real­ly help­ful and we prob­a­bly saw 50% more than what we planned to. With­out a car, there was only so much ground we could cov­er by walk­ing, and Stan­ley Park is huge! We went through Stan­ley Park twice! There were many love­ly views but you’re prob­a­bly tired of my pho­tos by now, so I’ll leave you with my favourite — because it cap­tures a seag­ull. (they’re chick­en-size out west!)

Oooh, and a bonus one — Dig­i­tal Orca by Dou­glas Cou­p­land at the harbour :)

Already miss you very much, Van­cou­ver! We will meet again <3

Stay tuned for “what I loved about the Rock­ies” and “what’s so bad about the Bad­lands?” :D


stegosaurus love

When this pat­tern goes online I should be arriv­ing in Drumheller, Alber­ta — dinosaur cap­i­tal of the world! I’ve been look­ing for­ward to this trip for ages, and stegosaurus is my all-time favourite dinosaur since child­hood, so I thought I’d share a pat­tern to mark the occa­sion :D

It’s been a while since I wrote an amigu­ru­mi pat­tern, hope I’m not too rusty! This stegosaurus actu­al­ly evolved from the dumpling pat­tern I wrote a long time ago. I won­der what the stegosaurus would think about that, evolv­ing from a dumpling…

Any­way, here he is sit­ting on my hand for scale. Prob­a­bly makes a nice pin/brooch or magnet!

This pat­tern is super easy and takes very lit­tle time and yarn. To make your own tiny stegosaurus, you’ll need:

  • A bit of worsted weight yarn for main colour for body, and con­trast­ing colour for spikes
  • 3.5 mm and 3 mm cro­chet hooks (if you only have either size, that’s fine too)
  • Tapes­try nee­dle (very impor­tant! You’ll see in the pictures)
  • Black seed beads
  • Black thread and sewing needle


The body begins as a cir­cle, and with larg­er hook.

Round 1: ch 2, 6 sc in 2nd sc from hook, don’t join in round.

Round 2: 2 sc in each sc around (12 sc).

Round 3: [sc in next sc, 2 sc in next sc] six times (18 sc).

Round 4: sc in each sc around (18 sc), don’t fas­ten off.

Next, we make the head: in the same sc where last sc was made, [yo, pull up a loop] three times, pull through all loops on hook, ch 1 (clus­ter made), sc in same sc as clus­ter. Don’t fas­ten off.

We now fold the piece in half, and from here on cro­chet through both lay­ers across the back of the dinosaur.

Back: sl st in next sc on body through both lay­ers, like so…

sl st in next sc — attach con­trast­ing colour yarn when pulling up loop to fin­ish the sl st, like so…

Car­ry the main colour as you work across back with con­trast­ing colour.

Spikes: with con­trast­ing colour, [ch 3, sl st in 2nd ch from hook, sl st in next sc in body (work­ing through both lay­ers)] five times.

Here is a pic­ture of the spikes in progress, notice that the main colour is being car­ried and wrapped in the stitch­es across back.

In the last sl st of spike, pull up loop using main colour, there­by switch­ing back to main colour. Fas­ten off con­trast­ing colour.

Tail: with main colour, sl st in last st through both lay­ers on back, ch 5, sl st in 2nd ch from hook, sl st in next ch, sc in last 2 ch of tail, sl st in a space between the 3rd and 4th round in the body (bel­ly part of the dinosaur). Remove hook and pull out the loop, as shown in the pic­ture. Pull through enough yarn so that you have a 12″ tail. Cut yarn.

Hind leg: Thread the yarn tail through the tapes­try nee­dle, weave the nee­dle through the bel­ly of the dinosaur so that the nee­dle comes out through the 2nd and 3rd rounds of body in the front, like so…

Pull the yarn tail through, remove the nee­dle. Insert small­er hook (if you have it) through the stitch where the yarn tail came through…

Pull up a loop using the yarn tail…

ch 3, sl st in 2nd ch from hook, remove hook and pull the yarn tail out, like so… 

Thread the yarn tail through the tapes­try nee­dle again, insert nee­dle in a stitch between 1st and 2nd round in body, then come out in a stitch between 1st and 2nd round in body in the front on the oppo­site side, like so…

Front leg: Work as the same as hind leg, as fol­lows: remove nee­dle, insert hook through the stitch where the yarn tail came through, pull up a loop with the yarn tail. ch 3, sl st in 2nd ch from hook, pull out yarn tail, thread yarn tail back in tapes­try nee­dle, insert nee­dle through a stitch between 2nd and 3rd round of body, then come out near the top on the back of the piece, fas­ten off.

Weave in all the ends. Pull the long yarn tail into the body of the dinosaur to fill it out a bit :)

Tail spikes: Cut a length of con­trast­ing colour yarn about 3 inch­es long. With wrong side fac­ing, pull up a loop through a stitch at the end of the tail with the short length of yarn, then pull the two short yarn tail through the loop just made. Pull tight care­ful­ly. Trim spikes. Apply a bit of fab­ric glue at the base of the spikes. 

And it’s done!

Stegosaurus in its nat­ur­al habitat…

Let me know if you do make your own tiny stegosaurus, I’d love to see it! If there are enough pic­tures we’ll have a vir­tu­al stegosaurus par­ty and it will be fun, so please share! :D

Hap­py crocheting!


happy september!

I found this amaz­ing t‑rex applique pat­tern, and decid­ed to make a granny square with it to par­tic­i­pate in Granny Square Day on Insta­gram back in August :D Haven’t heard about Granny Square Day? Check out this pic­ture of dif­fer­ent vir­tu­al blan­kets! (and spy my dino square! :D)

I love this t‑rex pat­tern so much, I made anoth­er one to put on a shirt (Mike kind­ly donat­ed an old t‑shirt) :D 

Just in time for our trip to the land of the dinosaurs! :D 

Also found this tuto­r­i­al for a self-water­ing sys­tem for the plants while we’re away.

I start­ed a few days before our trip to test out the idea. It def­i­nite­ly works, even flood­ed one of my small aloes. I used cot­ton yarn, and I found that some strands of yarn car­ry water and oth­ers don’t, even though they’re from the same skein… Not quite sure why, I just kept replac­ing the ones that don’t work. Hope­ful­ly our plants will still be hap­py when we come home!

Stay tuned for pic­tures of dinosaurs! :D Hap­py September!