by Kylie Roberston
Summertime is when university students have the time and hopefully the financial means to travel. But then the question becomes – what to do? The immediate thought for some is to hop on a plane to get to some exotic locale, but there are plenty of exciting things to do right here in our province.
Why not take a themed road trip? More specifically, why not go big? There are several huge monuments scattered around Alberta that would make for an interesting road trip, and some great photo opportunities.
It’s possible to start right here in Calgary. On the corner of 69th Avenue and Ogden Road, an 8.2-metre mechanical man was built in 1988 for the 75th anniversary of Ogden train yards, and he is made entirely out of locomotive and freight car parts. From Calgary, it’s a relatively short drive to Drumheller and the Alberta Badlands. Drumheller has a unique combination of natural and man-made attractions. In the desert, there are natural structures called hoodoos.
According to the Travel Drumheller website, “hoodoos take millions of years to form and stand five to seven metres tall. Each hoodoo is a sandstone pillar resting on a thick base of shale that is capped by a large stone. Hoodoos are very fragile and can erode completely if their capstone is dislodged (in other words, no climbing allowed).” After you’ve seen the hoodoos, you can travel back into town and check out the world’s largest dinosaur.
“The world’s largest dinosaur is actually four times the size of a real Tyrannosaurus rex and anatomically speaking, she is a female dinosaur,” the website continues. “Weighing in at a grand total of 145,000 pounds, she’s constructed almost entirely out of steel. She stands 86 feet tall and is 151 feet long.”
“I think tourism in Alberta is great,” said Cait Jaycock, a Drumheller-raised student at Mount Royal. “But many people do not know about a lot of the things that there are to do. I know Tourism [Alberta] has recently put out a campaign to encourage Albertans to take in the attractions that our province has to offer, but it still isn’t making everyone aware of all of the things that there are to see.”
From Drumheller, it’s a quick two-hour jaunt up the highway to arrive in Donalda, Alta. Donalda is a small town with a big attraction: they’re home to the biggest oil lamp in the world.“In 2000, the World’s Largest Lamp was constructed in Donalda to overlook the Village and the Meeting Creek Coulee as part of Donalda’s Millenium Celebration,” the tourism site states. “The Lamp is designed to replicate a pioneer oil lamp and is lit 365 days of the year. Visitors to the Lamp can enter the Lamp base and view a mural painted by Phyllis Starling, a renowned area artist. The Lamp stands 47 feet high and is, as far as we know, the largest working oil lamp replica in the world.”
From Donalda, it’s another two hours to Edmonton.
West Edmonton Mall may no longer be the biggest mall in the world, but according to a 2008 study done by the Eastern Connecticut State University, the mall is the largest in North America and the fifth largest in the world, and still has some impressive attractions that you can’t find anywhere else.
Beyond the shopping, the mall houses the largest indoor amusement park (with the largest indoor triple-loop rollercoaster), the largest indoor wave pool, the tallest indoor permanent bungee tower, the largest indoor lake and the largest parking lot, according to their website. It also has some American stores that can’t be found elsewhere in Western Canada, such as Victoria’s Secret, Abercrombie and Fitch and Hollister. The Chinook Centre expansion will include the latter two, but they won’t be operating until October, according to a story printed in the Calgary Herald.
Edmonton to Vegreville is just another hour east on Highway 16. If you have Ukrainian roots, this is a stop that you’ll definitely want to make. Vegreville, Alta. is home to a giant Pysanka, or Ukrainian Easter egg. The egg was designed for the centennial celebration of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
There is a dedication on the base of the egg, written in four different languages: Ukrainian, English, French and German. It reads: “This Pysanka (Easter Egg) symbolizes the harmony, vitality and culture of the community and is dedicated as a tribute to the 100th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who brought peace and security to the largest multi-cultural settlement in all of Canada.”
But, on the way to Vegreville, you may want to detour to Mundare, Alta. Just 20 minutes northwest of the Easter egg off Highway 16, there is a 13-metre, six-ton kielbasa (Ukrainian sausage) ring. It’s the world’s biggest sausage ring, according to a feature article from the Edmonton Journal in June 2001.
On the same note, there’s also a giant perogy in Glendon, Alta., but the town is another two hours northeast of Vegreville, near Bonnyville. If you’re looking for something less cultural and more pop culture, Vulcan, Alta. should also be on your road trip list. Vulcan, according to their tourism site, is the official Star Trek capital of Canada. Vulcan is between Calgary and Lethbridge just off of Highway 2.
“On June 10, 1995, Vulcan, Alberta took a major step towards developing its own brand of space tourism when the town unveiled the Star Ship FX6-1995-A. The original USS Enterprise of Star Trek inspired the Vulcan Association of Science and Trek (V.A.S.T) with the idea to construct a starship in Vulcan,” explains Vulcan’s tourism site.
Plaques are mounted around the ship, written in English, Klingon and Vulcan languages. So if you’re looking for a truly interesting road trip this summer, don’t stray too far from home. Amazing sights are scattered
all across this wonderful province of ours.