Do you ever get the feeling you're about the millionth person to take pretty much the same picture? Is that feeling reinforced by the tourist decked out in cargo shorts, hiking boots and a safari hat with an SLR taking a photo on one of you while on the other side of you a couple is doing an iPhone selfie?
That's the problem with really awesome, famous places. Lots of other people want to go there. And they want to take photos too. Yeah, it’s nice to get the photo just like the one you saw in the travel brochure that made you want to visit this place, along with countless other people. But it doesn’t feel special.
It’s not even about the photo. It will be a nice photo. You can crop out the tourists and get an angle where you don’t see the trash cans or the signs. However, believe it or not, for me travelling isn’t about the photos. It’s about the experience. I hope for a unique, interesting and special experience. Preferably with a little adventure, a little risk.
On wednesday we drove a couple hours east to Drumheller. Oscar was excited to see the Royal Tyrrell Museum but Rich and I were also very keen to see the hoodoos, a unique rock formation found in the badlands. However, when we got there, Richard took one look at the hoodoos surrounded by stairs, trash bins, signage and pre-designated photo spots and drove right past.
Further on we found an unmarked road full of potholes and decided to explore. The road ended in a trail with a faded crooked stop sign so we decided to walk for a bit. The dusty path surrounded by striped hills, sand and low brush was quiet and eerie and awesome. After a while a couple of guys raced up to us on a motorbike and an ATV and kindly suggested we might want to head back before too long because they were about to bring through a herd of cattle. We set off for the car, looking over our shoulders for a cow stampede.
It was fantastic
On the way back we did take some cool hoodoo photos. After a few more touristy stops (yes, we still do touristy things) including a "ghost town" with a bar, restaurant and hotel, a scenic drive over 11 bridges and Horseshoe Canyon, we headed for the lesser-known Horsethief canyon. Here we had the entire place to ourselves. This is what we were looking for. We climbed down the side of the canyon and scrambled up some tall hills where we could see for miles.
The photos of our Drumheller adventure will immortalize this autumn Wednesday for us. We will remember that time when we thought we were going to get trampled by cows in the badlands, or when we climbed up a steep crumbly hill to get this canyon photo.
How do we find the less travelled road? Often it’s on the map. We look for alternate roads, dead end roads and those thin grey roads on Google maps. Horsethief Canyon was in the 2014 Vacation Guide to Drumheller under the heading “Finding Solitude in Horsethief Canyon.” It’s actually just as good as, if not better than the more popular Horseshoe canyon, just on a less travelled road. Sometimes we find roads that are not on the map. We either hear about them from someone, or we find them with the old-fashioned method of “using our eyes.” We are not (completely) reckless. Signs that warn of danger or against trespassing are always respected by us. Even so, the is a huge interesting world out there waiting to be explored.